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Early Parthians I


Silver tetradrachms, drachms, bronzes, and fractions from Arsakes I to Bagasis, with the attributions of David Sellwood, the Coinage of Parthia, Farhad Assar, and Fred Shore, Parthian Coins and History. Attributions of Parthian coins are in flux now. For convenience's sake I will stick with the Sellwood system for my gallery.

54 files, last one added on Dec 26, 2016

Early Parthians II


Silver and bronze tetradrachms, drachms and chalkoi from Artabanos I. to the end of the reign of Mithradates II. I follow the David Sellwood attributions from 1980 regarding the sequence of the rulers. Fred Shore and Farhad Assar are also consulted for attributions. Deviations from Sellwood are noted in the description of the coins.

78 files, last one added on Jan 15, 2017

Parthian Dark Age I


The period of about 90 BC (the end of the reign of Mithradates II.) and circa 57 BC (the established rule of Orodes II.) is referred to as the 'Dark Age' because of the number of rulers, co-rulers, an sub-kings and shifts of territory. Attributions are uncertain, new theories and sources are currently published. Again, for reasons of convenience, the Sellwood system ist used as a guide line, but other interpretations are mentioned in the descriptions of the coins.

54 files, last one added on Sep 13, 2016

Parthian Dark Age II


Drachms and bronzes of Dareios of Media Atropatene, Phraates III., and one of his sons and killers, Mithradates III. to the time of the latter's death at the hands of his brother, Orodes II. in ca. 54 BC. An S. 44.1 tetradrachm which belongs most likely to the coinage of Mithradates III. is shown under the heading of Orodes II. in the following album to remain consistent with David Sellwood's attributions.

41 files, last one added on Jan 15, 2017

Middle Parthian Period I


I begin with Orodes II., victorious over the Romans at Carrhae, Phraates IV., the usurper Tiridates, and Phraatakes, the latter famous for having married his mother. Patricide, fratricide, and filicide are rampant. The coin quality begins to deteriorate, metallurgically and artistically, and correct Greek legends become the exception. Only few drachms reach the Attic weight standard any longer. Phraatakes' drachms from eastern mints have cartoon-like obverses and reverses that no longer have identifiable letters.
Little did I realize how many Orodes coins had accumulated over the years, so I will break up the period into as many albums as I need. Middle Parthian Period II picks up with Phraates IV.

73 files, last one added on Sep 08, 2016

Middle Parthian Period II


Middle Parthian Period II opens with Phraates IV, and continues with Tiridates, Phraatakes, and Phraatakes and Musa. Coin quality is in rapid decline, most of the Eastern mints appear to have no skilled celators. Artistically, the tetradrachms still stand out as do a few drachm issues mainly from Ekbatana and Rhagai.

70 files, last one added on Sep 11, 2016

Middle Parthian Period III


This section begins with Orodes III (6-8 AD) and shows the ever deteriorating coinage of the following rulers until Pakoros II (78 - 105 AD). On the drachms, the portraits consist more and more of straight lines and dots. The tetradrachms are really made of billon metal, no longer of high grade silver. The Eastern mints put out greater quantities of drachms, albeit usually of low quality metal and design. Copper drachms appear, always from Eastern mints. New attributions are mentioned, but the old Sellwood system is maintained for the time being.

79 files, last one added on Jan 15, 2017

Late Parthians I


Find tetradrachms, drachms and some fractions in these two sections that begin with Pakoros II. and end with the last Parthian kings Artabanos IV. and Vologases VI. and a presumed prince named Tiridates. Most of these coins no longer bear any resemblance to the fine design and workmanship of the Early Period that was dominated by Greek artisans. Their quality is a reflection of the problems of the empire and its rulers, the shaky alliances and costly conflicts with Rome, ongoing internecine struggles, and sales and losses of territory. One notes flickers of quality in the drachms and bronzes of Osroes I., Vologases V., Artabanos IV., and Vologases VI. before the Parthian Empire collapses around 228 AD and is taken over by an indigenous Iranian power, the Sassanians under Ardashir I.

55 files, last one added on Sep 29, 2016

Late Parthians II


The drachms of Mithradates IV. lead the second part of this last section of my Parthian coins. They still show some quality of metal and design, but the steep downward curve continues with most of the tetradrachms of Vologases IV., and all of those of Vologases V. and VI. In some of the late drachms, again, we can still find artistic skill, especially with Vologases V., VI., Artabanos IV., and the mysterious Prince Tiridates.

72 files, last one added on Jan 15, 2017

Eastern Parthians


As far as I know, three Parthian kings had bronze drachms minted in Areia and Margiane when they held or were confined to the eastern provinces of the Parthian Empire. Some other rulers minted the odd bronze drachm, but their number is negligible. The bulk of these coins were issued by Artabanos II., 10 - 38 AD, Vardanes I., 40 - 45 AD, and Vologases III., 105 - 147 AD. These drachms are of lesser artistic value; nevertheless, they are of some numismatic and historical interest. One can speculate why these rulers issued AE drachms: Was silver so rare in the East, were they in such dire streets that they could not afford silver, or were the lesser drachms meant to be an interim solution. The die cutters were certainly not first rate, and all of their products seem to have been made in haste.
The Sanabares on my AE drachms is most likely a Parthian prince or sub king who ruled in one of the Eastern provinces of the empire in what is now Turkmenistan (Margiane = Merv) around 125 AD. He is probably not identical with an Indo-Parthian ruler of the same name who struck coins in Seistan ( = Sakastan in Eastern Iran) and Arachiosa (in today’s Afghanistan) and belongs to the Gondopharan dynasty. There is great confusion in the literature, some authors think that there was just one Sanabares from the Gondophares line, an Indo-Parthian, in the province of Seistan. Dates are uncertain, too, they range between the first and third century AD.

55 files, last one added on Nov 06, 2016



This semi-independent state frequently under Parthian domination existed between the second century BC and the early third century AD. It was located in southwestern Persia in what the Achaemenides called Khustestan. Strabo describes its inhabitants, the 'Elymaei', as one of the four predatory tribes of the region. As capitals the cities of Susa and Seleukia on the Hedyphon took turns. According to Le Rider, the Elymaean king Kamnaskires I. (Soter) established himself as ruler of Susiana during a period of diminished Seleukid control. He was followed by Kamnaskires Nikephoros, usurpers like Okkonapses, Tigraios, and Dareios, and the Parthian viceroy Phraates II. At around 82/81 BC the Later Kamnaskirids take over with Kamnaskires III. and his queen Anzaze. Their beautiful tetradrachm (which, unfortunately, I do not own) was minted in Seleukia on the Hedyphon. During the reign of Kamnaskires IV. (63/62 - 54/53 BC) the quality of the silver coins deteriorates drastically. The Greek legends of his successor, Kamnaskires V., are illegible. Bronze drachms begin to replace silver in around 60 AD, dates are no longer used, and reverses begin to show mere dashes. At around that time, a new dynasty, which is believed to be Parthian, appears with Orodes I. His drachms still show a Greek legend which is gradually abandoned under his son, Kamnaskires Orodes, in favor of Aramaic. His successor, Phraates (early mid-second cent.), is the last ruler that can be dated with a measure of certainty. He is followed by Osroes, Orodes III., Orodes IV., Orodes V., Prince A and Prince B, and an even less known Unidentified King (Van't Haaff). In 221 AD, the Sassanian king Ardashir conquers Khusestan and puts an end to Elymaean coinage.

59 files, last one added on Apr 08, 2017

Parthia Related Coins


This group consists of coins that existed in and around, before and after the Parthian Empire. They include currency from the Achaemenid Empire (1), Persis, Charakene, the Roman Empire, an intriguing group of 5 Daoi (Dahai) hemidrachms and obols, Kushans, Hephtalites, as well as Indo-Parthians with a batch of copper drachms presumably from the Jammu/Kashmir region. Unfortunately I do not have any Seleukid coins.

The Achaemenid Empire (7th to 4th cent. BC) was one of the greatest empires in ancient history. During its largest expanse it reached from the Aegean coast to the Hindukush, from the Central Asian steppes to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. As there was no prevailing coin economy outside the Aegean provinces no currency system was developed in the Iranian heartland where the simple lumpy gold and silver coins showing a running king were minted at Sardes.

Persis was the province of Fars in the southeast of today’s Iran and politically and strategically rather unimportant during Parthian times, which is why it retained a relative autonomy. Coins made from the early 3rd cent. BC to the end of the 2nd cent. AD were probably only intended for local use. Three distinct periods of coin production with intermittent suspension of coinage can be seen: phase 1 begins with the death of Seleukos Nikator around 280 BC and ends around 220 BC with the invasion of Antiochos III in Media; phase 2 begins with the defeat of Antiochos III in 190 BC and ends with the Parthian conquest of Mesopotamia and Susiana in 140 BC; phase 3 begins in the 90s BC and lasts until the accession of Papak’s sons, Shahpur and Ardashir, to the throne and the defeat of the Parthian Empire in 228 AD. Ardashir becomes the first Sassanian king thus re-establishing Iranian rule over areas that used to be the Achaemenid Empire.

The Daoi, or Dahae in Latin, were a confederation of three Indo-European, possibly Skythian, but not Indo-Iranian, tribes, one of which were the Parni located in what is today’s Turkmenistan. They took to the road in the 3rd cent. BC and moved to the southwest, invaded and settled the Persian province of Parthava whence they took their name as they usurped more and more territory of the crumbling Seleukid Empire. Their leader Arshak (Gr. Arsakes) became the first Parthian king after a revolt against the Seleukid Emperor Antiochos II.Theos.

Countermarked Parthians
In Sakastan between the 1st cent. BC and the 1st cent. AD, a number of genuine and imitation Parthian drachms, primarily of Gotarzes, Orodes I., Orodes II., and Phraates IV. were countermarked with a stamp in the shoulder area of the host coins. These marks were either integrated in the die or applied to the outside of the host coin’s flan - a glance at the reverse of the coin will tell which it is.The images on the countermarks are of Tanlis Mardates or unknown rulers.

Charakene (gr. Χαρακήνη) - IMHO there is no need to transcribe a Greek κ into English c as the English language has the letter k - was located to the southwest of Elymais on the Persian Gulf and up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Apameia. It was a part of the Parthian Empire, how independent is difficult to say for an almost total lack of literature leaves us without any clues. In 228 AD it became part of the Sasanian Empire.

24 files, last one added on Sep 16, 2017

12 albums on 1 page(s)

Last additions - Schatz's Gallery
Charakene, Unknown Ruler, 2nd cent. AD4 viewsAE tdr, 16,30gr, 26,26mm;
Alram , Mitch. ACW --, BMC1, De Morgan MNO #273;
mint: Charax Spasinou(?), axis: 12h;
obv.: bare-headed bust, right, w/diadem; med.-long hair in small curls, beardless face; necklace (?); cuirass or tunic, possibly traces of lettering in left field;
rev.: bare-headed bust, right; hair in small curls, beard (?); cuirass or tunic; possibly traces of lettering in right field;

ex: G. Clark, VA.
SchatzSep 16, 2017
Charakene, Mag'a, after 150 AD4 viewsAE tdr, 14,58gr, 26,19mm;
Alram 510, Mitch. ACW 735, De Morgan MNO #272;
mint: Charax Spasinou (?), axis 12h;
obv.: bust, right, w/tiara, diadem, loop, and 2 ribbons; mustache, pointed short beard, hair in rolls; necklace; cuirass; Aramaic lettering in fields;
rev.: bust, right, hair in 6 large rolls, mustache, short beard; Aramaic lettering in right field;

ex: H.D. Rauch summer auction ’09.
SchatzSep 16, 2017
Charakene, Mag'a, after 150 AD5 viewsAE tdr, 15,45gr, 25,92mm;
Alram 510, Mitch. ACW 735, De Morgan MNO #272;
mint: Charax Spasinou (?), axis: 12h;
obv.: bust, right, w/tiara, diadem, loop, and ribbons; mustache, pointed short beard; cuirass; trace of lettering in fields;
rev,: bust, right; hair in 6 large rolls, braid over crest of head (?), mustache, short pointed beard; necklace; Aramaic lettering in tight field;;

ex: H.D. Rauch summer auction ’09.
SchatzSep 16, 2017
Charakene, Attembelos IV, ca. 53 - 64 AD4 viewsAE tdr, 15,01gr, 25,38mm,
SGIC 5924var. (Attambelos III.), Mitch. ACW 729var. (Attambelos III.),
mint: Charax Spasinou (?), axis: 12h;
obv.: bare-headed, right, w/diadem and 2 ribbons; medium-long hair in 7 spiral locks, short beard; countermark monogram in neck area;
rev.: naked Herakles on rock or omphalos resting club on knee;
ex: Baltimore Coin Show.
SchatzSep 16, 2017
Sakastan, late 1st cent.BC - early 1 cent. AD, unknown ruler over Phraates IV5 viewsAR dr., 3,84gr, 18,65mm; Sellw. 91.13var., Shore 473var., Mitch. V, #612, Alram --;
mint: (?), axis: 12h;
obv.: imitation Phraates IV. countermarked w/ Eukratides like bust, right; eagle in right upper field; countermark integrated in die;
rev.: archer, right, on throne, w/bow; 7-line corrupted legend;

ex: Vienna Coin Show, VA.
SchatzSep 16, 2017
Sakastan, ca. 20 BC, unknown ruler over Phraates IV5 viewsSakastan, AR dr., late 1.cent. BC - early 1. cent. AD, 3,25gr, ;
Sellw. 91.13, Shore 473, Mitch. V. #612;
mint: Margiane (?), axis: 12h;
obv.: imitation Phraates IV countermarked w/Eukratides like bust, right; eagle w/diadem in right upper field; the countermark is integrated in the die;
rev.: archer, right, on throne, w/bow, monogr. Π below; corrupted legend;

ex: B. Peus Auction 384/85, #412
SchatzSep 16, 2017
Sakastan, late 1st cent. BC - early 1st cent. AD, unknown ruler over Phraates IV9 viewsAR dr., 3,55gr, 19,25mm
Sellw. 91.12, Shore 472, Senior 1991 D;
mint: Margiane or Sogdiana, axis: 12h; Sakastan, AR dr., late 1. cent. BC - early 1. cent. AD, AR dr., 3,55gr, 19,25mm;
obv.: bare-headed bust of Phraates IV, left, (Sellw.52.19); diadem, knot, and 2 broad ribbons joined at the end; med.-long hair in 5 waves, mustache, short pointed beard; royal wart; in upper right field eagle carrying wreath or diadem; on left shoulder oval countermark w/Eukratides style helmeted bust, right, surrounded by beads; host coin has BB 12 - 18h;
rev.: archer,right, on throne, w/bow and monogr. Π; 5 lines of corrupted ‘Greek’ legend visible;

ex: CNG Auction 398, #370.

1 commentsSchatzSep 15, 2017
Sakastan, Tanlis over Gotarzes I.5 viewsAR dr., after 95 BC, 3,89gr, 21,8mm;
genuine or imitation Sellw. 33type countermarked on obv. w/Tanlis bust facing right, surrounded by name TANΛIΣ;
axis: 12h;
rev: archer, right, on throne, w/bow; 5-line legend: BAΣIΛEΩΣ MEΓAΛoY APΣA(KoY) θEoΠAT(oPoΣ) NIKAToPoΣ

ex: Vienna Coin Show, VA.
SchatzSep 15, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, 130 - 1 BC22 viewsAR hdr, 1,38gr., 14,2mm;
MACW 355-59;
obv.: bare-headed, right, diadem, med.-long hair combed straight back, mustache, long beard; earring, necklace; along left rim the letters cKω; almost East Asian features;
rev.: deconstructed archer/soldier;

ex: Forum Ancient Coins.
SchatzJun 25, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, 250 - 130 BC17 viewsAR scyphate obol, 0,5gr., 10,9mm;
MACW 350, Rtveladze 36;
obv.: bare-headed, left, cicular line and 5 crescent shaped lines for top hair, 4 vertical lines for neck hair, beardless; necklace(?);
rev.: archer, left, facing, w/bow in left hand, short sword on left side(?), wearing tunic w/belt;

ex: Dmitry Markov Coins.
SchatzJun 25, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, 250 - 130 BC20 viewsAR scyphate obol, 0,36gr., 9,72mm;
MACW 350var.;
obv.: bare-headed, left; retrograde 6 and 5 crescent shaped lines for hair, beardless; in bottom and left field possibly traces of inscription;
rev.: headless, heavily stylized archer, facing, w/bow and arrow in left hand, right arm resting on tunic belt, short sword on left side (?);

ex: Xinjiang Coins (Silk Road).
SchatzJun 25, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, 250 - 130 BC19 viewsAR scyphate obol, 0,32gr. , 9,5mm;
MACW 350;
obv.: bare-headed, left, w/4 lines for top hair, 3 lines for neck hair; necklace (?) ;
rev.: headless and footless, heavily stylized archer, facing, w/bow and arrow in left hand, wearing tunic w/belt; large dot in left field, ∫ below;

ex: R. Thun, FL.
SchatzJun 25, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, 250 - 130 BC19 viewsAR scyphate obol,, 0,35gr., 10,05mm;
MACW 348; some green deposits;
obv.: bare-headed, left, 1 circle and 4 curved vertical lines for top hair and 3 vertical lines for neck hair, beardless; necklace (?); remnants of possible legend at bottom;
rev.: headless and footless, heavily stylized archer facing, holding bow and arrow in right hand, dressed in tunic w/belt;

ex: R. Thun, FL.
SchatzJun 25, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, 250 - 130 BC23 viewsAR scyphate obol, 0,36gr., 9,94mm;
MACW 346;
obv. : bare headed, left, w/5 lines for top hair and 3 lines for neck hair, mustache; nose and forehead one curved line; large dot behind head in upper right field; line at bottom for necklace (?);
rev.: headless and footless archer, facing, w/tunic and belt, holding bow w/arrow (?) in left hand, right arm resting on belt;

ex: R. Thun, FL.
SchatzJun 25, 2017
Daoi (Dahae), Unknown Ruler, ca. 250 -130 BC35 viewsAR scyphate hdr, 2,55gr., 16,5mm;
Mitch. ACW 351;
mint: ? ; axis: 6h;
obv.: bare head, right, possibly w/diadem; short, cap like hair, beardless (?); necklace (?); so-called Seleukid style;
rev.: horse’s head, right, w/bridle and rein; symbol in lower right field;

ex: Vienna Coin Show, VA.
1 commentsSchatzJun 25, 2017
Persis23 viewsUncertain King, ca. 1.cent. AD, AR hdr., 1,46gr., 12mm;
Alram 619, Sunrise 646, K&M --;
mint: Persepolis, axis: ?;
obv.: bust, left, w/tiara and diadem, 2 loops and 2 ribbons, crescent on side of tiara, very long neck guard; mustache, short beard; double necklace;
rev.: 2 concentric circles w/2 ribbons in the center (diadem?); along the lower half of the rim Aramaic letters;

ex: Peus Auction 404/405, part of a multi-coin lot.
SchatzJun 13, 2017

Random files - Schatz's Gallery
Phraates IV., 38 - 2 BC18 viewsAR tdr., 14,79gr, 30,9mm; Sellwood 52.4, Shore 273, Sunrise 391var. (date);
mint: Seleukia; axis: 12h;
obv.: bare-headed, left, w/ 4-layer broad diadem and 3 ribbons; medium-long hair in 4 waves, mustache, medium-long beard squared at the end; wart on side of forehead; multi-turn torque; cuirass w/ eagle on shoulder and star on chest; dotted border 8:30 to 15h;
rev.: king, right, on throne, facing helmeted goddess offering diadem in outstretched right hand while holding lance in left arm; dot between throne legs; 7-line legend: (B)AΣIΛC(ΩΣ) BAΣIΛCΩ(N) APΣAKOY CVCPΓCTV ΔIKAIOV (the bottom line to be read rom the inside), (C)ΠIΦΛNOYΣ (ΦIΛ off flan)CΛΛHNOΣ ; below bottom line in exergue the year HΠΣ (25 BC) and the month ΠANHMO(V) (June);

ex: Pars Coins.
1 commentsSchatz
Phraatakes, 2 BC - 4 AD4 viewsAR dr., 3,40gr, 19,1mm; Sellwood 56.13var. (mint mark), Shore 320, Sunrise -;
mint: Nisa; axis: 12h;
obv.: bare-headed, left, w/3 layer diadem and 3 ribbons; medium-long hair in 5 waves, mustache, long pointed beard in rows of dashes; 3-turn necklace; crescent and star in left, Nike offering diadem in right upper field; dotted border 11 to 15:30h;
rev.: archer, right, on throne, w/bow in one hand and monogram (reversed NI) below; behind throne large unidentified object (fire altar?); totally stylized meaningless legend.
Vologases III., 105 - 147 AD6 viewsAE dr., 3,55 gr., 14,2mm;
Sellw. 78.12var.(weight), 93.5(Sanabares), Shore 478, Koch 6, 31-37;
mint: Margiane, axis: 12h;
bare-headed, left, w/diadem; long hair in 3 waves, comb like crest, mustache, no cheek hair, long beard composed of vertical lines; earring; dotted border 8 - 13h;
rev.: archer, right, on stool like seat, w/bow in right hand, mint mark Π below, in left field part of monogr. 83, all letters off flan;
a remarkably detailed and lifelike representation of the archer, easily the best on all late Eastern drachms;

ex: H. Hass, GER.
Pakoros II., 77/78 - 105 AD10 viewsAR tdr., 13,44gr, 25,8mm; Sellwood 75.4, Shore -, Sunrise -, Sinisi Type II, p. 86;
mint: Seleukia; axis: 12h;
obv.: bare-headed, left, w/facing torso; 4-layer broad diadem, 1 loop and 2 broad ribbons; medium-long hair in 4 waves of curls, beardless; 3-layer necklace; tunic w/ornamental border; in upper right field Δ;
rev.: king, left, on horseback, facing goddess w/staff or sceptre offering diadem in right hand behind her male figure w/untied diadem(?); 1 line of legend readable: (BACIΛEΩC) (BACIΛEΩN) (APCAKOY) ΠΛKO(POV) (EΠIΦANOVC) (ΦIΛEΛΛHNOC); exergual line; year between the heads and month in exergue unreadable;

Sinisi plate coin # 1114, p. 60;

ex: Baldwin’s Auction 90 (09/14) (The David Sellwood Collection)