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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 IV and Erato, Second Reign, c. 2 B.C. - 4 A.D.

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This remarkable type was only discovered in 1978. In 2014, one of the best examples to come to auction but still only aVF, realized $12,370 plus fees! In "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions" in AJN 20 (2008), Frank Kovacs convincingly attributes this type to Tigranes IV and notes the view is of Mt. Ararat from the perspective of the city of Artaxata. The beardless portrait fits the youthful Tigranes IV and, although not visible on most examples, the legend on the reverse, ΦIΛOKAIΣAP, refers to the Armenian king's affection for his Roman ally, Augustus.
SH85956. Bronze dichalkon, Kovacs AJN 20 p. 340 and pl. 81, 5; Bedoukian CCA 128 (Tigranes II); Nercessian ACV 122 (Tigranes II); MDHRAC -, F, porous, weak legends not visible - as on most known specimens, weight 4.214 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, Artaxata mint, 2nd reign, c. 2 B.C.; obverse ...EME - TIΓPAN (or similar), jugate busts of Tigranes and Erato right, Tigranes draped and wearing a tall Armenian tiara with five point and ornamented with a star; reverse ΦIΛOKAIΣAP (friend of Caesar), twin peaks of Mount Ararat, as seen from the Armenian capital Artaxata, A (regnal year 1) below; extremely rare; $1400.00 (€1190.00)
 


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; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


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; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


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; $110.00 (€93.50)
 


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; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


Kingdom of Commangene, Mithradates I Kallinikos, 96 - 70 B.C.

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The Kingdom of Commagene was an ancient Armenian kingdom of the Hellenistic period, located in and around the ancient city of Samosata, which served as its capital. The Iron Age name of Samosata, Kummuh, probably gives its name to Commagene. Commagene has been characterized as a "buffer state" between Armenia, Parthia, Syria, and Rome; culturally, it seems to have been correspondingly mixed. The kings of the Kingdom of Commagene claimed descent from Orontes with Darius I of Persia as their ancestor, by his marriage to Rodogoune, daughter of Artaxerxes II who had a family descent from king Darius I. The territory of Commagene corresponds roughly to the modern Turkish provinces of Adiyaman and northern Antep.Map of Commangene

GB85867. Bronze dichalkon, Nercessian ACV 187, Bedoukian 20, VF, green patina, , light marks and corrosion, irregularly shaped tight flan, reverse off center, weight 17.2 g, maximum diameter 4.281 mm, die axis 0o, Samosata (Samsat, Turkey) mint, 96 - 70 B.C.; obverse bust of Mithradates I right wearing pointed Armenian tiara with ear flaps down; reverse Athena standing left, helmeted, right hand extended, spear behind in left hand, grounded shield at feet behind, BACIΛEWC downward on right, MIΘPA∆ATOY / KAΛΛINIKOY in two downward lines on the left; rare; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


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"
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; $80.00 (€68.00)
 


Numismatique De L'Armenie

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Coins of Armenia. Digital copies and photocopies are available online, but now, for those who like to flip real pages in a real book, it is apparently hard to find.
BK10207. Numismatique De L'Armenie by Victor Langlois, 1859, Arnaldo Forni Editore reprint, in French, hardback, 87 pages, 6 plates, only one copy available; $16.00 (€13.60)
 


American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 28 (1983)

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Includes the following notes:
Martin, Thomas R. The chronology of the fourth-century B.C. facing-head coinage of Larissa
Troxell, Hyla A. Arsinoe's Non-Era
Bedoukian, Paul Z. Coinage of the Armenian kingdoms of Sophene and Commagene
Mørkholm, O. The autonomous tetradrachms of Laodicea ad Mare
Burnett, A. and P. Craddock. Rome and Alexandria: the minting of Egyptian tetradrachms under Severus Alexander
Russell, J. A coin hoard of Maurice Tiberius from Anemurium, Isauria
Kuntz, R., Warden, B. William B. A gold dinar of the Sasanian Queen Buran
Bikhazi, R. The struggle for Syria and Mesopotamia (330-58/941-69) as reflected on Hamdanid and Ikhshidid coins
Lowick, Nicholas M. The wandering die of Nisabur: a sequel
Carter, Giles F. A simplified method for calculating the original numbers of dies from die link statistics
BK11647. Museum Notes 28, American Numismatic Society (ANSMN 28), 1983, paperback, 206 pages, 22 plates, very good condition, only one copy available; $9.00 (€7.65)







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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 Sunday, November 19, 2017.
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Armenia