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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Hellenistic Monarchies| ▸ |Nabataean Kingdom||View Options:  |  |  |   

Nabataean Kingdom

The early Nabataeans forsook all building and agriculture because those who possess these things, in order to retain them, are easily compelled by the powerful to do their bidding. Rather than fight invaders, they would go into the desert, where only they could survive, and wait for the invaders to leave. Aretas II was a contemporary of Alexander Jannaeus. Aretas III was the first to issue coins, which he began after he defeated the Seleucid army in 84 B.C. and the council of Damascus asked him to govern their city. A Roman army under Marcus Aemilius Scaurus defeated Aretas III and besieged Petra, but paying a tribute, Aretas received formal recognition by the Roman Republic. The kingdom was slowly surrounded by the expanding Roman Empire, who conquered Egypt and annexed Judea, but wealthy from incense trade, Nabataea paid tribute and retained independence. The Nabataeans fought against Herod and also provided forces to the Romans during the Second Jewish Revolt. After the last Nabataean king, Rabbel II, died in 106 A.D., Trajan incorporated Nabataea into the Roman province Arabia Petraea. One of the latest known Nabataean language inscriptions, from 191 A.D., records "...This in the year 85 of the Eparchy [Roman Rule], in which Arabs destroyed the land." It seems likely that raiding Arab tribes extinguished what remained of a weakened Nabataean culture. In 747 A.D. what was left of the Nabataean cities was destroyed in a major earthquake.


Nabataean Kingdom, Obodas II, 30 - 9 B.C.

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Obodas' reign was an era of cultural flowering for the Nabatean kingdom. Most of its temples were built during his reign, including the temple at Avdat. During his rule the Romans attempted to discover the sources of the perfume and spice trade.
SH43432. Silver drachm, cf. Huth 55; Hoover and Barkay 23; Meshorer Nabataea Sup. 3 (Obodas III); BMC Arabia p. 4, 2 - 3 (same); Cohen Dated 965 (same), gVF, flat strike areas, weight 4.462 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 19 - 10 B.C.; obverse Jugate diademed busts of Obodas and Hagaru right; Nabataean letter heth behind; reverse Nabatean legend: "Obodas, king of Nabataea", laureate head of Obodas right, Nabataean letter heth and date behind (off flan); SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

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Aretas IV was the greatest Nabataean king, ruling S. Palestine, most of Trans-Jordan, N. Arabia, and Damascus. Paul mentions Aretas in connection with his visit to Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32).
SH11741. Silver drachm, apparently unpublished; cf. Meshorer 96 (year 27) and 97 ("o" right on rev), Schmitt-Korte -, SNG ANS -, BMC Arabia -, gVF, weight 4.555 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 19 - 20 A.D.; obverse Aramaic legend, "Aretas, king of the Nabataeans, the lover of his people", laureate and draped bust of Aretas right; reverse Aramaic legend, "Shaqilath, queen of the Nabataeans, year 28", veiled and draped bust of Shaqilat right; slightly flat reverse strike but better than usual for the Petra mint; extremely rare; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Rabbel II and Shuqailat, 70 - 76 A.D.

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Shuqailat, Rabbel's mother, likely ruled until her death in his sixth regnal year. Rabbel was still a child and during this period he was called "Rabbel, king of the Nabataeans." Later he was titled "Rabbel the king, king of the Nabataeans." This may seem a slight change, but it was significant to the Nabataeans. He was later given the appellation, "who resuscitated and saved his people."
SH66369. Silver drachm, Meshorer Nabataean 145; Cohen DCA 984, SNG ANS -, VF, weight 4.049 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 73 - 74 A.D.; obverse Aramaic legend, "Rabbel, king of the Nabataeans, year four", laureate and draped bust of Rabbel II with long hair; reverse Aramaic legend, "Shuqailat, his mother, queen of the Nabataeans", laureate, draped and veiled bust of Shuqailat right; scarce; SOLD


Roman Republic, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus & Publius Plautius Hypsaeus, 58 B.C.

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M. Aemilius Scaurus, in 62 B.C., as quaestor to Pompey, was sent against King Aretas but withdrew when Aretas paid 300 talents. Aemilius was curule aedile when this coin was struck. This was the first time a moneyer publicized an event from his own career on coinage. Later he was praetor and propraetor, lost a campaign for Consul, and successfully defended Cicero. In 52 B.C., he was charged with bribery and went into exile.
RR13687. Silver denarius, Crawford 422/1b, Sydenham 913, RSC I Aemilia 8, RBW Collection 1519, SRCV I 379, gVF, weight 4.089 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 58 B.C.; obverse Aretas, King of Nabataea, kneeling beside camel raising olive branch with fillet, M SCAVR / AED CVR above, EX - S C at sides, REX ARETAS in exergue; reverse Jupiter in quadriga left, reins in right, hurling thunderbolt with left, scorpion below, [P] HYPSAEVS / AED CVR above, CAPT on right, C HYPSAE COS / PREIVE[R?] in exergue; very attractive toning with iridescent golden and coppery reds; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

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Aramaic is read from right to left and vowels are unwritten. The letters of the reverse legend read, HRTT / SQY/LT. Aretas married Shuqailat, his second wife, in 16 A.D.
SH52149. Bronze AE 18, Meshorer Nabataean 114, SNG ANS 1438 ff., EF, weight 4.483 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 16 - 40 A.D.; obverse jugate, laureate and draped busts of Aretas IV and Shuqailat right, het (Aretas) left, shin (Shuqailat) right; reverse two cornucopias crossed and filleted, Aramaic legend, "Aretas, Shuqailat" in two lines above and one below; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Syllaeus and Aretas IV, 9 B.C.

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Aretas IV was probably the son of Obodas III, but this is not certain. Syllaeus was chief minister for Obodas III and initially shared rule with Aretas after Obodas death. But the rulers of Nabataea served under the authority of Rome and Rome, begrudging Syllaeus as an enemy, did not approve. In 24 B.C. Syllaeus had betrayed Rome causing the near complete massacre of a Roman army sent into Arabia Felix. Syllaeus was called to the court at Rome, where in 6 B.C. he was convicted of treason and Obodas' murder. He was beheaded and his body was pitched from the Tarpeian Rock.
GB08577. Bronze AE 16, K. Schmitt-Korte II, p. 113, 26; Meshorer Nabataean 43 var. (no left het on rev); SNG ANS 1426 var. (same); BMC -, VF, weight 3.18 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 9 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Obodas II, Aramaic shin (Syllaeus) left; reverse crossed cornucopias, Aramaic shin (Syllaeus) between the horns, Aramaic heth (Aretas) left and right; very rare; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

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The dated bronzes of Aretas are very rare. This is an unpublished variant with het both left and right on the reverse. In addition, Aretas coinage is usually well cuirculated and worn. Due to its condition, this coin is would be highly desirable even if it was a common type.

Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Many biblical scholars believe Jesus was most likely born in 6 B.C.
GB33114. Bronze AE 15, unpublished, Schmitt-Korte -, Meshorer Nabataean -, BMC Arabia -, SNG ANS -, gVF, weight 2.029 g, maximum diameter 14.9 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 6 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas with long hair right; reverse two crossed cornucopias, Aramaic H (heth) left, X (year 4) between the horns, and H (heth) right; high-grade, unpublished and possibly unique, dated Aretas bronze from Christ's birth year!; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

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Aretas' daughter was married to Herod Antipas, Herod the Great's son, and the Tetrarch of Galilee. This coin resembles a coin minted by King Herod and the reverse probably depicts the golden bird Herod placed above the entrance to the Jerusalem Temple. But the political alliance and family ties celebrated by this coin were broken when Antipas left Aretas' daughter to marry Herodias. In response to this breach and personal insult, Aretas attacked and defeated Antipas' army in Galilee and brought his daughter home to Petra. It was Herodias' daughter, Salome, who requested John the Baptist's head on a platter.
GB06569. Bronze AE 11, Meshorer Nabataean 91 var., SNG ANS 1434 var, VF, weight 1.12 g, maximum diameter 11.4 mm, die axis 180o, Petra mint, 5 - 6 A.D.; obverse Aramaic monogram O / H (ayin / het) within wreath; reverse eagle standing left, wings closed, Aramaic heth behind; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Syllaeus and Aretas IV, 9 B.C.

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Aretas IV was probably the son of Obodas III, but this is not certain. Syllaeus was chief minister for Obodas III and initially shared rule with Aretas after Obodas death. But the rulers of Nabataea served under the authority of Rome and Rome, begrudging Syllaeus as an enemy, did not approve. In 24 B.C. Syllaeus had betrayed Rome causing the near complete massacre of a Roman army sent into Arabia Felix. Syllaeus was called to the court at Rome, where in 6 B.C. he was convicted of treason and Obodas' murder. He was beheaded and his body was pitched from the Tarpeian Rock.
GB28704. Bronze AE 14, unpublished variety, Meshorer Nabataean 42 var. (no het right on reverse); Schmitt-Korte -; SNG ANS -; BMC Arabia -, VF, weight 2.383 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 9 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Obodas II right, Aramaic shin (Syllaeus) left, Aramaic het (Aretas) right; reverse crossed cornucopias, Aramaic shin (Syllaeus) left, Aramaic heth (Aretas) right; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Syllaeus and Aretas IV, 9 B.C.

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Syllaeus was chief minister for Obodas III and he briefly shared rule of Nabataea with Aretas IV after Obodas death. But Syllaeus had a powerful enemy. In 24 B.C. Syllaeus had betrayed Rome causing almost the complete destruction of an army sent into Arabia Felix. Syllaeus was twice called to the court at Rome, where in 6 B.C. he was convicted of treason and Obodas' murder. He was beheaded and his body was pitched from the Tarpeian Rock.
GB57578. Bronze AE 14, Meshorer Nabataean 42, SNG ANS 1426 var. (shin between horns), Huth CCK -, BMC Arabia -, VF, weight 2.678 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 9 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas right; reverse crossed cornucopias, Aramaic shin (Syllaeus) left, Aramaic heth (Aretas) right; rare; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Barkay, R. "New Nabataean Coins" in INJ 16 (2007-8).
Barkay, R. "Seven new silver coins of Malichus I and Obodas III" in NC 2006, pp. 99 - 103.
Barkay, R. "The earliest Nabataean coinage" in NC 2011.
Bowersock, G. Roman Arabia. (Cambridge, 1983).
Bowsher, J. "Early Nabataean Coinage" in ARAM 2:1-2 (1990), pp. 221-228.
Cohen, E. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Dussad, R. "Numismatique des rois de Nabatene" in Journal Asiatique 12 (1904), pp 189 - 238.
Hill, G. A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum - Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia. (London, 1922).
Hoover, O. "A Reassessment of Nabataean Lead Coinage in Light of New Discoveries" in NC 2006.
Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of the Southern Levant: Phoenicia, Southern Koile Syria (Including Judaea), and Arabia, Fifth to First Centuries BC. HGC 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2010).
Huth, M. Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms, Ancient Arabian Coins from the Collection of Martin Huth. ACNAC 10. (New York, 2010).
Huth, M. & P. van Alfen. Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms. Studies in the Monetization of Ancient Arabia. ANSNS 25. (New York, 2010).
Meshorer, Y. Nabatean Coins, Qedem 3. (Jerusalem, 1975).
Plant, R. The Coinage of the Nabataeans, Seaby Coin and Medal Bulletin, March 1979, pp. 81-84.
Robinson, E. "Coins from Petra etc." in NC 1936, pp. 288-291, pl. XVII.
Schmitt-Korte, K. & M. Cowell. "Nabatean Coinage - Part I. The Silver Content Measured by X-ray Fluorescence Analysis" in NC 1989, pp. 33-58, pl. 11-17.
Schmitt-Korte, K. "Nabatean Coinage - Part II. New Coin Types and Variants" in NC 1990, pp. 105-133, pl. 10-15.
Schmitt-Korte, K. & M. Price. "Nabatean Coinage - Part III. The Nabatean Monetary System" in NC 1994, pp. 67-131, pl. 10-12.
Spikerman. A. The coins of the Decapolis and Provincial Arabia. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 6: Palestine - South Arabia. (New York, 1981).
Tal, O. "Coin denominations and weight standards in fourth-century BCE Palestine" in INR 2, pp. 24 - 28.

Catalog current as of Thursday, December 5, 2019.
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Nabataean Coins