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A rare Parthian obol


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Parthian Kingdom. AR obol. Mithradatkart mint. Orodes II (57- 38 BC). Obverse: Diademed bust of king left. Reverse: Seated archer facing right, blundered four-line Greek legend around, Mithradatkart mintmark under bow. Sellwood 48.15v. (different mintmark). This coin: Frank S. Robinson Sale 123, lot 69 (January 23, 2024).

Orodes II was a son of the Parthian king Phraates III (c.70-57 BC). In 57 BC, 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 BC where the Parthians wiped out a large Roman force led by the triumvir Crassus. In 38 BC, 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.

All Parthian fractional silver is rare; the majority of Parthian silver coins are drachms, with tetradrachms making up most of the remainder. This type of obol from Orodes II is listed in Sellwood's catalog from the Ekbatana and Rhagae mints, but not from Mithradatkart. It is not unknown, however, as I found two CNG auction appearances, in Triton VII lot 454 (2004) and CNG 105 lot 505 (2017). It is nonetheless rather rare, and a nice addition to my collection. Please post your coins of Orodes II, Parthian fractional silver, or whatever else seems related.

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Here is an Orodes II drachm that I need some help on:


18.5mm, 3.32g

I bought this unattributed six years ago at an ANA show.  I tried to attribute it with web sites and Shore's book and apparently decided that it was an Eastern Imitation, cf. Sellwood 47.29-34, cf. Shore 239-262.  I can't recall which web site or book lead me to that conclusion.  Can any experts confirm this attribution?

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27 minutes ago, Alwin said:

Ed Snible, your Orodes is here, in Local 'Theopator' Issues:

Below the bow ΔP = Drangiana (= Sistan/Sakastan)


Thanks!  Long time mystery solved.

A few years ago I worked with Tom Mallon's widow to restore grifterrec from backups.  We couldn't get the old domain so we used grifterrec.org, for example http://grifterrec.org/coins/par_rel/par_rel.html

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