The Parthian King is feeling slightly barbarous today

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    It's time for another dive into the confusing world of Parthian coin attributions!
    Orodes I barbarous.jpg
    Parthian Kingdom. AR drachm. Either "Orodes I (c.90-77 BC) [Sellwood, Shore]" or "Mithradates III (87-80 BC) [Assar]". Obverse: Bearded bust right, wearing tiara with 8-pointed star, torque at neck with pellet end. Reverse: Seated archer, surrounded by slightly blundered Greek legend "Basileos Megalou/ Arsakou/ Autokratoros Philopatoros/ Epiphanous Philellenos" (Of the Great King Arsakes, Ruling by his own authority, Loving his father, Illustrious, Loving the Greeks.) Sellwood 31.5, Shore 122, Sunrise 308v. Slightly barbarous style. This coin: Frank S. Robinson Auction 108, lot 99 (April 9, 2019); ex. Classical Numismatic Group 3/18 (Nisa Collection).

    This drachm is Sellwood type 31.5, which the standard older references of Sellwood and Shore assign to Orodes I with dates of c.90-77 BC. However, the more recent work of Assar reassigns this type to a previously unidentified king with the personal name of Mithradates, whom Assar thus dubs "Mithradates III" and assigns dates of 87-80 BC. Mithradates III may have been a son of the great Mithradates II, but does not seem to have inherited his father's military genius. He lost some territory to Tigranes I of Armenia, and was overthrown by the rebel Orodes I (reigned 80-75 BC). Even less is known of Orodes I, except that he expelled his vassal Kamnaskires III from Elymais and was married to his sister Ispubarza.

    This coin was listed as barbarous in style. The portrait quality is overall quite good, but the details of the tiara are not, and the Greek legend is not very well engraved and harder to read than usual on this type. I am inclined to think this is an official mint issue from a beginning or less-skilled engraver, rather than an unofficial imitation. Please post your related coins.
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    A very nice coin, I like it.

    Mithradates III (87 - 80 B.C.)
    AR Drachm
    O: Diademed bust of king left, wearing tiara decorated with 6 pointed star.
    Rhagai mint
    Sellwood 31.6 (Orodes I); Sunrise –; Shore 123 (Orodes I)
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  4. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Nice write up and great coin!

    But, now, I am confused and need help. I have posted this before in your threads. I know little about Parthian History, and scant on their coinage. I do not understand the attribution that I have.

    PARTHIA Mithradates III

    Why is mine so different, AND, different dates?
    Parthia Mithradates III 58-55 BCE AR Drachm 3.9g 20mm Rhagae mint star archer bashlyk throne bow Sellwood 41.12
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  5. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Hello @Alegandron ,

    Your coin is indeed of a King Mithradates, who ruled c. 58-55 BC. He was called "Mithradates III" by the old attribution system. However, since it now seems there was a "Mithradates III" who reigned c.87-80 BC, then the guy who reigned c.58-55 BC gets shifted to "Mithradates IV". Similarly, the old-style "Mithradates IV" of c. 140 AD is now "Mithradates VI".

    This is why it is so important to assign Parthian coins to the correct Sellwood type. Your coin is a Sellwood 41.12- that has not changed, and still tells other Parthian collectors exactly what coin you have.
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  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thank you! I SURMISED the move from III to IV, but I druther hear it from you. :)
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  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My coin of the period is unlisted for the seven pointed star on the tiara as opposed to the six or eight pointed versions. I made a card for the coin in 1993 giving the mint as Rhagae but I do not know why I did that unless the selling dealer (Fred Shore) identified it that way. I assumed at the time he might know but the coin is not in his book which is dated that year. Perhaps he got it after the book went to press??? It is similar to Sunrise 308 (Sunrise does not count star rays) and Sellwood 31.5-6.
    I was ignorant of the details in 1993 and have no improvement now. Opinions welcome.
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  8. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    I got his - perhaps - father Mithridates II:

    Ruler: Mithridates II
    Denomination: AR Drachm
    Obs: Obv: long-bearded bust left wearing tiara (T28ii) with six-point star; torque end single or double pellet; circular border of pellets;
    rev: Rev: beardless archer wearing bashlyk and cloak seated right on throne, holding bow in right hand; no border; five-line Greek inscription = ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ([Of the] Great King of Kings, Arsaces, the Noble)
    Weight: 3.98g; Ø:1.9cm
    Catalogue: Sellwood 28.2
    Acquired: 26-04-2019
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  9. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Parthicus - thank you for the post - I'll add another variant like Doug's. I find
    this table invaluable in getting a mental map of all of the movement/re-assignments.

    I have several, but will post my 31.5, Orodes I (Sellwood, Shore) Mithradates III (Assar) 7-point star variant that is not as nice as @dougsmit's - Chris Hopkins lists an example on - 6 coins known in his database.

    Orodes I Mithradates III.jpg
    Rhagae Sellwood 31.5 variant (tiara 7-point star) "bust left wearing tiara with seven-pointed star; pellet ended torque; circular border of pellets".

    Here's another of the many name changers:
    Gotarez 1 Sinatrukes.jpg
    Sellwood 33.4 Sinatrukes 95-90 BC (Assar) Gotarez I (Sellwood) also Rhagae
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  10. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Nice coin and insight into a confusing time?!
    Mine is dated 80-77? Freaking Parthians!
    Also mine has a funky "hole" that made me think it was a fouree, though it wasn't listed as such. Now I believe it was some kind of bubble or flan error. Here's my and the seller photos:
    Orodes I
    Hellenistic Monarchies, The Parthian Kingdom - 80-77 BC. AR Drachm (17mm, 3.35g). Rhagae. Bust wearing a tiara with eight pointed star in centre to left, with short beard / Archer seated right on throne, seven line inscription. cfS.7389, Sellwood 31.6. Former Kairos Numismatik
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  11. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I guess I'll be the first to say the coin looks cast. The right side of the reverse shows many small depressions that look like casting bubbles to me. Also, none of the detail has any sharpness typical of a struck coin. A look sideways into that crater at 9:00 might tell us more.
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  12. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    I appreciate the heads up. This isn't the first time I've shared the coin:facepalm: but I do see your area of concern. As well, there are the 2 bubbles on the obverese.
    Would casting explain the strange crater?
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