Fight for Nisibis between Tigranes II The Great and Lucullus

My coin versus a conventional Nisibis coin of Tigranes II. It is sometime after 68 BC and Tigranes II, after an occupation of 20 years, has lost the city to Lucullus.

The director of the Nisibis mint to the chief engraver: “We need coins to keep our trade economy going. Just use the ones with Nike that Tigranes minted when he was our overlord.”

chief engraver: “totally agree. But what shall I write on it? I don’t speak or write Greek”

Director: “what makes you think I can write Greek? Just scribble some letters to make it look like Greek. No one will notice. Oh and give Tigranes a larger nose, I saw him once in a parade and he definitely has an Armenian nose”.

Joke aside, and this conversation probably never took place, but this coin is considered a contemporary imitation, it was probably minted after Tigranes gave up Nisibis to Lucullus in 68 BC, but then he re-occupied the city.

Nisibis was on the main trade route in Mesopotamia and was situated just south of Artaxiat Armenia proper. Tigranes planned his conquests to occupy and benefit from the main trade routes and the wealth associated with the corresponding taxations.

This is one of the first Mesopotamian cities he occupied in his Parthian war in 88 BC. He placed his brother Gouras as ruler over the city, attesting to the high value of this part of the world. After he conquered Antioch next, he basically occupied the complete East West trade routes.

A significant amount of his immense wealth, coveted by Rome, came from that source. In comparison, I have also included the image of a conventional Nisibis mint coin here. The legend should read, in Greek. BAΣΙΛΕΩC BACΙΛΕΩN MEΓAΛOY ΤΙΓΡΑΝΟΥ ΦIΛEΛΛHNOC (King of kings Tigranes the Great friend of the Greeks)

By Joseph Sarkissian




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