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Countermarks on a Persian Siglos

These pages are literally my "Notes"- and this one is not much more than a few thoughts jotted down to pick up at another time. I have been looking at this Persian Siglos which I find curious for its countermarks, and I have been trying to understand some of the details that help differentiate coins from the various time periods between 6th and 4th century BC. The dagger is the important clue that it is a later coin - Type IV in the vocabulary of Ian Carrradice.


There is an excellent article on the Achaemenid Dynasty online from R. Schmitt, “Achaemenid Dynasty,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, pp. 414-426. This article also has a paragraph on the coins:

  • "shekels (síglos), struck from very pure silver (more than 90 percent) and approx. 5.56 grams in weight

  • "They were roughly oval in shape, struck from small egg-shaped metal globules, had no legend, and remained essentially unaltered from ca. 515 B.C. until the breakdown of the empire."

In this later coin the king carries a bow and dagger instead of a bow and spear that is described in the article.

Persia, Achaemenid Empire, 5th-4th Century BC, AR Siglos, 5.16g, 16x12mm

Obv: King with bow left

Rev: incuse (I think it is pure coincidence that it seems to mimic the kings head)

Notes: countermarks on both sides, ex van der Dussen collection, to me this looks like Carradice Type IVa early, but I can't pinpoint, so I leave it at anywhere from early to late : Artaxerxes I - Darius III, c. 450 - 336 BC. The irregular incuse throws me off a bit and I'm not sure how to factor in the light weight - wear? perhaps style of dagger can help? An excellent resource on these coins at NumisWiki. A couple of listed countermarks visible from Hill, British Museum including: from the obverse #1, #67.

This mark which I've highlighted from the reverse, doesn't seem to be listed - although it looks a little like #64.

And there are a couple of others that I can't associate with any of the listed ones....to be continued.


Here's a particularly well preserved example of these coins.

Type IIIb (early). Xerxes I - Darius II, c. 485 - 420 BC. c. 5.46 g (a little light for the range given for IIIb - perhaps just at the end of type IIIa?)


See als: A New Thesis for Siglos and Dareikos Corfù, Nicolas, Assure


Proceedings of the XVIth International Numismatic Congress, Glasgow, 2009, edited by Nicholas Holmes, 2011, Vol. 1. The new thesis is that these "archer coins" are a local / civic coinage of a mint in the satrapy of Lydia.

"There are only 433 Sigloi out of about 15,000 Sigloi with testified find-spots found in parts of the Achaemenid empire with coin use outside the satrapy of Lydia. So there is absolutely no domina-tion of Sigloi over the local coins outside the satrapy of Lydia. Even in the eastern part of the great satrapy Lydia – the main satrapy Cappadocia – no hoards with ‘archer’ coins were found."

See also: Milne, J. G. “A HOARD OF PERSIAN SIGLOI.The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society, vol. 16, 1916, pp. 1–12.

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