The Parthian Shot: Kingship and Coinage in the early Arsacid Empire
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The early Parthian Empire may have played a large role in its own time, but little about it is known to us now. It is offset by its rivalry with the Seleucid Empire, but it has left few sources of its own. One important source remains: coinage. Numismatists have long been interested in the coinage of the Arsacid Empire, precisely because so little else remains. However, because there are so few types and so little variation between the types it is tempting to stick with a theory that works well enough. This thesis attempts to re-examine the coinage of the earliest Arsacids kings, most importantly that of Mithradates I (r. 171-138 BCE). This king has long been said to have 'catered to the Greek population' when it comes to his coinage. However, this work shows that he used symbols and titles that spoke to many different groups of people, not just those with Greek heritage. From his crown to his beard, and from the reverse imagery to the titles, Mithradates clearly tried to associate himself with a myriad of peoples. This would have been necessary for a king with a newly acquired Empire that was still under attack from rivals. Theories of of identity and culture help to confirm this new way of looking at early Arsacid coinage.