PhD Student Associate Member
- Miss Alexandra Magub
- Email address:
- Thesis title:
- Political and Religious Ideologies on Parthian Coins from the 2nd and 1st Centuries BC
- Year of Study:
This research project revisits the coin evidence that survives the ancient Iranian Parthian Empire. The period covered focuses on a key period of change, from the fast imperial expansion during the reigns of Mithradates I and Mithradates II, to the subsequent turmoil brought on by foreign rivalries and dynastic feuds.
At the height of the Parthian Empire, its territory spanned between Bactria (modern Afghanistan) in the east and the Euphrates (modern Syria and Iraq) in the west. It was at the River Euphrates where the frontier between the rival superpowers, Parthia and Rome, was established. Iconography and inscriptions struck onto the coinage demonstrate how the Parthian kings propagated political and religious ideologies to a culturally diverse empire and in the face of rival powers - both at home and abroad.
Early modern scholarship has principally relied on Greco-Roman accounts in order to survey the coin evidence and to reconstruct Parthian history, since these account are the only extensive literary sources to survive the period. However, recent scholarship has striven to define the Iranian nature behind the makers of the coinage. These coins resonate with evidence from the Iranian world, such as rock reliefs, fragmented inscriptions, and echoes of heroic rituals and battles that were transmitted orally and finally consolidated into writing centuries later, such as the epic 'Shahnameh'.
This research explores the idea that Parthian kings developed intricate political frameworks and maintained strong Zoroastrian principles throughout their rule, despite the fact that the Parthian kings never formed a centralised religion. An examination of this historical period must consider the aesthetic and ideological influences from both the old Greek order that was established after Alexander the Great’s invasion of Ancient Iran in 330 BC, and the revival of Iranian power under the Parthians in the post-Hellenistic Ancient Near East.
Royal Numismatic Society meeting, London (January 2014): co-presented an update on the Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum (Parthian Coin Project) with Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Dr Elizabeth Pendleton of the British Museum, and Chris Hopkins of sylloge.org.
Synoikismos Seminar, University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium (December 2014): presenting on the meeting of Hellenistic and Iranian iconography on Parthian coins.
TAG Seminar ‘The Everyday Assemblage’, University of Manchester (December 2014): 'Bronze Coinage from the Parthian Empire in the 2nd Century BC - Local Identities Forged within the Imperial Order.'
Workshop 'Art Aesthetics and Function: Collaborative Approaches to Everyday Objects', British Museum (April 2015) - co-organiser.
XV International Numismatic Congress, Taormina (September 2015): co-presenting with Dr Michael Alram and Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis on 'Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum: Coins of Mithradates II'.
Study of Religions (SOAS)
Coins and Medals (British Museum)
Member of the 'Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum', Vol. II.
Royal Numismatic Society - Council Member, 2014-2015.
Arts and Humanities Research Council - Collaborative Doctoral Award Student.