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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Choice Bagadat Tetradrachm

CNG 84, Lot: 781. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $14000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

KINGS of PERSIS. Bagadat (Bayadad). Early-mid 3rd century BC. AR Tetradrachm (32mm, 17.00 g, 8h). Head right, with short beard, mustache, and earring, wearing kyrbasia with flaps tied behind / Fire temple of Ahura-Mazda; to left, Bagadat standing right; to right, standard. Alram 515 var. (placement of legend). Good VF. Overstruck on an uncertain Alexander III-type tetradrachm. Very rare.

The first tetradrachm of the kings of Persis is in the nature of a proclamation piece. Bagadat, scion of a noble family from Persepolis, proclaims his independence at the same time as the Parthians under Arsakes and the Baktrians under Euthydemos were carving territories out of the faltering Seleukid empire. The first coins of Bagadat were masterpieces of Persian imagery filtered through Greek artistry, and Bagadat’s visage on the obverse is equal to the best Hellenistic work in portraiture. The reverse scene, showing Bagadat worshipping before the fire altar, a fundamental component of Zoroastrianism, depicts the king as the guardian of that religion and its supereme god, Ahura Mazda, thus tying the kings of Persis to their Achaemenid ancestors.