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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ SyriaView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Syria

Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH76216. Silver tetradrachm, Unpublished; Houghton-Lorber I 165(1) var. (controls), cf. Houghton-Lorber I 169(a) (hemidrachm), VF, very high relief, well centered, bumps and marks, head of Zeus flatly struck, weight 17.143 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 90o, Susa (Shush, Iran) mint, c. 295 - 291 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion scalp headdress; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣEΛEYKOY, Zeus enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg forward, feet on footstool, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, radiate bust of Helios facing (control symbol) on left, AP (primary control) under throne above strut, ΠA (secondary control) monogram under strut; extremely rare, possibly unique - the only example known to Forum; $900.00 (€801.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Alexander I Balas, 152 - 145 B.C.

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Alexander Balas, of humble origin, claimed to be Antiochus IV's son and heir to the Seleukid throne. Rome and Egypt accepted his claims. He married Cleopatra Thea, daughter of King Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt. With his father-in-law's help, he defeated Demetrius Soter and became the Seleukid king. After he abandoned himself to debauchery, his father-in-law shifted his support to Demetrius II, the son of Demetrius Soter. Balas was defeated and fled to Nabataea where he was murdered.
GS84619. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 1781.3a, Cohen DCA 118, HGC 9 875a, EF, excellent Hellenistic style, lightly toned, slightly off center, some die wear, light marks, light deposits on obverse, weight 16.950 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 45o, Antioch on the Orontes (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 152 - 146 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, fillet border; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY ΘEOΠATOPOΣ EYEPΓETOY, Zeus Nikephoros enthroned left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs and over left shoulder, Nike offering him wreath in his right hand, scepter in his left hand, cornucopia (control symbol) outer left, ΓΞP (Seleukid Era year 163) and monogram (control symbol) in exergue; ex CNG e-auction 386 (9 Nov 2016), lot 328; $540.00 (€480.60)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SL84532. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 94(6)b, Price 3359, Müller Alexander 1511, HGC 9 10g, NGC Choice F, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5 (4164845-004), weight 16.87 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 255o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 311 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left on throne, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, anchor and A (control symbols) left, M (control symbol) under throne; NGC certified (slabbed), from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $350.00 (€311.50)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria

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On 11 February 244, Emperor Gordian III was murdered by mutinous soldiers in Zaitha (Mesopotamia). Philip the Arab (Marcus Julius Philippus) declared himself emperor and made a disgraceful peace with the Sasanian Empire, withdrawing from their territory and giving Shapur 500,000 gold pieces. The Sasanians occupied Armenia. Philip was recognized by the Roman Senate as Emperor and he nominated his son Philippus, age 6, as Caesar and heir to the throne. He gave his brother Priscus supreme power (rector Orientis) in the Eastern provinces; and began construction of the city of Shahba, Syria in the province of his birth.
RY85323. Billon tetradrachm, Prieur 321 (1 spec.); McAlee 889 (v. rare); BMC Galatia p. 212, 505, EF, sharp attractive portrait, attractive iridescent toning, parts of legends weak, areas of some porosity, weight 13.256 g, maximum diameter 27.3 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 1st issue, 244 A.D.; obverse AVTOK K M IOV Λ ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust left, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (tribune of the people), eagle standing slightly left on palm frond, wings open, head left, wreath in beak, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; very rare; $350.00 (€311.50)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria

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In 248, overwhelmed by the number of invasions and usurpers, Philip offered to resign. The Senate decided to support the Emperor, with Gaius Messius Quintus Decius most vocal of all the senators. Philip was so impressed that he dispatched Decius with a special command of the Pannonian and Moesian provinces. His loyal supporter, Decius, was, however, proclaimed Emperor by the Danubian armies in the spring of 249 and defeated and killed Philip in September.
SH60141. Silver tetradrachm, McAlee 907a, Prieur 357, SNG Righetti 2027, SNG Cop -, EF, weight 10.949 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 247 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M IOYΛI ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, radiate and cuirassed bust left, Gorgon's head on cuirass; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC YΠATO Γ (tribune of the people, consul for the 3rd time), eagle standing right, head right, wings open, wreath in beak, ANTIOXIA over S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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MON VRB stands for MONETA VRBIS. According to H. R. Baldus this initial issue of coins was minted in Rome. Indeed the portrait style is unmistakably that of the mint of Rome, and even if the coins were actually minted in Antioch, the dies were surely engraved by the Rome mint.
SH60149. Billon tetradrachm, McAlee 899, Prieur 304, BMC Galatia 507, EF, weight 13.825 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome or Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 244 or 246 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M IOYΛ ΦIΛIΠΠOY CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (tribune of the people), eagle standing facing on ground line, wings open, head and tail left, wreath in beak, S - C (senatus consulto) below wings, MON VRB in exergue; double strike evident in obverse legend, minor flan crack, small encrustations, very sharp, handsome portrait and eagle; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Philip I Philadelphos, 93 - 83 B.C.

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Philip I Philadelphus was the fourth son of Antiochus VIII Grypus. He took the diadem in 95 BC together with his older brother (probably twin) Antiochus XI Epiphanes, after the eldest son Seleucus VI Epiphanes was killed by their cousin Antiochus X Eusebes. He established himself in Antiochia after 92 B.C. and survived attacks from younger brother Demetrius III Eucaerus. His rule ended in 83 B.C. when Tigranes conquered Syria, or earlier. He disappears from history at that point, but coins bearing his portrait were issued later by local and Roman authorities.
GS85162. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2463(1), Newell SMA 436, VF, well centered, rose toning, bumps and marks, die damage at neck on obverse, low weight indicates likely posthumous issue, weight 14.766 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, probably posthumous, c. 69 - 57 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, fillet border; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ΦIΛIΠΠOY EΠIΦANOYΣ / ΦIΛA∆EΛΦOY, Zeus enthroned left, Nike in right hand, long scepter in left hand, Nike offering Zeus a wreath, N/A outer left, laurel border; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


Northern Syria, 3rd Century A.D.

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This type has long been attributed to Pharaoh Nektanebo II. Butcher, however, notes it is quite common in the vicinity of Antioch and in Northern Syria and the obverse style is similar to third century Antiochene zodiacal type coins. He suggests they may have been struck under Hadrian.
RY77448. Bronze AE 16, Butcher p. 405, 11; Weiser p. 16, 1 (Nektanebo II, Memphis, Egypt), aVF, scratches and marks, weight 3.396 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain (Antioch?) mint, 3rd century A.D.; obverse ram (Ares) leaping left, head turned back right; reverse balance scale (Libra); $240.00 (€213.60)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Uncertain Mint, Anatolia or Syria

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The mint, the quaestor who struck this type, and even the identity of the person in the portrait remain uncertain. The type has previously been attributed to Macedonia and the portrait identified as Brutus (Friedlander) or Caesar (Grant). David Sear notes the type has never been found in Macedonia. Finds point to Syria or Anatolia. It is possible that the type was issued, with his own portrait, by Sosius, a general under Marc Antony who was quaestor in 39 B.C. Much more likely, however, the portrait is of Augustus.
RP83708. Bronze AE 21, RPC I 5409; Sear CRI 957 (Syria); AMNG II 29 (Pella), gF, centered on tight flan, dark green patina, scratches, corrosion, weight 7.018 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 90o, uncertain Anatolian or Syrian mint, obverse bare head right; reverse hasta (spear), sella quaestoria (quaestor's seat of office), and fiscus (imperial treasury), Q (quaestor) below; previously a rare type but recent finds have made it somewhat easier to acquire; $240.00 (€213.60)
 


Antioch, Roman Provincial Syria, Municipal Coinage, Fall 48 - Spring 47 B.C.

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The countermark is similar to a group of countermarks from Antioch, Chalkis, Laodicaea, Seleukia, and Damascus, all cities controlled by Cleopatra (except for Antioch, which nevertheless appears to have issued coins for Antony and Cleopatra). Richard McAlee notes, "it now seems likely that the countermark portrays Cleopatra, and was used to mark coins circulating in the Syro-Phoenician territories which were given to her by Mark Antony." Older references identified the head as Apollo.
RY84165. Bronze AE 23, McAlee 43; RPC I 4216; BMC Galatia p. 155, 35; SNG Cop -; countermark: McAlee p. 74, note 25, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, tight flan, weight 11.436 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 48 - 47 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, countermark: head right (Cleopatra?) in an oval punch; reverse ANTIOXEΩN THΣ MHTPOΠOΛΩΣ, Zeus seated left holding Nike and scepter, date IΘ below; $225.00 (€200.25)
 




  



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REFERENCES

American Numismatic Society Collections Database - http://numismatics.org/search/search.
Bellinger, A. The Excavations at Dura-Europos, Final Report, Vol. 6: The Coins. (New Haven, 1949).
Bellinger, A. The Syrian Tetradrachms of Caracalla and Macrinus. ANSNS 3. (New York, 1940).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, et al. Roman Provincial Coinage. (1992 - ).
Butcher, K. Coinage in Roman Syria: Northern Syria, 64 BC-AD 253. (London, 2004).
Cohen, E. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
de Callataÿ, F. "Le production des tétradrachmes civiques de la Cilicie jusqu? à la Palestine" in Les Monnayages Syriens.
Gardner, P. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, The Seleucid Kings of Syria. (Forni reprint, 1963).
Houghton, A., C. Lorber, & O. Hoover. Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalog. (Lancaster, 2002-2008).
Houghton, A. Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton. ACNAC 4. (New York, 1983).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Syrian Coins, Royal and Civic Issues, Fourth to First Centuries BC. HGC 9. (Lancaster, PA, 2009).
Lindgren, H. & F. Kovacs. Ancient Bronze Coins of Asia Minor and the Levant. (1985).
Lindgren, H. Lindgren III: Ancient Greek Bronze Coins from the Lindgren Collection. (1993).
McAlee, R. The Coins of Roman Antioch. (Lancaster, 2007).
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Newell, E. Late Seleucid Mints in Ake-Ptolemais and Damascus. ANSNNM 84 (New York, 1939).
Newell, E. The Coinage of the Western Seleucid Mints, From Seleucus I to Antiochus III. (New York, 1941).
Newell, E. The Seleucid Mint of Antioch. (Chicago, 1978).
Price, M. The Coinage of in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. (London, 1991).
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Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
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Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Israel I, The Arnold Spaer Collection of Seleucid Coins. (London, 1998).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Switzerland I, Levante-Cilicia. (1986 & suppl.).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Schweiz II, Katalog der Sammlung Jean-Pierre Righetti im Bernischen Historischen Museum. (Bern, 1993).
Van Heesch, J. "The last civic coinages and the religious policy of Maximinus Daza (AD 312)" in NC 1993.
Waage, D. Antioch-on-the-Orontes, Vol. 4, Part 2: Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Crusaders' Coins. (Princeton, 1952).
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Wruck, W. Die Syrische Provinzialprägung von Augustus bis Traian. (Stuttgart, 1931).

Catalog current as of Friday, July 21, 2017.
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Syria