British Museum collections, £12.99
Weight: 15.600 g
Weight: 15.600 g
Claudius James Rich collection
CM BMC Characene p306/12;CM BMC Characene p307/17
Enlightenment: Ancient scripts
Coins from the Tigris hoard
From Characene (present-day Mesene, Iraq), about 2nd century AD
A coin collection from Babylonia
The Tigris hoard is named after the River Tigris in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq), where it was found in the early nineteenth century. The hoard included Greek and Persian coins of the fifth and fourth centuries BC, as well as 500 bronze coins from Characene at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which dated to about the second century AD.
Many of the coins were acquired by Claudius James Rich (1786-1821), who collected coins, antiquities and manuscripts for the information they might reveal about the ancient world. Rich had joined the East India Company in 1803 and became British Resident at the Court of the Pasha in Baghdad in 1808. He was a brilliant linguist, who made himself familiar with the languages, customs and traditions of the local people. He also collected valuable information on the history and geography of Mesopotamia. Rich visited several ancient sites in southern Persia in 1821, but caught cholera in Shiraz and died at the age of only thirty-five. Some of Rich's coins were bought by the British Museum in 1825.
These bronze four-drachm coins have a royal bust in profile on both sides. Sometimes the male figure is bare-headed, but often at least one side shows the local king wearing a tall Iranian hat. The Aramaic legend gives the king's name as Maga, the son of Athabiaos.
G.F. Hill, Catalogue of the Greek Coins o (London, British Museum, 1922)