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Ancient coinage of Characene


[Waddington, Mélanges de Num., ii. 77 f.; Babelon, Mélanges Num., iii. 221 f. = Journal International (1898), 381 ff.; Drouin in Rev. Num., 1889, p. 211.]

This little kingdom, the capital of which was Charax Spasinou, occupied the lower part of the Tigris valley and part of the shores of the Persian Gulf. Several of its dynasts are only known from their coins, which are dated by the Seleucid era. A hoard of 732 Characenian coins was discovered in 1878 in the great Chaldaean palace of Tello (Babelon, p. 223). The usual types are:—obv. The king’s head and name, e. g. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΠΟΔΑΚΟΥ; rev. Herakles seated, holding club. The coins may be assigned as follows:—

1. Hyspaosines, died circ. B.C. 124(?). AR tetradr.
2. Apodacus, reigning B.C. 109. AR tetradr.
3. Tiraeus I, Euergetes, reigning B.C. 89. AR tetradr. with rev. Tyche seated.
4. Tiraeus II, Soter, Euergetes, B.C. 60-39. Æ with rev. Nike (N. C., 1899, p. 107).
5. Theonneses I, Soter, Euergetes, reigning B.C. 39. Æ ‘tetradr. '
6. Attambelos I, circ. B.C. 29-circ. A.D. 5. Billon tetradr.


7. Abinerglos, Soter, circ. A.D. 9. Billon tetradr.
8. Adinnerglos, Soter, circ. A.D. 21. Billon tetradr.
9. Theonneses II, Soter, circ. A.D. 51. Æ ‘tetradr. '
10. Attambelos II, circ. A.D. 53-71. Æ ‘tetradr. '


11. Artabazus, circ. A.D. 90(?). No coins.
12. Attambelos III. circ. A.D. 100-104. Æ ‘tetradr. '


13. Theonneses III, circ. A.D. 109-111. Æ ‘tetradr. '
14. Attambelos IV, A.D. 113(?). Æ ‘tetradr. '
15. Orabzes (or Obadas?). Uncertain date. Æ ‘tetradr. '

There are also potin and bronze regal coins (undated) of a later period, usually having a regal head on each side (probably the Characenian king and his Arsacid (?) suzerain) and inscription in Aramaic (see Drouin, p. 211 f; cf. Babelon, p. 246 f.). The kingdom of Characene probably came to an end circ. A.D. 228, with the rise of the Sassanian power.

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