The Wealth of the Persian Empire

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by AncientJoe, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    Darics are historic coins, an important part of the chronology of numismiatics, but they often come very crudely designed. I've included one on my wantlist, predominately for completeness, but when I saw this coin, I knew I had to acquire it. It was the first example which ever struck me as beautifully engraved, on top of its level of preservation.


    Thanks to intelligent political leadership and forward-thinking approaches to governing, the Persian Empire quickly became a substantial power of the ancient world. By not interfering with local customs or religions and granting equal rights for all citizens as long as taxes were paid, the Persian Empire merged diverse lands and people and set the stage with concepts that would eventually represent some of the underpinnings of the Hellenistic and Roman Empires.

    The Persians themselves traditionally relied on barter rather than coinage but upon their conquering of the Lydian Kingdom in the mid-sixth century BC, they quickly adopted the innovative concept of coinage. The Persians found themselves frequently in conflict with Greek city states and needed to employ Greek mercenaries who expected to be paid with coins, resulting in the demand for the production of a consistent coinage.

    Not wanting to retain the designs of the defeated Lydian King Croesus, the Great King Darius I transitioned the Lydian gold stater into a new denomination, the “daric”, named after him. The Greeks would often colloquially call these coins “toxotai”, archers, after their iconic design.

    The daric became the first ancient gold coin to enter into widespread, international use and was one of the most recognizable coins of the ancient world, including being the earliest coin mentioned in the Old Testament.

    The Persian King is depicted in a “running kneeling” position which represented an early approach for portraying motion on coinage. The core design remained largely unchanged for the 185 years during which darics were minted, emphasizing the conservative nature of the type.

    The Persians put a focus on the purity of the metal - between 98-99% gold - rather than the artistry of the coin. This resulted in the vast majority of darics being of a very crude style. However, some rare examples like this one are elegantly engraved in a fine, naturalistic style, showing a significant improvement in the depiction of the king thanks to a brief artistic recovery.

    Alexander the Great conquered the Persians in 329 BC but the daric would outlive the Empire, continuing to be struck under Alexander and his successors until it was eventually fully replaced by Alexander’s stater around 300 BC.

    Achaemenid Empire, Time of Xerxes II to Artaxerxes II, c. 420-375 BC. Daric (Gold, 16x14mm, 8.37 g), Sardes. Persian king moving to right, crowned, wearing robes and in the running-kneeling position, with quiver over his shoulder, holding transverse spear ending in a ball in his right hand and bow in his left. Rev. Oblong irregular incuse. BMC 84. Carradice Type IIIb, pl. XV, 50-51. Jenkins 34. A superb example, beautifully struck in high relief and unusually nice. Good extremely fine. From the Robinow collection, Morton & Eden 24 October 2011, 154, acquired from D. Gorny in Munich, 3 April 1989.

    Post your Achaemenid coins!
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Every time I think you can't outdo yourself, you prove me wrong. Another wonderful coin and great, informative write-up.
    AncientJoe and Ancientnoob like this.
  4. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    I feel I'm proud of just viewing or discussing such a thread of highly informative background on both Numismatics and Historical levels. Congrats..
  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I've not seen a more artistic or better preserved daric! That is fantastic, as is your write-up.
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Silver sigloi come in four major groups according to the pose of the king. I only have three of them. Do you know if the gold comes in all four styles as well? The one I lack shows the king waist up only (no legs) and is the earliest and most scarce. The others are in the date order shown but not all references agree on exactly which king issued which styles.

    Darius I? - shooting - I love those shoes.
    ...with spear and bow - scarce with full crown and feet on the same coin
    ...with dagger and bow - These are often the most crude.
    randygeki, Ancientnoob, vlaha and 4 others like this.
  7. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    wow, i didn't even know these came in gold flavored, and didn't think there was that much details to be seen on these. another great coin and write up AJ.

    DS, that first coin of your with the arching firing is awesome also.

    here's my achaemenid.....


    stevex6, vlaha, zumbly and 1 other person like this.
  8. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Here's my only Persian siglos. It was purchased from a mostly non-ancient dealer at the ANA World's Fair of Money this summer. They had a small pile to choose from.

    randygeki, Ancientnoob, vlaha and 4 others like this.
  9. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    Awesome gold coin, Joe ....

    Oh, and sweet silver babies, gang!!

    Yah, I have an example too ... sadly, no bow (but overall, a pretty cool lookin' coin with a sweet banker's mark, and crisp incuse-reverse)

    running man a.jpg running man b.jpg

    => these examples always kinda remind me of the King from "Burger King"
    randygeki, Ancientnoob, vlaha and 2 others like this.
  10. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    I've got a box full of those.
    medjoy likes this.
  11. Nemo

    Nemo Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coin Joe. Here's one that I felt had artistic merit.

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  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Any of these that has that much clothing detail is special.
  13. Teddydogno1

    Teddydogno1 Well-Known Member

    Wow that coin is fantastic! Like most of the other guys, I have a silver siglos from this time period, but no gold and not nearly the detail of this fabulous coin. I'm happy to have this as my oldest coin.


  14. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    Always a pleasure to read your "stuff" AJ. ;)
  15. Ancientnoob

    Ancientnoob Money Changer

    Achaemenid Kings of Persia
    Time of Darios I to Xerxes I c. 485-450 BC. Time of the War with Greece
    AR Silver Siglos 17 mm x 5.51g
    Sardes Mint
    Persian Hero King in Kneeling -running stance right, holding spear and bow
    Reverse: Incuse punch, bankers mark.
    Ref: Carradice Type IIIa (pl. xi, 14); Carradice, " Two Achaemenid Hoards", in NumChron 1998, 136-7.
    Note: Near VF, Good Metal.
    randygeki, vlaha, stevex6 and 2 others like this.
  16. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    Gold darics are known only in the last three groups of the four sigloi. Your shooting siglos is a fantastic coin!
  17. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    That is indeed very artistic - one of the most aesthetic sigloi I've seen. Great coin!
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I agree. I went on VCoins and saw a couple interesting things to the point of this thread but no coins I wanted to buy. There are a few coins of the general daggered J shape robe folds style. None are this nice but I have to wonder if there might be more than one mint for these and this robe style is characteristic to one. I have not seen anything relating to where these were minted. There is also one of the first style that I lack (half length king) but it is not very nice and not cheap enough that I am interested in it as a space filler. Overall the VCoins population should tell you something. There are a lot of these available and most of them really stink. Nice ones will be missing something you wish would be there but getting bow, crown, quiver and feet on one coin is a lot like winning the lottery. These things circulated so finding EF+ coins that have all the parts may be a bit like being struck by lightning while on your way to cash in your winning lottery ticket. Fans of perfect coins simply need to decide if they want a coin of the type that is as nice as some of the better ones shown here or if they just don't want the coin in their collection. When I was shopping for the coins for my Coin show page
    I bought a $17.50 very off center siglos with a great strike of the face and crown but little else. I later decided that I was 'too good' for the coin and sold it. After all, I had better examples and just how many of these thing does one guy need? I am not sure I did the right thing but I doubt I would buy that coin back it it showed up again. Whether our standards are "Mint State Only" or "As long as I can ID it", we all have to make hard choices.

    Should we remind everyone that the silver comes in fractions as well. My smallest is this 1/12th which is perfectly centered (and that is all it has going for it) which I really liked until I discovered that they come in 1/24th size which I do not have. My standards changed. I won't get rid of this if I get a smaller one but I doubt it will be on my favorites page much longer.
    Valentinian, randygeki, Bing and 2 others like this.
  19. vlaha

    vlaha Respect. The. Hat.

    This is the best line I've heard since last Tuesday! :D

    Stolen... ;)
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