October 4, 2013 - 15:33 AMT
From the history of Armenian coins. Armenia-themed coins minted in Ancient Rome
A large group of Roman coins, minted following the conquest of Armenia, aimed to extol the emperor's achievements.
Armenia found itself in a complicated situation after the downfall of Artashesian dynasty, having become an apple of discord between Rome and Parthia. Under an agreement between the two, a new royal dynasty was established in Armenia, with Parthian Arsacid (Arshakuni) Dynasty taking the throne to rule from 66 to 428 AD.

No knowledge was retained of the coins minted during the rule of Arsacid Dynasty kings, nor do scientists believe there were any coins made. In ancient world, only an independent ruler was entitled to order coinage, with Armenian representatives of the Arsacid Dynasty, dependent on Parthians, having no right to do so.

It’s noteworthy that copper coins of the city of Artashat have been retained till modern times. In ancient period, some cities minted their own copper coins to only be used locally. Here belong the coins of Artashat minted in 1st-2nd centuries AD.

Description of coins

Artashat coins feature mythological images including the keeper of the city, goddess Tihveh wearing a tower-shaped crown, goddess Nike, a palm branch, etc. The coin bears the inscription ‘Artashat’ in Greek.

At the time, money circulation was mostly ensured through the Parthian kingdom and Roman Empire’s coins, as well as those of neighboring countries.

In that period of time, Parthian coins were represented by silver drachmas and tetradrachms as well as copper khalks.

Description of coins

Parthian coins emulated Hellenistic style. The obverse of the coin featured the profile of the king, while the reverse showed a sitting man carrying a bow and titles of the king in Greek. Unlike Hellenistic style-coins, the Parthian ones only showed the king’s title without giving his name, which complicated the researchers’ task in identifying the king himself.

(1) obverse of Emperor Octavian Augustus silver denarius

(2) obverse of Emperor Philip I silver antoninianus

Roman coins in circulation were minted from gold, silver and copper. In Roman Empire, a limited circulation gold coin was called ‘aureus.’ Silver denarii as well as copper coins of different denomination - sesterces, dupondii, etc.- were widely circulated.

Description of coins

The obverse of the coin features the emperor's portrait. The reverse carries a number of images including those of warriors, animals, military symbols, etc.

A large group of Roman coins, minted following the conquest of Armenia, aimed to extol the emperor's achievements. Among them, a coin minted by co-emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (160 AD) featured Armenia as a bending woman. The coin shows a Latin inscription 'Armen' (Armenia.)

(3) reverse of Emperor Diocletian copper semi

(4) reverse of co-emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus silver denarius

In late 4th century AD, Roman Empire was divided into Western and Eastern parts. In the middle of the 5th century, after the fall of the Empire over the invasion of barbaric tribes, the eastern part survived as the Byzantine Empire.

Arsacid dynasty's decline was followed by Armenia's loss of independence after the Sassanid invasion. Arsacid Dynasty's rule in Armenia was marked by acquisition of the greatest spiritual values: adoption of Christianity as state religion and creation of Armenian alphabet. As new schools were being built, crafts and architecture continued to develop, and so did the traditions of coinage.

The material was prepared in cooperation with Gevorg Mughalyan, the numismatist of the Central Bank of Armenia.

Viktoria Araratyan / PanARMENIAN.Net, Varo Rafayelyan / PanARMENIAN Photo