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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Persian EmpireView Options:  |  |  |   

The Persian Empire

The Persian or Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 - 330 B.C.) was the largest empire in ancient history extending across Asia, Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and much of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.Persian Empire


Persian Empire, Lydia, Anatolia, Darios I to Xerxes II, c. 485 - 420 B.C.

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This type was minted in Lydia, Anatolia, while under Persian control, prior to Alexander the Great's conquest. The Persian or Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 - 330 B.C.) was the largest empire in ancient history extending across Asia, Africa and Europe, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and much of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.Persian Empire

SH87857. Gold daric, Carradice Type IIIb, Group A/B (pl. XIII, 27); Meadows, Administration 321; BMC Arabia pl. XXIV, 26; Sunrise 24; Lydo-Milesian standard, gVF, underlying luster, weight 8.309 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 485 - 420 B.C.; obverse kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, bearded, crowned, wearing kidaris and kandys, quiver on shoulder, transverse spear downward in right hand, bow in extended left hand; reverse oblong irregular rectangular incuse punch; ex CNG auction 109, lot 368; $2500.00 (€2125.00)
 


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 420 - 410 B.C.

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In historical times, Tarsos was first ruled by the Hittites, followed by Assyria, and then the Persian Empire. Tarsus, as the principal town of Cilicia, was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 B.C. onward. Indeed, Xenophon records that in 401 B.C., when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch. Alexander the Great passed through with his armies in 333 B.C. and nearly met his death here after a bath in the Cydnus. By this time Tarsus was already largely influenced by Greek language and culture, and as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more Hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers, poets and linguists. The schools of Tarsus rivaled those of Athens and Alexandria.
GS87796. Silver stater, Casabonne Type D3 var. (horseman right, no palm etc.); SNG Ash 1838 var. (same); Kraay 1036 var. (same); SNG BnF- ; SNG Levante –; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -, VF, dark toning, crowded flan, die wear, test cut, weight 10.719 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 330o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 420 - 410 B.C.; obverse horseman walking horse left, flower in right hand, reigns in left hand, ankh under horse; reverse warrior standing right, wearing Persian dress, lance vertical in left hand, bow in right hand, palm tree behind, all in dotted square within incuse square, Aramaic inscription on right; extremely rare, only the 2nd known, the only other specimen known to Forum is CNG e-auction 431 (24 Oct 2018), lot 241; $1000.00 (€850.00)
 


Persian Achaemenid Empire, Carian Satrapy, Synnesis, c. 425 - 401 B.C.

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Syennesis was a Persian satrap of Cilicia in the late 5th century B.C. In 401 B.C., Cyrus the Younger, marching against Artaxerxes, arrived at the borders of Cilicia. Syennesis was guarding the passes but when he received intelligence that Cyrus' advanced forces under Meno had already entered Cilicia, he withdrew and allowed Cyrus to pass. When Cyrus reached Tarsus, the Cilician capital, he found that Meno's soldiers had already sacked the city. Cyrus commanded Synnesis to appear before him. Syennesis had fled for refuge to a stronghold among the mountains, but he was induced by his wife, Epyaxa, to obey the summons. Synnesis received gifts of honor from the Cyrus, whom he supplied in his turn with a large sum of money and a considerable body of troops under the command of one of his sons. At the same time, however, Syennesis sent his other son to Artaxerxes, to represent his meeting with Cyrus as having been something he'd been forced to do, while his heart all the time was with the king, Artaxerxes. From Xenophon's telling it appears that Syennesis, although a vassal of Persia, affected the tone of an independent sovereign.
GA87789. Silver stater, Hunterian III p. 546, 4 & pl. LX, 7; cf. Casabonne D2, pl. 2, 10; SNG BnF 213; Traité II 523; BMC -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -; SNG Levante -, aVF, dark toning, well centered, struck with a worn obverse die, light scratches, weight 10.561 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 420 - 410 B.C.; obverse Horseman (Syennesis?) walking horse left, wearing kyrbasia, lotus flower in right hand, reins in left hand, bow in bowcase on saddle, Aramaic TRZ (Tarsos) in exergue (off flan); reverse Archer kneeling right, drawing bow, quiver over shoulder, ankh behind, all within dotted square border within incuse square; very rare; $650.00 (€552.50)
 


Persian Achaemenid Empire, Carian Satrapy, Pixodaros, c. 340 - 335 B.C.

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Pixodarus was the youngest of the three sons of Hecatomnus, all of whom successively ruled. To secure the friendship of Philip II, king of Macedonia, Pixodarus offered his eldest daughter in marriage to his Philip's son Arrhidaeus. Arrhidaeus' ambitious younger brother, Alexander (later Alexander the Great) offered himself instead. Pixodarus eagerly agreed but Philip put an end to the scheme. Pixodarus died, apparently a natural death, before Alexander landed in Asia in 334 B.C. and was succeeded by his Persian son-in-law Orontobates.
SH63582. Silver didrachm, SNG Cop 597; SNGvA 2375; SNG Keckman 280; SNG Kayhan 891; SNG Lockett 2913; BMC Caria p. 185, 5 ff.; Weber 6608; SGCV II 4966, aVF, porous, weight 6.541 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 0o, Mylasa (Milas, Turkey) mint, c. 340 - 335 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo facing slightly right; reverse ΠIΞΩ∆APOY, Zeus Labraundos standing right, labrys (double-headed axe) over shoulder in right, lotus-tipped scepter vertical in left; $285.00 (€242.25)
 


Arados, Phoenicia, Uncertain King, c. 400 - 384 B.C.

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Early coins of Arados have the Aramaic letters mem aleph (read from right to left) above the galley, abbreviating Melech Arad (meaning King of Arados), sometimes followed by the king's initial, and sometimes by the Phoenician regnal year date.
GS87352. Silver stater, Elayi-Elayi Arwad group III.2.1; HGC 10, 32 (R1), VF, typical compact flan, bumps and marks, weight 10.308 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 270o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 400 - 384 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Ba'al Arwad right, with profile eye; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph (abbreviating Melech Arad - King of Arados) from right to left above, three waves below; ex CNG e-auction 424 (11 Jul 2018), lot 252; rare; $235.00 (€199.75)
 


Ionia, Persian Satraps, c. 394 - 334 B.C.

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A. Johnston in "The Earliest Preserved Greek Map: A New Ionian Coin Type," in Journal of Hellenic Studies (1967) identified this reverse type as a relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos and presented aerial photographs of likely matching terrain.
GB85954. Bronze unit, Johnston Map 1 - 4; BMC Ionia p. 324, 8; Klein 366; Babelon Trait II p. 132, 79bis, pl. 89, 13, VF, dark patina, scratches, earthen deposits; c/m: VF, weight 2.594 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, Ephesos(?) mint, uncertain satrap, c. 350 - 334 B.C.; obverse Persian king in kneeling-running stance right, spear in right hand, bow in left hand, quiver over shoulder, BA behind; c/m: star with eight-point rays around a central pellet within incuse round punch; reverse irregular raised patterns within incuse square, believe to be a relief map of hinterland of Ephesos; rare; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
JD86847. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, aVF, toned, scratches, tight flan, weight 0.694 g, maximum diameter 7.4 mm, die axis 0o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription visible; ex Beast Coins; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


Lesbos, c. 550 - 480 B.C.

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Lesbos, the third largest Greek island, in the NE Aegean Sea, is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. Greek emigrants probably started arriving in the Late Bronze Age. When Cyrus defeated Croesus in 546 B.C. the island became subject to Persia, until the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. The most powerful cities were Mytilene and Methymna. In addition to the local coins bearing the names of the various Lesbian cities, there were two important coinages, one in billon and another in electrum, both of which circulated throughout the island.
GA88080. Billon 1/3 stater, cf. SNGvA 7714 (4.08g); HGC 6 1083 (R2, c. 1.39g); Babylon I 601 (1.25g); BMC Troas p. 155, 56 (0.9g); SNG Cop -; SNG München -; Rosen -, aVF, edge splits, minor flan flaws, earthen deposits, weight 2.221 g, maximum diameter 13.2 mm, uncertain Koinon mint, c. 550 - 480 B.C.; obverse Head of Apollo left, wearing tainia; reverse quadripartite incuse square; an unpublished denomination of a very rare series; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS86843. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, toned, well centered on a tight rhomboid flan, a little rough, encrustations, weight 9.4 g, maximum diameter 0.636 mm, die axis 180o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Beast Coins; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

Click for a larger photo
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS86844. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, toned, slightly rough, bumps and scratches, crowded rhomboid flan, weight 0.754 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 270o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Beast Coins; $140.00 (€119.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Ashton, R., et al. "The Pixodarus Hoard" in Coin Hoards IX (2002).
Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
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Deutsch, R. & M. Heltzer. "Numismatic Evidence from the Persian Period from the Sharon Plain" Transeuphratene, Vol. 13, 1997, pp. 17-20.
Elayi, J. & A.G. Elayi. Le monnayage de la cité phénicienne de Sidon à l'époque perse (Ve-IVe s. av. J.-C.). (Paris, 2004).
Elayi, J. & A.G. Elayi. The Coinage of the Phoenician City of Tyre in the Persian Period (5th-4th cent. BCE). (Leuven-Paris-Walpole, MA, 2009).
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Moysey, R.A. "The Silver Stater Issues of Pharnabazos and Datames from the Mint of Tarsus in Cilicia" in ANSMN 31 (1986).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Troxell, H.A. "Orontes, satrap of Mysia" in SNR 60. (1981).
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Catalog current as of Wednesday, December 12, 2018.
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Persian Empire