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Lifetime coinage of Alexander the Great


kapphnwn
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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

64355243_philipII-15-Copy.jpg.c005219f0f62c7a769a44b12c1780901.jpg

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

philipII-2.jpeg.3f54e772d9276930b7c6e7e05a8b699e.jpeg

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

 

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Great thread, looking forward to your next instalment! Also it's nice to have a place to discuss this topic in more detail. As you say, it often comes up but the discussion then gets spread across multiple threads and often repeated.

I believe I've shared this on NumisForums before but for anyone who has missed it, a few months ago I wrote a lengthy article summarising a few points about the origin of Alexander's tetradrachm. It touches a lot on what kapphnwn as mentioned already but also dives into some of the iconographic arguments that suggests a 333/2 start for the first Alexander-type tetradrachms. There's still more for me to write on the topic but it was already getting long and I haven't even touched on drachms or the gold staters yet.

@kapphnwnone thing I'd like to hear your thoughts on - the Philip II tetradrachms thought to be minted during Alexander's reign mostly featured the same set of control symbols that are found on the earliest Alexander-type tetradrachms in "Amphipolis". On the face of it, it doesn't seem problematic as you might assume there is a progression in the symbols and when Alexander started minting his tetradrachms, he just used whichever symbols were currently being used at the time for the Philips. But I find the die-linkage within these types difficult to align with that thinking, if we are to assume the Philips were being minted from the period 336-332 BC (and likely for a few more years). Were they perhaps using the same symbols in rotation throughout this period, or were they using the same symbols simultaneously and the symbols may have just represented different anvils at the mint or similar. But then there's greater die-linkage between some symbols than others, not what you would expect if they were used simultaneously. The die-linkages also don't seem to indicate a strict order in which you see symbol X being used and then transitioned to symbol Y and then to symbol Z etc.

article_origin_die_linkage.png

I'm still not sure what is the most likely scenario. I do think the minting of the Philips was likely concurrent with the first Alexanders, at least for a short time, but I also think these Philips must've originally started production soon after Alexander took over in 336 BC, so there is a 3-4 year gap of Philips being minted before the Alexanders. But if that's the case, which ones are they? It doesn't appear we can tell that based on the control symbols alone.

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I really look forward to seeing how this thread develops.  Meanwhile, if anyone sees this coin:

image.png.c53484b2bd73f9e17c9df662df70b0d7.png

Please let me know!  It's one of the early coins @kapphnwn refers to, from the Tarsos mint under Balakros.  I won it in a Leu auction only to have it stolen in the infamous Christmas 2018 heist at their offices! 😭

And here's my Tarsos mint stater showing the Baal design that became Alex's Zeus on the tets.  Issued under Mazaios as satrap of Cilicia:

image.jpeg.506d1afe62c118f74713fa5dd1cab47f.jpeg

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10 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I really look forward to seeing how this thread develops.  Meanwhile, if anyone sees this coin:

image.png.c53484b2bd73f9e17c9df662df70b0d7.png

Please let me know!  It's one of the early coins @kapphnwn refers to, from the Tarsos mint under Balakros.  I won it in a Leu auction only to have it stolen in the infamous Christmas 2018 heist at their offices! 😭

And here's my Tarsos mint stater showing the Baal design that became Alex's Zeus on the tets.  Issued under Mazaios as satrap of Cilicia:

image.jpeg.506d1afe62c118f74713fa5dd1cab47f.jpeg

Heist in Leu Numismatic offices ?

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A similar study of control marks  was used to identify the "progression" of the Phileteroi of the Attalids. Although I have never seen it and the explanation.  There is too much hidden away in too scholarly and unavailable papers.  This would make a great topic for a knowledgeable BUT popular numismatist!

 

Yes, it seems that the Herekles head was used before the Macedonians and Alexanders!  The Mithradates featured "Herekles" are obvious  so that the idea of the image of the god could be used as a template for a living or once living person.

 

NSK=John

Mithradates Vl Eupator Tetradrachm c 119- 63 BC

Obverse-Mithradates as Herakles wearing lionskin.
Probably minted 88-72 B.C
16.22gm 30.18mm
Amongst the last tetradrachms to be "of King Alexander " type made.
Reverse- Zeus seated holding eagle.
Inscription under arm : ΛΑΚΩ
Exergue OΔΗ = Odessos Pontus
ΒΑΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ
Price 1192 de Callatay D5 R7a

 

Mithradates Vl Eupator 89/88 BC Tetradrachm 

Obs: Diademed head of Mithradates Eupator right
Pontus Mint 16.31 gm 30mm
Rev: Drinking Pegasos left
Mint mark RF , above,date ΘΣ
6 rayed star in crescent LF
de Callatay Obs: D55 Rev: not in plates
ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΙΘΡΑΔΑΤΟΥ ΕΥΠΑΤΟΡΟΣ
All surrounded by a Dionysic wreath of ivy & fruit

Odessos Mithradates.jpg

Mithradates tet.jpg

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Nice article. Some of mine:

Tetradrachm of Alexander the Great, circa 325-322 BC (lifetime), weight 17.23 g., Catalogue: Price 3641, Babylon mint
Obv: Head of beardless Heracles right wearing lionskin headdress
Rev: Zeus Aetophoros seated on stool-throne left, wearing a himation over his lower limbs, eagle on outstretched right hand, sceptre in left hand, ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ (of Alexander) to the right

Obraz

 

The other is not exactly Alexander, but his satrap.

Tetradrachm (double shekel) of Mazaeus as satrap under Alexander the Great, circa 331-328 BC, weight 17.04 g., Catalogue: Sear 5652, SNG Cop 260, SNG Berry 1456, BMC Arabia etc. p. 180, 1 var., Babylon mint
Obv: Baal/Marduk, seated on stool-throne left, wearing a himation over his lower limbs, lotus-tipped sceptre in outstretched right hand, BLTRZ (Baaltarz) in Aramaic right 
Rev: lion walking left, MZDI (Mazaeus) in Aramaic above

Obraz

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Why the adoption of Attic weight of c 17.24 as apposed to c 14.3 of the Phillip ll coins?  The 3g difference is considerable!  Who were the Phillips for?  Where and in what type of hoards are phillips found? Are Phillips and Alexanders found together?  Phillips carried on into Alexander lV reign, who for. Please miss can I have the heavier one please?  Obviously they are minted for 2 different audiences.  Why Attic, the famous Owls had long been in massive decline since then  and were rarely at full Attic weight!  Cilician satrap coinage? Who was that initially for? Persian siglos and such don't cut the mustard!!

 

Am I being too naive? Asking the wrong ( unanswered questions) stuff?

 

Answers please!

 

NSK=John

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Part II A The Early Levantine Mints

Before we go much further it might be instructive to look at a map that I had prepared for a PowerPoint presentation I did some years agoi. As can clearly be seen this map has gone through a series of modifications. What is clear is that the Persian Empire did not have a centralized monetary system that was used throughout the empire. We do see two principle systems the Chian and the system based on the siglos however neither system was compatible with each other. Complicating the system even further the empire was deeply  penetrated by the Attic standard "Owl" coinage particularly in southern Asia Minor Syria and Egypt where a very extensive imitation coinage was struck.

Picture222.jpg.246e2e863e284dcff31415eb698fbe27.jpg

 As noted in part one Alexander adopted the Attic standard for his silver coins. It is likely as he would be heading south into Syrian and Egypt, the widespread use of Attic standard coinage  in these regions would be a further incentive to adopt the Attic standard. Furthermore the need to attract Greek mercenaries who would prefer to receiving their pay in Attic standard coinage was probably the main incentive. Moreover the Thraco Macedonian standard used in Macedon would be completely unknown in this region and might therefore be unacceptable. Once more minting to full Attic standard would also enhance acceptability Now we need to look at the types. For now I will discuss the silver.  As with as with so many things the coin is a combination of something old, something new and something borrowed.

  The obverse was well known in the lexicon of types struck by the Kings of Macedon The image of the beardless head of Herakles wearing a lions skin headdress can be found on the staters minted by Perdikkas III circa 365-359 BC. The type was subsequently used by Philip II on some of his gold and silver coinage. As for the reverse I need only to direct the reader to @Kaleun96  "The Origins of Alexander's Tetradrachm" which can be accessed  in his post seen above. He does an absolutely wonderful job and is much better study on that subject matter than my modest efforts. In brief the image of Zeus was inspired by the image of Baaltars  seen on the obverse of the double sigloi of Mazaios. One can see this as is so rightly noted by @Kaleun96 in the ornamentation of the legs of the throne.  It would appear that Alexander had entrusted his new coinage to his Satrap Balakros. We know little about this individual in fact one of the more vexing problems associated with the chronology  of the coinage of this region is the time of his death a fact which we do not know. 

  initially he appears to have continued with the double siglos coins which were very similar to those minted by his predecessors. 

Balakros Ar Double Siglos Tarsos  333-323 BC? Obv Baaltars seated left Rv Lion attacking bull above  crenellated walls Above B Sunrise 146 this coin 10.88 grms 23 mm THIS IS NOT MY COIN Triton XVIII Lot 90 January 6 2015

873194341_2312330-Copy.jpg.e40117a41ce88222914b41be7e73f2c2.jpg

At some point after the Battle of Issus (November 5 333) The coinage in the name and types of Alexander the Great was initiated.

Tetradrachm of Alexander III Tarsos Minted 333-327 BC Obv beardless head of Herakles right in lions skin headdress Rv Zeus Aetophoros seated left  Below throne B Price 3001  17.11 grms 24 mm Leu Web Auction 6 Lot 107 December 9 2018 THIS IS NOT MY COIN 

11876504_image.png.c53484b2bd73f9e17c9df662df70b0d7-Copy.png.61965e96f1525c678ad95ee8b2737e61.png

It has become fashionable to describe the B seen on the reverse of this coin representing the first letter in the name Balakros. However I cannot be certain. A number of these coins within the same series has the letter A below the throne.  However this coinage was designed to find favor both with Greeks as well as the locals Obviously the reverse could be seen as either Zeus or Baal, however the obverse which is obviously an image of the Greek Herakles could also be seen by the locals as a manifestation of their god Melqart  a Phoenician god who has already been associate with Herakles.

 Alright Alexander quickly moves south and establishes at least two or possibly one or two others these are as follows. Map of the new mints 

levablu2.gif.c1407baff2f93576612c8a65c0523a27.gif

Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Standard types Mint of Sidon |332 BC 17.14 grms 25 mm  CNG Auction 120 Lot 147 May 11 2022 THIS IS NOT MY COIN

1650400001_CNGAuct128.jpg.b929e615bf169d33c796f8db2e90254c.jpg

 

Sidon Appears to have surrendered rather quickly to Alexander and would have most likely commenced with the striking of Alexanders very quickly. They would have been needed for the subsequent military operations around the city of Tyre.

Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Standard types Mint of Tyre 331-330 17.22 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

alexandert56A.jpg.3ffe3df681ca2ebb15f964964a79cdd2.jpg

It is possible that this mint opened even before the fall of the island city. The Tyrians had abandoned Old Tyre and Alexander could have set up a mint there. 

The one interesting thing about both these mints is that they are dated. This can give us a window into the production of this coinage that we do not have with some of the other mints. Both mints were active throughout the reign of Alexander.

As for the other two mints

Arados. LeRider (2007) suggests that Arados also was active during at this time a fact which is disputed by Price. I cannot in truth find any evidence for this. There is good evidence  that this mint opened circa 328 BC However to date I would have to opt for a later date. 

Myriandros Alexander Tetradrachm, Standard types Minted circa 332BC? by Menon or Menes. Price 3218  16.94 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

alexandertd61.jpg.8793014c7ce6bde0b32d6b39681ba1e7.jpg

Myriandrios of the site of Alexander's military encampment before the Battle of Issus and it would seem logical that his campaign heading south would have begun here. It would therefore be likely that at least a temporary mint may have been set up here. The ME seen below the throne could possibly be the first two letters of Menon who in 332 BC was appointed as Satrap of Syria or Menes who in 331 BC was entrusted with 3000 talents to be transshipped to Antipater so that he could deal with the threat posed by Sparta. 

 This is getting wonky now so I better leave while the getting is good 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

A quick response tp @NewStyleKing Philip II did adopt the Attic standard for his gold, The rational is unclear and I could only speculate at this point. As for the comment "please can I have the heavier one please"? That is the precise point. Some groups preferred to be paid in the the Philip coinage. If one looks at the the Trans Danubian peoples one need only ask "What coins do they copy?" In the main they copy the coins of Philip both the silver and the gold. Thus it is very likely that was the coinage they would be paid in. That the Macedonian Kings would like access to that pool of military manpower would be the reason why the parallel systems were maintained up to and during the reign of Kassander 

Trans Danubian Cultures Imitation of Tetradrachm of Philip II of Macedon  Velemer Type 2nd- ist Century BC Obv Head of Zeus who by this time has lost his beard. Rv  Disjointed horseman riding left Flesche 527 12.51 grms 22 mm Photo by W. Hansenceltic2.jpeg.1d58d63630db00aa88bfceeb5cde8663.jpeg

This project keeps getting bigger I will attempt to deal with the gold coinages in the levant next Hopefully I will be able to deal with the situation in Macedon next

Edited by kapphnwn
additional info
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So many "Great" examples on here.

Here is mine,

image.png.198479ec781c79e8747ad1fa85f6c9bc.png

image.png.8fcae03af8bdb4825bbdd778ceec3ac8.png

 

Alexander III 'the Great'. 336-323 BC. AR Drachm. Lampsakos mint. Lifetime issue, struck circa 328-323 BC. Obv: Head of Herakles right, wearing lion's skin Rev: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, Zeus seated left; Demeter standing facing, holding two torches in left field; monogram below throne. Price 1356; ADM II, Series V, 46-82a. VF. Contrary to Price, some auction houses identify the small figure as Artemis Phosphoros.

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I really like your reasoning so far, @kapphnwn.  A couple of queries: first, regarding Tyre and Sidon you say:

48 minutes ago, kapphnwn said:

The one interesting thing about both these mints is that they are dated. This can give us a window into the production of this coinage that we do not have with some of the other mints. Both mints were active throughout the reign of Alexander.

Do you mean the tets from here have reliable dates deriving from archaeology, possibly supplemented with die studies? or does "dated" here mean something else?

Second, do you have any idea if the production of drachms started this early from any of these mints?

I like that you used my stolen tet as your example of a Tarsos.  I still haven't given up on it, you never know!

Edited by Severus Alexander
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9 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

 

 

Arados. LeRider (2007) suggests that Arados also was active during at this time a fact which is disputed by Price. I cannot in truth find any evidence for this. There is good evidence  that this mint opened circa 328 BC However to date I would have to opt for a later date. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing thead @kapphnwn ! A friend of mine has this very rare lifetime tetradrachm from Arados . I have never seen something like that from arados . It is also signed in the observe by the artist Μ . 👇👇

IMG_20220812_083436.jpg

IMG_20220812_083415.jpg

Edited by Kosmas
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6 hours ago, Kosmas said:

Amazing thead @kapphnwn ! A friend of mine has this very rare lifetime tetradrachm from Arados . I have never seen something like that from arados . It is also signed in the observe by the artist Μ . 👇👇

Nice, Price 3304 is quite a rare type! However, it's unlikely these are artist/engraver signatures but rather some other form of control mark. I think the main evidence for that is because these control marks were later moved to the reverse of the coins and it seems unlikely to have such a large range of engravers from a relatively short period who all signed their dies. CNG says it better than I could so i'll just quote them below:

https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=2461110

Quote

Duyrat thought Price 3308 belonged in her Group III, and on p. 15, she notes that she could not locate an example of this issue. However, as the issue has the royal title, it should be in her Group IV. This is now confirmed by the present coin, which is struck from the same dies as her coin no. 111 (D32/R37) = Price pl. 94, 3309b. Interestingly, the B is not present on the obverse of that coin, so it was a later addition to the control marks on the issue. There are a variety of obverse control marks that were used in Duyrat's Groups III and IV (Δ, B, Λ, and Σ), and in the latter phase of Group IV, some of these marks were moved to the reverse die. Their purpose is uncertain, as their appearance on multiple dies precludes their use as die markers, and the wide variance of style across each series likewise suggests they are not artists' signatures.

Great coin nonetheless though, I'm keeping my eye out for these early Arados types myself!

 

15 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I really like your reasoning so far, @kapphnwn.  A couple of queries: first, regarding Tyre and Sidon you say:

Do you mean the tets from here have reliable dates deriving from archaeology, possibly supplemented with die studies? or does "dated" here mean something else?

Many of the earliest Alexander tetradrachms from both Sidon and Tyre actually have dates on them, so they're often referred to as "dated" types. Both are dated in relation to their respective kings: King 'Ozmilk of Tyre and King Abdalonymos of Sidon. Martin Price initially attributed the Tyre types to Ptolemais-Ake but they're now widely accepted to have come from Tyre.

What is thought to be the very earliest tetradrachms from both Tyre and Sidon are undated however. I happened to have just picked up one of those recently. It's the first example listed under Tyre in the table below. It happens to share an obverse die with the very first Alexander tetradrachm issued at Sidon in 333 BC and is believed to have travelled to Tyre with the engraver. So this evidence has helped set the chronology of Sidon minting Alexanders before Tyre.

1171_alexander_tetradrachm_resized-2560x

tyre_ake_sidon_types.png

source: https://www.academia.edu/44562911/Sidon_to_Tyre_the_Macedonian_administration_and_relative_chronology

Edited by Kaleun96
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Posted (edited)

Part 3 

To begin with In response to @Severus Alexander what I meant by dated is that the coins from both these mints are in most instances marked with annual dates. You can see the dating system in the thread provided above by @Kaleun96. As for minor denominations Both Sidon and Tyre do have them however they are extremely unusual. Price does not picture  examples for Sidon though he does picture three for Tyre. Looking on line I have seen a few offered ( 3 or 4 from Tyre)

  I have decided to discuss the  Alexander staters from the Levant because there is something of a controversy here. Generally speaking the consensus is that the staters like the silver started at Tarsos however Le Rider (2007) suggested that this coinage actually started at Tyre. Though so far there has not been any comment on this theory the idea does have merit and deserves scrutiny.  However before discussing that issue perhaps it would be useful to look at the coins and discuss in general their iconography, 

Av Stater of Alexander III Mint of Tarsos  332/1-327 BC Obv Heas of Athena right in Corinthian style helmet. Rv, Nike standing left holding wreath in right hand and cradling stylis in left Price 3458 8.58 grms 16 mm CNG Auction 111 Lot 107 May 29 2019

4-7O2R5.jpg.943b528d7a4684f37baeee5588635202.jpg

 

Av Stater of Alexander III Mint of Tyre. 326/5 BC Standard types. Price 3259 8.55 grms 18 mm You will note the date IIII in the lower right field.  CNG Triton XX Lot 109 January 9 2017

10600171.jpg.dc4be1b9ae56a8bf3d3e492f59b346fe.jpg

 

Av Stater of Alexander III Mint of Sidon 332/1-326 BC Standard types. Price 3470 8.58 grms 18 mm Baldwins Auction 96 Lot 3035 September 24 2015

2637085.jpg.99121aa7980a7a83c5535253dc1b01e5.jpg

It should be noted that since the publication of Price (1991) there have been some shifting of some of the staters from one mint to another, Sidon lost a group of staters to the mint of Tarsos. 

If the silver coinage was ambiguous in the sense that both Greeks and non Greeks  could see something of their own culture within the images of the coinage the gold was unabashedly Greek. The obverse features the head of Athena in a Corinthian style helmet, the reverse the image of Nike holding a wreath and a stylis. The stylis (little pillar) is the staff upon which the commander of the ship or admiral of the fleet would place his banner. The loss of which would signal the surrender of the ship or the loss of the fleet.   This is located at the stern of the ship near the  aplustre and thus is the symbol of a victory at sea. 

 It is here where the controversy begins. We do not normally associate Greek coins with propaganda but the fact that the design of the coin is so completely different from what has been seen from lexicon of coinage of the Macedonian kings that scholars have attempted to analyze the message that this coinage is attempting to convey. We have essentially two.

1. The Head of Athena is the standard type seen on the reverses of Corinthian staters. Alexander is Hegemon of the League of Korinth Thus the type could be seen as an effort by Alexander to portray himself as the leader of the Greeks in their war with Persia. Thus the reverse could be seen as a celebration of the victories by Greek fleets over the Persians throughout the past and perhaps a pointed reminder of the need for similar support in the upcoming campaign to the south. This theory does have merit. It would give a clear message at a critical point in the campaign. However......

2. The reverse is a celebration of the surrender of Tyre. That city was effectively the last major port that could be used by the Persian fleet and its loss was a serious blow to the effectiveness of that entity.  However the fall of Tyre may have an effect that is far more psychological. Tyre is the Mother City of Carthage, the other great non Greek power to the west. That empire has been a threat to the Greek cities to the west since before the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. Thus Alexander could be claiming that not only is he benefiting Greeks on the mainland and Asia Minor but Magna Graecia as well. 

 Both theories have merit. I will admit that two does have a few too many moving parts for my liking. However the difference is no more than eight months though this particular wind ow is crucial.

 

Edited by kapphnwn
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On 8/11/2022 at 1:08 PM, kapphnwn said:

Part II A The Early Levantine Mints

Before we go much further it might be instructive to look at a map that I had prepared for a PowerPoint presentation I did some years agoi. As can clearly be seen this map has gone through a series of modifications. What is clear is that the Persian Empire did not have a centralized monetary system that was used throughout the empire. We do see two principle systems the Chian and the system based on the siglos however neither system was compatible with each other. Complicating the system even further the empire was deeply  penetrated by the Attic standard "Owl" coinage particularly in southern Asia Minor Syria and Egypt where a very extensive imitation coinage was struck.

Picture222.jpg.246e2e863e284dcff31415eb698fbe27.jpg

 As noted in part one Alexander adopted the Attic standard for his silver coins. It is likely as he would be heading south into Syrian and Egypt, the widespread use of Attic standard coinage  in these regions would be a further incentive to adopt the Attic standard. Furthermore the need to attract Greek mercenaries who would prefer to receiving their pay in Attic standard coinage was probably the main incentive. Moreover the Thraco Macedonian standard used in Macedon would be completely unknown in this region and might therefore be unacceptable. Once more minting to full Attic standard would also enhance acceptability Now we need to look at the types. For now I will discuss the silver.  As with as with so many things the coin is a combination of something old, something new and something borrowed.

  The obverse was well known in the lexicon of types struck by the Kings of Macedon The image of the beardless head of Herakles wearing a lions skin headdress can be found on the staters minted by Perdikkas III circa 365-359 BC. The type was subsequently used by Philip II on some of his gold and silver coinage. As for the reverse I need only to direct the reader to @Kaleun96  "The Origins of Alexander's Tetradrachm" which can be accessed  in his post seen above. He does an absolutely wonderful job and is much better study on that subject matter than my modest efforts. In brief the image of Zeus was inspired by the image of Baaltars  seen on the obverse of the double sigloi of Mazaios. One can see this as is so rightly noted by @Kaleun96 in the ornamentation of the legs of the throne.  It would appear that Alexander had entrusted his new coinage to his Satrap Balakros. We know little about this individual in fact one of the more vexing problems associated with the chronology  of the coinage of this region is the time of his death a fact which we do not know. 

  initially he appears to have continued with the double siglos coins which were very similar to those minted by his predecessors. 

Balakros Ar Double Siglos Tarsos  333-323 BC? Obv Baaltars seated left Rv Lion attacking bull above  crenellated walls Above B Sunrise 146 this coin 10.88 grms 23 mm THIS IS NOT MY COIN Triton XVIII Lot 90 January 6 2015

873194341_2312330-Copy.jpg.e40117a41ce88222914b41be7e73f2c2.jpg

At some point after the Battle of Issus (November 5 333) The coinage in the name and types of Alexander the Great was initiated.

Tetradrachm of Alexander III Tarsos Minted 333-327 BC Obv beardless head of Herakles right in lions skin headdress Rv Zeus Aetophoros seated left  Below throne B Price 3001  17.11 grms 24 mm Leu Web Auction 6 Lot 107 December 9 2018 THIS IS NOT MY COIN 

11876504_image.png.c53484b2bd73f9e17c9df662df70b0d7-Copy.png.61965e96f1525c678ad95ee8b2737e61.png

It has become fashionable to describe the B seen on the reverse of this coin representing the first letter in the name Balakros. However I cannot be certain. A number of these coins within the same series has the letter A below the throne.  However this coinage was designed to find favor both with Greeks as well as the locals Obviously the reverse could be seen as either Zeus or Baal, however the obverse which is obviously an image of the Greek Herakles could also be seen by the locals as a manifestation of their god Melqart  a Phoenician god who has already been associate with Herakles.

 Alright Alexander quickly moves south and establishes at least two or possibly one or two others these are as follows. Map of the new mints 

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Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Standard types Mint of Sidon |332 BC 17.14 grms 25 mm  CNG Auction 120 Lot 147 May 11 2022 THIS IS NOT MY COIN

1650400001_CNGAuct128.jpg.b929e615bf169d33c796f8db2e90254c.jpg

 

Sidon Appears to have surrendered rather quickly to Alexander and would have most likely commenced with the striking of Alexanders very quickly. They would have been needed for the subsequent military operations around the city of Tyre.

Alexander III Ar Tetradrachm Standard types Mint of Tyre 331-330 17.22 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

alexandert56A.jpg.3ffe3df681ca2ebb15f964964a79cdd2.jpg

It is possible that this mint opened even before the fall of the island city. The Tyrians had abandoned Old Tyre and Alexander could have set up a mint there. 

The one interesting thing about both these mints is that they are dated. This can give us a window into the production of this coinage that we do not have with some of the other mints. Both mints were active throughout the reign of Alexander.

As for the other two mints

Arados. LeRider (2007) suggests that Arados also was active during at this time a fact which is disputed by Price. I cannot in truth find any evidence for this. There is good evidence  that this mint opened circa 328 BC However to date I would have to opt for a later date. 

Myriandros Alexander Tetradrachm, Standard types Minted circa 332BC? by Menon or Menes. Price 3218  16.94 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

alexandertd61.jpg.8793014c7ce6bde0b32d6b39681ba1e7.jpg

Myriandrios of the site of Alexander's military encampment before the Battle of Issus and it would seem logical that his campaign heading south would have begun here. It would therefore be likely that at least a temporary mint may have been set up here. The ME seen below the throne could possibly be the first two letters of Menon who in 332 BC was appointed as Satrap of Syria or Menes who in 331 BC was entrusted with 3000 talents to be transshipped to Antipater so that he could deal with the threat posed by Sparta. 

 This is getting wonky now so I better leave while the getting is good 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful coins and maps!

I noticed that you have the shekel at 25.75 grams.  That seems high.  My experience with ancient shekels is that they can vary from around 14 grams to 7 grams or so, depending on period.  What period has the shekel at the weight of 25.75 grams?   Thanks

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I should have used "Double Shekel"  I used as a reference for the weight HGC Vol 10 264 Double shekel of Mazaios. 353-333 BC However I could have used any Double shekel from Sidon from 'Abd' Ashtart I 365-352 BC HGC 242 for the weight standard. This is a map that I first created about 5 years ago. I have modified it many times as I have learned more about the subject. But there are still a number of  omissions.

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Posted (edited)

Here's a recent arrival that I think might be a lifetime tetradrachm, or an early posthumous one.  I really don't specialize in this coinage so any input would be very helpful.

This coin, according the description, was struck under Antipater and it was assigned a low Price catalog number, Price 6.  Further, the mint was attributed to Amphipolis, but with quotes which suggests this may or may not be the case.

Where does this coin fit in the chronology of Alexander III's coinage?   Thanks.

 16.96 grams

435443270_D-CameraAlexanderIIItetradrachmAmphipolisc336-323BCstruckunderAntipaterPrice616.96gRoma1001788-13-22.jpg.05d2b78ffd8e62287ac4d618d71247b6.jpg

Edited by robinjojo
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1 hour ago, robinjojo said:

Here's a recent arrival that I think might be a lifetime tetradrachm, or an early posthumous one.  I really don't specialize in this coinage so any input would be very helpful.

This coin, according the description, was struck under Antipater and it was assigned a low Price catalog number, Price 6.  Further, the mint was attributed to Amphipolis, but with quotes which suggests this may or may not be the case.

Where does this coin fit in the chronology of Alexander III's coinage?   Thanks.

 16.96 grams

435443270_D-CameraAlexanderIIItetradrachmAmphipolisc336-323BCstruckunderAntipaterPrice616.96gRoma1001788-13-22.jpg.05d2b78ffd8e62287ac4d618d71247b6.jpg

Was this the one from the last Roma? Neat coin. Janus if i remember correctly! 

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2 hours ago, robinjojo said:

Here's a recent arrival that I think might be a lifetime tetradrachm, or an early posthumous one.  I really don't specialize in this coinage so any input would be very helpful.

This coin, according the description, was struck under Antipater and it was assigned a low Price catalog number, Price 6.  Further, the mint was attributed to Amphipolis, but with quotes which suggests this may or may not be the case.

Where does this coin fit in the chronology of Alexander III's coinage?   Thanks.

 16.96 grams

435443270_D-CameraAlexanderIIItetradrachmAmphipolisc336-323BCstruckunderAntipaterPrice616.96gRoma1001788-13-22.jpg.05d2b78ffd8e62287ac4d618d71247b6.jpg

Nice one! I was tempted to pick it up myself. This is from the early chronology in Macedonian Alexander tetradrachms, suspected to be in the first "group" that were issued circa 332-326 BC. The janiform head symbol in particular is interesting because it is also found on the last Philip II tetradrachms minted during Alexander's reign (and before Philip III brought them back). But it's not only the janiform head type that is special in this way, according to Troxell and Price, the janiform, prow, rudder, stern, and fulmen symbols are all among the first tetradrachms minted at Amphipolis, all of which share their control symbol with one of Philip's posthumous tetradrachms. As Price believed the first "Alexanders" were struck in Amphipolis, he started his numbering from the Amphipolis types, hence the low "Price" number for yours.

The prow symbol facing right type is thought to come first for a few reasons (Herakles style and the fact that on Philip's tetradrachms the prow always faces right) and then this is thought to be followed by the left-facing prow symbol due to die links and the thinking that they decided to make the prow left facing instead of right. Which comes next after that is uncertain, likely they were all struck at similar times anyway. While 332-326 BC may be a somewhat large date range for the first Alexanders to be minted in Macedonia, I think we can be fairly sure these would date at the upper end of that range, somewhere around 332-330 BC.

It's not certain when the Philip II tetradrachms sharing the same symbols were minted either, I discuss this problem a bit earlier in this thread here:

They are generally given a date range of 336-328 BC, according to Le Rider, but again I think we can be fairly sure they date towards the first half of that range, or at least some of them do. Oh and the reason "Amphipolis" is in quotes is because no one is really sure that the main Macedonian mint was at Amphipolis during this period. Pella is an option to, as is some third city I forget the name of. For now, most people assume it's Amphipolis or that Amphipolis stands in as a placeholder for whichever city it really was. Troxell discusses this a bit, as well as almost everything else I've mentioned above, so if you're interested her book is worth a read and can be found online in a few places, one of which is here: http://numismatics.org/digitallibrary/ark:/53695/nnan174624

Here's my "Price 4" tetradrachm I picked up a few months ago with the left-facing prow:

1160_alexander_tetradrachm_resized.jpg

Edited by Kaleun96
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32 minutes ago, Kaleun96 said:

Nice one! I was tempted to pick it up myself. This is from the early chronology in Macedonian Alexander tetradrachms, suspected to be in the first "group" that were issued circa 332-326 BC. The janiform head symbol in particular is interesting because it is also found on the last Philip II tetradrachms minted during Alexander's reign (and before Philip III brought them back). But it's not only the janiform head type that is special in this way, according to Troxell and Price, the janiform, prow, rudder, stern, and fulmen symbols are all among the first tetradrachms minted at Amphipolis, all of which share their control symbol with one of Philip's posthumous tetradrachms. As Price believed the first "Alexanders" were struck in Amphipolis, he started his numbering from the Amphipolis types, hence the low "Price" number for yours.

The prow symbol facing right type is thought to come first for a few reasons (Herakles style and the fact that on Philip's tetradrachms the prow always faces right) and then this is thought to be followed by the left-facing prow symbol due to die links and the thinking that they decided to make the prow left facing instead of right. Which comes next after that is uncertain, likely they were all struck at similar times anyway. While 332-326 BC may be a somewhat large date range for the first Alexanders to be minted in Macedonia, I think we can be fairly sure these would date at the upper end of that range, somewhere around 332-330 BC.

It's not certain when the Philip II tetradrachms sharing the same symbols were minted either, I discuss this problem a bit earlier in this thread here:

 

Here's my "Price 4" tetradrachm I picked up a few months ago with the left-facing rudder:

1160_alexander_tetradrachm_resized.jpg

Dating ? 332-331BC ?

Mine is this Tarsos tetradrachm 327BC.

3049796_1657010012.l (2).jpg

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Pantoffel said:

Was this the one from the last Roma? Neat coin. Janus if i remember correctly! 

Yes, this coin came out of Roma's E-Sale 100, lot 178.  The coin has definite wear and there are cleaning marks on the reverse, but overall it is quite appealing, especially the obverse. The control symbol on the reverse is a  janiform head-vase.

I can't possibly assemble a comprehensive collection of Alexander III's tetradrachms; that would be a lifetime pursuit.  So, I collect on a more random, selective basis, based on a coin's appeal and historical significance.

Edited by robinjojo
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16 minutes ago, robinjojo said:

Yes, this coin came out of Roma's E-Sale 100, lot 178.  The coin has definite wear and there are cleaning marks on the reverse, but overall it is quite appealing, especially the obverse. The control symbol on the reverse is a  janiform head-vase.

I can't possibly assemble a comprehensive collection of Alexander III's tetradrachms; that would be a lifetime pursuit.  So, I collect on a more random, selective basis, based on a coin's appeal and historical significance.

Nice! I had it on my watchlist, but could not bid at that time. I also collect the same way you do.

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