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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 416. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of PARTHIA. Artabanos I. Circa September/October 126 - April/May 122 BC. AR Drachm (4.03 gm). Ekbatana mint. Diademed bust left / BASI-LEW[S] MEG-ALOU ARSAKOU FILADELFO[S], Arsakes I seated right on omphalos, holding bow. Sellwood 20.1; Shore 59; BMC Parthia pg. 21, 4; MACW 507. Good VF. Rare this nice. ($300)

Ex Peus 323 (1-4 November 1988), lot 910.

Artabanos I was probably an older son of Mithradates I and a half-brother, not the uncle, of Phraates II. Hence the epithets QEOPATWR, “Son a Deified Father,” on his S19 drachms, and FILADELFOS, “Loving His Brother,” on S20, S22.1-2 and S22.4 drachms.


The king following Artabanos I on the Parthian throne was probably his younger son, who inaugurated his reign by striking S23 tetradrachms, perhaps in celebration of the re-imposition of Arsakid suzerainty over the southern and south-eastern satrapies of the empire after the death of his father. This issue had previously been taken to be either the coinage of Himeros, a minion of Phraates II and his appointed governor of Babylonia in 128 BC, or the very first coinage of Mithradates II. However, the significant disparity between the royal portraiture on S23 and that on S24 of Mithradates II, the contiguity of S23 and S24 tetradrachms, confirmed by their common mint magistrate monogram TY (cf. S24.4 and S24.6-7), and the fact that S23.4 bronzes of Mithradates II, dated 191 SE (122/1 BC) depict him fully bearded, led Dr. Assar to assign the S23 type to a new prince. Dr. Assar has called him Artabanos “The Younger” on the assumption that apart from the brevity of his rule (circa Apr./May ­ Oct. 122 BC), one reason for Justin’s conflation of the reigns of this king and his predecessor was that the two kings were homonymous. Like his father, Artabanos I, the young king Artabanos also appears to have fallen in a battle against the Sakae raiders.