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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Hellenistic Monarchies| ▸ |Parthian Empire||View Options:  |  |  |   

Parthian Empire

This page includes coins of the Parthian Empire and Roman coins that refer to Parthia.

Click here to read about Parthia in the Historia Numorum and Numiswiki.
Click here for the "Parthian Calendar" article in Numiswiki.
Click here to go to Parthia.com the best Parthian Empire website.

Parthian Empire, Phraates IV, c. 38 - 2 B.C.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Phraates| |IV,| |c.| |38| |-| |2| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Soon after Phraates IV was designated the successor to the throne, he murdered his father and all his thirty brothers. In 36 B.C. he was defeated by Mark Antony and lost most of his army, however, Antony had to abandon his conquests to fight Octavian. Tiridates temporarily usurped the throne in 32 B.C., but Phraates soon defeated him. In 20 B.C., Phraates made peace with Rome. He returned the prisoners and eagles taken from Crassus and Armenia was recognized as a Roman dependency. Augustus gave Phraates an Italian concubine, Musa, whom he made his favored wife. She persuaded him to designate their son Phraataces as his successor and to send his other sons to Rome as hostages. With all rivals out of the way, Musa and Phraataces poisoned the king and took the throne as co-rulers.
GS96027. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Sellwood 52.1 - 9; Sunrise 391; Shore 273 - 274; SNG Cop 119; BMC Parthia p. 105, 35 ff.; Cohen DCA 612, VF, as found dark hoard patina, edge chip, graffito obv. left, weight 10.783 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Tigris (south of Baghdad, Iraq) mint, c. 38 - 2 B.C.; obverse diademed and cuirassed bust left, with royal wart on forehead, beard with somewhat square cut end, hair in four formal rows of curls, plain spiral torque; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / BAΣIΛEΩN − APΣAKOY / EYEPΓETOY − ∆IKAIOY − EΠIΦANOYΣ / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ squared seven line legend around, Phraates seated right, wearing tunic and trousers, Athena standing left before him, wearing helmet and chiton, she offers a filleted wreath with her extended right hand, scepter in left hand, date in exergue unstruck or partially off flan; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Judean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (Mattatayah), 40 - 37 B.C.

|Mattathias| |Antigonus|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Mattathias| |Antigonus| |(Mattatayah),| |40| |-| |37| |B.C.||eight| |prutot|
Parthia took Judaea in 40 B.C. and made Mattathias Antigonus their vassal King. After Antigonus bit off his ears to render him ineligible for High Priest, Hyrcanus II was sent to Babylon in chains. Herod fled to Rome but returned with Roman support and took Jerusalem in 37 B.C. Dio Cassius says Antigonus was crucified but most accounts say he was beheaded.
JD98148. Bronze eight prutot, Meshorer TJC 36; Hendin 6197; Sofaer 418; BMC Palestine p. 212, 2; SNG ANS 183; SNG Cop 64; HGC 10 646 (S), aF, earthen deposits, weight 12.536 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: Mattatayah the High Priest and Council of the Jews, around and between the horns of a double cornucopia; reverse BACIΛEΩC ANTIΓONOY (of King Antigonus), ivy wreath tied at the top with ribbons hanging down; from an Israeli collection; scarce; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Parthian Empire, Phraates IV, c. 38 - 2 B.C.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Phraates| |IV,| |c.| |38| |-| |2| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Soon after Phraates IV was designated the successor to the throne, he murdered his father and all of his thirty brothers. In 36 B.C. he was defeated by Mark Antony and lost most of his army, however, Antony had to abandon his conquests to fight Octavian. Tiridates temporarily usurped the throne in 32 B.C., but Phraates soon defeated him. In 20 B.C., Phraates made peace with Rome. He returned the prisoners and eagles taken from Crassus and Armenia was recognized as a Roman dependency. Augustus gave Phraates an Italian concubine, Musa, whom he made his favored wife. She persuaded him to designate their son Phraataces as his successor and to send his other sons to Rome as hostages. With all rivals out of the way, Musa and Phraataces poisoned the king and took the throne as co-rulers.
GS96025. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Sellwood 51, Cohen DCA 611, Shore 272, Sunrise 388, SNG Cop - (various dates), aVF, toned, porous, scratches, weight 10.931 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Tigris (south of Baghdad, Iraq) mint, c. 26 - 23 B.C.; obverse diademed bust left, wearing ornate robes, wart on forehead, long beard with flat end, hair in four formal rows, spiral neck torque ends in a horse forepart; reverse BACIΛEΩC / BACIΛEΩN − ΛPΣAKOY / EYEIΓETOY − ∆IKAIOY − EΠIΦΛNOYΣ / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ in seven line square around, king enthroned right, wearing tunic and trousers, Tyche standing left before him, wearing kalathos, chiton and peplos, offering palm frond with right hand, cornucopia in left hand, tiny Seleukid Era year (ZΠC?) under seat of throne, uncertain Parthian month in exergue (mostly off flan); from the Errett Bishop Collection; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00


Parthian Empire, Pakoros I, c. 78 - 120 A.D.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Pakoros| |I,| |c.| |78| |-| |120| |A.D.||drachm|
Traditionally this king has been called Pakoros II (or Pacorus II); however, the latest research indicates there was only one Parthian king named Pakoros. Beardless portraits on his earliest coins indicate Pakoros began his rule very young. After many years of civil war with many rivals, including Vologases II, Artabanus III and others, Pakoros eventually reclaimed the whole of the empire. According to Cassius Dio, he sold the kingdom of Osroene to Abgar VII, and according to Ammianus Marcellinus he enlarged the Parthian capital Ctesiphon and built its walls. He maintained close contact with the Dacian ruler Decebalus. In 101, Pacorus sent an embassy to the Han Dynasty of China. He disappeared from coinage around 105 A.D.

Although the reverse legend bears little resemblance to the original Greek, the barbaric letter forms and spellings on Pakoros I types are remarkably consistent.
GS96043. Silver drachm, Sellwood 78.3 (Vologases III), Shore 413 (Vologases III), BMC Parthia p. 187, 72 (Vologases I), SNG Cop 195 (Vologases I), Sunrise -, gVF, light toning, flow lines, oval flan, small edge split, weight 3.737 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, c. 95 - 120 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust left, long pointed beard, hoop earring visible, no wart, hair in three waves, three diadem bands and three diadem ends; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / BAΣIΛEΩN − APΣAKOY − ∆IXAIOY / EYEPΓETOY − EΠIΦANOYΣ / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ (blundered), archer (Arsakes I) seated right, bow in extended right hand, cross under legs, (Ecbatana control monogram) below bow, squared seven-line blundered Greek legend around; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00


Parthian Empire, Vologases VI, 208 - 228 A.D.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Vologases| |VI,| |208| |-| |228| |A.D.||drachm|
Soon after Vologases VI succeeded his father to the throne, his brother Artabanus V rebelled against him and became master of the greater part of the empire. Vologases VI retained a part of Babylonia. Meanwhile, in 224, Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid Empire, defeated and killed Artabanus V and conquered the eastern provinces. Over the following years, Ardashir I expanded his new empire, and must have defeated Vologases VI in 228 or 229.
GS96048. Silver drachm, Sellwood 88.18; Shore 455; BMC Parthia p. 243, 20 (Vologases V); Sunrise 459 var. (monogram variant); SNG Cop 246 var. (same, Vologases V), gVF, toned, flow lines, off center, weight 2.983 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, 208 - 228 A.D.; obverse bust left with long pointed beard extending past beaded border, wearing tiara with ear flaps, crest of dotted lines, dotted lines to left of line down side, abbreviated king's name in Aramaic lↄ (wz = Wlgy= Vologases) upper right; reverse archer (Arsakes I) seated right on throne, bow in extended right hand, cross under legs, (Ecbatana control monogram) below bow, squared five-line legend around, Aramaic Wlgy MLK' (King Vologases) at the top, the other four lines blundered Greek; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00


Judean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (Mattatayah), 40 - 37 B.C.

|Mattathias| |Antigonus|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Mattathias| |Antigonus| |(Mattatayah),| |40| |-| |37| |B.C.||prutah|
Parthia took Judaea in 40 B.C. and made Mattathias Antigonus their vassal King. Antigonus bit off Hyrcanus II's ears to render him ineligible for High Priest and sent him to Babylon in chains. Herod fled to Rome but returned with Roman support and took Jerusalem in 37 B.C. Dio Cassius says Antigonus was crucified but most accounts say he was beheaded.

On this type the inscription is almost always retrograde. The Paleo-Hebrew inscription reads, in two retrograde lines, from left to right: MTT/(YH) (Mattatayah). On this coin the last two letter, the second line, is ligate (combined like a monogram). See Reading Judean Coins in NumisWiki.
JD97659. Bronze prutah, Meshorer TJC 40a, Sofaer 444, HGC 10 649, Hendin 6199, SNG ANS 192 var. (same), BMC Palestine p. 219, 57 var. (same), F, highlighting earthen deposits, a little rough, reverse off center, weight 1.655 g, maximum diameter 12.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse retrograde Paleo-Hebrew inscription in two lines: MTT/(YH) = Mattatayah (last two letters ligate), surrounded by wreath and border of dots; reverse double cornucopia adorned with ribbons, barley ear between horns, border of dots; from an Israeli collection; rare variant; $140.00 SALE PRICE $126.00


Parthian Empire, Sinatrukes I, c. 93 - 69 B.C.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Sinatrukes| |I,| |c.| |93| |-| |69| |B.C.||drachm|
"Sellwood type 33 coins were originally attributed to Sinatruces by Sellwood (1971) but revised to Gotarzes I by Sellwood (1980). Recent research shows the type likely does belong to Sinatruces. See the article on 'Recent Research on Attributions to Sinatruces' by Dr. G. R. Assar." -- https://www.parthia.com
GS96017. Silver drachm, Sunrise 302, Sellwood 33.4 (Gotarzes I), Shore 113 (same), SNG Cop -, BMC Parthia -, aVF, broad flan, toned, scratches, weight 3.458 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rhagae (Ray, part of Tehran, Iran) mint, c. 93 - 69 B.C.; obverse long-bearded bust left, tiara with central horn ornament within three arches of pearls, crest of recumbent stags with heads upwards, ear flaps, diadem with two ends, ornate robe, spiral torc ends in small round knob; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ − MEΓAΛOY − APΣAKOY − ΘEOΠATPOY / NIKATOPOΣ, beardless archer, seated right on throne, bow in right bow, Greek legend inscription forming square, first three lines clockwise from above, the last two downward on left; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00


Parthian Empire, Artabanos IV, c. 10 - 38 A.D.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Artabanos| |IV,| |c.| |10| |-| |38| |A.D.||drachm|
The Artabanos that ruled Parthia from 10 - 38 A.D. has traditionally been named Artabanos II, and sometimes Artabanos III, but on the most recent list of Parthian kings, scholars have designated him Artabanos IV. An Arsacid on his mother's side, he was king of Media Atropatene when the Parthian nobles selected him to replace Vonones I as the Parthian emperor. The nobles did not approve of Vonones Roman lifestyle. Artabanos' attempts to wrest the throne were at first defeated -- as one competing issue of Vonones' coins attests -- but he eventually emerged victorious.
GS96032. Silver drachm, Sellwood 61.7 (Artabanos II); Shore 337 (same); BMC Parthia p. 150, 33 (Artabanos III); Mitchiner ACW 619 (II); Sunrise -, aEF, nicely toned, obv. off center, part of edge ragged, rev. double struck, weight 3.753 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, 10 - 38 A.D.; obverse bust left with long pointed straight beard, slightly wavy hair covering ear, no earring visible, spiral necklace, diadem with loop and three ends; reverse BACIΛEΩC / BACIΛEΩN − APΣAKOY − ∆IXAIOY / EYEPΓETOY − EΠIΦANOYC / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOC, archer (Arsakes I) seated r. on throne, wearing bashlyk and cloak, bow in r. hand, cross and pellet under legs, (Ecbatana control monogram) below bow, squared seven-line Greek legend around; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00


Parthian Empire, Vardanes II, 55 - 58 A.D.

|Parthian| |Empire|, |Parthian| |Empire,| |Vardanes| |II,| |55| |-| |58| |A.D.||drachm|
Vardanes II was the son of Vologases I. He rebelled against his father and ruled part of the empire from 55 to 58 A.D. Little more is known about him.
GS96039. Silver drachm, Sellwood 69.14; Shore 386; BMC Parthia p. 157, 34 (Vardanes I); Sunrise 421 var. (beard with semicircular bottom); SNG Cop -, gVF, light tone, irregularly shaped oval flan, light deposits, weight 3.745 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 0o, Ecbatana (Hamedan, Iran) mint, 56 - 57 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust left, five ends on diadem, head flat above diadem, short quadrant shaped beard down vertical from mouth curving back and up to hairline, ear hidden by wavy hair, hoop earring visible, spiral necklace; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / BAΣIΛEΩN − APΣAKOY − ∆IXAIOY / EYEPΓETOY − EΠIΦANOYΣ / ΦIΛEΛΛHNOΣ (blundered), archer (Arsakes I) seated right on throne, bow in extended right hand, cross below seat, (Ecbatana control monogram) below bow, squared seven-line blundered Greek legend around; from the Errett Bishop Collection; scarce; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00


Judean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (Mattatayah), 40 - 37 B.C.

|Mattathias| |Antigonus|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Mattathias| |Antigonus| |(Mattatayah),| |40| |-| |37| |B.C.||prutah|
Parthia took Judaea in 40 B.C. and made Mattathias Antigonus their vassal King. Antigonus bit off Hyrcanus II's ears to render him ineligible for High Priest and sent him to Babylon in chains. Herod fled to Rome but returned with Roman support and took Jerusalem in 37 B.C. Dio Cassius says Antigonus was crucified but most accounts say he was beheaded.
JD97662. Bronze prutah, Meshorer TJC 40, Hendin 6199, Sofaer 437, SNG ANS 192, HGC 10 649, SNG Cop -, gF, dark patina with highlighting light deposits, obverse off center, double thickness with seam and sprues as usual for the type, weight 2.241 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse retrograde Paleo-Hebrew inscription in two lines: MTT/YH (Mattatayah), surrounded by wreath and border of dots; reverse double cornucopia adorned with ribbons, barley ear between horns, border of dots; from an Israeli collection; scarce; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00




  



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REFERENCES

Abgarians, M. & D. Sellwood. "A Hoard of Early Parthian Drachms" in NC 1971.
Alram, M. Iranisches Personennamenbuch: Nomina Propria Iranica In Nummis. Osterreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften. (Wien, 1986).
Assar, G. "Genealogy and Coinage of the Early Parthian Rulers, II" in Parthica 6, 2004.
Assar, G. "Genealogy and Coinage of the Early Parthian Rulers, II" in Parthica 7, 2005.
Assar, G. "A Revised Parthian Chronology of the Period 91- 55 BC" in Parthica 8, 2006.
Assar, G. "Recent Studies in Parthian History: Part II" in The Celator 15, No. 1, January 2001.
Busso Peus. Busso Peus Sale 388, Sammlung Dr. Robert Gonnella, November 1, 2006.
Classical Numismatic Group. CNG Auction 36, Fred B. Shore Collection of Parthian Coins, December 5-6, 1995.
Cohen, Ed. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Curtis, V., Magub, A., Pendleton, E. & Hopkins, E. Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum, Volume II: Mithradates II. (Vienna, 2020).
Frhlich, C. Monnaies indo-scythes et indo-parthes, Catalogue raisonn Bibliothque nationale de France. (Paris, 2008).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins. (New York, 2010).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of the Southern Levant: Phoenicia, Southern Koile Syria (Including Judaea), and Arabia, Fifth to First Centuries BC. HGC 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2010).
Hopkins, E. "Parthia.com: The Coins of Parthia" - www.parthia.com
Meshorer, Y. A Treasury of Jewish Coins from the Persian Period to Bar Kokhba. (Jerusalem, 2001).
Meshorer, Y., et al. Coins of the Holy Land: The Abraham and Marian Sofaer Collection at the American Numismatic Society and The Israel Museum. ACNAC 8. (New York, 2013).
Nelson, B., ed., Numismatic Art of Persia. The Sunrise Collection, Part I: Ancient - 650 BC to AD 650. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Sellwood, D. An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia. 2nd edition. (London, 1980).
Sellwood, D. "New Parthian coin types" in NC 1989.
Sellwood, D. "The End of the Parthian Dynasty" in NumCirc June 1990.
Shore, F. Parthian Coins and History: Ten Dragons Against Rome. (Quarryville, 1993).
Sinisi, F. Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum, Volume VII: Vologases I - Pacorus II. (Vienna, 2012).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 7: Cyprus to India. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, USA, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 6: Palestine - South Arabia. (New York, 1981).
Wroth, W. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Parthia. (London, 1903).

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