Jump to content

Rare Parthian mint found in group lot


Recommended Posts


Parthian Kingdom. AR drachm. Aria mint. Phraates IV (38-2 BCE). Obverse: Diademed bust of king left, eagle behind head holding another diadem to crown him. Reverse: Archer seated on throne right, blundered Greek legend around, under bow mintmark A (Aria). Sellwood 52.38. This coin: Stephen Album Internet-only Auction 19, lot 30 (part of group lot) (March 20, 2023).

(historical section below contains reused text)

Phraates IV (reigned 38-2 BCE) was a son of the king Orodes II (57-38 BCE). Orodes' preferred heir was Pakoros, but unfortunately Pakoros was killed in battle in 38 BCE, forcing the distraught Orodes to choose another heir. Phraates, however, would prove a poor choice, promptly murdering his father and his surviving brothers (to prevent any other claimants to the throne) and exiling various of their supporters. In 36 BCE, the Roman triumvir Marc Antony led his troops through Armenia and into the Parthian client state of Media Atropatene, but Phraates attacked Antony's rear and forced him to retreat through Armenia and into Syria, suffering heavy losses along the way. Antony returned in 34 BCE, and captured the king of Armenia by treachery, but he was forced to withdraw in 33 BCE to deal with Octavian. Not long after this, a Parthian nobleman named Tiridates attempted to usurp the throne and had some success, but was ultimately forced to flee to the Romans (carrying as hostage a son of Phraates). In 20 BCE, a peace conference with the Romans resulted in the return of the son, as well as the gift of a Roman slave-girl called Musa who quickly became the favorite courtesan, and then wife, of Phraates. She bore a son who was known as Phraatakes (Little Phraates). In 2 BCE, Phraatakes and Musa conspired to kill Phraates and seize the throne, after which... well, I've already written about that story, if you want to know more:

This coin was part of a group lot that included three Bactrian coins and a fake Parthian mule, but it was this coin that made me purchase the lot, as I noticed that the mintmark was the rare Aria. Aria was a region centered around the city of Alexandria Ariana (modern Herat, Afghanistan). Its mintmark of A resembles thievery common mintmark for Ekbatana, which is a stylized monogram of alpha, gamma, and tau (for Agbatana, an alternate form of the name) and which is usually written as an A with a dot under the crossbar and a line above the top of the A. The Aria mintmark is just an A, and is found with the crossbar as a V shape rather than a straight line. The artistic style of the obverse is also distinctive for this mint. I always enjoy finding rare Parthian mintmarks that were not noticed by the seller, and this was quite a find. Please post whatever you have that is related.

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...