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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 431. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $675. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of PARTHIA. Orodes I. March/April 80 - March/April 75 BC. AR Drachm (4.07 gm). Rhagae mint. Struck circa 77-75 BC. Diademed bust left, wearing tiara; anchor behind / BASILEWS MEG-ALOU ARS-AKOU EUERGETOU EPIFANOUS FILELLHNOS, Arsakes I seated right on throne, holding bow. Sellwood 34.3 (Sinatrukes); Shore 145 (Sinatrukes); BMC Parthia pg. 54, 90 (Phraates III or a contemporary?); MACW 544 (Phraates III). Toned, good VF. [See color enlargement on plate 7] ($300)

The Babylonian cuneiform records inform us that in early 80 BC a new king, Orodes I, had been recognized in Babylon. Although we have no knowledge of his relationship with other Arsakid rulers, he may have been a son of Gotarzes I and hence the absence of an allusion to a deified or illustrious predecessor on his S31 coinage. However, he is only the second king whose personal name appears in a handful of cuneiform records, often in association with his sister-wife, Ispubarza, indicating an ongoing dispute with a claimant over the throne. We know very little about the activities of this king except that he raided Elam in January/February 77 BC and expelled Kamnaskires III, celebrating his success by introducing an “anchor” ­ the royal emblem of the Kamnaskirid dynasty ­ into the obverse design of his drachms. According to our Babylonian tablets, the short reign of Orodes I came to an end in March/April 75 BC in unknown circumstances. A peculiar feature of his coinage is that it includes drachms with the central fleur-de-lys and the decoration around the crest of the royal tiara manually removed from their obverse while others are struck from altered dies on which the same decorations are erased. It is obvious that this was a deliberate attempt at assimilating Orodes’ coins with S31.5-8 drachms of Mithradates III; perhaps an indication that the latter remained active well beyond his expulsion in 80/79 BC and even after Orodes’ successful expedition into Elam in 77 BC.