The Persians issued four primary Persian Coin design types, all of which were struck in high-quality gold and silver.
In ancient Persia, rulers struck coins in gold and silver that were symbolic of their power over their people. Traditionally, the Persians relied on barter instead of coinage and they had no interest in producing coins of their own. The Persian Empire only began embracing the monetary system after conquering King Croesus of Lydia sometime between 550 and 539 BC.
The demand for Persian Coins became apparent when the Persians began feuding with Greek cities. At the time, the Persians employed Greek soldiers who required coinage as a form of payment for their duties. Rather than pay the mercenaries with coins issued by the defeated Lydian King Croesus, the Persian Empire began producing their own coins with unique designs.
History of Persian Coins
In 547 BC, Cyrus I conquered King Croesus, the ruler of the Lydian Kingdom. It is believed that King Croesus asked the Oracle at Delphi what would happen if he went to war with Cyrus I “the Great” of Persia. The Oracle said that the empire would be destroyed, and King Croesus assumed he meant the Persian Empire, rather than his own. King Croesus assumed wrong, which he later found out for himself when the Persians defeated him.
Croesus was responsible for issuing Lydian Coins that were used internationally and became the first ruler to mint both gold and silver coins of high purity. His coins were called Lydian Staters, which feature a lion and a bull on the obverse, and an incuse punch on the reverse. Prior to this, all Lydian Staters were composed of electrum.
After Cyrus conquered King Croesus, he continued to issue the Lydian Gold and Silver Staters. Cyrus’s reign lasted 30 years, and he we succeeded by his son, Cambyses II who ruled the Persian Empire from 529 to 522 BC. Cambyses II showed no interest in issuing new Persian Coins and focused on conquering other areas, such as Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short reign.
Darius the Great was the next king to ascend the throne and ruled the empire between 522 and 486 BC. While he spent most of his time adding to the conquests of Cyrus I and Cambyses II, he was a very important figure in ancient numismatics. This is because Darius the Great was the first Persian king to issue uniquely Persian Coins around the time of 520 BC.
Official Persian Coins
The first Persian Coin to be issued under Darius the Great was the Persian Silver Siglos. These coins were struck on small thick planchets and display an incuse punch on the reverse, similar to the Lydian Coins. However, the obverse side of the coins has a whole new look and feature a bearded archer wearing what appears to be a crown. The archer can be seen from the waist up, with a bow and arrows in his hands. Darius the Great also released the Persian Daric, a gold coin that had been struck with the same designs as the Persian Silver Siglos.
Both of the Persian Coins mentioned above underwent a design change around 510 to 505 BC. The reverse still displays an incuse punch; however, the obverse depicts a king or hero running forwards, with one knee bent as though he is kneeling. This figure wearing a crown and carrying a quiver over his shoulder is about to shoot an arrow from his bow.
Another design change materialized (490 to 480 BC) under Xerxes, Darius the Great’s son. The figure on the obverse is shown in a similar position as before (running and kneeling) but appears less static than in the design used on the previous Persian Coins. He is also holding a bow in his left hand and a spear in his right, rather than drawing his bowstring. From about 450 BC, the coins were tweaked again, displaying the figure with a dagger instead of a spear. These designs issued by Xerxes (486 to 465 BC) were used for approximately 150 years and outlasted the Persian Empire.
These beautifully artistic and quite thick coins represented the bimetallic monetary standard of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. They’re also extremely scarce because most of them were melted down and re-coined as Alexander the Great Coins when their use ended with Alexander the Great’s invasion in 300 BC.
Getting Hold of a Persian Coin is Easy with Capital Gold Group
Persian Coins, regardless of design, are highly sought-after by both investors and collectors because they give their owners a real glimpse into the ancient world. These coins are not only considered some of the oldest coins in the world but also historical artifacts that helped to propel the Persian Empire to prominence.
As the rulers of Ancient Persia heavily focused on the purity of the metal used for producing their coins, Persian Coins boast high gold and silver purity. The Persians were less concerned about the artistry of their coins; however, a brief artistic recovery did take place around 375 BC, meaning some coins will be more elegantly engraved than others.
When it comes to purchasing Persian Coins, we recommend you always seek help from an experienced dealer who specializes in collectible coins from ancient times. Here at Capital Gold Group, we only source authentic and genuine coins, whether they are ancient or modern pieces. If you’d like to speak with one of our experts about getting hold of a Persian Coin, please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.
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