The finest known example of Kovacs 1, the earliest Armenian issue
Lot 125
KINGS OF SOPHENE. Arsames, circa 255-225 BC. Dichalkon (Bronze, 20 mm, 6.92 g, 9 h). Head of Arsames to right, wearing bashlyk with beaded edges, tied with a diadem. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ / APΣAMOY Arsames, wearing conical tiara, on horseback to right, hurling javelin at two attacking soldiers; below his horse, a third, fallen enemy. Kovacs 1. An exceptional example of this earliest Armenian issue, with a beautiful reverse and very likely the finest known. Minor adjustment marks, otherwise, about extremely fine.

From a European collection, formed before 2005.

While earlier authors, based on the different headgear depicted on the coins, posited two kings named Arsames, Kovacs assumes only one such ruler of that name. He divides the coinage of this Arsames, the founder of Arsamosata, Arsameia on the Euphrates, and Arsameia on the Nymphaios, into an early and a late group, with the early one supposed to depict the king wearing a pointed bashlyk and the late one with a conical tiara. However, the exceptionally detailed reverse of our coin unambiguously shows that the king also wears the conical tiara in the depicted battle scene. While this confirms Kovacs' assertion that the coins should be attributed to only one Arsames, it also challenges his division into two temporally distinct groups.

Apparently, Arsames used the different headgear simultaneously, an observation also emphasized by Kovacs 3, a coin type showing Arsames with the pointed tiara, whose reverse, however, resembles more Kovacs 5 (with conical tiara) due to the vertical legends. Simultaneously, the reverse of Kovacs 4, with the horizontal legend and the king in armor on horseback to right, despite the conical tiara on the obverse, certainly belongs to Kovacs 1-2 iconographically. Hence, all evidence points towards the simultaneous adoption of two distinct headgears by the king, rendering Kovacs' proposal of a tumultuous early reign of Arsames, succeeded by a more stable later reign, obsolete.
2000 CHF
Starting price:
1600 CHF
Hammer price:
5500 CHF
Bid increment:
Minimum bid:
Number of bids:
Time left:
All winning bids are subject to a 22.5% buyer's fee.


We use cookies to enhance your online experience. By using our website, you accept our data privacy policy and the use of cookies.

Connection lost

You have lost your connection. Because we present current bids in real-time, your browser may display outdated or incorrect bidding information.

Please check your network connection and try again. We recommend refreshing the website to display the accurate bidding information again.