Saturday, 27 February 2021

The daric

The Achaemenid Empire ruled over much of the Middle East from 550 to 330 BCE. Coinage was issued from the mint of Sardis and consisted of the silver siglos and the gold daric. The coins remained basically unchanged for over two hundred years.

The daric was a high-purity gold coin of 8.4 grams based on the ancient Babylonian shekel. It was a month’s pay for a mercenary. One daric exchanged for 20 silver sigloi.
Hoards of the international trade coin have been found from Sicily to Afghanistan. The daric is one of the few coins mentioned in the Old Testament.

There are 4 main types of daric. There are few survivors of the type 1 and type 2 coins, making them extremely valuable. The Type 3 daric is by far the most common. Dated from around 485 to 420 BCE, there are several variants. Condition determines value. The rare Type IV daric, dated c. 455-420, shows the king holding a short dagger rather than a spear.
Even more rare and valuable are “double darics” which continued to be struck under Alexander the Great at Babylon for a short time after the fall of the Persian empire. The example shown made $50k in 2015.