Alexander I Balas AR Tetradrachm

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Magnus Maximus, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    If Philip V of Macedon was called the "darling of Hellas", then it is only fair that Alexander I Balas be called the "darling of Egypt".

    In response to angering Rome, Egypt, Cappadocia, the Jews, and Pergamon; said countries supported the rebellion of an unknown youth to the Seleucid throne against Demetrius I. The youth, Alexander Balas, claimed to have been the son of Antiochus IV and Laodice IV. Ultimately it is unknown if his claim is true or not, but the evidence in Alexander's favor is that Demetrius's sister(Laodice VI) supported Alexander, along with Ptolemy VI marrying his daughter to Alexander.

    Regardless of his parentage, Alexander and a small force of mercenaries landed in Phoenicia in around 151. It was there that he made overtures to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem for their support against Demetrius. By 150 most of Cole-Syria had thrown in their lot with Alexander, and the usurper met Demetrius I in battle on the plains of Syria.
    Alexander won a decisive victory over Demetrius, and the latter died in the battle.

    In 150 Ptolemy VI married his daughter, Cleopatra Thea, to Alexander in an elaborate ceremony in Ptolemais. As for day to day administration of the Seleucid empire, it was left to a man named Ammonius, while Alexander lived a life of debauchery in Antioch. Ammonius had most of the royal family in Antioch murdered and ran the empire poorly.

    The reign of Alexander Balas was a complete disaster for the Seleucids. In the east the Parthians, who had last been checked by Antiochus IV, overran Media and the remaining Iranian possessions of the Seleucids. Alexander, who ruled three years unopposed, didn't lift a finger to stop them. In 147, the surviving son of Demetrius I, aptly named Demetrius II, began a rebellion against Alexander's reign but for the most part it was a localized event. In 146 however, a major rebellion in Cilicia began that would never be truly put down. In fact, the reign of Alexander I Balas is generally considered to be the beginning of the Cilician pirates, who would go on to terrorize half the mediterranean until being put down by Pompey the Great in 67 BCE.

    In 145, Demetrius II's revolt raised enough eyebrows in Egypt for Ptolemy VI to personally lead an army in support of Alexander Balas. Details are fuzzy of what happened next, but one source claims that Ammonius tried to have Ptolemy VI poisoned and when the Egyptian King demanded Alexander do something, he refused. Ptolemy VI then switched his focus from Demetrius to Alexander and both sides fought a pitched battle. The subsequent battle is poorly documented, but Alexander fled the field while Ptolemy VI was mortally wounded by having his horse fall on top of him. Alexander tried to find shelter with the Nabatean arabs, but they betrayed him and brought his head to the paralyzed and dying Ptolemy VI. With both Alexander and Ptolemy VI dead, Demetrius II fumbled his way onto the Seleucid throne.

    Alexander I Balas struck a large amount of tetradrachms, probably to pay his mercenary army, however many of them have ragged flans or are irregulary struck. I was fortunate to find an Antiochene issue that has the fine style of the Tyrian issues.

    SELEUKID EMPIRE. Alexander I Balas. 152-145 BC. AR Tetradrachm (30mm, 16.42 g) Antioch on the Orontes mint. Undated issue, struck circa 150 BC. Diademed head right / Zeus Nikephoros seated left; monogram in exergue. SC 1781.1b; HGC 9, 875a. Toned, a little off center on obverse. Good VF.

    The Seleucid Empire circa 150 BCE

    A statue of Alexander I Balas

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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  3. tibor

    tibor Well-Known Member

    Great write up!! Thanks.
    Magnus Maximus likes this.
  4. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Nice narrative and write-up, @Magnus Maximus . That guy was a mistake for the Seleukids!

    Here are a couple guys on the other side of Parthia and contemporary to the times...


    Indo-Greek Baktria Menander I Soter BC 155-130 AR Tet 26mm 9.6g Diad - Athena Alkidemos tbolt Gorgon shield SNG ANS 764-767

    Baktria Greco-Baktrian Kingdom Eukratides I Megas 170-145 BCE Dioscuri AE Quadruple Unit
  5. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    Once in my collection
    SOLD Alexander 1 Balas Tetradrachm 147/6 BC SOLD
    SOLD Obv : Diademed head of Alexander 1 Balas in reeded border
    30.5 mm 16.25gm SC 1784.8i,
    Antioch on the Orontes mint
    Rev: Nike offering wreath to Zeus seated left
    Theta within Delta monogram inner LF
    Exergue : 166 ( SE date = 147/6 BC) Φ SOLD

    It is believed that money/silver paid under Roman pressure by Prousias ll of Bithynia as a indemnity for bad behaviour against cities and territories in asia minor was redirected eventually to a few cities by the Attalids who produced their famed wreathed civic coins. These coins ended up mainly in Syrian hoards and are thought to have been paid to troops in Alexander Balas's usurpation of Demetrios l Soter-as below: Kyme

    Aeolis Kyme Tetradrachm c 146 BC
    Obs- The Amazon Kyme facing right wearing taenia
    Die flaw on cheek
    16.80gm 32 mm
    A Stephanophoric tetradrachm
    Rev - Horse prancing right raised forelock, below one handled cup
    Right Field : ΚΥΜΑΙΩΝ
    Exergue ΜΗΤΡΟΦΑΝΗΣ magistrate
    All within wreath
    Obs- The Amazon Kyme facing right wearing taenia
    Die flaw on cheek
    16.80gm 32 mm
    A Stephanophoric tetradrachm
    Rev - Horse prancing right raised forelock, below one handled cup
    Right Field : ΚΥΜΑΙΩΝ
    Exergue ΜΗΤΡΟΦΑΝΗΣ magistrate
    All within wreath

    Also Myrina.
    Aeolis Myrina Tetradrachm c 155BC
    Obs- head of Apollo facing right
    3 tight braids Severe early style
    16.8g 33.19mm
    A Stephanophoric tetradrachm
    Simplified severe 3 tight braided hair style similar to Sacks 13
    Rev- Apollo Grynios standing right in himetion, RH holding phiale, LH holding branch and filaments
    Right field Ompholos and trophy at feet, ΜΥΡΙΝΑΙΩΝ monogram TKAN -unknown in Sacks
    All surrounded by wreath
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  6. David@PCC


    I have a rather plain tet, but this is my most recent Alexander.
    Alexander I
    Mint: Antioch on the Orontes
    Denomination D
    149 to 147 BC
    Obvs: Aegis with gorgoneion in center, dotted border.
    Revs: BAΣIΛEΩΣ on right AΛEΞANΔPOY on left, pegasus leaping right. ΛB monogram below
    13mm, 2.11g
    Ref: SC 1792.2b; HGC 9, 938(R2)
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  7. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    Once in my collection-Quality Demetrios l Soter
    SOLD Demetrios 1 Soter 155/4 BC Tetradrachm SOLD
    SOLD Obv: Diademed head of Demetrios right in wreathed border
    31mm 16.71g SC 1641.3a
    Antioch Mint
    REV: Tyche holding sceptre and cornucopia, seated Left on throne supported by Tritoness right.
    2 monograms in LF
    HNP ( SE 158 ) in exergue SOLD
  8. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Here's sort of a matching drachm...
    Seleukid Kings of Syria
    Alexander I Balas, 152-145 BC
    AR Drachm, Undated issue struck 151-149 BC, Antioch on the Orontes mint

    Obverse: Diademed head right.
    Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ / ΑΛΕΞANΔPOY / ΘEOΠATOPOΣ / EYEPΓETOY to right and left, Apollo Delphos seated left on omphalos, testing arrow and resting hand on bow set on ground, Ѳ below.
    References: SNG Spaer -; Newell, SMA 186; SC 1785.1c; HGC 9, 887a
    Size: 18mm, 3.88g
    Ex: Pegasi Numismatics, purchased early 2000’s at NYINC
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  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    As with most people who issued large silver, Alexander Balas also had small change including this 5.5g AE18 (Sear4070) ex. Brian Kritt, 1998. If you decide to look for one of these, try to get one with a clear AB monogram just left of Nike. They are not rare.
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  10. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    That's the finest bust of Balas I've seen. Nice find!
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  11. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Just had a busy week behind my back, missed your topic.
    It is a great tetradrachm made by an engraver that used a different style compared to other Antioch tetradrachms. Quality!

    In Tyre it seems they had a experienced engraver as well:
    Seleukid Empire. Alexander I (Balas), 152/1-145 BC. AR Tetradrachm. Tyre mint. Dated SE 167 (146/5 BC).
    Diademed and draped bust of Alexander Balas right.
    Reverse: Eagle standing left on prow of galley, palm-branch over right shoulder; club surmounted by monogram to left, ΙΞΡ (date) and monogram to right.
    Reference: SNG Spaer 1545-1546; Newell, Tyre 79; Houghton 749.
    13.73g (Phoenican standard)

    2 silver fractions:
    Alexander I (Balas). 152/1-145 BC. AR Drachm. Antioch mint. Undated issue ca. 149/8-148/7 BC (SE 164/5).
    Diademed and draped bust of Alexander Balas right.
    Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞANΔPOY ΘEOΠATOPOΣ EYEPΓETOY (“of King Alexander, Son of a Divine Father and Benefactor”). Apollo seated left on omphalos, testing arrow and resting hand on grounded bow; monogram in exergue.
    Reference: SC 1785.5b; HGC 9, 887a.
    4.12g; 19mm

    Alexander I Balas (152/1 B.C. - 145 B.C.) AR Hemidrachm. Antioch on the Orontes mint, 150-149 B.C.
    Radiate and diademed head right.
    Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ AΛEΞANΔPOY, Apollo standing front, head to left, holding arrow in his right hand and leaning left on bow; in exergue, HΓ.
    Reference: SC 1786.4.
    1.66g; 12mm
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  12. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    I was wondering when you’d show up with that beautiful tetradrachm!
    Pavlos likes this.
  13. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Alexander I Balas Ar Tetradrachm Tyre 149-148 B.C. Obv. Bust right draped and diademed Rv Eagle standing left wings folded. SC 1835/3 HGC 883 14.24 grms 28 mm Photo by W. Hansen SKalexbalastd-1.jpg
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