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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Persia & MesopotamiaView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Persia and Mesopotamia

Also included on this page are coins minted under Persian rule in other regions of the Persian Empire.


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander III The Great, 336 - 323 B.C.

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On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon, at age 32. This coin was struck around the time of Alexanders' death, in the city where he died, Babylon.

After Mazaeus died in 328 B.C., Alexander appointed Stamenes as satrap of Babylon. Little is known about him, other than he probably died of natural causes around 323 B.C. when Archon of Pella replaced him. Perdiccas suspected Archon of colluding in the theft of Alexander's corpse and, in 321 B.C., sent Dokimos to replace him. Archon was defeated and died from battle wounds.
SH85059. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3673, Müller 672, Demanhur 4467, Choice EF, toned, well centered and struck, fine style, high relief, toned, some bumps and marks, weight 17.214 g, maximum diameter 26.7 mm, die axis 90o, Babylon mint, struck by Stamenes or Archon, c. 323 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse Zeus enthroned left, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), feet on footstool, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, tiny M lower left, ΦIΛH monogram below strut, AΛEΞAN∆POY (Alexander) downward behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 244, lot 176; $900.00 (€801.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleucus I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH85058. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 82.5b, Price 3747, Müller 734, gVF, high relief, attractive style, some die wear, bumps and marks, weight 17.129 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 135o, Babylon I mint, 311 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse Zeus on throne, right leg drawn back, eagle in right, long scepter in left hand, MI under throne, monogram in wreath in left field, AΛEΞAN∆POY (Alexander) downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1213; $750.00 (€667.50)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.

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This coin was struck under one of the Macedonian satraps in Babylon: Archon, Dokimos, or Seleukos I. Perdiccas suspected Archon of colluding in the theft of Alexander's corpse and, in 321 B.C., sent Dokimos to replace him. Archon was defeated and died from battle wounds. Seleucus, made satrap by Perdiccas rival Antipater, arrived in Babylon in October or November 320 B.C. and defeated Dokimos.
SH73195. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3697, Müller Alexander 1542, SNG Cop -, VF, weight 17.067 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 135o, Babylon mint, Archon, Dokimos, or Seleukos I, c. 323 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back, radiate head of Helios facing on left, KY under throne; scarce; $540.00 (€480.60)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., Babylonia, In the Name of Alexander the Great

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Price dates this type 311 - 305 B.C. Houghton dates it 311 - 300 B.C. Houghton notes that Kritt down-dated the chronology due to the complexity of the emissions and that two hoards independently support the revised dating.
GS84937. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 82, Price 3751 ff., HGC 9 10f (C), VF, attractive style, high relief, tight flan, some porosity, weight 16.846 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 90o, Babylon I mint, posthumous, 311 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, Zeus enthroned left, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back, MI left (possibly with an obscure control symbol below), monogram within wreath under throne; $230.00 (€204.70)
 


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia

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Carrhae is the Haran of the Bible. Crassus was defeated and killed by the Parthians near Carrhae in 53 B.C. Emperor Galerius was defeated on the same site in 296 A.D.
RP84657. Bronze AE 23, SNG Hunterian 2501 - 2503 = Macdonald Hunter 22 - 24 corr. (laureate bust); BMC Mesopotamia p. 90, 63; SNG Cop -, F, uneven strike, slightly off center on a tight flan, weight 7.513 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CE, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse MHTP KOΛ KAPPHNΩN, two stars arranged vertically within and above crescent with horns upward; extremely rare; $170.00 (€151.30)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus I Soter, 280 - 261 B.C.

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Antiochos' reign was marred by struggle against internal and external enemies, including the betrayal and revolt of his co-regent in the east, his eldest son, whom he was forced to execute. He earned the title savior (soter) of Asia by defeated roving bands of Galatians that had terrorized the cities for years. However, not long after, he lost southern and western Asia Minor to Ptolemy.
GB83572. Bronze AE 16, Houghton-Lorber I 377, Newell WSM 886, HGC 9 175 (R3), F, nice green patina, bumps and marks, weight 5.18 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 90o, uncertain Mesopotamian or further east mint, 280 - 261 B.C.; obverse horned horse head right; reverse anchor flukes upward, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ANTIOXOY downward on left, monograms (control symbols) inner left and inner right; extremely rare; $110.00 (€97.90)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Nisibis, Mesopotamia

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Nisibis is the city of Netzivin in the Talmud. The Jews of Nisibis resisted the Roman conqueror, Trajan, to maintain Parthian rule. The city was taken only after a lengthy siege. After the it fell, Nisibis was laid waste and the massacre was so great that the houses, streets, and roads were strewn with corpses.
RP84871. Bronze AE 29, SNG Cop 233; BMC Arabia p. 119, 7; SNG Righetti 2618; SNG Milan 118; SNG Hunterian -, F, porous, obverse slightly off center cutting off right side of legend, weight 12.292 g, maximum diameter 28.6 mm, die axis 0o, Nisibis mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI MAP AV C AΛEΞAN∆POC C-E, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse CEΠ KOΛO NECIBI MHT, bust of Tyche right, turreted, draped and veiled, ram (Aries) leaping right above with head turned back, stars before and behind; scarce; $110.00 (€97.90)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Edessa, Mesopotamia

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Edessa is the historical name of an Assyrian town in northern Mesopotamia, refounded on an ancient site by Seleucus I Nicator. Caracalla was assassinated in Edessa in 217 and Valerian was captured by Shapur I at Edessa in 260.

In 230, the Persian King Ardashir I invaded Mesopotamia. Alexander attempted to make peace but was rebuffed. He and his mother Julia Mamaea made their headquarters at Antioch and accompanied the legions. The Roman counterattack was defeated in 232 but both sides suffered heavy losses and agreed to a truce. In 233, Severus Alexander celebrated a triumph in Rome to observe his "victory."
RP71324. Bronze AE 26, SNG Cop 218; BMC Arabia p. 108, 106; Lindgren I 2582, aVF, well centered on a tight flan, green patina, porous, weight 7.212 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Edessa mint, obverse AYT K M A C Eς AΛEΞA∆POC CE (CE below bust), laureate head draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse MHT KOΛ E∆ECCHNWN, turreted Tyche seated left on rock, small flaming altar before her, half-figure of river-god swimming right at her feet, star before and star behind; scarce; $95.00 (€84.55)
 


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia

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Caracalla was assassinated near Carrhae on 8 April 217, while urinating on a roadside. When his escort gave him privacy to relieve himself, Julius Martialis, an officer of his personal bodyguard, ran forward and killed Caracalla with a single sword stroke. Martialis fled on horseback, but was killed by a bodyguard archer. Herodian says Caracalla had executed Martialis' brother a few days earlier on an unproven charge. Cassius Dio says that Martialis was resentful at not being promoted to the rank of centurion. Macrinus, the Praetorian Guard Prefect, who succeeded him as emperor, may have arranged the assassination.
RP78055. Bronze AE 15, SNG Hunterian 2490 - 2491; BMC Arabia p. 86, 37; SNG Cop -, SNG Righetti -, VF, near black patina with red earthen highlighting, tight flan, light corrosion, weight 1.643 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 180o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, 28 Jan 198 - 8 Apr 217 A.D.; obverse M AVR ANTONINVS P F AVG, laureate head right; reverse COL AVR METROPOLI ANTONINIANA, veiled and turreted bust of Tyche right; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $80.00 (€71.20)
 


Kingdom of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Abgar X with Gordian III, 242 - 243 A.D.

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Abgar X Frahad bar Manu was raised to the throne when Gordian III recovered Mesopotamia from the Persians. His rule and the Kingdom of Edessa both ended with Gordian's assassination and a Sassanid takeover in 244 A.D.
GB84832. Bronze AE 24, BMC Arabia p. 115, 148; Babelon Edessa 97; cf. SNG Cop 225 (draped and cuirassed), SNG Hunterian 2579 (same), VF, porous, minor pitting, some legend unstruck, reverse a little off center, weight 7.981 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mesopotamia, Edessa mint, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate bust of Gordian III right, slight drapery on left shoulder, star lower right; reverse ABΓAPOC BACIΛEYC, draped bust of Abgar right, bearded, wearing a diademed Parthian-style tiara, star behind; $75.00 (€66.75)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
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Persia and Mesopotamia