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Coins and Medals

Parthian empire, Mithridates II

Key data

Rhagae, drachma, ca. 123-88 BC

Silver, struck

weight 4,127 g

diameter 19.8 mm

Inv. 1908.2282.


In the Persian Empire the great king and his representatives, the satraps, occupied the supreme place, while in Greek territory it was the town divinity. In Asia Minor, at the meeting point between Persians and Greeks, Persian satraps put their image on coins by the end of the C5 BC. Only with the altered concept of a sovereign associated with Alexander the Great and the rulers of the epigonous kingdoms did portraits become usual on coins in Greek territory. The Parthian great king Mithridates II (ca. 123-88 BC) consolidated a kingdom that would last for centuries - and its coinage, too. The first collision between the Parthians and the Romans also occurred in his era. His drachmae show his head squat, with his beard cut straight along the bottom in oriental style, and an extremely aquiline nose dominating his face. He wears a riding cloak slung over his shoulder. There is a diadem in his hair. This is the image of an oriental ruler adapted to the iconography of his Hellenized empire.

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