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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Persia & Mesopotamia||View 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.

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

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleucus| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |280| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
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.
GY95974. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Houghton-Lorber I 177; Newell ESM 314; BMC Seleucid p. 3, 33 - 34; HGC 9 18c (R1-R2), aVF, high relief head of Zeus, old cabinet toning, flow lines, porosity, light marks, minor edge flaw on reverse, weight 16.251 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 180o, Susa (Shush, Iran) mint, c. 295 - 280 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus right; reverse Athena driving biga of horned elephants, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on left, ΣEΛEYKOY in exergue, spearhead (control) above right, A(or E or M over Ω?, obscure, control) lower right before elephants; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $1600.00 (€1472.00)
 


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

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Vologases| |V,| |c.| |191| |-| |208| |A.D.||drachm|
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.
GS96065. Silver drachm, Sellwood 86.3; Shore 448; Sunrise 455; BMC Parthia p. 239, 17, EF, toned, flow lines, die wear, marks, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 3.727 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, c. 191 - 208 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust facing, oval bunches of hair at sides and on top of head, vertical lines divide the top bunch of hair into thirds, long pointed beard engraved with straight lines; reverse archer seated right, blundered Aramaic and Greek legend forming square around, AT monogram (Ecbatana mintmark) under bow; from the Robert| L3 Collection; ex Ponterio & Associates, C.I.C.F. auction 146 (25 Apr 2008), lot 1310; first specimen of this type handled by FORVM; rare; $800.00 (€736.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus III the Great, c. 223 - 187 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Antiochus| |III| |the| |Great,| |c.| |223| |-| |187| |B.C.||drachm|
At the age of eighteen, Antiochus III inherited a disorganized state. Much of Anatolia had been lost and the easternmost provinces had revolted and broken away. After some initial defeats, Antiochus took Judaea from Ptolemaic Egypt and then conquered Anatolia, earning him the epithet "the Great." In 192 B.C. Antiochus invaded Greece with a 10,000-man army, and was elected the commander in chief of the Aetolian League. In 191 B.C., however, the Romans routed him at Thermopylae, forcing him to withdraw to Anatolia. The Romans followed up by invading Anatolia and defeating him again. By the Treaty of Apamea 188 B.C., Antiochus abandoned all territory north and west of the Taurus, most of which the Roman Republic gave either to Rhodes or to the Attalid ruler Eumenes II, its allies. Many Greek cities were left free. As a consequence of this blow to the Seleucid power, the provinces which had recovered by Antiochus, reasserted their independence. Antiochus mounted a fresh eastern expedition. He died while pillaging a temple of Bel at Elymaïs, Persia, in 187 B.C.
GY95969. Silver drachm, Houghton-Lorber I 1235d, Newell ESM 647A, HGC 9 452h (R2), SNG Spaer -, BMC Seleucid -, VF, toned, centered on a tight flan, die wear, weight 3.967 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, series 4, 223 - 187 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, clean shaven, short hair, diadem ends fall straight; reverse Apollo seated left on omphalos, nude, examining arrow in right hand, resting left hand on compound bow grounded behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ANTIOXOY downward on left, monogram upper inner left; from the Errett Bishop Collection; very rare; $200.00 (€184.00)
 


Kingdom of Elymais, Uncertain King (Kamnaskires VI?), c. 1st Century A.D.

|Kingdom| |of| |Elymais|, |Kingdom| |of| |Elymais,| |Uncertain| |King| |(Kamnaskires| |VI?),| |c.| |1st| |Century| |A.D.||tetradrachm|
Elymais was the biblical Elam and home of the magi. With its capitol at Susa, it was a small kingdom in what is now Iran and Kuwait. The Kingdom of Elymais struck coins from the middle of the 2nd century B.C. until their defeat by the Sasanians in 227 A.D.
WA93624. Billon tetradrachm, vant Haaff (uncertain early Arsacid kings) 10.3.1-2A; Alram IP p. 146, taf. 15, NB1; BMC Arabia p. 250, 17; Le Rider Suse pl. LXXIII, 3 - 4, VF, debased metal, struck with a worn rev. die but less degenerated than many specimens (rev. dies were used until worn almost smooth), porosity/corrosion, edge flaw, weight 13.207 g, maximum diameter 30.0 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia ad Hedyphon (Ja Nishin, Iran) mint, c. 1st century A.D.; obverse diademed, draped bust of king left, torque around neck, wide fringe of hair below diadem, long beard, star (degenerated into a cross) in crescent over anchor behind, anchor with two cross bars and pellet to left of shaft; reverse crude diademed head left, squared blundered legend around; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $195.00 (€179.40)
 


Kingdom of Characene, Attambelos I, c. 47 - 24 B.C.

|Kingdom| |of| |Characene|, |Kingdom| |of| |Characene,| |Attambelos| |I,| |c.| |47| |-| |24| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Characene was a kingdom controlling the head of the Persian Gulf, important link in the trade with India, and was founded by Aspasine, a rebellious satrap of Antiochos IV. The kingdom was later under Parthian control and then conquered by the Sasanians. It is said that Trajan visited the capital Charax during his invasion of Parthia and seeing the ships sailing to India lamented for not being younger and not able to go there, as Alexander did.
SL96469. Silver tetradrachm, Cohen DCA 486; cf. Nicolet-Pierre Thionèsis pl. IV, 14 - 15 (years SE 281 and 283), Hill Attambelos –; BMC Arabia –, NGC Ch VF, strike 4/4, surface 2/5 (5771210-007), weight 11.248 g, maximum diameter 28.7 mm, die axis 0o, Charax-Spasinu (Naysan, Iraq) mint, 32 - 29 B.C.; obverse diademed head with long beard; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ATTAMBHΛOY downward lines right, ΣΩTHPOΣ / KAI EYEPΓETOY downward lines left, Herakles naked seated left on a cuirass, club in right hand resting on right knee, monograms (control) above arm, local Semitic script letter below arm, [...]ΠΣ (first letter uncertain, year 281 - 283 Seleukid era) in exergue; NGC| Lookup; $180.00 (€165.60)
 


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

|Mesopotamia| |&| |Babylonia|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.,| |Edessa,| |Mesopotamia||AE| |25|NEW
In 230, the Persian King Ardashir I invaded Mesopotamia. Ancient historians disagree about the success or failure of Alexander's counterattack against Persia in 232, but there is no doubt that Alexander had enough success to recover Edessa and make the town the "Metropolis Colony of the Edessans." No documents mention this event but it is clearly attested on the coins, including this one. Both sides suffered heavy losses and agreed to a truce. In 233, Severus Alexander celebrated a triumph in Rome to observe his "victory."
RY92578. Bronze AE 25, SNG Cop 215; SNG Hunterian II 2548; BMC Arabia p. 104, 82; Lindgren I 2578 var. (head bare, etc.), VF, black patina with light earthen highlights, weight 9.755 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, die axis 150o, Mesopotamia, Edessa (Urfa, Sanliurfa, Turkey) mint, as caesar, 221 - 222 A.D.; obverse M A AΛEΞN∆EPOC KA, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse M A K AVP E∆ECC, Tyche seated left on rocks, wearing turreted crown, veil, and mantle, sacrificing at flaming altar before her, river-god swimming at her feet; from the Errett Bishop Collection; scarce; $160.00 (€147.20)
 


Kingdom of Elymais, Orodes II, Early - Mid 2nd Century A.D.

|Kingdom| |of| |Elymais|, |Kingdom| |of| |Elymais,| |Orodes| |II,| |Early| |-| |Mid| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||drachm|
Elymais was the biblical Elam and home of the magi. With its capitol at Susa, it was a small kingdom in what is now Iran and Kuwait. The Kingdom of Elymais struck coins from the middle of the 2nd century B.C. until their defeat by the Sasanians in 227 A.D.
WA93629. Bronze drachm, vant Haaff 13.1.1-1b; BMC Arabia p. 267, 64; Sunrise -, aVF, dark green patina, earthen highlighting, some porosity, edge crack, weight 3.777 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 0o, Early - Mid 2nd Century A.D.; obverse bearded diademed bust facing, bunches of hair at sides and on top; to right, pellet inside crescent above anchor with double crossbar; reverse Aramaic legend: King Orodes, Son of Orodes, horned facing bust of Belos, large tufts of hair on each side of head, hair tied on top of head; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $75.00 (€69.00)
 


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

|Kingdom| |of| |Edessa|, |Kingdom| |of| |Edessa,| |Mesopotamia,| |Abgar| |X| |with| |Gordian| |III,| |242| |-| |243| |A.D.||AE| |20|
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.
RY92577. Bronze AE 20, RPC Online VII.2 U2973 (33 spec.); SNG Cop 227 corr. (says radiate); SNG Hunterian II 2582; BMC Arabia p. 116, 159; Babelon Edessa 102, aVF, near black patina, slightly off center on a tight flan, pitting, weight 6.336 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 180o, Mesopotamia, Edessa (Urfa, Sanliurfa, Turkey) mint, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate bust of Gordian III right, slight drapery on left shoulder, no star; reverse ABΓAPOC BACIΛEYC, draped bust of Abgar right, bearded, wearing a diademed Parthian-style tiara, no star; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $60.00 (€55.20)
 


Kingdom of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Abgar X with Gordian III, 239 - 242 A.D.

|Kingdom| |of| |Edessa|, |Kingdom| |of| |Edessa,| |Mesopotamia,| |Abgar| |X| |with| |Gordian| |III,| |239| |-| |242| |A.D.||AE| |23|
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.
RP97599. Bronze AE 23, RPC VII.2 U2952, SNG Hunterian 2579, SNG Cop 225; BMC Arabia p. 114, 144 - 147; Babelon Edessa 96, F, black patina with orange earthen fill, well centered obverse, pitted, weight 8.953 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 135o, Mesopotamia, Edessa (Urfa, Sanliurfa, Turkey) mint, 239 - 242 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian III right, from behind, star lower right; reverse ABΓAPOC - BACIΛEYC, mantled bust of Abgar right, bearded, wearing a diademed Parthian-style tiara ornamented with a rosette, star behind; $50.00 (€46.00)
 


Kingdom of Elymais, Orodes III, 2nd Century A.D.

|Kingdom| |of| |Elymais|, |Kingdom| |of| |Elymais,| |Orodes| |III,| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||drachm|
Elymais was the biblical Elam and home of the magi. With its capitol at Susa, it was a small kingdom in what is now Iran and Kuwait. The Kingdom of Elymais struck coins from the middle of the 2nd century B.C. until their defeat by the Sasanians in 227 A.D.
WA93626. Bronze drachm, vant Haaff 16.4.2-1B(a); BMC Arabia p. 276, 39; De Morgan 28; Alram IP -, Sunrise -, VF/F, crowded on a tight oval flan, porosity, earthen deposits, weight 2.714 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, 2nd century A.D.; obverse long bearded bust left wearing tiara ornamented with anchor; to right, pellet inside crescent above anchor with one crossbar; reverse field of parallel V shaped marks; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $40.00 (€36.80)
 







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REFERENCES|

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