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Parthian Empire

This page includes coins of the Parthian Empire and Roman coins that refer to Parthia.

Click here to read about Parthia| in the Historia| Numorum| and |Numiswiki.
Click here for the "Parthian| Calendar" article in |Numiswiki. 
Click here to go to |Parthia.com the best Parthian Empire website.


Parthian Empire, Mithradates II, c. 121 - 91 B.C.

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Mithradates II was the eighth and one of the greatest Parthian kings. He defeated all Seleukid attempts to reclaim territories and made Parthia a formidable, unified empire. He adopted the title Epiphanes, "god manifest" and introduced new designs on his extensive coinage. The ruins of Seleukeia on the Tigris, where this coin was struck, have been identified at Tell Umar, about 30 km south of Baghdad, and 60 north of Babylon. According to Pliny, the city had 600,000 inhabitants and c. 100 A.D. the city still held some Macedonian customs.
SH86429. Silver tetradrachm, Sellwood 24.4, BMC 3, Boston MFA 2216, Sunrise 284, Shore 67 var., EF, fantastic high relief bust, well centered on a tight flan, radiating flow lines, slightest die wear, slightest porosity, weight 15.696 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Tigris mint, c. 119 - 109 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Mithradates to left, long beard, wearing torc and elaborate robes; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ MEΓAΛOY APΣ-AKOY EΠIΦANOYΣ / TY (square clockwise, ending in exergue)), Arsakes I seated right on omphalos, bow in right hand, palm branch right; ex Pars (2008), ex Antiqua Inc. (2000); SOLD


Parthian Empire, Artabanos II, c. 75 - 62 B.C.

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Artabanos was probably a younger son of Mithradates II. Bronze coinage attest a new king, c. 78/77 B.C. Artabanos managed to remove Orodes I from Babylon in 75 B.C. He is last recorded in 67 B.C., but numismatic evidence shows he remained an authority in northern Parthia until 62/61 B.C.
SH27866. Silver tetradrachm, BMC Parthia p. 38, 3; Sellwood 30.2 (unknown king); Shore 130 var. (Orodes I), gVF, weight 14.337 g, maximum diameter 30.8 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukia on the Tigris (Bagdad, Iraq) mint, obverse cuirassed bust left with long beard, wears diadem and spiral necklace, circle of dots around; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ MEΓAΛOY APΣ−AKOY ΘEOΠATOPOΣ EYEPΓETOY EΠIΦANOYΣ ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ, Arsakes I seated right, legs crossed, bow in extended right, monogram above; toned, fine style; SOLD


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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This reverse depicts the second triumphal arch awarded to Augustus for defeating the Parthians and recovering the military standards lost by Crassus in 53 B.C., one of the most disastrous defeats suffered by Rome to date.
SH29163. Silver denarius, RIC I 136, BMCRE I 427 var. (aureus), RSC I -, VF, weight 3.517 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, Spanish mint, 18 B.C.; obverse S P Q R IMP CAESARI AVG COS XI TRI POT VI, bare head right; reverse CIVIB ET SIGN MILIT A PART RECVP, facing quadriga on top of triumphal arch, flanked by two figures holding standard, aquila and bow; rare; SOLD


Parthian Empire, Vologases V, c. 191 - 208 A.D.

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Vologases V supported Pescennius Niger in the Roman Empire's civil war. After defeating Niger, Septimius Severus marched his legions into Babylonia in 198 A.D. While he achieved some success, Severus was forced to withdraw his forces from Parthia.
SH26772. Silver drachm, Sellwood 86/4, Shore 449, EF, weight 3.496 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, c. 191 - 208 A.D.; obverse bust facing, bunches of hair at sides and on top of head, long pointed beard engraved with short random strokes, necklet arched; reverse blundered Aramaic and Greek legend forming square around archer seated right; rare; SOLD


Parthian Empire, Vologases V, c. 191 - 208 A.D.

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Vologases V supported Pescennius Niger in the Roman Empire's civil war. After defeating Niger, Septimius Severus marched his legions into Babylonia in 198 A.D. While he achieved some success, Severus was forced to withdraw his forces from Parthia.
SH01402. Silver drachm, Sellwood 86/4, Shore 449, EF, weight 3.34 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, c. 191 - 208 A.D.; obverse bust facing, bunches of hair at sides and on top of head, long pointed beard engraved with short random strokes, necklet arched; reverse blundered Aramaic and Greek legend forming square around archer seated right; nicely toned; rare; SOLD


Parthian Empire, Orodes I, c. 80 - 75 B.C.

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Orodes I ruled the Parthian Empire from c. 80 - 75 B.C. in succession to Gotarzes I and Mithridates III. He reigned during the "Parthian Darkage," a period of internal turmoil and civil war for Parthia. Coins of Orodes were issued from the Median mints of Ecbatana and Rhagae. Parthian history is quite obscure during this period, but Orodes' reign seems to have ended, as it had begun, in civil war with an unknown claimant. The name of his successor, Arsaces XVI, is also unknown. Orodes is mentioned as king of kings of the Arsacid dynasty in a Babylonian report of the lunar eclipse of 11 April 80 B.C.
SH26698. Silver drachm, Sellwood 34.3 (Sinatruces) var. (reverse legend placement), Shore 145 (Sinatruces) var. (same), Choice gVF/aEF, weight 3.788 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rhagae (Ray, part of Tehran, Iran) mint, obverse bearded bust left wearing tiara, pellet ended torque, anchor behind; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ − MEΓAΛOY / APΣAKOY − EYEPΓETOY − EΠIΦANOYΣ / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ squared legend around, Arsakes seated right on throne, bow in right, empty sleeve pointed and ending at seat level, Greek legend forming square around; ex Dr. Busso Peus Auktion 363, Lot 5140 (image used on http://Parthia.com); rare; SOLD


Parthian Empire, Phraates III, 70 - 57 B.C.

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When Phraates III came to the throne, the Roman general Lucullus was preparing to attack Tigranes the Great, king of Armenia. Since Tigranes had wrested Mesopotamia and several vassal states from Parthia, Phraates declined to assist Tigranes and, in 65 B.C., Phraatess III allied with Pompey against Tigranes. As a reward, Rome returned Mesopotamia to Parthia. Pompey soon disregarded the treaty, returned Tigranes to his throne, took the vassal states Gordyene and Osroene for Rome, and denied Phraates III the title of "king of kings." About 57 B.C., Phraates III was murdered by his two sons, Orodes II and Mithridates III.
GS82648. Silver drachm, parthia.com PDC 6937 (described as M below bow but appears as Π), Sellwood 38.10 var. (same), Shore -, Sunrise -, nice gVF, die wear, weight 4.095 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Margiane (near Mary, Turkmenistan) mint, 62 - 57 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust left, long pointed beard, pellet-ended spiral torque, border of dots; reverse beardless archer (Arsakes I) seated right on throne, wearing bashlyk and cloak, bow in right hand, Π below bow; squared six-line Greek inscription BAΣIΛEΩΣ / MEΓAΛOY above, APΣAKOY on right, EYEPΓETOY below, EΠIΦANOYΣ / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ on the left; from the Robert L3 Collection, ex Pars Coins (April 2012); very rare; SOLD


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

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The Roman–Parthian War of 161 - 166 was fought between the Roman and Parthian Empires over Armenia and Upper Mesopotamia. In 166, the Romans made successful campaigns into lower Mesopotamia and Media, and sacked Ctesiphon, the Parthian capital. The Romans were be victorious but the returning army brought back a pandemic known as the Antonine Plague. The plague significantly depopulated the entire Roman Empire.
SH76376. Silver denarius, RIC III 163a, RSC II 878, BMCRE IV 406, Hunter II 33, SRCV II 4933, Choice VF, excellent centering and bold strike, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.079 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, summer - Dec 166 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX, laureate head right; reverse TR P XX IMP IIII COS III, Victory standing slightly left, head right, palm frond vertical in right hand, shield inscribed VIC PAR set on palm tree in left hand; from the Scott Collection; SOLD


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

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PAR AR AD abbreviates Parthicus Arabicus Adiabenicus; the Parthian, the Arabian, the Adiabenican titles given to Septimius Severus for having conquered those countries.
SH47733. Silver denarius, RSC III 360, BMCRE V 627, cf. RIC IV 496 corr. and 494B var. (obv. legend), SRCV II -, aEF, weight 2.013 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Laodicea ad Mare (Latakia, Syria) mint, 198 A.D.; obverse L SEP SEVERVS PER AVG P M IMP XI, laureate head right; reverse PAR AR AD TR P VI COS II P P, trophy of captured arms, two bound captives at feet, wearing peaked Parthian caps; rare; SOLD


Parthian Empire, Phraatakes V, 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.

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Struck at the time of Jesus' birth.
SH57274. Silver drachm, Shore 319 (this coin), Sellwood 56.13, SNG Cop -, aEF, toned, weight 3.845 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Mithradatkart mint, 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust left, pointed beard, three diadem ends, star in crescent before, Nike flying behind crowning him with wreath; reverse degraded legend, Archer enthroned right, bow in extended right, fire altar behind, Mithradatkart mint mark monogram (T/M/Θ) under throne; this is the plate coin in Fred B. Shore's Parthian Coins and History; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Abgarians, M. & D. Sellwood. "A Hoard of Early Parthian Drachms" in NC 1971.
Alram, M. Iranisches Personennamenbuch: Nomina Propria Iranica In Nummis. Osterreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften. (Wien, 1986).
Assar, G. "Genealogy and Coinage of the Early Parthian Rulers, II" in Parthica 6, 2004.
Assar, G. "Genealogy and Coinage of the Early Parthian Rulers, II" in Parthica 7, 2005.
Assar, G. "A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 91- 55 BC" in Parthica 8, 2006.
Assar, G. "Recent Studies in Parthian History: Part II" in The Celator 15, No. 1, January 2001.
Busso Peus. Busso Peus Sale 388, Sammlung Dr. Robert Gonnella, November 1, 2006.
Classical Numismatic Group. CNG Auction 36, Fred B. Shore Collection of Parthian Coins, December 5-6, 1995.
Fröhlich, C. Monnaies indo-scythes et indo-parthes, Catalogue raisonné Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 2008).
Hopkins, E. "Parthia.com: The Coins of Parthia" - www.parthia.com
Nelson, B., ed., Numismatic Art of Persia. The Sunrise Collection, Part I: Ancient - 650 BC to AD 650. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Sellwood, D. An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia. 2nd edition. (London, 1980).
Sellwood, D. "New Parthian coin types" in NC 1989.
Sellwood, D. "The End of the Parthian Dynasty" in NumCirc June 1990.
Shore, F. Parthian Coins and History: Ten Dragons Against Rome. (Quarryville, 1993).
Sinisi, F. Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum, Volume VII: Vologases I - Pacorus II. (Wein, 2012).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum. Vol. 7: Cyprus to India. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Wroth, W. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Parthia. (London, 1903).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, October 22, 2019.
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