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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Armenia||View Options:  |  |  | 

Ancient Coins of Armenia

Historic Armenia, at the crossroads of the three continents, is a land of snow-clad mountains and deep valleys. Like most mountainous countries, Armenia was destined to be a poor land whose inhabitants survived solely through their courage. It was not until the twentieth century that history of Armenia was subjected to serious study. Until quite recently very little material was available for research or collecting.

Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes II the Great, 95 - 55 B.C.

|Armenia|, |Armenian| |Kingdom,| |Tigranes| |II| |the| |Great,| |95| |-| |55| |B.C.||chalkous|
Tigranes was called "Tigranes the Great" by Plutarch. The "King of Kings" never appeared in public without having four kings attending him. At its height, Tigranes' empire extended from the Pontic Alps to Mesopotamia and from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. In 83 B.C., the Syrians offered him the crown and after conquering Phoenicia and Cilicia, he effectively ended the Seleucid Empire. His southern border reached as far as Akko-Ptolemais. The first Armenian ruler to issue coins, he adopted the Seleucid tradition and struck coins at Antioch and Damascus during his occupation of Syria from 83 to 69 B.C. In 66 B.C., Pompey advanced into Armenia with Tigranes' own son as an ally. Tigranes, now almost 75 years old, surrendered. Pompey treated him generously and returned part of his kingdom in return for 6,000 talents of silver. His unfaithful son was sent back to Rome as a prisoner. Tigranes continued to rule Armenia as an ally of Rome until his death in 55 B.C.
SH71010. Bronze chalkous, Nercessian AC 51, Bedoukian 92, MDHRAC 24 (Nercessian and Bedoukian list as a tetrachalkon), VF, nice green patina, overstruck (commonly on a coin of Arados), weight 6.568 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch mint, c. 70 - 66 B.C.; obverse bust right wearing Armenian tiara, five-pointed tiara ornamented with star between two eagles, top extends outside of dot circle; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ − BAΣIΛEIΩN / TIΓPANOY, Tyche seated right on rocks, turreted, holding palm frond in right, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right at her feet below, no letters or monograms in fields; SOLD


Kingdom of Commagene, Julia Iotape, 38 - 72 A.D.

|Armenia|, |Kingdom| |of| |Commagene,| |Julia| |Iotape,| |38| |-| |72| |A.D.||AE| |26|
Iotape was the daughter of Antiochus III and Iotapa, the king and queen of Commagene. Her parents were full-blooded siblings and direct descendants of the Seleucid kings. Iotapa and her brother Antiochus IV were very young when their father died in 17 A.D. Tiberius agreed with the citizens of Commagene to make their Kingdom a part of the Roman province of Syria. From 17 until 38, Iotapa and her brother were raised in Rome, members of the remarkable court of Antonia Minor. Antonia Minor was a niece of Augustus and the youngest daughter of Mark Antony. She was very influential and supervised her circle of various princes and princesses, assisting in the political preservation of the Empire’s borders, and the affairs of client states. In 38, Caligula returned Antiochus IV and Iotape to the throne of Commagene. In addition, Caligula enlarged their territory with a part of Cilicia bordering on the seacoast and gave them one million gold pieces, the total amount of revenue collected from Commagene during the twenty years that it had been under Syria. The reason for his extraordinary generosity is unknown. Perhaps it was just a stroke of Caligula's well-attested eccentricity. Iotapa and Antiochus IV married and had three children. Iotapa died before Commagene was annexed by Vespasian in 72. When she died, Antiochus IV founded a town called Iotapa in her honor (modern Aytap, Turkey).
GB84499. Bronze AE 26, Lindgren-Kovacs 1887 (same countermark); RPC I 3858; BMC Galatia p. 109, 4; Nercessian AC -; SNG Cop VII 5; countermark: Howgego 403 (after 69 A.D.), VF, straight edge flan, weight 15.289 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Samosata (site now flooded by the Atatürk Dam) mint, 66 - 72 B.C.; obverse BAΣIΛIΣΣA IΩTAΠH ΦIΛA∆EΛΦOΣ (of Queen Iotape Philadelphus), diademed and draped bust of Iotape to right, countermark: crossed cornucopias; reverse KOMMAΓ−HNΩN, scorpion and inscription all within laurel wreath; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; scarce; SOLD


Kingdom of Sophene, Armenia, Arsames II, c. 240 - 220 B.C.

|Armenian| |Kingdom|, |Kingdom| |of| |Sophene,| |Armenia,| |Arsames| |II,| |c.| |240| |-| |220| |B.C.||two| |chalkoi|
The Kingdom of Sophene was an ancient Armenian kingdom. Founded around the 3rd century B.C. the kingdom maintained independence until around 90 B.C. when Tigranes the Great conquered the territories as part of his empire.
SH66372. Bronze two chalkoi, Nercessian AC 7; Bedoukian ANSMN 28, 6, Nice F, weight 5.356 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 45o, Persepolis (Fars Province, Iran) mint, c. 240 - 220 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust right, wearing flat-topped tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ APΣAMOY, Herakles standing facing, extending right hand, club over shoulder in left; very rare; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

Babelon, E. Les Rois de Syrie, d'Arménie, et de Commagène, Catlogue de monnaies grecques de la Bibliothèque Nacionale. (Paris, 1890).
Langlois, V. Numismatique de l'Arménie. (Paris, 1859).
Bedoukian, P. "Coinage of the Armenian Kingdoms of Sophene and Commagene" in ANSMN 28 (New York, 1983).
Bedoukian, P. Coinage of the Artaxiads of Armenia. RNS Special Publication Number 10. (London, 1978).
Gardner, P. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, The Seleucid Kings of Syria. (Forni reprint, 1963).
Kovacs, F. "Additions and corrections to Armenian coins and their values" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 30/3 (2004).
Kovacs, F. Armenian Coinage in the Classical Period. CNS 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2016).
Kovacs, F. "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions" in AJN 20 (2008).
Mousheghian, A. & G. Depeyrot. Hellenistic and Roman Armenian Coinage (1st c. BC - 1st c. AD). Moneta 15. (Wettern, 1999).
Mousheghian, K., et al. History and Coin Finds in Armenia: Coins from Duin, Capital of Armenia. Moneta 18. (Wetteren, 2000).
Nercessian, Y. Armenian Coins and Their Values. Armenian Numismatic Society, Special Publication No. 8. (Los Angeles, 1995).
Nercessian, Y. "Coinage of the Armenian Kingdom of Sophene (ca. 260-70 B.C.)" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 37.3 (Sep 2011).
Nercessian, Y. Silver Coinage of the Artaxiad Dynasty of Armenia. (Los Angeles, 2006).
Nercessian, Y. "Silver Coins of Artavasdes II of Armenia" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 29-1 (March 2003).
Nercessian, Y. "Silver Coins of Tigranes II of Armenia" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 26-3 & 4. (December 2000).
Nercessian, Y. "Tigranes the Great of Armenia and the Mint of Damascus" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 22-1 (March 1996).
Vardanyan, R. "A Dated Copper Coin of Artaxias II: Evidence on the Use of the Pompeyan Era in Artaxata" in Armenian Numismatic Journal XXVII (2001).

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