Early Parthian bronze coin of Phriapatios

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Phriapatius.jpg
    Parthian Kingdom. Phriapatios I (c.185-170 BC). AE chalkos (3.54 g, 14 mm). Obverse: bust left in bashlyk. Reverse: Horse walking right, Greek legend "Arsakou" mirror-reversed above. Sellwood 8.2 (Mithradates I), Shore 22 (Mithradates I), Sunrise 249 (Phriapatios). This coin: Pars Coins Auction 8 (August 31, 2020), lot 35.

    Very little is known about the third Parthian king, Phriapatios (c.185-170 BC). He seems to have been a grandnephew of Arsakes I, rather than the son of Arsakes II. He would go on to father three further Parthian kings, Phraates I (c.168-164 BC), the great Mithradates I (164-132 BC), and Artabanos III (126-122 BC).

    The attribution of these earliest Parthian coins, featuring the king in a bashlyk, seems far from certain to me. Both Sellwood and Shore assigned this type to Mithradates I, and unfortunately Assar doesn't give any strong arguments for reassigning this type. The minimal inscriptions and repetitive designs offer few clues, and while the temporal sequence seems pretty solid (based on style), assignment of particular coins to particular kings is little more than educated guesswork. Regardless of precisely which early Parthian king issued this coin, it is an interesting and compelling design. The king's portrait in a nomadic felt cap (bashlyk), combined with the horse on reverse, really captures a semi-nomadic people who were still getting used to ruling over settled cities. The legend being mirror-reversed (which is fairly common on the earliest Parthian coins) adds to this impression. The portrait is in very high relief, giving the coin a great three-dimensional quality. All in all, quite a nice coin for $55. Please post your coins of Phriapatios, or whatever else is related.

    References:

    G.R.F. Assar, "Iran under the Arsakids, 247 BC- AD 224/227", in Bradley R. Nelson (ed.), Numismatic Art of Persia: The Sunrise Collection Part I: Ancient- 650 BC to AD 650, Classical Numismatic Group Inc., 2011. ISBN: 978-0-9837652-8-8. [see pp.116-119 for information on Phriapatios and his sons; coin 249 is photographed and described on pp.174-175]
    David Sellwood, An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia, 2nd Edition, Spink and Son Ltd.,1980. [Type 8, assigned to Mithradates I, is on p. 31]
    Fred B. Shore, Parthian Coins and History: Ten Dragons Against Rome, Classical Numismatic Group Inc., 1993. ISBN: 0-9636738-0-7. [Type 22, assigned to Mithradates I, is on p. 92]
     
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  3. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I don’t have a relevant example to share but wanted to just comment and say nice coin and good write up. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy the threads that show coins other than Greek and Roman because it broadens my horizons.
     
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