KINGS OF ARMENIA. Artavasdes II, 56-34 BC. Drachm (Silver, 19 mm, 3.39 g, 1 h), Artaxata, RY 6 = 51/0 BC. Draped bust of Artavasdes II to right, wearing five-pointed tiara decorated with a star between two eagles and tied with a diadem. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ - BAΣIΛEΩN / AΡTAΥAZΔOΥ Helios (?) driving quadriga to left, being crowned with wreath by small figure of Nike held in his right hand; in field to left, monogram; above quadriga, ς. Kovacs 163. Extremely rare. A beautifully toned example of this very important issue. Minor corrosion and with a thin scratch on the obverse, otherwise, very fine.
From an important collection of Armenian coins.
Artavasdes II was the son of Tigranes 'II' the Great and - through his mother Cleopatra of Pontus - a grandchild of Mithradates VI Eupator. He succeeded to his father's throne as an ally of Rome, but he changed sides after the devastating defeat of Crassus against the Parthians at Carrhae in 53 BC. It was only in 36 BC, when Mark Antony launched his large-scale invasion of the Parthian Empire, that Artavasdes allied himself with Rome again. The Armenian king, however, failed to protect baggage train of the siege weapons with which he was entrusted, and Mark Antony eventually blamed him for the disastrous failure of his Parthian campaign. Two years later, the Romans invaded Armenia and disposed Artavasdes II, who was then held captive in Egypt for some years before being executed at the order of Mark Antony right after the battle of Actium. Artavasdes II's silver coinage is without exception very rare, as it was only struck in four different years: Kovacs knew tetradrachms dated to 40/39 and 39/8 and drachms from 51/50 and 50/49 BC. Our coin thus belongs to the first silver emission of Artavasdes, struck just a few years after the Battle of Carrhae.