Tiribazus’ coins are utterly unique © The Trustees of the British Museum
Tiribazus’ coins are utterly unique © The Trustees of the British Museum

Coins and Imperial Power

What can coins tell us about a decade-long revolt on Cyprus during the late Achaemenid Empire?

Dr John Shannahan intends to find out. As part of a new research project John will publish the first die study and iconographic analysis of Tiribazus’ Cilician staters. These coins are notable for the Achaemenid figure in the winged disc in a uniquely Hellenised form.

Not only will this study be the first analysis of these coins in relation to Achaemenid scholarship, it will establish a research program on the late Achaemenid Empire at Macquarie.

“Tiribazus’ coins are so remarkable because they are utterly unique – at no other point do coins carry a Hellenised version of the figure in the winged disc, said John, “but it’s not just the Hellenisation (i.e. the nudity!) that’s interesting – the winged figure in this period is distinctly Iranian, and is usually found on palaces and art in Iran, hovering over the Great King. The fact that Tiribazus journeyed from Iran to Cyprus in order to suppress a revolt, then minted coins with a direct link to the Achaemenid king, suggests that he wanted to send a message. With his new reverse type, Tiribazus broke away from the traditions of the local mints, and clearly imposed Persian will while administering his campaign.”

The contradiction between Tiribazus’ display of imperial authority and the outbreak of the so-called Great Satraps’ Revolt is a core component of John’s research.

 

Dr John Shannahan
Dr John Shannahan

John has been awarded the 2016 Early Career Researcher Fellowship by the Australasian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies and the MQ Ancient Cultures Research Centre.