kapphnwn Posted August 9, 2022 · Supporter Share Posted August 9, 2022 Of late on Numis Forum there has been a series of discussions on the coinage of Alexander III. The crux of most of this debate centers upon which coins bearing his name and types is in fact lifetime. As this is an area of particular interest to me I have felt the need to comment. However as the volume of inquiry would compel me to comment more or less constantly I thought by creating a thread based on his lifetime coinage might solve some of these issues. This will be the first of a series of posts I will make i on this thread. In order to start I will comment on what would be called the Traditional School of Thought. The exemplar of this school would be Martin Price. The central thesis of this school is that the coinage in the name and types of Alexander III started at the commencement of his reign in the summer of 336 BC at Amphipolis. So what does this entail? Alexander's interests once he has settled his affairs in Greece is to push east. He goes through Asia Minor establishing a mint at Sardies in 334 Lampsakos and Abydos in 328 BC. He then reaches Tarsos establishing a mint in Tarsos in 333 BC Then he establishes mints in the Levantine region Tyre 332 BC Sidon 333BC . Afterwards he heads to Egypt establishing a mint in 332 BC then Babylon in331 BC. In a nutshell back in 1991 when his book was published that was more or less the scholarly viewpoint current at the time. However over time a number of challenges have upset this chronology. The first was the most damaging. In 1997 Hyla Troxell established that it was the mint of Tarsos circa 333 BC that initiated the coinage in the name of Alexander III. This brought into sharper focus concerns raised by Georges Le Rider in his study of the coins of Philip II. In this study he asserted that the coinage in the name and type Philip II was continued during the reign of Alexander possibly as late as 328 BC. Troxell further notes that the coinage in the name and types of Alexander did not commence until 332 BC. This was in response to the growing threat posed by Sparta as they attempted to re establish their hegemony in the Peloponnese. The dating of the Alexander coinage from Egypt took a hit as well. According to Lorber in her new study on the Ptolemaic coinage the coinage in the name and types of Alexander did not commence until 323 BC when Ptolemy became satrap Of Egypt. Further east the study by Lloyd Taylor has the minting of Alexanders commencing in 326 BC. So what is the upshot here. Up to 333 BC Alexander and his Strategos Antipater had only minted coins in the name and type of his father Philip II and this was in most part restricted to the mints operating in Macedon. As the coinage of Philip was well respected and popular there would be little incentive to change. Thus we have two here. Alexander III Av Stater Attic standard Pella? In 336-328 BC In the name and types of Philip II Obv Head of Apollo laureate Rv charioteer driving biga pulled by two prancing horses right Below thunderbolt Le Rider 80 HGC 8468.61 grms 19 mm Photo by W. Hansen Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Thraco-Macedonian Standard Pella In the name and types of Philip II Obv head of Zeus right laurate Rv Jockey riding horse right 14.33 grms 24 mm Photo by W. Hansen Except for the general chronology of Tarsos and the Levantine mints everything has changed. The Macedonian mints are minting Philips exclusively until 332 BC and neither Egypt nor Babylon are active until 323 BC and 326 BC respectively. That means that except for Amphipolis the minting of Alexanders is limited to the mints in Tarsos and the Levant. It would be very unlikely that any of the mints in Asia Minor became active at this time as Alexander was looking south and the east. So if Alexander did not mint coins until he reached Tarsos what would have caused the change in policy. Essentially there were two things. 1.The first was as the result of the Battle of Issus Alexander was able to seize an enormous amount of wealth. Probably for the first time during this campaign Alexander could be said to have a surplus of money, 2. The second is a problem of manpower. Alexander had invaded with slightly less than 40.000 men. Though his combat losses were relatively minor in the ancient world losses to illness and non battle injuries could outnumber his battlefield casualties by more than a factor of three. Another problem he would be facing was the need to leave garrisons along his line of communications. Even if these garrisons were small and made up of some men incapable of going any further their effect would be culminative. Up to the point that he had reached Tarsos, this issue may not have been that acute. However that was about to change The essential problem was the challenge posed by Sparta. This would create a number of serious problems for Alexander. The most important was that any available manpower reserves still in Macedon would be needed to defend Greece. Thus Alexander would be deprived of this manpower. This meant that for the first time both Alexander and Antipater would need to hire mercenaries and that would require money, Thus it is not a surprise that Alexander would start minting his coins in the Levant, and given that he is trying to attract Greek mercenaries it is likely that was one of the principle reasons for the adoption of the Attic standard for his silver. More to follow I thought this could be done in one thread but it just got too big 26 3 1 1 1 1 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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