CNG Bidding Platform


Products and Services

Historical Article

Parthia - Arsakes I, the Early Years

Alexander III of Macedon (336-323 B.C.) proved his military genius by defeating the Achaemenid Persians in three battles: at the River Granicus (in western Asia Minor), Issus (northern Syria), and Gaugamela (northern Mesopotamia) in 334, 332, and 331 B.C., respectively. Yet by burning Persepolis he showed that his claim of creating a unified world empire was a myth and that his main desire was to plunder the Persian royal treasuries that ultimately netted him a fortune in excess of one hundred thousand talents in gold and silver. The repercussions from that senseless act were far reaching. Many loyal Persians must have felt embittered and resistance to Macedonian power may already have begun before the invaders left to pacify the eastern Achaemenid satrapies and then attack India....
The history of Iran from the mid-4th to mid-3rd century BC is so poorly recorded that there is practically nothing known about any serious unrest or opposition to the Macedonian occupation for about eighty years after the fall of the Achaemenid Empire. Nonetheless, many scholars believe, but have not conclusively proven, that between 250-247 BC a man of unknown antecedence called Arsakes (Arshak) led an invasion into the Seleukid satrapy of Parthia and slew her governor, Andragoras. Soon afterwards he extended his power as far as Hyrcania and then in about 228 BC defeated the Seleukid king, Seleukos II (246-226 BC), who had set out to punish the rebellious satrapies. According to Justin (41.4.10), the Parthians commemorated that date as the beginning of their independence. Sadly, there is virtually no reference to the events and extent of the rule of Arsakes I in the contemporary Babylonian records and classical literature. Justin (41.5.5-6) reports that, having founded and consolidated the kingdom, Arsakes died at an advanced age, revered and perhaps deified by the Parthians.

KINGS of PARTHIA. Arsakes I. 238-211 BC. AR Drachm (4.03 gm). Nisa(?) mint. Head right wearing bashlik / ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ [Α]ΥΤ−ΟΚΡΑΤΟ[ΡΟΥ], Arsakes seated left on backless throne, holding bow. Sellwood 1.1; A&S Type 1, 1/4 (same dies); Shore 1; Alram 388; MACW 450.