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CNG Feature Auction 114

Lot nuber 391

SELEUKID EMPIRE. Andragoras. Usurper king of Parthia, circa 245-239/8 BC. AR Tetradrachm (24.5mm, 16.95 g, 6h).

CNG Feature Auction 114
Lot: 391.
 Estimated: $ 1 000

Greek, Silver

Sold For $ 1 600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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SELEUKID EMPIRE. Andragoras. Usurper king of Parthia, circa 245-239/8 BC. AR Tetradrachm (24.5mm, 16.95 g, 6h). Turreted head of Tyche right; monogram to left / Athena standing left, holding owl and resting arm on shield set on ground below; transverse spear in background. MIG Type 20; BMC Arabia p. 193, 4. Lightly toned, slightly off center, small area of weak strike. Good VF. Rare.

From the Nomisma Collection.

The identification of Andragoras has been a matter of debate. Justin mentions two people by that name: (1) a noble Persian appointed by Alexander the Great as governor of Parthia (xii.4.12), and (2) a Seleukid governor of Parthia about the middle of the 3rd century who was defeated by Arsakes (xli.4.7). It has been suggested that the gold belongs to the first Andragoras and the silver to the second Andragoras (see Rapson in NC 1893, pp. 204-206), but most scholars prefer to attribute both coinages to the same issuer, and the presence of the same monogram on the gold and silver would seem to confirm this view. George Francis Hill, after a comprehensive study of all the evidence (BMC Arabia cxlviii-clx), favored a date for the coinage in the late 4th century to the early 3rd century, which would be consistent with an issue by the first Andragoras, who was appointed as governor of Persia by Alexander the Great, but may well have remained in his position for some time. More recent scholarship, however, has convincingly shown that the coins were struck by the second Andragoras. (For the most detailed and current study on Andragoras, his position in the history of the region, and his coinage, see Jeffrey D. Lerner, The Impact of Seleucid Decline on the Eastern Iranian Plateau [Stuttgart, 1999], pp. 13-31.)

Due to a number of political miscalculations by the Macedonians in the period following the conquest of the old Achaemenid Empire by Alexander III of Macedon, 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. These problems were exacerbated by Alexander’s Seleukid successors. Sometime during the mid-third century BC, revolts broke out in the eastern Seleukid territories of Baktria (under Diodotos I), in Parthia and Hyrkania under Andragoras, who was subsequently defeated and killed by Arsakes I. The difficulty in establishing just who Andragoras was and what role he played in the events of the region during the mid-third century BC is due to the scarcity of contemporary evidence, apart from his coins. What literary evidence exists derives from the later Greco-Roman historians of Alexander (Arrian and Curtius), as well as the first century AD historian, Pompeius Trogus (known later through Justin). One possible contemporary piece of evidence – a Greek inscription from Gurgan – mentions an Andragoras as a high official under Antiochos I (see J. Wolski, “Andragoras était-il Iranien ou Grec?” Studia Iranica 4 [1975], pp. 166-69). During his brief rule, Andrargoras may have formed a diplomatic alliance with the breakaway Baktrians under Diodotos I, and issued his gold and silver coinage. While most of his known coinage employed the Greek legend ANΔPAΓOPOY, this legend was apparently abandoned in favor of one that was more localized. On two staters his name was transliterated into Aramaic as ’nrgwr, while the epithet wḥšwwr – a reference to his association with the local god Vaxšu – was included on the reverse (see I.M. Diakonoff and E.V. Zeimal, “Pravitel ‘Parfii Andragor i ego monet,” VDI 4 [1988], pp. 4-19). Likely this shift was the result of Andragoras’ precarious political situation and an attempt to foster support for his rule among the local populace. Andragoras’ territory was overrun from the north by the nomadic Parni (who became the Parthians), and he was defeated and killed by Arsakes I, who thereafter founded the Arsakid dynasty of the now independent kingdom of Parthia.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 114 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 13-14 May 2020. This lot is in Session 2, which begins 13 May 2020 at 2 PM ET.

UPDATE: As the CNG staff and many of our clients remain under social distancing and other restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CNG 114 will be held as an internet only auction. The sale will take place as scheduled on 13-14 May 2020.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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