The end of the Parthians

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Artabanos VI.jpg
    Parthian Kingdom. Ekbatana mint. AR drachm. Artabanos VI (called Artabanos IV in older references) (c.212-224 AD). HIs bust right, in diadem and tiara, forked beard, behind head Aramaic 'R (for Artabanos). Reverse: Seated archer surrounded by blundered pseudo-Greek legend, but top line is Aramaic 'RTBNW MLK' (Artabanos King). Sellwood 89.1, Shore 464, Sunrise 461. This coin: Frank S. Robinson auction 113, lot 113 (2020).

    Artabanos VI and Vologases VI (c.207-222 AD) were both sons of Vologases V. Vologases VI seems to have been the chosen successor to Vologases V, and he began issuing dated tetradrachms from Seleukia on the Tigris in 207/8. Exactly when and how Artabanos claimed the kingship is unclear, but he seems to have controlled only the Iranian plateau and not Mesopotamia, as Artabanos only issued drachms from Ekbatana and no coins from Seleukia. Caracalla decided to take advantage of the two brothers' quarrel, and in 214 moved with his troops to Nikomedia to prepare for an invasion, on the pretext that the Parthians had failed to surrender two men; however, the Parthians quickly turned over the two fugitives, and Caracalla withdrew for the time. In 216 AD Caracalla wrote to Artabanos, making a (probably insincere) request for Artabanos' daughter in marriage. Upon this being refused, Caracalla invaded Mesopotamia, captured Arbela, and began looting Parthian royal tombs, scattering the bones of their inhabitants. (Stay classy, Caracalla!) In 217, Artabanos began marching towards the Romans, but Caracalla was murdered on the road between Edessa and Carrhae by one of his own soldiers. Macrinus was proclaimed the new Roman emperor, but was quickly defeated in battle by Artabanos and forced to retreat from Mesopotamia. In 218, Macrinus made a peace settlement which included paying the Parthians over 200 million sesterces. This was an unusually favorable outcome in late Parthian-Roman relations, but there was a more serious challenge to Parthian authority underway. An energetic young vassal in Persis, Ardashir V, had stopped obeying his nominal Parthian overlords and begun amassing more territory under his own rule. In 224 AD, Ardashir killed Artabanos in battle, and around this time (the exact dates are in some dispute) proclaimed himself Ardashir I and founded the Sasanian Persian dynasty. The death of Vologases VI is unrecorded in historical sources; he stopped issuing tetradrachms from Seleukia in 222, except for a single late issue dated 227/8. This late coin may be a mistake in engraving the date, or may have been issued by a short-lived rebel or other claimant during the chaos of the Sasanian conquest; it is unlikely that Vologases had survived that late.

    This is a scarce and historical coin, and I rather like the portrait style. The forked beard is unique to Artabanos VI among Parthian kings. The use of Aramaic to spell out the king's full name is also interesting. Vologases VI does the same thing in his drachms. Interestingly, on these late issues even the "pseudo-Greek" letters look closer to Aramaic than Greek letter-forms, implying that the engravers had no familiarity with Greek by this point. Anyway, please post whatever related coins you have.
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  3. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    It's always interesting when the Parthians meet the Romans!

    I can just about reach the end of the Parthians:

    Vologases V Dichalkous, 191-208, Seleukia, 16mm, 2.16g (Sellwood 87.27).
    DBDc80, Alegandron, Parthicus and 2 others like this.
  4. DBDc80

    DBDc80 Numismatist

    Here is mine from his brother cum adversary....

    Vologases VI ca. 207/08-221/2 A.D.
    AR Drachm
    Ecbatana Mint
    Sellwood 88.19
    Sunrise 459
    Ex. Nomos 20, Lot 274
    Ex. Swiss Collection formed from ca. 1880's to 1926.

  5. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    A great coin. He's been on my "list" for some time. Congrats.
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