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Ancient Persia Gotarzes I and Sinatruces Drachm  93BC to 69BC
Ancient Persia Gotarzes I and Sinatruces Drachm 93BC to 69BC

Located mostly in modern Iran (the region historically known as Persia), the Parthian Empire lasted for about 500 years. Their many kings struck a multitude of coins, and many of the empire's rulers are only known based on these many coins. The chronology of the kings' reigns is constantly being revised, and some coins listed in old catalogs as issued by one king are now thought to have been struck by different kings. It's a confusing field for anyone who doesn't has a firm grip on Parthian history, that's for sure!

Many of the coins listed in older catalogs as struck during the rule of Gotarzes I (ruled from 91 BC to 87 BC) are now attributed to Sanatruces (ruled from 93 or 92 BC to 70 or 69 BC). It's clear that these reigns overlap. It appears that the empire may have been split into provinces, with separate rulers for each province. In any case, both are known from history and coins, but the exact chronology of their reigns is hard to place.

The legend on the coins is often corrupted, and the irregularities in ancient coin making mean that even two coins in the same production run do not look exactly alike, making it even harder to differentiate between the emperors. Luckily, the value of these coins is tied much more strongly to their eye-appeal and general state of preservation than to which emperor it was issued by.


Look at the two coins we have pictured. The darker one is attributed to Gotarzes I, while the brighter one is attributed to Sanatruces. You can see that Gotarzes I has a crown decorated by a star instead of a horn like Sanatruces has. Gotarzes I is also lacking the decoration around the top of the crown. Sadly, looking at the crown only works for some coins - Gotarzes I also issued coins where he is wearing the horned, decorated crown instead of the starred, non-decorated crown. The only true way to differentiate the rulers is to read the legend, which can be really tough. Fortunately, the Gotarzes I and Sanatruces drachms (weight around 4 grams) are about equally scarce:

worn: $60 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $150
well preserved: $300

Each of these ancient coins stands on its own merits. Eye-appeal means more than wear. Toning and strong legends are good - cleanings and flat strikes are bad. It's often a good idea to take your coin to a professional coin dealer to have it evaluated. Damaged coins are worth about a quarter of the values listed above. Please visit our Important Terminology page found at the top left in order to properly interpret the catalog values used here.

Coin photos on this page come from Heritage Auctions and Jean Elsen et ses Fils. Thanks so much for releasing copyright to CoinQuest.

(Dennis, if your coin is not a match to either of the two specimens pictured here, please use the 'Contact' link visible to the top right on the main page to establish email contact with CoinQuest, and we can help you further to identify your specific coin.)

Coin: 17634 , Genre: Ancient
Requested by: dennis mcintyre, Wed, 20-Aug-2014 12:58:27 GMT
Answered by: Chris, Wed, 20-Aug-2014 20:40:16 GMT
Last review by CoinQuest: Sat, 19-Nov-2016 01:16:00 GMT
Requester description: 80BC purchased coin in auction. they said it was Greek 80-90BC ARDrachm parthian kingdom Gotarzes l. I think it's more like 80-70 BC unknown king.
I can find simular coins but not exact.
Tags: ancient persia iran gotarzes drachm drachmai persian iranian apaxme drachme araxmai dpachmai evvhnikh apaxmai dachm drachma drachmes dpaxmh apachmai paxmai draxmai apaxmae hmokpatia paxme dpaxmai apaxmee ewhnikh ehnikh drachamas said saeed greek greece 80 90 parthian parthia kingdom 70 king sied saids greeks greco reginam regina regal regini reginaf kingdoms sinatrukes sanatruces beard hair crown tiara hat cap headdress throne chair seat bow star starburst tee goty goatee gotee whiskers beared bearded whisker beareded wiskers hairdo hairline crowned crowns tiarra crowning tiera helmeted hood caps headband hooded helmet bonnet helmit helmets stool sit sitted sitting sits seated starrs stars burst

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Tue, 26-Sep-2017 19:51:03 GMT, unknown: 22303786