Persian Imperial Coinage

Silver Archers

The great enemy of the Greeks was the Persian empire. Through the fifth and fourth centuries BC Persian kings issued oval coins in gold (Darics) and silver (Sigloi). Smaller fractions are much rarer than the larger units. Types are a crowned archer (the King?) shown in a running position. These can be separated by styles and assigned to earlier or later dates but none bear legends or certain evidence allowing precise attribution.

Five Persian running archers

Left to right (only obverses are shown; reverses are all plain punches):
1. Period of Darius I 510-486 BC - archer drawing bow. There is also a style from this period showing the archer as a half length figure.
2. Period of Xerxes-Artaxerxes I 486-450 BC - archer carrying spear.
3. Period of Artaxerxes I-Darius III 450-330 BC - archer carrying dagger.
4. Fractions of the later period: (top) 1/6 siglos; (bottom) 1/12 siglos

Persian sigloi are frequently found countermarked with decorative punches. Some coins bear several marks. This coin was struck crosswise on the oval flan and apparently was made suspect by its oddity. Each mark showed the coin to be good silver (not fourree). Some of the marks overlap but there are at least eight countermarks and three plain punches on this coin (a record?).

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(c) 1997 Doug Smith