LANCASTER, Pennsylvania—Ancient Armenian coins constitute an integral aspect of the Armenian heritage. Very often, they are the only original documents from early Armenian kingdoms and dynasties that have survived to our time, and are therefore of great importance when reconstructing Armenia’s early history.
The publication of Armenian Coinage in the Classical Period, a new book written by professional numismatist Frank L. Kovacs of California, will therefore be greeted with pleasure by Armenian coin enthusiasts, scholars, and the public alike. The eagerly awaited study has just been released by Classical Numismatic Group (CNG) of Pennsylvania, the nation’s leading ancient coin firm, in its series Classical Numismatic Studies, No. 10. The author has several published articles on Armenian numismatics to his credit and has been compiling material for this monograph for over a decade.
Although many new and enigmatic ancient Armenian coins have been discovered in recent years, it has been a decade since the last major monograph on the topic was published, and two decades since a catalog of the entire field appeared. The need for a revised and updated reference for these coins has been apparent for several years.
According to CNG, the discovery of numerous previously unknown coins while long-standing misattributions have hampered the best efforts of researchers in the field of Armenian numismatics. Kovacs attempts to address these problems and present ancient Armenian coins as reliable source documents.
Building on the work of earlier Armenian scholars (Dr. Paul Bedoukian, Yeghia Nercessian, Khachatour Mousheghian and others), Armenian Coinage in the Classical Period begins with the earliest known issues of Samos, after circa 275 BC, through the reign of Tiridates II, to circa AD 252, and includes all territories ruled by Armenian monarchs, or by any king or client king who ruled any territory called “Armenia.” The catalog includes coins of Sophene, the Artaxiad Dynasty, Commagene, and Armenia Minor, as well as contemporaneous city coins and related issues.
Kovacs offers a profusely illustrated catalog of the known coins and their attributions (termed a “corpus”) which significantly expands upon previous attempts. The author assigns or re-attributes coins to kings and queens to whom no coins were previously assigned, identifies new dating eras and new mints, indicates the rarity of various types, and removes a number of non-Armenian coins, fakes, and fantasies that crept into previous studies. Altogether, over 300 coin types from dozens of rulers are listed and documented. While some re-attributions and identifications are conjectural, and will no doubt be controversial or modified as newly discovered examples dictate, the new work represents a substantial advance in presenting the basic record of an important eastern kingdom during the classical period.
The 142 page book (hardbound with dust jacket), with 34 photographic plates, explanatory notes and numerous appendices and indices, will be of interest to collectors and scholars, as well as general readers interested in ancient Armenian history.
Copies of Armenian Coinage in the Classical Period are being distributed by the Armenian Numismatic and Antiquities Society, c/o L. Saryan, PO Box 210313, Milwaukee, WI 53221-8006, for $90 postpaid (mailed within the USA) or $125 (mailed overseas) or on www.anasociety.org.