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Gold Daric

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The daric was a type of gold coin issued in the Persian Empire during the reign of Darius the Great from between 522 BC – 486 BC until the middle of Alexander the Great's subsequent invasion and rule of Persia in 330 BC.

The Persian Daric is remarkable for its gold purity, being composed of around 95.83% and, in some cases it even goes to around 99% of gold by weight, with very minute inclusions of a base metal to harden the coin. All in all, the coin weighs around 8.4 grams and shaped into a rudimentary circle, with depictions of the Persian King Darius, or a warrior with a bow and arrow crudely depicted on the coin. Because of this depiction, which lasted all throughout Darius's reign, the daric was referred to by ancient accounts as 'the archer'. [1]

The production of the daric, just like the gold coins of Rome and Byzantium, was restricted only to the minters of the King, and the production of darics without the leave of royal permission was punishable by death. The depiction of anything other than the image of the king or any icons as approved by royal edict was also punishable by death – a practice instated by Darius as an expression of his authority and royal power. Accounts of how satraps would issue royal coinage in distant principalities without the permission of Darius would be put to death due to their 'act of treason' is well noted by both ancient and modern historians. [2] It is due to the exclusive nature of Darius's coinage that some etymologists have suggested that the name daric might have originated from the ruler's name. This stance is now considered erroneous by modern historians, since the word daric can also be traced to Ancient High Persian. Etymologically, daric, and its Middle Persian equivalent zarig is not a moniker taken from Darius's name, but a word which translates to nothing more but 'gold', the sole metal which was used in the creation of darics. [3]

The popularity of the daric in the ancient world is well known, as even biblical accounts of the Old Testament mentioning its use. There are earlier mentions of the daric in the Bible (see I Chron. Chap. 29, ver. 07) even before the introduction of the coinage to the Israelites via their Babylonian conquerors. This error, some scholars suggest, may be due to the fact that the daric was once a until of weight much like the talent was, and had only later on been converted into a type of currency. This seems somewhat unlikely however, as no form of gold currency was used by the Israelites prior to the Babylonian Conquest, and so any referral to the daric as a measure of weight in biblical sources can be understood as an anachronism owing to the writer's conversion of older, more obscure units, into contemporary ones. [4]

By the time of Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia, the daric issue by Darius the Great was discontinued and many darics were collected and melted down, only to be reissued as currency under Alexander. By around 350 BC – 330 BC, Alexander issued his own type of daric, referred to as the double daric, although the number of coins minted as well as their exact appearance is relatively unknown except in secondhand sources and accounts of the time. Today, gold darics are highly prized and sought-after due to their rarity. Owing to the fact that Alexander nearly wiped out all darics in Persia in his bid to replace it with currency of his own, any examples of gold darics that can be found today are worth a great amount of money making them perfect for investments not only for their extremely high gold purity, but also their extreme scarcity.

Gold Daric - References:


Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for © 2012

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