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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 432. Estimate $2000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $3500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of PARTHIA. Artabanos II. April 75 - 62/1 BC. AR Tetradrachm (15.58 gm). Seleukeia on the Tigris mint. Diademed bust left / BASILEWS MEGALOU ARS-AKOU QEOPATOROS EUERGETOU EPIFANOUS FILELLHNOS, Arsakes I seated right on throne, holding bow; monogram above bow. Sellwood 30.2 (Unknown king); Shore 130 var. (Orodes I; monogram); BMC Parthia pg. 38, 3; MACW -. Toned, good VF. ($2000)

Ex Schweizerischer Bankverein 33 (20-22 September 1993), lot 406.

The “annual” Susa bronze coinages attest to the presence of a new king, Artabanos II, in that city as early as 78/7 BC, although the Babylonian tablets continue to mention Orodes I until March/April 75 BC. Artabanos was probably a younger son of Mithradates II and hence the epithet QEOPATWR on his S30 coinage. Unfortunately, the surviving cuneiform fragments give no insight into the political situation in Parthia during the reign of this king. The youthful portrait on his S30.12 tetradrachm, though, confirms that he was no older than twenty when he captured the royal mint at Seleukeia and expelled Orodes I from Babylon. The presence of a “mule” drachm with a S30 obverse and a S33 reverse indicates that Sinatrukes was still active in north-east Parthia. We also know that Artabanos II remained unchallenged in Babylonia until March 69 BC. The subsequent inclusion of the name of his queen, Piruztana, in the date formulas of the Babylonian tablets indicates that his authority was disputed by a contender for the throne soon afterwards.

The latest record from the reign of Artabanos II dates to January 67 BC, but numismatic evidence (S30.18, S30.21-25, and S30.28-29 drachms with full mint names, and S30.30 with the monogram of Mithradatkart) suggests that he remained active in central and northern Parthia until 62/1 BC.