Weight: 9.440 g
CM 1919-05-16-16 (BMC Persia 60)
Room 52: Ancient Iran
Gold daric coin
Achaemenid Persian Empire, late 5th-early 4th
Minted in western Asia Minor (in modern Turkey)
The gold of the Persian Empire
In 550 BC Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Persian Empire by amalgamating the Iranian tribes of the Medes and the Persians. Cyrus then looked to the west. His army defeated the Lydians and their king Croesus in 547 BC and in the following year the Persian army marched into the kingdoms of Ionia, Caria and Lykia, on what is now the west coast of Turkey.
It was there that the Persians first came into contact with coinage. From here it spread over the next century throughout the Persian Empire as far as Afghanistan and Egypt. After conquering Lydia in 547 BC, the Persians adopted the Lydian tradition of minting coins. Soon the local 'lion and bull' croesid coins were replaced by a new Achaemenid coinage.
The gold daric, named after the Persian king Darius I (521-486 BC), and the silver siglos (or shekel) were the main denominations. An archer, representing the Persian king, appeared on the obverse (front) of the coin. The reverse consisted of a rectangular punch. These coins were minted in the western part of the Achaemenid Empire. Their production continued long after the death of Darius, until the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great at the end of the fourth century BC.
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I.A. Carradice and M.J. Price, Coinage in the Greek world (London, Seaby, 1988)