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The ancient Kingdom of Armenia existed for six centuries, divided into successive reigns by three royal dynasties: Orontid (321-200 BC), Artaxiad (189 BC-12 AD) and Arsacid (52-428). The Persian satrapy Armenia became a kingdom in 321 B.C. after Alexander's conquest of Persia. Under the Seleucid Empire, Armenia was divided into Armenia Major and Sophene, both of which passed to members of the Artaxiad dynasty in 189 B.C. The Kingdom of Armenia peaked from 83 to 69 B.C., under Tigranes the Great, after it reincorporated Sophene and conquered the falling Seleucid Empire. Armenia was an empire for a brief period, until it was conquered by Rome in 69 B.C. The Artaxiad kings ruled as clients of Rome until, suspected of allegiance to Parthia, they were overthrown in 12 A.D. During the Roman-Parthian Wars, the Arsacid dynasty was founded when Tiridates I, a member of the Parthian Arsacid dynasty, was proclaimed King of Armenia in 52. The Kingdom of Armenia often served as a client state or vassal at the frontier of the two large empires and their successors, the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. From 114 to 118, Armenia briefly became a Roman province. In 301, Tiridates III proclaimed Christianity as the state religion, making the Armenian kingdom the first state to officially embrace Christianity.
Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes II the Great, 95 - 55 B.C.
Tigranes was called "Tigranes the Great" by Plutarch. The "King of Kings" never appeared in public without having four kings attending him. At its height, Tigranes' empire extended from the Pontic Alps to Mesopotamia and from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. In 83 B.C., the Syrians offered him the crown and after conquering Phoenicia and Cilicia, he effectively ended the Seleucid Empire. His southern border reached as far as Akko-Ptolemais. The first Armenian ruler to issue coins, he adopted the Seleucid tradition and struck coins at Antioch and Damascus during his occupation of Syria from 83 to 69 B.C. In 66 B.C., Pompey advanced into Armenia with Tigranes' own son as an ally. Tigranes, now almost 75 years old, surrendered. Pompey treated him generously and returned part of his kingdom in return for 6,000 talents of silver. His unfaithful son was sent back to Rome as a prisoner. Tigranes continued to rule Armenia as an ally of Rome until his death in 55 B.C.SH66375. Bronze four chalci, cf. Nercessian 84; Bedoukian CCA 119; BMC Seleucid p. 104, 12 (half chalkous); SNG Cop -, aF, weight 9.332 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus(?) mint, c. 83 - 69 B.C.; obverse head of Tigranes I right wearing five-pointed Armenian tiara, A behind; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ TIΓPANOY, Nike advancing left, wreath in extended right, left hand on hip, uncertain letters outer left; ex Gianni Aiello Collection; rare; $50.00 (€44.00)
Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes V (Herodian Tigranes I), c. 6 - 12 A.D.
"The reign of Tigranes V has generally been described as uneventful; his coins are similarly unremarkable. They do not commemorate any historical or military events but merely copy designs common to the Seleucid and autonomous city coinage of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The standing Herakles/Vahagn, which was employed extensively by Tigranes the Great (CCA, 99-103), would have had particular appeal for the Phoenician population, as well as the Armenian." -- Frank L. Kovacs in "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions"SH66376. Bronze two chalkoi, Kovacs AJN 20 6, Nercessian ACV 159 (Tigranes IV), Bedoukian CCA 154 (same), aF, weight 4.718 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 45o, Damascus(?) mint, 8 - 5 B.C.; obverse heavily bearded head of Tigranes IV right, wearing Armenian tiara with five points, surrounded by dotted pearls, adorned with star; reverse BAΣIΛEΩC TIΓPANOY MEΓAΛOY, Herakles standing slightly left, nude, right hand resting on grounded club, Nemean lion skin draped on left arm; rare; $45.00 (€39.60)
Armenian Kingdom, Tigranes V (Herodian Tigranes I), c. 6 - 12 A.D.
"The reign of Tigranes V has generally been described as uneventful; his coins are similarly unremarkable. They do not commemorate any historical or military events but merely copy designs common to the Seleucid and autonomous city coinage of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia. The standing Herakles/Vahagn, which was employed extensively by Tigranes the Great (CCA, 99-103), would have had particular appeal for the Phoenician population, as well as the Armenian." -- Frank L. Kovacs in "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions" SH66378. Bronze chalkous, Kovacs AJN 20 10, Bedoukian CCA 156 (Tigranes IV), Nercessian ACV 166 (same, half chalkous), F, green patina, tight flan, off-center, weight 2.347 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus(?) mint, c. 6 - 12 A.D.; obverse heavily bearded head of Tigranes IV right, wearing Armenian tiara; reverse BAΣIΛEΩC TIΓPANOY MEΓAΛOY, eagle standing left, wings closed; rare; $45.00 (€39.60)
Babelon, E. Les Rois de Syrie, d'Arménie, et de Commagène, Catlogue de monnaies grecques de la Bibliothèque Nacionale. (Paris, 1890).
Langlois, V. Numismatique de l'Arménie. (Paris, 1859).
Bedoukian, P. "Coinage of the Armenian Kingdoms of Sophene and Commagene" in ANSMN 28 (New York, 1983).
Bedoukian, P. Coinage of the Artaxiads of Armenia. RNS Special Publication Number 10. (London, 1978).
Gardner, P. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, The Seleucid Kings of Syria. (Forni reprint, 1963).
Kovacs, F. "Additions and corrections to Armenian coins and their values" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 30/3 (2004).
Kovacs, F. Armenian Coinage in the Classical Period. CNS 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2016).
Kovacs, F. "Tigranes IV, V, and VI: New Attributions" in AJN 20 (2008).
Mousheghian, A. & G. Depeyrot. Hellenistic and Roman Armenian Coinage (1st c. BC - 1st c. AD). Moneta 15. (Wettern, 1999).
Mousheghian, K., et al. History and Coin Finds in Armenia: Coins from Duin, Capital of Armenia. Moneta 18. (Wetteren, 2000).
Nercessian, Y. Armenian Coins and Their Values. Armenian Numismatic Society, Special Publication No. 8. (Los Angeles, 1995).
Nercessian, Y. "Coinage of the Armenian Kingdom of Sophene (ca. 260-70 B.C.)" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 37.3 (Sep 2011).
Nercessian, Y. Silver Coinage of the Artaxiad Dynasty of Armenia. (Los Angeles, 2006).
Nercessian, Y. "Silver Coins of Artavasdes II of Armenia" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 29-1 (March 2003).
Nercessian, Y. "Silver Coins of Tigranes II of Armenia" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 26-3 & 4. (December 2000).
Nercessian, Y. "Tigranes the Great of Armenia and the Mint of Damascus" in Armenian Numismatic Journal 22-1 (March 1996).
Vardanyan, R. "A Dated Copper Coin of Artaxias II: Evidence on the Use of the Pompeyan Era in Artaxata" in Armenian Numismatic Journal XXVII (2001).
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