Parthian Coins and Culture

Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh & Alexandra Magub. 2020. Rivalling Rome: Parthian coins and culture. London: Spink Books.

One hundred years after the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander of Macedon a new Iranian dynasty emerged that by 140 BC had extended its rule to Western Iran and Mesopotamia. The Arsacid Parthians, famous for their riding and archery skills, became Rome’s most dangerous enemies east of the River Euphrates. Encounters between Rome and Parthia are vividly described in classical accounts, but these are biased in their nature and, unfortunately, no equivalent sources are available from the Parthian side. Here, the most important primary source is the coinage of the period c. 248 BC – AD 224. 
These coins reveal important information about the development and expansion of the Parthian state, as well as the all-important role of the king, with the ancient Persian title King of Kings adopted under Mithradates II. Rome’s involvement in the region began during this reign and culminated in the devastating defeat of the Roman army under the general Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Over the next 300 years these superpowers fought for territorial control in the region, particularly over Mesopotamia and Armenia.

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