Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa



This paper offers the first ever discussion of all extant images of Abdissar, Monobazos I and ’tlw (Attalos), Kings of Adiabene. In analysing the numismatic and sculptural data, a few conclusions on the historical context are suggested. First, it is argued that stylistic features of the coinage of Abdissar suggest a date in the first half of the second century b.c.e., and this dating bears upon the question of the historical origin of the Kingdom of Adiabene. Adiabene originated as one of many “post-Seleucid” states which arose in the Near East when the Seleucid kingdom started to crumble, before the advent of the Parthians. This suggestion is also corroborated by stylistic features of the coinage which accentuate the divine investiture of royal power in Abdissar. It is also held that the Batas-Herir monument depicts King Abdissar. Second, the images on the coin of Monobazos I clearly reflect the time of Adiabene's economic prosperity and political rise to significance among Parthian “lesser kings” in the first half of the first century c.e. Third, the reign of King ’tlw (Attalos) remains largely obscure, but the placement of his sculpture in Hatra clearly shows good political relations and close cultural ties between the kingdoms of Adiabene and Hatra in the first half of the third century c.e. Additionally, the authors argue that the images of Oriental kings on the coins of Septimius Severus do not represent any particular Oriental rulers (of Edessa, Adiabene or Hatra), but are merely stereotypical images of what the Romans considered to be typical Oriental royal outfits.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Available formats
Corresponding author
Michał Marciak, Department of Ancient History and Oriental Studies, University of Rzeszów, Al. Rejtana 16C 35-310 Rzeszów, Poland,
Robert S. Wójcikowski, Institute of Archaeology, The Jagiellonian University, Gołębia 11 Str., 31-007 Kraków, Poland,
Hide All
AggoulaB. 1985. Inscriptions et graffites Arameens d'Assour. Napoli.
AlramM. 1986. Nomina propria iranica in nummis. Materialgrundlagen zu den iranischen Personennamen auf antiken Münzen, Iranisches Personennamenbuch IV. Wien.
AltheimF. and Stiehl R. 1967. Die Araber in der alten Welt, B. 4. Berlin.
BarishD. 1983. Adiabene: Royal Converts to Judaism in the First Century c.e.: A Study of Sources, Cincinnati (Diss.).
BayerT.S. 1734. Historia Osrhoene et Edessena, ex numis illustrate. Sankt Petersburg.
BedoukianP.Z. 1985. Coinage of the Armenian Kingdoms of Sophene and Commagene. Los Angeles.
Ben-AmiD. and Tchekhanovetz Y.. 2011a. Has the Adiabene Royal Family “Palace” Been Found in the City of David? Pp. 231–39 in Galor K. and Avni G. (eds.), Unearthing Jerusalem. 150 Years of Archaeological Research in the Holy City. Winona Lake, IN.
Ben-AmiD. and Tchekhanovetz Y. 2011b. The Lower City of Jerusalem on the Eve of Its Destruction. 70 CE: A View from Hanyon Givati. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 364: 6185.
BeyerK. 1998. Die aramäischen Inschriften aus Assur, Hatra und dem übrigen Ostmesopotamien: (datiert 44 v. Chr. bis 238 n. Chr.). Göttingen.
BickermanE. 1944. Notes on Seleucid and Parthian Chronology. Berytus 8: 7383.
BickermanE. 1983. Time-Reckoning. pp. 778–91 in Yarshater E. (ed.), The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods (CHI, vol. 3.2). Cambridge.
BiebersteinK. and Bloedhorn H.. 1994. Jerusalem: Grundzüge der Baugeschichte vom Chalkolithikum bis zur Frühzeit der osmanischen Herrschaft, B. 3. Wiesbaden.
BirleyA. 1988. The African emperor: Septimius Severus. London.
BonannoA. 1976. Portraits and Other Heads on Roman Historical Relief up to the Age of Septimius Severus. Oxford.
BrilliantR. 1967. The Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum. Rome.
ButcherK. 1991. Natounia on the Kapros: Coinage of a Lost Assyrian City. Numismatic Circular 99: 4.
ButcherK. 2003. Roman Syria and the Near East. California, CA.
CallataÿF. de 1996. Abdissarès L'Adiabénien Iraq 58: 135–45.
CalmeyerP. 2001. Crown i. In the Median and Acheamenid Periods, Encyclopædia Iranica (
CanepaM. 2007. Review of Margherita Facella, La dinastia degli Orontidi nella Commagene ellenistico-roman, Pisa, 2006. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.01.21.
CaquotA. 1952. Nouvelles Inscriptions Arameenes de Hatra. Syria 29 : 89118.
ChaumontM.L. 1987. Un document méconnu concernant 1'envoi d'un ambassadeur parthe vers Septime Severe (P. Dura 6oB). Historia 36: 422–47.
ColpeC. 1974. Die Arsakiden bei Josephus. Pp. 97108 in Betz O., Haacker K., Hengel M. (eds.), Josephus-Studien. Untersuchungen zu Josephus, dem antiken Judentum und dem Neuen Testament, Otto Michel zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet. Göttingen.
DąbrowaE. 1983. La politique de l’état parthe à l’égard de Rome – d'Artaban II à Vologèse I (ca 11 –ca 79 de n.e.) et les facteurs qui la conditionnaient, Kraków.
DąbrowaE. 2011. The Arsacid Empire. Pp. 164–86 in Daryaee T. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford.
DebevoiseN.C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. Chicago.
DebevoiseN.C. 1942. The rock reliefs of ancient Iran. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 1: 76105.
DelitzschF. 1887. The Royal Court of Adiabene. Expositor 36: 130–40.
DignasB. and Winter E.. 2007. Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals. Cambridge.
DillemannL. 1962. Haute Mésopotamie orientale et pays adjacents. Contribution à la géographie historique de la région du Ve siècle avant l’ère chrétienne au VIe siècle de cette ère. Paris.
DirvenL. 1999. The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos: a Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria. Leiden.
DirvenL. 2008. Aspects of Hatrene religion: A Note on the Statues of Kings and Nobles from Hatra. Pp. 209–46 in Kaizer T. (ed.), The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. Boston-Leiden.
DodgeonM.H. and Lieu S.N.-C.. 1991. The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars: 363–628 ad: A Narrative Sourcebook. London.
DrijversH.J.W. 1977. Hatra, Palmyra und Edessa: Die Städte der syrisch-mesopotamischen Wüste in politischer, kulturgeschichtlicher und religionsgeschichtliche Beleuchtung. ANRW 2/8: 799906.
EilandM.L. 1998. Parthians and Romans at Nineveh. Pp. 5568 in Dąbrowa E. (ed.), Ancient Iran and the Mediterranean World, Electrum 2. Kraków.
FacellaM. 2006. La dinastia degli Orontidi nella Commagene ellenistico-romana. Pisa.
FlussM. 1923. L. Septimius (13) Severus. Realencyclopädie II A2: 19402002.
FowlerR. 2010. King, Bigger King, King of Kings: Structuring Power in the Parthian World. Pp. 5777 in Kaizer T. and Facella M. (eds.), Kingdoms and Principalities in the Roman Near East. Stuttgart.
FrenschkowskiM. 1990. Iranische Königslegende in der Adiabene: zur Vorgeschichte von Josephus, “Antiquitates” XX, 17–33. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 140/2: 213–33.
FryeR.N. 1984. The History of Ancient Iran. München.
GardnerP. 1878. Catalogue of Greek Coins. The Seleucid King of Syria. London.
GawlikowskiM. 2010. Fifty Years of Polish Research in Palmyra 1959–2009. Warszawa.
GhirshmanR. 1962. Persian Art 249 bcad 651, the Parthian and Sassanian Dynasties. New York.
GrabowskiM. 2011. Abdissares of Adiabene and the Batas-Herir Relief. Światowit. Annual of the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw 9: 117–40.
GreatrexG. and Lieu S.N-C.. 2002. The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars—Narrative. Sourcebook—Part II AD 363–630. London.
GüntherA. 1922. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kriege zwischen Römern und Parthern. Berlin.
HaerinckE. and Overlaet B.. 2008. Altar Shrines and Fire Altars? Architectural Representations on Frataraka Coinage. Iranica Antiqua 43: 207–33.
HartmannU. 2001. Das palmyrenische Teilreich. Stuttgart.
HasebroekJ. 1921. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisers Septimius Severus. Heidelberg.
HauserS. 1994. Chronologische und historischpolitische Untersuchungen zur östlichen Jazra in vorislamischer Zeit. Berlin (Diss.).
HauserS. 1998. Hatra und das Königreich der Araber. Pp. 493528 in Wiesehöfer J. (ed.), Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse. Beiträge des Internationalen Colloquiums, Eutin (27.-30. Juni 1996). Stuttgart.
HauserS. 1998. Hatra und das Königreich der Araber. Pp. 493528 in Wiesehöfer J. (ed.), Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse. Beiträge des Internationalen Colloquiums, Eutin (27.-30. Juni 1996). Stuttgart.
HauserS. 2013. Where is the man of Hadr, who once built it and taxed the land by the Tigris and Chaboras? On the significance of the final siege of Hatra. Pp. 119–42 in Dirven L. (ed.), Hatra: Politics, Culture and Religion between Parthia and Rome. Stuttgart.
HendinD. 2001. Guide to Biblical Coins. New York.
HooverO. 2009. Camels of Natounia. Schweizerische numismatische Rundschau 88: 161–68.
HoughtonA. and Lorber C.. 2002. Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue: Part I: Seleucus I through Antiochus III. New York.
HuysePh. 1999a. Die dreisprachige Inschrift Šābuhrs I. an der Kaʿba-i Zardušt (ŠKZ), B.1. London.
HuysePh. 1999b. Die dreisprachige Inschrift Šābuhrs I. an der Kaʿba-i Zardušt (ŠKZ), B.2. London.
IlanT. 2002. Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity. Part I: Palestine 330 bce–300 ce , Tübingen.
IsaacB. 2013. Against Rome and Persia. From Success to Destruction. Pp. 2332 in Dirven L. (ed.), Hatra: Politics, Culture and Religion between Parthia and Rome. Stuttgart.
JacobsB. 1994. Die Satrapienverwaltung im Perserreich zur Zeit Darius’ III. Wiesbaden.
JastrowM. 1975. A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature / Comp. by Marcus Jastrow; with an Index of Scriptural Quotations, Vols. 1–2. New York.
JongA. de. 2013. Hatra and the Parthian Commonwealth. Pp. 143–60 in Dirven L. (ed.), Hatra, Politics, Culture and Religion between Parthia and Rome. Stuttgart.
JustiF. 1963. Iranisches Namenbuch. Hildesheim.
KaizerT. 2002. The Religious Life of Palmyra: a Study of the Social Patterns of Worship in the Roman Period. Oriens et Occidens 4. Stuttgart.
KettenhofenE. 1982. Die römisch-persischen Kriege des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. nach der Inschrift Sãhpuhrs I. an der Kabe-ye Zartost (SKZ). Wiesbaden.
KloseD. 1992. Von Alexander zu Kleopatra. Herscherporträts der Griechen und Barbaren. München.
KochH. 1992. Es kündet Dareios der König… vom Leben im persischen Grossreich. Mainz/Rhein.
KrengelE. 2013. Die erste armenische Münzprägung für Zenon/Artaxias aus Pontus. Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 63: 116.
Le RiderG. 1965. Suse sous les Séleucides et les Parthes. Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique en Iran 38 . Paris.
LipińskiE. 1982. Le culte dIstar en Mésopotamie du Nord à l’époque parthe. Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica 13: 117–24.
LipińskiE. 2015. Review of M. Marciak, ‘Izates, Helena, and Monobazos of Adiabene: A Study on Literary Traditions and History’. The Polish Journal of Biblical Research 14: 201–07.
LuscheyH. 1972. Ein königliches Emblem. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 5: 257–60.
LutherA. 2015. Das Königreich Adiabene zwischen Parthern und Römern. Pp. 275–99 in Baltrusch E. and Wilker J. (eds.), Amici—socii—clientes? Abhängige Herrschat im Imperium Romanum. Berlin.
MagieD. 1950. Roman Rule in Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century after Christ. Princeton.
MarciakM. 2011. Seleucid-Parthian Adiabene in the Light of Ancient Geographical and Ethnographical Texts. Anabasis. Studia Classica et Orientalia 2: 179208.
MarciakM. 2013. Natounisarokerta on the Kapros. New Numismatic Evidence from the British Museum Anabasis . Studia Classica et Orientalia 4: 160–78.
MarciakM. 2014a. Izates, Helena, and Monobazos of Adiabene. A Study on Literary Traditions and History, Harrassowitz, Philippika 66, Wiesbaden.
MarciakM. 2014b. The Cultural Environment of Adiabene in the Hellenistic, Parthian, and Sasanian Periods. In: Parthica. Incontri di culture nel mondo antico 16: 111–50.
MathiesenE.H. 1992. Sculpture in the Parthian Empire, a Study in Chronology. Aarhus.
MattinglyH. and Sydenham E.A.. 1936. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Pertinax to Geta, vol. IV, part I. London.
MilikJ.T. 1962. A propos d'un atelier monétaire d'Adiabene: Natounia. Revue Numismatique 4: 5158.
MurphyG.J. 1945. The Reign of the Emperor L. Septimius Severus from the Evidence of the Inscriptions. Philadelphia.
NercessarianY.T. 1985. The Evolution of the Armenian Tiara. Armenian Numismatic Journal 11: 212.
NavehJ. 1972. The North-Mesopotamian Aramaic script-type in the Late Parthian Period. Israel Oriental Studies 2: 293304.
NotleyR. and García J.. 2014. Queen Helena's Jerusalem Palace—In a Parking Lot? Biblical Archaeology Review May/June 2014: 2868.
OatesD. 1968. Studies in the Ancient History of Northern Iraq. London.
OatesD. and Oates J.. 1958. Nimrud 1957: The Hellenistic Settlement. Iraq 20: 114–57.
OlbrychtM.J. 1997. Vardanes contra Gotarzes II. Einige Überlegungen zur Geschichte des Partherreiches ca. 40–51 n. Chr. Folia Orientalia 33: 81100.
OlbrychtM.J. 1998a. Parthia et ulteriores gentes. Die politischen Beziehungen zwischen dem arsakidischen Iran und den Nomaden der eurasischen Steppen. München.
OlbrychtM.J. 1998b. Das Arsakidenreich zwischen der mediterranen Welt und Innerasien. Bemerkungen zur politischen Strategie der Arsakiden von Vologases I. bis zum Herrschaftsantritt des Vologases III. (50–147 n. Chr.). Pp. 113–59 in Dąbrowa E. (ed.), Ancient Iran and the Mediterranean World. Studies in Ancient History. Proceedings of an International Conference in Honour of Professor Józef Wolski, Held at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, in September 1996. Kraków.
OlbrychtM.J. 2004. Aleksander Wielki i świat irański [Alexander the Great and the Iranian World]. Rzeszów.
OlbrychtM.J. 2010. Iran Starożytny. Pp. 27285 in Krasnowolska A. (red.), Historia Iranu, [‘Ancient Iran’ in Krasnowolska A. (ed.), The History of Iran]. Wrocław.
PaniM. 1972. Roma e i re d'Oriente da Augusto a Tiberio (Cappadocia Armenia, Media Atropatene). Bari.
PlatnauerM. 1965. The life and Reign of the Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus. Rome.
PottierE. 1909. Douris. London.
RajakT. 1998. The Parthians in Josephus. Pp. 309–24 in Wiesehöfer J. (ed.), Das Partherreich und seine Zeugnisse, Beiträge des internationalen Colloquiums (Eutin 27.–30. Juni 1996). Stuttgart.
RaschkeM.G. 1978. New Studies in Roman Commerce with the East. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 2/9: 6041361.
ReadeJ. 1987. Was Sennacherib a feminist? Pp. 139–45 in Durand J.-M. (ed.), La Femme dans la Proche-Orient Antique. Paris.
ReadeJ. 1998. Greco-Parthian Nineveh. Iraq 60: 6583.
ReadeJ. 2001. More about Adiabene. Iraq 63: 187–99.
ReadeJ. 2009. Fez, Diadem, Turban, Chaplet: Power-Dressing at the Assyrian Court. Pp. 239–64 in Luukko M., Svärd S., Mattila R. (eds.), Of God(s), Trees, Kings, and Scholars: Neo-Assyrian and Related Studies in Honour of Simo Parpola. Helsinki.
ReadeJ. and Anderson J.R.. 2013. Gunduk, Khanes, Gaugamela, Gali Zardak—Notes on Navkur and Nearby Rock-Cut Sculptures in Kurdistan. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 103: 69123.
RoafM. 1983. Sculptures and Sculptors at Persepolis. Iran 21: 1164.
RossS.K. 2001. Roman Edessa: Politics and Culture on the Eastern Fringes of the Roman Empire, 114–242 ce . London.
Sarkhosh CurtisV. 2001. Parthian Belts and Belt Clasps. Iranica Antiqua 36: 299–32.
Sarkhosh CurtisV. 2007. The Iranian Revival in Parthian Period. Pp. 725 in Curtis V. Sarkhosh (ed.), The Age of Parthians London.
SartreM. 2005. The Middle East under Rome. Cambridge, MA.
SchlumbergerD. 1983. Parthian Art . Pp. 1027–54 in: Yarshater E. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran Volume 3: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanid Periods, Part 2. Cambridge
SchottkyM. 1989. Media Atropatene und Gross-Armenien in hellenistischer Zeit. Bonn.
SchuolM. 2000. Die Charakene: ein mesopotamisches Königreich in hellenistischparthischer Zeit. Oriens et Occidens 1. Stuttgart.
SekundaN. 1992. The Persian Army (560–330 B. C.). London.
SekundaN. 2010: The Macedonian Army . Pp. 446–71 in Roisman J. and Worthington I. (eds.), A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Malden, MA and Oxford.
SellwoodD. 1980: Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia. London.
ShahbaziA.Sh. 1994. Derafš. Encyclopedia Iranica 7: 312–15.
SommerM. 2003. Hatra. Geschichte und Kultur einer Karawanenstadt im römisch-partischen Mesopotamien. Meinz am Rhein.
SommerM. 2005. Roms orientalische Steppengrenze: Palmyra, Edessa, Dura-Europos, Hatra: eine Kulturgeschichte von Pompeius bis Diocletian. Stuttgart.
SullivanR.D. 1990. Near Eastern Royalty and Rome, 100–30 B.C. Toronto.
SvoronosJ.N. 1904. Ta Nomismata tou Kratous ton Ptolemaion. Athens.
TalO. 2012. Greek Coinages of Palestine . Pp. 252–74 in Metcalf W. E. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage. Oxford.
TeixidorJ. 1967. The Kingdom of Adiabene and Hatra. Berytus 17: 111.
TrompJ. 2005. The Life of Adam and Eve in Greek: A Critical Edition. Leiden.
Vanden BergheL. and Shippmann K.. 1985. Les reliefs rupestres d’ elymaïde (Irān) de l'epoque parthe. Iranica Antiqua, Supplément III. Gent.
VincentL.-H. and Steve A.M.. 1954. Jerusalem de l'Ancien Testament: recherches d'archéologie et d'histoire, vol. 1: Archéologie de la ville. Paris.
WinkelmannS. 2004. Katalog der parthischen Waffen und Waffenträger aus Hatra. in Materialen des SFB “Differenz und Integration” Heft IV, Katalog der parthischen Waffen und Waffenträger aus Hatra, Halle/Saale.
WolskiJ. 1976. Iran und Rom. Versuch einer historischen Wertung der gegenseitigen Beziehungen. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 2.9.1: 195214.
WolskiJ. 1993. L'empire des Arsacides. Leuven.
YoungJ.H. 1964. Commagenian Tiaras: Royal and Divine. American Journal of Archaeology 68/1: 2934.
ZadokR. 1977. On West Semites in Babylonia During the Chaldean and Achaemenian Periods: an Onomastic Study. Jerusalem.
ZieglerK.H. 1964. Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und dem Partherreich; ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Völkerrechts. Wiesbaden.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0021-0889
  • EISSN: 2053-4744
  • URL: /core/journals/iraq
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 80
Total number of PDF views: 125 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 381 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th October 2016 - 20th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.