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Imperial Persian Great King Sigloi

The coinage of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire in Lydia was a continuation of the coins of the Lydian Kingdom. Achaemenid coinage includes the official imperial issues, gold darics and silver sigloi, issued from 520 BCE to 330 BCE, as well as coins issued by the Achaemenid governors (Satraps), such as those stationed in ancient Asia Minor. Types I, II and IIIa were issued with a standard c. 5.40 grams all beginning under Darius I.  Before 480 BC, beginning with the issue of Type IIIb, the standard was increased to c. 5.60 grams  Purity was at first issue 97-98% but by the middle 4th century was 94-95%. 1 Siglos = 7.5 Attic Obols. Types III and IV may have been issued simultaneously by different mints.  Types III and IV both have significant variations in fabric and style and may have been issued by multiple mints. Hoard evidence suggests these sigloi circulated mostly within western Anatolia. 

See coins of Lydia under the rule of the Persian Achaemenid Empire for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins shop.



Price, M.J. & N. Waggoner. Archaic Greek Coinage. The Asyut Hoard. (London, 1975).

BMC Arabia:

Hill, G.F. Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum: Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia. (London, 1922).


Carradice, Ian. Coinage and Administration in the Athenian and Persian Empires. British Archaeological Reports 343. (Oxford, 1987).

Carradice NC 1998:

Carradice, Ian. "Two Achaemenid Hoards." in Numismatic Chronicle 158. (Cambridge, 1998).

Carradice Price:

Carradice, Ian. "The Dinar Hoard of Persian Sigloi" in Studies in Greek Numismatics in Memory of Martin Jessop Price. (London, 1998)


Klein, Dieter. Sammlung von Griechischen Kleinsilbermünzen und Bronzen. Nomismata 3. (Milano, 1999).


Nelson, Bradley R., ed. Numismatic Art of Persia. The Sunrise Collection, Part I: Ancient - 650 BC to AD 650. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).

Noe Sigloi:

Noe, Sydney P. Two Hoards of Persian Sigloi. Numismatic Notes and Monographs 136. (New York, 1956)


Waggoner, N. M. Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen. ANS ACNAC 5. (New York, 1983).

SNG Kayhan:

Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).


Sear, David. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).


Winzer, Axel.  Antike portraitmünzen der Perser und Greichen aus vor-hellenistischer Zeit (Zeitraum ca. 510-322 v.Chr.). Die frühesten Portraits lebender Menschen: Von Dareios I. bis Alexander III. (March-Hugstetten, 2005).

Siglos Types

Type I. Darius I, c. 521 - 510/505 BC. c. 5.30 - 5.40 g.

Half length figure of the Great King right, crowned, two arrows in right, bow in left, bearded, crowned. Sardis mint.

Siglos. Carradice type I: Carradice plate XI, 10; BMC Arabia, p. 175, 196 ff.; SGCV II 3427; Klein 753 (510 - 486 BC); Noe Sigloi pl. XIV, 473 ff.; Carradice NC 1998 pl. 3, 52 - 57; Winzer 1.3; Sunrise 17 - 18; SNG Kayhan -; Rosen -; Asyut Hoard -. Rare.
1/24 siglos. Carradice type I: Klein 759 (0.20 g). Very rare.

Type II. Darius I, c. 510/505 - 486 BC. c. 5.30 - 5.39 g.

Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, drawing bow, bearded, crowned, quiver at shoulder. Sardis mint. The gold daric was introduced at this time as well.

Siglos. Carradice type II: Carradice plate XI, 11 - 13; BMC Arabia p. 173, 185 ff.; SGCV II 3428; Klein 754; Noe Sigloi pl. XIII, 215 ff.; Carradice NC 1998 pl. 3, 58 ff.; Asyut Hoard 714; Winzer 1.6; Sunrise 21. Common. 73935
1/2 siglos. Carradice type II: Rosen 669 (3.658 g). Very rare.

1/3 siglos. Carradice type II: SGCV II 3429, SNG Kayhan 1027 (1.78 g), Klein 755 (1.71 g), Winzer 1.7 (1.81 g), Sunrise 22 (1.75 g). Rare. 32197
1/4 siglos. Carradice type II: Klein 756 (1.36 g), Sunrise 23 (1.48 g). Very rare.

1/6 siglos. Carradice type II: Winzer 1.8 (0.88g), otherwise unpublished in references. Forum SH65762 (0.864 g) & SH73153 (0.764 g), cf. Klein 756 (1/4 siglos); SNG Kayhan 1027 (1/3 siglos). Very rare. 65762
1/12 siglos. Carradice type II: SNG Kayhan 1028 (0.45 g), Klein 757 (0.44 g) & 758 (0.34 g), Winzer 1.9 (0.38 g). Very rare.
1/32 siglos. Carradice type II: Klein 760 (0.14 g), Winzer 1.10 (0.14 g). Very rare.

Type III. Darius I - Artaxerxes II, c. 490 - 375 BC.

Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, transverse spear with point downward in right, bow in left, bearded, crowned. Sardis mint. Possibly introduced in connection with the accession of Xerxes.

Type IIIa. Darius I - Xerxes I, c. 490/480 - 475 BC. c. 5.30 - 5.39 g.

Lighter weight standard, c. 5.30 - 5.39 g, is the most important distinction from Type IIIb but it is difficult to determine intended weight with wear. Usually two pellets behind beard, generally a life-like well proportioned figure, V-shaped folds on front of drapery, long beard with flat end, quiver visible.  Possibly introduced in connection with the accession of Xerxes, c. 485 B.C.

Siglos. Carradice type IIIa: Carradice plate XI, 14 - 15; BMC Arabia, p. 155, 57 and pl XXV, 11; SGCV II 4678; Carradice NC 1998 pl. 5, 107 ff. and pl. 8, 1 - 4; Rosen -; SNG Kayhan -. Scarce.

Siglos. Carradice type IIIa style, light standard, without pellets: Carradice NC 1998, pl. 8, 5 - 16; Asyut Hoard 715 - 731. Scarce. There may have been two mints, one issuing with the two pellets and one without. Most or possibly all light weight examples without pellets are type IIIb. 29989 Purim

Type IIIb (early). Xerxes I - Darius II, c. 485 - 420 BC. c. 5.55 - 5.60 g.

Drapery with naturalistic fold over the advanced left knee, no pellets, sometimes appears beardless, often cartoon-like or crude, sometimes an elongated face, sometimes quiver not visible, significant variation in style.

Klein dates Type IIIb 485 - 470 BC.

Siglos. Carradice type IIIb (early): Carradice plate XII, 16 ff.; SNG Kayhan 1030 (crude); Rosen 673; SGCV II 4682; Carradice NC 1998 pl. 7, 155 ff.; Carradice Price p. 67 and pl. 17, 1 ff.; Winzer 1.11; Sunrise 25; Asyut Hoard -. Common. 89585 Purim
1/8 siglos. Carradice type IIIb (early): Sunrise 26 (0.72 g). Very rare.

Plated counterfeit siglos. Carradice type IIIb (early): cf. SNG Kayhan 1030; Rosen 673; SGCV II 4682 (all official). Common. 37432

Carradice NC 1998 discusses two styles, each with three sub-types. Style A has a stocky figure usually with a large square ended beard. Style B has a slimmer figure, often with a cartoon-like large eye and aquiline nose, and sometimes a beard composed of curved or vertical lines. Significant differences in style often indicate a type was struck at more than one mint, however, both styles share reverse dies. Type IIIb might have been struck at more than one mint, but it remains unproven.  

Type IIIb (late). Artaxerxes I - Artaxerxes II, c. 450 - 375 BC. c. 5.55 - 5.60 g.

Stylistic drapery with broad semi-circular sweep of folds from the left knee back to the right heel, no pellets, large formal figure, often V-shaped folds on front of drapery, sometimes quiver not visible. Possibly struck at multiple mints.

Siglos. Carradice type IIIb (late): Carradice plate XIV, 36 ff.; SNG Kayhan 1029; Rosen 671 - 672; SGCV II 4682; Klein 761; Carradice Price p. 69 and pl. 18, 79 ff.; Sunrise 29; Asyut Hoard -. Common. 83450
1/8 siglos. Carradice type IIIb (late): Klein 762 (0.68 g). Very rare.
1/8 siglos. Carradice type IIIa/b, with Aramaic inscription (from Phoenicia or Gaza?, early - mid 4th century B.C.?): Sunrise 31. Extremely rare.

Type IV. Artaxerxes I - Darius III, c. 450 - 340 B.C.

Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, dagger in right, bow in left, bearded, crowned, sometimes a symbol in reverse incuse. Possibly struck at more than one mint. Distinguishing between the types can be challenging. BMC Arabia breaks down Type IV into groups that do not appear to correspond to Carradice's A, B and C. Dealer catalogs and online listings with the same styles identified as variously as styles A, B and C (sometimes appearing to be labeled at random) indicate confusion is shared by some experienced numismatists.  Coins are often attributed as Carradice Type IV A/B, Artaxerxes I - Artaxerxes II, c. 455 - 375 B.C. 

Siglos. Carradice type IV A/B: SGCV II 4683; BMC Arabia p. 165, 125 ff.; SNG Kayhan 1033 ff., Rosen 674 ff.
Plated counterfeit siglos. Carradice type IV A/B: SNG Kayhan 1034 (4.29 g); cf. SGCV II 4683 (official)
1/4 siglos. Carradice type IV A/B: Rosen 679 (1.360 g); BMC Arabia p. 167, 143, pl. XXVI, 27; cf. Klein 764 (late C, 1.26 g); SNG Kayhan 1041 (late C, 1.30 g); Sunrise 37 (late C, 1.21 g). Very rare.

1/24 siglos. Carradice type IV A/B: apparently unpublished, cf. Klein 759 (1/24 Siglos, Carradice type I) and Klein 765 (1/8 Siglos, Carradice type IV). Very rare. 83018

Type IV (early) A. Artaxerxes I - Darius II, c. 450 - 420 BC. c. 5.55 - 5.60 g.

Stiff figure, shapeless body completely lacking a waist, often cartoon-like, sometimes pellets on arms, sometimes appears beardless, dotted exergue line.

Siglos. Carradice type IV (early) A, no symbol: Carradice Price p. 71 and pl. 19, 146 ff.; Rosen 678; SNG Kayhan 1035; SNG Kayhan 1037 (irregular flan); SGCV II 4683; Rosen 675 - 676 & 678; Asyut Hoard -. Common. 81133

Type IV (middle) B. Darius II - Artaxerxes II, c. 420 - 375 BC. c. 5.55 - 5.60 g.

Stylistic formal figure, waist indicated, often pellets on sleeves, large eye, short beard, sometimes no quiver visible, dotted or plain exergue line, often smooth within the incuse.

Siglos. Carradice type IV (middle) B, no symbol: Carradice Price p. 73 and pl. 19, 217 ff.; SNG Kayhan 1033; SGCV II 4683; Rosen 678; Asyut Hoard -. Common. 91528

Siglos. Carradice type IV, lion head left roaring with open mouth within reverse incuse: Carradice plate XIII, 35; BMC Arabia p. 163, 110 ff., pl. XXVI, 10 ff. Rare. 58261
Siglos. Carradice type IV, incuse lion head right within reverse incuse: BMC Arabia p. 164, 118 - 119, pl. XXVI, 15 - 16. Rare.
Siglos. Carradice type IV, stylized facing lion's head within reverse incuse: BMC Arabia p. 164, 120 - 121, pl. XXVI, 17 - 18. Very rare.
Siglos. Carradice type IV, stylized facing lion's head resembling palmette within reverse incuse: BMC Arabia p. 165, 122 - 123, pl. XXVI 19 - 20. Very rare.
Siglos. Carradice type IV, helmet facing within reverse incuse: Carradice plate XIII, 34; BMC Arabia p. 165, 124, pl. XXVI, 21. Very rare.
1/4 siglos. Carradice type IV (middle) B: BMC Arabia p. 167, 143, pl. XXVI, 27; cf. Rosen 679 (A/B, 1.360 g); Klein 764 (late C, 1.26 g); SNG Kayhan 1041 (late C, 1.30 g); Sunrise 37 (late C, 1.21 g). Very rare. 94117

Type IV (late) C. Artaxerxes II - Darius III, c. 375 - 336 BC.

Attractive formal regal figure, three or four annulets or pellets on chest, neat style, large head, long beard, usually v-shaped folds on front of kandys, usually stylistic drapery with broad semi-circular sweep of folds from the left knee back to the right heel, plain exergue line, irregular incuse.

Siglos. Carradice type IV (late) C: Carradice plate XV, 46 ff.; BMC Arabia p. 171, 172 ff., pl. XXVII, 18 - 19; SNG Kayhan 1031; SGCV II 4683; Rosen 677; Klein 763; Carradice Price p. 77 and pl. 20, 387 ff.; Sunrise 33 - 36; Asyut Hoard -. Common. 80535

1/4 siglos. Carradice type IV (late) C: Klein 764 (1.26 g); SNG Kayhan 1041 (1.30 g); Sunrise 37 (1.21 g); cf. Rosen 679 (early A?, 1.360 g), BMC Arabia p. 167, 143, pl. XXVI, 27 (middle B). Very rare. 79827
1/8 siglos. Carradice type IV (late) C: Klein 765 (0.62 g). Very rare.

Countermarks on Imperial Persian Sigloi

Chart of 208 varieties adapted from the format as published by George F. Hill in the British Museum Catalog, volume on Persia, p. cxxxvii. First prepared as a chart of 187 varieties and published in the article, "Notes on the Imperial Persian Coinage," Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1919, 116ff. Reprinted in 1977 by Obol International as Imperial Persian Coinage.

In the following illustrations, the areas in black are incuse, that is, they descend below the surface of the metal. Design areas in white are to be understood as standing in relief against the surface of the metal which has been depressed around them. Some marks are entirely incuse, and a few are in relief against a depression of the metal around them. Most marks consist of a combination of incuse and relief design elements.

The marks have not been drawn to any common scale.

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