Drachm (Coin) Portraying King Mithridates II the Great of Parthia

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

about 123/88 BC
Reign of King Mithridates II of Parthia

Artist:

Parthian

About this artwork

The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.

Portraits as Publicity
Coins were an efficient form of publicity, particularly when new rulers needed to legitimize their succession or strengthen their reputation. As king of Parthia (modern Iran), Mithridates II (r. 123–88 BC) followed the Greek and Roman convention of celebrating one’s royal heritage on coinage. All Parthian coinage included the name “Arsakes,” the founder of the dynasty.

Currently Off View

Ancient and Byzantine Art

Artist

Iranian

Title

Drachm (Coin) Portraying King Mithridates II the Great of Parthia

Origin

Khorasan

Date

123 BC–88 BC

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 2.1 cm; 4.25 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number

1922.4930

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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