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guy

The Parthians Are Coming! The Parthians Are Coming!...

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I recently submitted five coins to NGC-Ancients for authentication. (I had five free submissions to NGC with my membership. Usually, one would not send off inexpensive coins of any type for authentication. There is even an arguement by many that no Ancient coin should ever be "slabbed." As a non-coin collector who bought these coins from someone of unknown quality, however, I wanted to see whether these coins were authentic. And since I had five free submissions with my membership....)

 

None of these coins were expensive: All were under $100; several under $50. Although none of these coins are worth too much, the history behind the rulers portrayed on the coins is priceless. :blink:

 

 

http://www.ngccoin.com/ancients/index.aspx

 

 

Here are the preliminary results that NGC-Ancients E-mailed me. (The coins have not returned to my house, yet.).

 

 

001 Vologases III AD 105-147 PARTHIAN KINGDOM AR Drachm GRAFFITO

002 Vologases IV AD 147-191 PARTHIAN KINGDOM AR Drachm

003 Phraates IV 38-2 BC PARTHIAN KINGDOM AR Drachm AUTHENTICITY UNVERIFIABLE

004 Carinus AD 283-285 ROMAN EMPIRE BI Aurelianianus

005 Sept. Severus AD 193-211 ROMAN EMPIRE AR Denarius

 

 

I guess I can't be too disappointed, since these coins are around 2000 years old. A lot can happen to a coin in a couple thousand years. I hope they survive the return trip to my house.

 

 

I will try to post pictures when these babies arrive.

 

 

guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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I hope this works. :unsure: Here's my attempt to share the images of Parthian and Roman coins I discussed earlier:

 

Visit My Website

 

 

guy also known as gaius

 

 

And several extra Parthians, some with a different reverse: On the reverse of the first coin (Vardanes I AD 40-47), the Parthian King is receiving a palm from the goddess Tyche (meaning "luck" in Greek, called Fortuna by Romans). Tyche was the deity of fortune and prosperity.

 

Unlike the previous Parthian coins with the "seated archer" reverse, two of these coins are Tetradrachms, issued for provincial (local) use as opposed to for imperial (empire wide) use.

 

Also included are three other Parthians: Artabanus III (AD 80-90) Orodes II (57-38 BCE), and Gotarzes II (AD 40-51):

(You must be logged in to see the images)

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Edited by guy

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I hope this works. :unsure: Here's my attempt to share the images of Parthian and Roman coins I discussed earlier:

 

Visit My Website

 

 

guy also known as gaius

 

Thanks for sharing Guy... my own limited numismatic experience hasn't taken me into the Parthian empire. They present a rather interesting artistry.

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What fascinates me is the widespread use of coins. Now... Is that Roman influence? I ask because gauls and britons adopted coinage from the Romans, but then, did Rome adopt coinage from those clever greeks?

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What fascinates me is the widespread use of coins. Now... Is that Roman influence? I ask because gauls and britons adopted coinage from the Romans, but then, did Rome adopt coinage from those clever greeks?

 

Unquestionably. It was contact with the Greek colonies in southern Italia that directly influenced Roman coinage. Most early Roman coinage, especially silver, very much resembles Greek coinage of the time. Hercules was a popular artistic impression. David Sear provides a very nice intro here.

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What fascinates me is the widespread use of coins. Now... Is that Roman influence? I ask because gauls and britons adopted coinage from the Romans, but then, did Rome adopt coinage from those clever greeks?
Far as we know, the introduction of coins in the West (the story for China is entirely independent) was mostly a Hellenic contribution.

 

Reportedly, the first coins were introduced by the semi-Hellenized kingdom of Lydia; Achaemenid Persia would have introduced them directly from this conquered state.

 

In any case, Persian Parthian coinage clearly came more from the closer Seleucid than from the remote Achaemenid currency; please note that they used the current Hellenic monetary units (e.g. drachma).

 

For any ancient culture, numismatics have always been a precious source of information; this is especially valid for the Arsacid kingdom, as we virtually lack any native textual source.

Edited by sylla

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Doug Smith wrote a great article on Parthian coins:

 

http://dougsmith.ancients.info/parthar.html

 

A good quote from the article:

 

"Not being a people to write down their own history, most of what is known about the Parthians comes from writings of their enemies, the Romans. This gives us an incomplete and biased view of what was a very complex civilization. In particular, we are weak in our understanding of things that happened in the Eastern part of their lands and during times when they were at peace with Rome. Included in out list of rulers are a few known only as 'Unknown King' and several about whom we know little more than their name. This is made worse by the practice of most kings to inscribe coins with only the name of the founder of their dynasty omitting a personal name. 'Arsakes' became rather like 'Augustus' on Roman coins. Early legends were in Greek but as time passed these letters become increasingly illegible. Some later issues bear personal names in Aramaic letters."

 

[Emphasis mine.]

 

A professor of Greek Classics looked at my Parthian coins and commented that although the coins had Greek written on them, they were illegible.

 

This site is a fantastic resource for all things Parthian:

 

http://www.parthia.com/

 

Great source for Parthian coins:

 

http://www.parthia.com/pdc_gonnella.htm

 

 

guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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A nice array of Parthian rulers:

 

http://www.livius.org/pan-paz/parthia/kings.html

 

Another good site by Douglass Mudd, expert on all things Parthian:

 

http://www.americanhistory.si.edu/collecti...ames/parhom.htm

 

A nice review of Rome and Parthia at war:

 

http://www.allempires.com/article/index.ph..._roman_parthian

 

guy also know as gaius

Edited by guy

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Here is an old article (1950) on the chemical composition of Parthian coins; its main conclusions seem to be:

 

- Parthian coins seem to had mostly not debased across their long history, a finding which would suggest economic stability.

 

- The only detected exception from the previous trend was the ruler now known as Orodes II (then numbered as Orodes I), i.e. the one ruling when Carrhae happened; his coins were seemingly debased more than once.

 

I haven't been able so far to find more recent reports on this issue.

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Early legends were in Greek but as time passed these letters become increasingly illegible.

 

Interesting. Does that mean the artists were no longer capable of mastering Greek and just copying shapes?

Seems a bit odd for this period.

Edited by Maladict

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Early legends were in Greek but as time passed these letters become increasingly illegible.

 

Interesting. Does that mean the artists were no longer capable of mastering Greek and just copying shapes?

Seems a bit odd for this period.

I would rather think the Greek language and alphabet were being progressively displaced and even forgotten with the advance of time after the Seleucid defeat; Aramaic seems to have been the new regional lingua franca.

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I would rather think the Greek language and alphabet were being progressively displaced and even forgotten with the advance of time after the Seleucid defeat; Aramaic seems to have been the new regional lingua franca.

 

Considering the decidedly eastern locations of the Partian mints (only one west of the Euphrates), I think I'll have to agree.

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Early legends were in Greek but as time passed these letters become increasingly illegible.

 

Interesting. Does that mean the artists were no longer capable of mastering Greek and just copying shapes?

Seems a bit odd for this period.

I would rather think the Greek language and alphabet were being progressively displaced and even forgotten with the advance of time after the Seleucid defeat; Aramaic seems to have been the new regional lingua franca.

 

Supporting your point, here is an interesting quote from Rev. Richard Plant's A Numsmatic Journey through the Bible:

 

"Thus the legends on the coins of Parthia...are inscribed [initially] entirely in Greek, which starts as good, readable Greek, becoming nonsensical in later times--until suddenly around 140 AD, if we look carefully, we notice that something has happened:

 

post-3665-0-35023500-1308529711_thumb.jpg

 

http://www.parthia.c...s/pdc_40348.jpg

 

AR drachm Parthia. Mithradates IV c 140 [AD]. Obv: Diademed portrait of king. Rev: Seated archer with "nonsense Greek" around--but look at the top of the reverse!

 

This has suddenly become readable Aramaic, reading [the top line] (from right to left), Mithradara malka, 'Mithradates the King.'

 

The other lines are in illegible Greek.

 

guy also known as gaius

 

 

 

Source of picture: Parthia.com. The Gonnella collection

Edited by guy

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