Cash of the Persian Kings of Kings

By Michael T. Shutterly for CoinWeek …..

The Persians didn’t have a coinage system of their very own till about 546 BCE when Cyrus the Nice conquered Lydia and adopted parts of the earlier Kroiseid coinage system (developed by Kroisos, the final king of Lydia). When the Persians started minting cash, they not solely used Kroiseid coinage requirements but in addition coin designs and struck the cash at Kroisos’ mint in Sardis.

The First “Persian” Cash

The primary Persian cash had been minted round 545 to about 520. These cash include two denominations, a gold stater and a silver half stater. The obverse of every coin depicts the confronted foreparts of a lion and a bull, whereas the reverse consists of a double incuse punch. The gold stater accommodates about 8.05 g of practically pure gold and is struck to the identical commonplace because the Kroiseid “mild” gold coinage, whereas the silver half stater accommodates about 5.05 g of silver and is struck to the identical commonplace because the Kroiseid silver coinage.

These early Persian cash imitated Kroisos’ cash so carefully that it’s typically tough to differentiate between them. The distinction between them is essentially impressionistic; the photographs on the cash of Kroisos are usually extra “naturalistic”, whereas the photographs on the Persian cash are stated to be extra “dynamic”.

Some writers have advised that almost all if not the entire gold and silver cash usually attributed to Kroisos had been really struck by the Persians, however that is very unlikely. The gold cash had been already identified to the Greeks as “Kroiseids” within the sixth century BCE and the Greeks particularly attributed the cash to Kroisos.

There’s a stronger argument that the silver half staters attributed to Kroisos had been really minted by the Persians: the silver half stater is the one one in every of Kroisos’ giant silver cash that doesn’t have a counterpart in his gold coinage.

The First True Royal Persian Cash – Kind I

Royal Persian cash are organized based on a roughly chronological four-tiered “Kind” system developed by Ian Carradice. This technique holds that Darios I launched the primary non-imitative Persian coinage round 520 BCE with the Kind I silver siglos, which he minted for about 20 years.


The siglos takes its title from a Semitic phrase often rendered in English as shekel. At the moment, “shekel” referred to a unit of weight relatively than a coin. The Persian siglos is barely heavier than the Kroiseid half stater, weighing about 5.4 g. The obverse of the Kind I siglos depicts a half-length bust of a Persian king (or hero; it’s clearly not a private portrait of any Persian king) dealing with proper, holding a bow and arrows. This was most likely meant as a looking picture relatively than a navy one. The reverse consists of a single incuse punch, a modification from the Kroiseid sample that used a double punch.

Good Kind I sigloi may be obtained for prime three-figure costs, however significantly good specimens can promote for greater than $10,000 USD. The siglos proven right here bought for $650 at a January 2004 public sale.

No Kind I gold cash have been discovered. If Darios minted any gold cash right now, then they’d have been extra of the imitative Kroiseid gold staters.

Royal Persian Cash from the Persian Wars – Kind II

Darios I started minting the second of the 4 Persian coin varieties in about 505 BCE. These are the cash that Darios would have used to pay his troopers throughout his invasion of Greece, 492-490 BCE (famous for the Persian defeat at Marathon). His son Xerxes II may have used them to pay his troopers throughout his invasion of 480-479 (famous for the battles at Thermopylae, Artemisium, Salamis, and Plataea). The obverse of the Kind II cash depicts a Persian king or hero in what’s described as a “kneeling-running stance,” making ready to shoot an arrow, whereas the reverse consists of an incuse punch.

Kind II included the primary really Persian gold coin, the daric. The Greeks known as it dareikós statḗr (“daric stater”) and plenty of writers have advised that the coin took its title from that of the Persian king, nevertheless it extra possible derives from the Previous Persian *daruyaka, which means “golden”. The daric weighed about 8.33 g, the load of a Babylonian shekel.

Kind II darics often grade at VF, with only a few any higher. The cash are uncommon in any grade, and their costs replicate this. A pleasant specimen will price at the least $3,500 at public sale, with most examples promoting for about $6,000, however costs can go a lot larger. The daric proven right here, one of many most interesting identified, bought for $27,500.

The daric was equal in worth to twenty sigloi, which supplies a gold to silver ratio of about 13:1. A lot of the Kind II silver cash discovered are full sigloi, however some fractions are identified. The sigloi are generally out there and good examples may be obtained for mid-three-figure costs. The distinctive siglos proven right here bought for $1,300 at an public sale in 2015.

Royal Persian Cash – Kind III

Xerxes II launched the Kind III cash in about 485 BCE; there was most likely some overlap between Kind II and Kind III. The Persian kings struck these cash for effectively over a century. The king or hero on these cash holds a bow in his left hand and a spear in his proper.

Kind III darics are the most typical of the sequence; for each Kind II or Kind IV daric out there there can be a number of dozen Kind III darics. Good specimens can generally be obtained for about $1,000, though costs within the $2,500 – $4,000 vary are extra typical. The distinctive specimen proven right here bought for $12,000 at public sale in January 2018. There are additionally a couple of fractional Kind III darics identified, however these are hardly ever encountered.

The daric served as a world commerce coin. Hoards have been discovered as far west as Sicily, as far east as Afghanistan, as far north because the Balkans, and as far south as Nubia, effectively exterior the zone of Persian management.

Kind III sigloi are quite common. Good specimens may be obtained for lower than $250, however you possibly can spend rather more in case you are keen to take action. The distinctive specimen proven right here bought for $6,500 at public sale in September 2016. Fractional silver cash are additionally identified, however they hardly ever seem at public sale. Once they do, nonetheless, they have a tendency to convey costs corresponding to these for full sigloi.

The sigloi don’t appear to have loved the identical widespread use because the darics. Most hoard finds of sigloi are in Asia Minor, in comparatively shut proximity to Sardis, the mint atn which they had been produced.

Royal Persian Cash – Kind IV

Persian Kind IV darics and sigloi began appearing in the course of the fifth century BCE and had been struck till Sardis fell to Alexander the Nice in 334 BCE (a couple of could have been struck later, at regional mints). The king or hero on these cash holds a bow in his left hand and a dagger in his proper. The dagger is often weakly struck, and at the least a part of it’s typically lacking from the coin. The darics are often higher preserved than the sigloi.

Kind IV darics had been minted for greater than a century however are uncommon right this moment. This daric exhibits your complete dagger, however the entrance of the bow is lacking. Engaging Kind IV darics may be discovered for costs within the $2,500 – $5,000 vary, however Gem cash will price over $10,000. The coin proven right here bought for $18,000 in opposition to a $5,000 estimate at a January 2020 public sale.

This Kind IV daric has a weakly struck however practically full bow, however your complete dagger and a lot of the king/hero’s proper arm are lacking. The coin was struck utilizing the identical reverse punch as the primary Kind IV daric proven above, however the punch was modified after the primary daric was struck, including the small lion head which seems on the decrease proper of the picture (which is definitely the underside left of the coin’s reverse). The rationale for this modification is unknown. The lion head resembles the “roaring lion of Lydia” motif that appeared on Lydian cash earlier than the Persian conquest. This coin bought for $15,000 in the identical January 2020 public sale because the earlier coin.

This Kind IV daric was struck utilizing the identical reverse punch as the primary two, proven above, however the punch was modified once more, this time to take away the small lion head that had been added. The rationale for this second modification can be unknown. This coin bought for $4,250 at a January 2016 public sale.

Kind IV sigloi are widespread, however they often convey costs a bit larger than these for Kind III sigloi. The common situation of those cash tends to be a bit decrease than for Kind III sigloi, however some good specimens can be found. The coin proven right here is sort of distinctive and bought for $2,250 at public sale in January 2020.

Fractional sigloi are additionally identified however hardly ever encountered. Once they do seem, they appear to be closely worn and promote for lower than $200.


Alexander the Nice defeated Darios III, the final Persian King of Kings, on the Battle of Gaugamela on October 1, 331 BCE. After the battle, Darios fled the scene whereas Alexander marched on to Babylon. Mazaios, the commander of the Persian cavalry guarding the precise flank of Darios’ military, was additionally the Persian satrap (governor) of Babylon; he raced to town forward of Alexander. When Alexander and his military arrived at Babylon, Mazaios met him exterior town and surrendered it with out a combat. Alexander rewarded Mazaios by permitting him to stay as satrap.

Alexander approved Mazaios to mint cash for him in Babylon. In contrast to the Royal Persian cash, all of which had been struck in Sardis (till Sardis fell to Alexander in 334 BCE), the cash Mazaios struck for Alexander bore management marks, which included Mazaios’ title in monogram kind. Mazaios’ Alexandrine coinage included darics and double darics; these observe the format of the Royal Persian Kind IV coinage minted in Sardis, besides that the reverse shows a patterned incuse punch.

There are six identified double darics that had been struck in Babylon that don’t bear the customary management marks related to Mazaios’ Alexandrine coinage. It has been advised that Mazaios struck these cash for Darius III earlier than the Battle of Gaugamela. The double daric proven right here is likely one of the six. It bought at a September 2019 public sale for $10,000 in opposition to a $2,500 estimate.

Accumulating Royal Persian Cash

Essentially the most thorough and extensively used technical reference is Carradice (1987). Alram (2012) offers a extra common historical past and context for the coinage. The Dawn Assortment Half I (2011) is an skilled document of an excellent assortment of Persian cash and cash associated to the Persians; a number of of the cash pictured or described on this article got here from that assortment.

* * *


Alram, Michael. “The Coinage of the Persian Empire”, The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage. William E. Metcalf, ed. Oxford: Oxford College Press. (2012)

Carradice, Ian. Coinage and Administration within the Athenian and Persian Empires: Ninth Oxford Symposium on Coinage and Financial Historical past. Oxford: B.A.R. (1987)

Herodotus. The Histories. Robin Waterfield, transl. Oxford: Oxford College Press. (1998)

Nelson, Bradley R., ed. Numismatic Artwork of Persia: The Dawn Assortment Half I: Historical – 650 BC to AD 650. Lancaster, PA: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (2011)

All coin photographs courtesy and copyright of Classical Numismatic Group, LLC (CNG).

* * *

In regards to the Creator

Michael T. Shutterly is a recovering lawyer who survived six years as a trial lawyer and 30 years working within the monetary companies business. He’s now an beginner historian who specializes within the examine of historical Rome and the Center Ages, with a particular curiosity within the artwork and historical past of the cash of these intervals. He has revealed over 50 articles on historical and medieval cash in numerous publications and has acquired quite a few awards for his articles and displays on completely different points of the historical past of the traditional and Medieval world. He’s a member of the ANA, the ANS, the Affiliation of Devoted Byzantine Collectors, and quite a few different regional, state, and specialty coin golf equipment.

Pure Profitz
Pure Profitz
Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart