The oldest coins found in the territory of Armenia date back to 6th-5th centuries BC. These are silver coins made in the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek cities of Athens and Miletus.
In the middle of the 6th century BC, Armenia fell under the rule of the Achaemenid Empire and its territory was divided into eastern and western parts consisting of areas governed by satraps, who got the right to coin at the end of the 5th century BC.
Oront (in Armenian sources mentioned as Yervant, 362-345 BC), the satrap of the eastern part of Armenia, and Tiribaz (386-380 BC), who governed the western part, had coins with their own images.
It’s noteworthy that coins of Macedonian king Philip II (359-336 BC) and Alexander the Great were discovered in the territory of Armenia, although there is not enough evidence that the locals used money at that time, and, apparently, trade was conducted through exchange. However, the discovery proves that the people knew about the usage of coins.
The coins of kings of Sophene (Tsopk) dated to the second half of the 3rd century BC are believed to the first Armenian coins.
The coins of the following Armenian kings are known: Sames (about 260 BC), Arsham I (about 240 BC), Arsham II (about 230 BC), Xerxes (about 220 BC), Abdidares (about 210 BC).
Description of coins First Armenian coins were copper coins, with a very small number of them preserved. The coins of the period of Sophene kings’ rule were minted in Hellenistic style. The obverse showed the image of the ruler (profile of the king in a characteristic pointed headdress). The reverse demonstrated various mythological images, for example a horseman symbolizing the king, an eagle, or the name of the king in Greek letters.
The material was prepared in cooperation with Gevorg Mughalyan, the numismatist of the Central Bank of Armenia.