Art And Culture

Coins Tell the Story of Parthian Empire

The book narrates the history of Parthian Empire based on the latest studies on Parthian coinage
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Historian and author Jalal Dilmaghani has released ‘History of Parthia based on Coins,’ an account of this obscure part of the past with the help of coinage.

The Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 AD), also known as the Arsacid Empire was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran and Iraq. However what we usually know of their history is limited or vague.

Much of what we know of this empire until recently was based on the scripts by ancient historians. Written mostly years after the demise of the empire; such accounts do not suffice to help paint a clear picture of the era. Inevitably, historians studying the Parthian Empire have turned to archeological data, most importantly coins, to find the missing pieces of history.

Until 1965 the coin catalogue of the era did not include enough items for extensive research. For instance, there were no coins registered as being minted in the ruling days of the first two kings of the Parthian Empire, Arsaces I  and Arsaces II of Parthia, leading to misunderstanding on the part of those studying the coins.

In 1965, a treasure trove with 950 drachms, all belonging to the era of the first two Parthian Kings was discovered in the Atrek Valley, Khorasan Razavi Province, which helped unveil part of history.

Moreover, David Sellwood (1925-2012), a prominent British numismatist of Parthian era, printed in 1980 ‘An Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia (London: Spink, 2nd ed),’ a catalogue with comprehensive information gained from a study on all available Parthian coins in museums and private coin collections.

Books in Persian on the history of the Parthian Empire all lack information obtained after the discovery of the coin treasure.

The recently published book entitled ‘History of Parthia based on Coins’ (in Persian: ‘Tarikh-e Ashkanian be Revayate Sekkeha’), written by Jalal Dilmaghani narrates the history of Parthian Empire based on the latest studies on Parthian coinage, the Research Center of Written Heritage ( reported.

Even those who do not know much about history can easily associate the two biggest dynasties of Iran, Achaemenid and Sassanid with special images in their mind. Whenever the name Achaemenid Dynasty comes up, magnificent Persepolis Palaces come to mind. However, there is no such association for the Parthian Dynasty.

Dilmaghani’s book aims to provide an image for the era by including many pictures along with the text. For each king mentioned in the book, there is at least one coin minted with his likeness.

Since earlier books have already presented detailed accounts of the era, the present book ‘History of Parthia based on Coins’ is more focused on pictorial descriptions and explanations. The book is published by Tehran-based publishing house of Pazineh in 280 pages.

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