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Coins of Rome about Parthia

The coins of Rome in this virtual cabinet have references to Parthia either in the legends or the devices. Other coins known or believed to relate to Parthia are also included even though they have no direct mention in the inscription or design. Gold, silver and base metal coins are listed. The cabinet is arranged in chronological order by emperor/issuer. To locate a coin, select the emperor's name in the list box, then click the "go" button. There are 424 Roman coin images on this web site.

The list continues beyond A.D. 228 because Roman coins were issued after that date containing references to Parthia; after the demise of the Arsacid dynasty, "Parthia" was the territory controlled by the Sasanid rulers, successors to the Arsacids.

Variants of spellings and abbreviations for Parthia seen on Roman coins are: PAR, PART, PARTH, PARTHIC, PARTHICA, PARTHICAE, PARTHICIS, PARTHICO, PARTHICVS, PARTHIS, PARTICA and PTH. Also, there are references to SIGN RECE, SIGNIS RECEPTIS, ORIENS, ORIENTIS, PART ARAB, PART ADIAB and PERSIS which refer to Parthia or its subkingdoms.  For example, ORIENS AVG is "The Eastern Emperor", Rome's assertion of control in the east.

PARTA is seen on Nero's Temple of Janus coins but, in context, it translates as 'doors'. But the closed doors of the Temple of Janus refer to peace throughout the Empire, including the borders with Parthia.

On Rome's Greek issues, ΠΑΡ, ΠΑΡΘ and ΠΕΡ have been seen. On these web pages, Greek inscriptions are rendered with modern Greek characters for consistency and ease of display, and the grammar is uncorrected. Visit the Tech Info page for information on fonts.

After Valerian II there seems to have been near-constant warfare in the east, with Palmyra ruling the Eastern empire until it was recovered by Aurelian in A.D. 272. There was then a long period of planning for a war against the Sasanids, with assassinations and other crises delaying it until A.D. 282/283.

There was another brief war in A.D. 297-298, and a long period of fighting A.D. 334-363 up to the death of Julian II in Persia. For most of this later period Roman coins had limited types and legends, and I have yet to see any specific instances of Persians appearing (but some of the types with generic defeated enemies could be counted).

Where found, coins referring to the I, II and III Parthia Legions are included:
Leg I Parthica is known to have been raised by Septimius Severus before A.D. 197 and served in Singara (Mesopotamia) circa A.D. 217. It later served in Mesopotamia circa A.D. 395. No coins are known.

Leg II Parthica (pia fidelis felix aeterna) is known to have been raised by Septimius Severus before A.D. 197 and to have been at Albanum (21 km south of Rome) in A.D. 202, the 1st legion in the imperial period to be permanently based in Italy. It later served in the Parthian campaign circa A.D. 217, and was part of the forces of Maximinus I (235-238 AD) who mutinied against him and his son following the failed siege of Aquileia in upper Italy. The known
LEG II PARTHICA coins date from Gallienus' joint reign with Valerian, A.D. 253-260. It later served in Italy circa A.D. 395.

Leg III Parthica is known to have been raised by Septimius Severus before A.D. 197 and served in Rhesana (Mesopotamia) circa A.D. 217.
LEG II PARTHICA and LEG III PARTHICA coins were issued by Carausius who was a renegade who fled to Britain.

The nominal exchange rate for Roman coins was :
1 denarius = 4 sestertii = 8 dupondii = 16 asses
1 aureus = 25 denarii


I am indebted to James Burns who did a marvelous job on the initial research for this series of pages, and to Warren Esty for his many additional references and images. Of course, I take full responsibility for any errors introduced in compiling and editing, or the subsequent additions. If you have better catalog information, know of any Roman coins about Parthia that are missing from this virtual collection or have better examples and would like to see them added to the pages here, please visit the feedback page to leave a note or send me a message. I'll give you details on the correct graphics format for submission, and will arrange for photographing your coins, if necessary.

I would also like to acknowledge the following for their kind permission to use images of their coins:

Plamen Arsoff, Ancient Treasures
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England -- Heberden Coin Room
Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France -- Cabinet des Médailles, Paris
Bibliothèque Royale, Belgium -- Cabinet des Médailles, Brussels
Bill Blank
Bradley J. Bowlin
Calgary Coin & Antique Gallery
Guy T. Clark
Classical Coins
Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
John Darling, Barry and Darling
Henri Delger
Kenneth W. Dorney, Classical Numismatist
Edgar L. Owen, Ltd.
Warren Esty, Ancient Roman and Greek Coins
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England -- Department of Coins and Medals
FORVM Ancient Coins (Joseph Sermarini)
Perry Siegel, Herakles
Mark & Andrea Hutto, Hutto's Ancient Coins
John Jencek
Grzegorz Kryszczuk, Coins of Probus
Tom Kirby
Numismatik Lanz
Mark Lehman
Robert G. Lilly, Ancient & Medieval Coins
Malter Galleries
George Panchev, SMSD
Michel Prieur - Compagnie Général de Bourse
Praetorian Numismatics
Realms Ancient Coins & Antquities
Smithsonian Institution, National Numismatic Collection
Treverus Coins & Antiquities
Tom Wood, Chi-Rho Coins

This page last updated 14 Mar 2021

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