Jump to content

The further adventures of a guy who seeks scarce Parthian mintmarks


Recommended Posts


Parthian Kingdom. AR drachm (20 mm, 3.51 g). Laodicea mint. Orodes II (57-38 BCE) . Obverse: Diademed bust of king left, crescent behind, star before. Reverse: Seated archer surrounded by standard seven-line Greek legend, lambda (Laodicea mintmark) above, no mark below bow. Sellwood 47.17, Shore 246. This coin: Zurqieh, May 2023.

Orodes II was a son of the Parthian king Phraates III (c.70-57 BCE). In 57 BCE, Orodes and his brother Mithradates (called Mithradates III in older references, now believed to be IV) conspired to kill their father and take over the throne. The two brothers seem to have shared power for a short while, but soon quarreled, and within a couple of years Orodes killed Mithradates to become sole ruler. Orodes had several fights with the Romans, most notably at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE where the Parthians wiped out a large Roman force led by the triumvir Crassus. In 38 BCE, his favorite son Pakoros was killed in battle in Roman Syria, forcing the distraught Orodes to choose a new heir. Unfortunately, the son he chose, Phraates IV, was quite bloodthirsty and promptly killed his father and other brothers to consolidate his grasp on power.

As I've stated many times before, one think I enjoy is seeking out Parthian coins from scarce mints that have been overlooked by sellers. This coin bears the mintmark of Laodicea, which is one of the scarcer Parthian mint marks. There were several cities in the ancient world called Laodicea, the most famous of which was in Phrygia and is mentioned in the New Testament. However, this coin was struck at Laodicea in Media, which became Nihavand in Sasanian times and is still an inhabited city in Hamadan Province, Iran. At $59.50, I wouldn't really call this a steal, but I was happy to find it nonetheless. Please post whatever related coins you have.

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

54 minutes ago, Parthicus said:

Please post whatever related coins you have.

From the same mint, types S.47.16 (Λ below bow) and 47.18 (Y above bow and Λ below).



This mint only operated for a short period, limited to the reigns of Orodes II and Phraates IV. Sellwood reports drachms for Phraates III and Mithradates IV, but no examples can be found in the major databases. The drachm of Mithradates IV, pl. XIII n°2 of the BMC and described in parthia.com as S.40.10, is in fact a coin issued by Aria.
This is confirmed by another example with the same obverse die but a different reverse die, with a very neat small A and not a lambda.

(I no longer have these two coins in my possession, as they were among the 250 Parthian coins stolen from me. But since I didn't choose to part with them voluntarily, I still consider them part of my collection!)

  • Like 10
  • Cry 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great thread! Here is my example of the Sellwood 46.18 which just has the crescent behind Orodes' portrait, my Sellwood 47.17 which is the same type that Parthicus posted (apologies for the washed out image, it doesn't do the coin justice and I need to re-shoot), and my Sellwood 40.15 (Sellwood's Mithradates III from Areia) which I believe is the coin type Alvin referred to. The 40.15 is a reverse die match to the ANS and Triskeles 21 examples. Note that the 40.15 has an 8 line legend. That makes me wonder if Sellwood knew of another coin with a 7 line example? While we are fortunate that Sellwood did what he did for Parthian coinage, it's unfortunate that he described but did not designate specific examples of his types.




  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always enjoy your posts @Parthicus, congrats on the latest find.  My Parthian collection is a modest survey and most of my coins are from Ecbatana, Mithradatkart, and Rhagae mints, however I do have a few examples from other mints including this coin from Laodicea (Nahavand), where the very triangular portrait of Phraates IV drew me in (Sellwood 52.16, Shore 283)



and my latest Parthian is an AE DIchalkon from Vologases IV with Tyche on the reverse:


Kings of Parthia, Vologases IV, Circa AD 147-191, AE Dichalkon, Seleukeia on the Tigris mint. Sellwood 84.144. Shore 632, SE 475 = 163/4.

Obv: Bust left, wearing tiara; date to left 

Rev: Draped bust of Tyche right, wearing mural crown; A to right.

Edited by Sulla80
  • Like 4
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...