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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 (€1312.00)
 


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|
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 (€131.20)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Nisibis, Mesopotamia

|Mesopotamia| |&| |Babylonia|, |Philip| |I| |the| |Arab,| |February| |244| |-| |End| |of| |September| |249| |A.D.,| |Nisibis,| |Mesopotamia||AE| |25|
Nisibis is the city of Netzivin in the Talmud. The Jews of Nisibis resisted the Roman conqueror, Trajan, to maintain Parthian rule. The city was taken only after a lengthy siege. After the it fell, Nisibis was laid waste and the massacre was so great that the houses, streets, and roads were strewn with corpses.
RY93159. Bronze AE 25, RPC Online VIII U2787; SNG Cop 242; SNG Hunterian 2446; BMC Arabia p. 122, 17; Lindgren-Kovacs 2603; McClean 9557, aVF, full legends, light earthen deposits, cleaning scratches, tiny flan flaw above head on obv., weight 8.360 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 0o, Nisibis (Nusaybin, Turkey) mint, A.D. 247 - 249; obverse AYTOK K M IOUΛI ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse IOY CEΠ KOΛΩ NECIBI MHT, tetrastyle temple with twisted columns; within arched central bay: statue of Tyche seated facing, ram (sign of Ares) leaping right with head turned back left above, river-god swimming right below; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $110.00 (€90.20)
 


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Singara, Mesopotamia

|Mesopotamia| |&| |Babylonia|, |Gordian| |III,| |29| |July| |238| |-| |25| |February| |244| |A.D.,| |Singara,| |Mesopotamia||AE| |26|
In 242 A.D., Gordian III, along with his praetorian prefect and father-in-law Timesitheus, began a campaign against the Sasanian king, Shahpur I. After freeing Syria, a decisive battle secured all of Mesopotamia, including Singara and Nisibis. But after Timesitheus died in 243 the Roman advance stalled and they suffered a major defeat. In February 244, Gordian died and Philip was proclaimed emperor. Philip negotiated a truce in order to return to Rome for his Senate confirmation.
RY93160. Bronze AE 26, RPC Online VII-2 U2186; SNG Cop 254; BMC Arabia p. 134, 1 - 2; Falghera 2235, aVF, earthen deposits, weight 11.921 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 0o, Singara (Sinjar, Iraq) mint, 243 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, radiate bust right, drapery on left shoulder; reverse AYP CEΠ KOΛCINΓAPA, draped, veiled, and turreted bust of Tyche right, Centaur Sagittarius above; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $90.00 (€73.80)
 


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia

|Mesopotamia| |&| |Babylonia|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Carrhae,| |Mesopotamia||AE| |13|
Carrhae is the Haran of the Bible. Crassus was defeated and killed by the Parthians near Carrhae in 53 B.C. Emperor Galerius was defeated on the same site in 296 A.D.
RY93158. Bronze AE 13, cf. RPC Online IV-3 T9917 - T9918; BMC Arabia p. 82, 2; SNG Cop 175, VF, dark green patina, highlighting earthen deposits, tight flan cutting off much of legend, weight 2.173 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 180o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, Mar/Apr 177 - 31 Dec 192 A.D.; obverse AVT K KOMO∆OC CEB (or similar), laureate head right; reverse AVP KAPPHNWN (or similar), six pointed star in filleted crescent with horns upward, small globe below on base; from the Errett Bishop Collection; very rare; $80.00 (€65.60)
 







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REFERENCES|

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Castelin, K. The Coinage of Rhesaena in Mesopotamia. ANSNNM 108. (New York, 1946).
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Hoover, O. Handbook of Syrian Coins, Royal and Civic Issues, Fourth to First Centuries BC. HGC 9. (Lancaster, PA, 2009).
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Newell, E. T. Alexander Hoards II, Demanhur, 1905. ANSNNM 19 (1923).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain XII, The Hunterian Museum, Univ. of Glasgow, Part 2: Roman Provincial Coins: Cyprus-Egypt. (Oxford, 2008).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Israel I, The Arnold Spaer Collection of Seleucid Coins. (London, 1998).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, United States, Burton Y. Berry. Part 2. Megaris to Egypt.. (New York, 1962).
Tyler-Smith, S. "A parcel of Persis drachms, half drachms and obols" in NC 164 (2004).
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Waggoner, N. "The Early Alexander Coinage at Seleucia on the Tigris" in ANSMN 15 (1969).
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