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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ ArmeniaView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Armenia

Historic Armenia, at the crossroads of the three continents, is a land of snow-clad mountains and deep valleys. Like most mountainous countries, Armenia was destined to be a poor land whose inhabitants survived solely through their courage. It was not until the twentieth century that history of Armenia was subjected to serious study. Until quite recently very little material was available for research or collecting.


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes V (Herodian Tigranes I), c. 6 - 12 A.D.

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"The reign of Tigranes V has generally been described as uneventful; his coins are similarly unremarkable. They do not commemorate any historical or military events but merely copy designs common to the Seleucid and autonomous city coinage of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The standing Herakles/Vahagn, which was employed extensively by Tigranes the Great (CCA, 99-103), would have had particular appeal for the Phoenician population, as well as the Armenian." -- Frank L. Kovacs in "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions"
SH76981. Bronze two chalkoi, Kovacs AJN 20 6, Nercessian ACV 158 (Tigranes IV), Bedoukian CCA 153 (same), VF, superb portrait, nice green patina, old scratch on obverse, weight 5.606 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus(?) mint, c. 6 - 12 A.D.; obverse heavily bearded head of Tigranes IV right, wearing Armenian tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩC TIΓPANOY MEΓAΛOY, Herakles-Vahagn standing slightly left, nude, right hand resting on grounded club, Nemean lion skin draped over left arm; ex Pecunem Numismatik Naumann auction 34 (2 Aug 2015), lot 496 (price realized €522.50 including fees); rare; $670.00 (€596.30)
 


Kingdom of Commagene, Julia Iotape, 38 - 72 A.D.

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Iotape was the daughter of Antiochus III and Iotapa, the king and queen of Commagene. Her parents were full-blooded siblings and direct descendants of the Seleucid kings. Iotapa and her brother Antiochus IV were very young when their father died in 17 A.D. Tiberius agreed with the citizens of Commagene to make their Kingdom a part of the Roman province of Syria. From 17 until 38, Iotapa and her brother were raised in Rome, members of the remarkable court of Antonia Minor. Antonia Minor was a niece of Augustus and the youngest daughter of Mark Antony. She was very influential and supervised her circle of various princes and princesses, assisting in the political preservation of the Empire’s borders, and the affairs of client states. In 38, Caligula returned Antiochus IV and Iotape to the throne of Commagene. In addition, Caligula enlarged their territory with a part of Cilicia bordering on the seacoast and gave them one million gold pieces, the total amount of revenue collected from Commagene during the twenty years that it had been under Syria. The reason for his extraordinary generosity is unknown. Perhaps it was just a stroke of Caligula's well-attested eccentricity. Iotapa and Antiochus IV married and had three children. Iotapa died before Commagene was annexed by Vespasian in 72. When she died, Antiochus IV founded a town called Iotapa in her honor (modern Aytap, Turkey).
GB84499. Bronze AE 26, Lindgren-Kovacs 1887 (same countermark); RPC I 3858; BMC Galatia p. 109, 4; Nercessian AC -; SNG Cop VII 5; countermark: Howgego 403 (after 69 A.D.), VF, straight edge flan, weight 15.289 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Samosata (site now flooded by the Atatürk Dam) mint, 66 - 72 B.C.; obverse BAΣIΛIΣΣA IΩTAΠH ΦIΛA∆EΛΦOΣ (of Queen Iotape Philadelphus), diademed and draped bust of Iotape to right, countermark: crossed cornucopias; reverse KOMMAΓ−HNΩN, scorpion and inscription all within laurel wreath; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; scarce; $150.00 (€133.50)
 


Kingdom of Sophene, Armenia, Arsames II, c. 240 - 220 B.C.

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The Kingdom of Sophene was an ancient Armenian kingdom. Founded around the 3rd century B.C. the kingdom maintained independence until around 90 B.C. when Tigranes the Great conquered the territories as part of his empire.
SH66374. Bronze chalkous, Nercessian Sophene 19; Nercessian 9 var. (same head right); Bedoukian ANSMN 28, 8 var. (same), aVF, weight 3.057 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 315o, Persepolis(?) mint, c. 240 - 220 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust left, wearing flat-topped tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ APΣAMOY, caps of the Dioscuri, two star above; extremely rare; $135.00 (€120.15)
 


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes V (Herodian Tigranes I), c. 6 - 12 A.D.

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"The reign of Tigranes V has generally been described as uneventful; his coins are similarly unremarkable. They do not commemorate any historical or military events but merely copy designs common to the Seleucid and autonomous city coinage of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The standing Herakles/Vahagn, which was employed extensively by Tigranes the Great (CCA, 99-103), would have had particular appeal for the Phoenician population, as well as the Armenian." -- Frank L. Kovacs in "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions"
SH66377. Bronze chalkous, Kovacs AJN 20 10, Bedoukian CCA 156 (Tigranes IV), Nercessian ACV 166 (same, half chalkous), VF, weight 2.467 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus(?) mint, c. 6 - 12 A.D.; obverse heavily bearded head of Tigranes IV right, wearing Armenian tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩC TIΓPANOY MEΓAΛOY, eagle standing left, wings closed; rare; $135.00 (€120.15)
 


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes II the Great, 95 - 55 B.C.

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Tigranes was called "Tigranes the Great" by Plutarch. The "King of Kings" never appeared in public without having four kings attending him. At its height, Tigranes' empire extended from the Pontic Alps to Mesopotamia and from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. In 83 B.C., the Syrians offered him the crown and after conquering Phoenicia and Cilicia, he effectively ended the Seleucid Empire. His southern border reached as far as Akko-Ptolemais. The first Armenian ruler to issue coins, he adopted the Seleucid tradition and struck coins at Antioch and Damascus during his occupation of Syria from 83 to 69 B.C. In 66 B.C., Pompey advanced into Armenia with Tigranes' own son as an ally. Tigranes, now almost 75 years old, surrendered. Pompey treated him generously and returned part of his kingdom in return for 6,000 talents of silver. His unfaithful son was sent back to Rome as a prisoner. Tigranes continued to rule Armenia as an ally of Rome until his death in 55 B.C.
SH66375. Bronze four chalci, cf. Nercessian 84; Bedoukian CCA 119; BMC Seleucid p. 104, 12 (half chalkous); SNG Cop -, aF, weight 9.332 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus(?) mint, c. 83 - 69 B.C.; obverse head of Tigranes I right wearing five-pointed Armenian tiara, A behind; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ TIΓPANOY, Nike advancing left, wreath in extended right, left hand on hip, uncertain letters outer left; ex Gianni Aiello Collection; rare; $115.00 (€102.35)
 


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes V (Herodian Tigranes I), c. 6 - 12 A.D.

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"The reign of Tigranes V has generally been described as uneventful; his coins are similarly unremarkable. They do not commemorate any historical or military events but merely copy designs common to the Seleucid and autonomous city coinage of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The standing Herakles/Vahagn, which was employed extensively by Tigranes the Great (CCA, 99-103), would have had particular appeal for the Phoenician population, as well as the Armenian." -- Frank L. Kovacs in "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions"
SH66376. Bronze two chalkoi, Kovacs AJN 20 6, Nercessian ACV 159 (Tigranes IV), Bedoukian CCA 154 (same), aF, weight 4.718 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 45o, Damascus(?) mint, 8 - 5 B.C.; obverse heavily bearded head of Tigranes IV right, wearing Armenian tiara with five points, surrounded by dotted pearls, adorned with star; reverse BAΣIΛEΩC TIΓPANOY MEΓAΛOY, Herakles standing slightly left, nude, right hand resting on grounded club, Nemean lion skin draped on left arm; rare; $115.00 (€102.35)
 


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes II the Great, 95 - 56 B.C.

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Tigranes was called "Tigranes the Great" by Plutarch. The "King of Kings" never appeared in public without having four kings attending him. At its height, Tigranes' empire extended from the Pontic Alps to Mesopotamia and from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. In 83 B.C., the Syrians offered him the crown and after conquering Phoenicia and Cilicia, he effectively ended the Seleucid Empire. His southern border reached as far as Akko-Ptolemais. The first Armenian ruler to issue coins, he adopted the Seleucid tradition and struck coins at Antioch and Damascus during his occupation of Syria from 83 to 69 B.C. In 66 B.C., Pompey advanced into Armenia with Tigranes' own son as an ally. Tigranes, now almost 75 years old, surrendered. Pompey treated him generously and returned part of his kingdom in return for 6,000 talents of silver. His unfaithful son was sent back to Rome as a prisoner. Tigranes continued to rule Armenia as an ally of Rome until his death in 55 B.C.
GB84505. Bronze chalkous, Kovacs 81, Bedoukian 93, Nercessian AC 49, MDHRAC 85, F, overstruck with strong undertype effects, earthen deposits, scratches, a bit rough, weight 7.123 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Tigranocerta (near Diyarbakir, Turkey) mint, c. 80 - 68 B.C.; obverse bust right wearing Armenian tiara, five-pointed tiara ornamented with star between two eagles, top extends outside of dot circle; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ − BAΣIΛEIΩN / TIΓPANOY, Tyche seated right on rocks, turreted, holding palm frond in right hand, TP monogram to the left of palm frond and above her arm, A below palm frond, half-length figure of river-god swimming right at her feet below; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; scarce; $110.00 (€97.90)
 


Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes V (Herodian Tigranes I), c. 6 - 12 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
"The reign of Tigranes V has generally been described as uneventful; his coins are similarly unremarkable. They do not commemorate any historical or military events but merely copy designs common to the Seleucid and autonomous city coinage of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The standing Herakles/Vahagn, which was employed extensively by Tigranes the Great (CCA, 99-103), would have had particular appeal for the Phoenician population, as well as the Armenian." -- Frank L. Kovacs in "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions"
SH66378. Bronze chalkous, Kovacs AJN 20 10, Bedoukian CCA 156 (Tigranes IV), Nercessian ACV 166 (same, half chalkous), F, green patina, tight flan, off-center, weight 2.347 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus(?) mint, c. 6 - 12 A.D.; obverse heavily bearded head of Tigranes IV right, wearing Armenian tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩC TIΓPANOY MEΓAΛOY, eagle standing left, wings closed; rare; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


Kingdom of Sophene, Armenia, Arsames II, c. 240 - 220 B.C.

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The Kingdom of Sophene was an ancient Armenian kingdom. Founded around the 3rd century B.C. the kingdom maintained independence until around 90 B.C. when Tigranes the Great conquered the territories as part of his empire.
GB67178. Bronze chalkous, Nercessian ACV 8; Bedoukian ANSMN 28, 7, aF, weight 3.372 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 0o, Persepolis(?) mint, c. 240 - 220 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust right, wearing flat-topped tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ APΣAMOY, eagle standing right on thunderbolt; very rare; $85.00 (€75.65)
 


Hellenistic and Roman Armenian Coinage (1st c. BC - st.c. AD)

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During the first Century BC and the beginning of the first Century AD, the Armenian Kingdom struck silver and bronze coinage. The main part of the coinage was issues of Tigranes II. He began to strike after his invasion of the Seleucid Kingdom and continued his production of coins during and after the war against Lucullus and Pompeius. His successors continued to strike, but the quantities of coins decreased. The last Armenian issues were Roman denarii of the C. L CAESARES type. This book presents a new corpus of the Armenian issues of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. More than 2,500 coins are catalogued. A new chronology and a new organization of coinage are presented. The Coinage is attributed to several mints of Syria and Armenia. The study of the Coinage is introduced by a general survey of the context of the issues, a study of the meteorology.
BK10406. Hellenistic and Roman Armenian Coinage (1st c. BC - 1st c. AD) by Georges Depeyrot, 1999, Moneta 15, 256 pages, 8 plates; $60.00 (€53.40)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Babelon, E. Les Rois de Syrie, d'Arménie, et de Commagène, Catlogue de monnaies grecques de la Bibliothèque Nacionale. (Paris, 1890).
Langlois, V. Numismatique de l'Arménie. (Paris, 1859).
Bedoukian, P. "Coinage of the Armenian Kingdoms of Sophene and Commagene" in ANSMN 28 (New York, 1983).
Bedoukian, P. Coinage of the Artaxiads of Armenia. RNS Special Publication Number 10. (London, 1978).
Gardner, P. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, The Seleucid Kings of Syria. (Forni reprint, 1963).
Kovacs, F. "Additions and corrections to Armenian coins and their values" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 30/3 (2004).
Kovacs, F. Armenian Coinage in the Classical Period. CNS 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2016).
Kovacs, F. "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions" in AJN 20 (2008).
Mousheghian, A. & G. Depeyrot. Hellenistic and Roman Armenian Coinage (1st c. BC - 1st c. AD). Moneta 15. (Wettern, 1999).
Mousheghian, K., et al. History and Coin Finds in Armenia: Coins from Duin, Capital of Armenia. Moneta 18. (Wetteren, 2000).
Nercessian, Y. Armenian Coins and Their Values. Armenian Numismatic Society, Special Publication No. 8. (Los Angeles, 1995).
Nercessian, Y. "Coinage of the Armenian Kingdom of Sophene (ca. 260-70 B.C.)" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 37.3 (Sep 2011).
Nercessian, Y. Silver Coinage of the Artaxiad Dynasty of Armenia. (Los Angeles, 2006).
Nercessian, Y. "Silver Coins of Artavasdes II of Armenia" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 29-1 (March 2003).
Nercessian, Y. "Silver Coins of Tigranes II of Armenia" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 26-3 & 4. (December 2000).
Nercessian, Y. "Tigranes the Great of Armenia and the Mint of Damascus" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 22-1 (March 1996).
Vardanyan, R. "A Dated Copper Coin of Artaxias II: Evidence on the Use of the Pompeyan Era in Artaxata" in Armenian Numismatic Journal XXVII (2001).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, April 25, 2017.
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Armenia