Ekbatana, an interesting city

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Pavlos

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

    My first (arrived) additions of 2019! :)

    Ekbatana was an old city that was refounded in the Hellenistic period. The identification of the monarch who refounded it is unclear. Pliny claimed that King Seleukos I founded Ekbatana as the capital of Media. There was a Seleukid royal mint at Ekbatana that was active as early as when Seleukos I Nikator obtained control of Media and it continued in operation unil atleast mid-2nd century B.C. Ekbatana remained under Seleukid rule (expect for the period ca. 162-160 B.C.) until the Parthian Mithridates I conquered it in Ca. 148/7 B.C.

    Seleukos I Nikator (312-281 B.C.) AR Tetradrachm (311 B.C. - 295/81 B.C.) In the name and types of Alexander III of Macedon.
    Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress, paws tied beneath chin.
    Reverse: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, Zeus seated left on high-backed throne, right leg drawn back, his feet resting on a low foot rest, holding long scepter in his left hand and, in his right, eagle standing right with closed wings, in left field, two monograms above horizontal anchor above forepart of horse grazing left, ΣΩ beneath throne.
    Mint: Ekbatana. Date Range: 311 B.C. - 295/81 B.C.

    Alexander tetradrachms were minted by Seleukid kings alongside their own royal issues. This continued well into the 2nd century B.C. and probably represented a substantial proportion of the mint output. The bulk of the silver coinage from Susa and Ekbatana continued to take the form of in the name of Alexander-type tetradrachms down to Ca. 301 B.C. in Susa and Ca. 293 B.C. in Ekbatana, until it gave way to the name of Seleukos.

    But why 'Alexanders'? The regions bordering on the Mediterranean the Alexander types had become the recognized international means of exchange. However, it may be that the Seleukid kings felt a need to reaffirm themselves to their subject at the start of a reign, or when dynastic conflict or external problems posed a threat. Or in newly conquered territories where issued 'Alexanders' probably received a greater acceptance. 'Alexanders' also helped to develop a primary habit of coinage in areas where such had not circulated before. However, more detailed study is required.

    Antiochos III (223-187 B.C.) organized large-scale military operations in the East and therefore mints operated in Ekbatana were not only for 'peacetime' coinage but also for the military. Coins from these military mints in Ekbatana were later used for provision money during the Fifth Syrian War.

    Antiochos III Megas (223 B.C. - 187 B.C.) Bronze Coin. Military mint in Ekbatana ca. 210 B.C. and countermarked in Coele-Syria during Fifth Syrian War Ca. 202-198 B.C.
    Laureate head of Antiochos III as Apollo right, doted border.
    Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛEΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ. Elephant right, ridden by mahout, two countermarks: anchor in oblong punch in left field and horse's head in square punch under elephant’s belly.

    Soldiers received two kinds of pay. Opsonion (regular wages) was due at the end of the month in peacetime, but in wartime could be paid at other established intervals or postponed until the end of the campaign. Sitarchia (provision money) replaced actual rations, allowing the troops to provision themselves in advance, often at specially regulated markets. Sitarchia was payable at the beginning of the month and obviously could not be postponed or allowed to fall in arrears. Opsonion and Sitarchia each average about 3 to 4 obols per day, or 15-20 drachms per month. These payments of 15-20 drachms would most conventiently be rendered in silver. However, there is meager evidence for the circulation of silver coins of Antiochos III in Coele-Syria, leaving bronze as the only medium of payment for the Seleukid army during the Fifth Syrian War. Quite possibly the Opsonion was paid in silver after the army withdrew from Coele-Syria. But Sitarchia, which have to be provided regulary, came in the form of bronze coins. This was certaintly more practical for the soldiers than 15-20 drachms, since prices from both Egypt and Babylonia indicate that a drachm would purchase a month’s supply of Barley for an individual and two drachms about a month’s supply of wheat. Fractions were therefore needed to purchase food to be consumed in lesser quantity. This was obviously also in advantage for military expenses, as bronze had only a low intrinsic value. Such bronze coinage was likely not greeted in a contested region accustomed to Ptolemaic currency. These bronzes with doubtful instrinsic value issued by the Seleukid king would almost certainly be worthless for them. However, it seems inevitable that some degree of coercion was required to ensure acceptance for these Seleukid bronze coins, which was essential for the functioning of the army.

    The elephant bronzes with mahout of Antiochos III were struck at different times and at different parts in the Seleukid Empire, but all were associated with military operations and soldiers' pay. The earlier types were struck at a military mint associated with Ekbatana around 210 B.C., and the later ones come from a military mint operating of Coele-Syria during the Fifth Syrian War. The horse's head below the elephant and the anchor in the left field indicates this copies the later issues of Coele-Syria. This was to make the older bronzes ‘equalivant’ to subsequent issues with a horse head symbol under the elephant’s belly and a tripod or anchor in the left field. It served to reiterate the basic guarentee of the value of these military bronze coins in the face of local uncertainty. The Seleukid army needed to impose the use of this fiduciary coinage on the population of Ptolemaic Coele-Syria during the Fifth Syrian War in order to ensure provisions for its troops. The Seleukid retreat in spring 200 BC will have created a particular need to revalidate these coins when the Seleukids again advanced after the battle of Pantion. The bronzes were apparently first countermarked with a horse head, and later with an anchor.

    Example of a subsequent issued coin from military mint during the Fifth Syrian War with an anchor left of the elephant (late issue).

    Notice the much less circulation wear on the above coin compared to mine. My coin may have circulated 12 years long until the above coin got minted and had most probably touched a lot of soldier's hands.

    Post your coins from Ekbatana and coins from (military) mints during the 5th Syrian War!
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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  3. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    Those are great. Ecbatana has always been high on my want list.
    Pavlos likes this.
  4. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great coins, congrats.
    Pavlos likes this.
  5. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Excellent write-up @Pavlos ! I don't have any Seleucid coins of Ekbatana, but the city was one of the most prolific Parthian mints, so how a drachm of the Parthian king Phraates IV (38-2 BC):
    Phraates IV drachm.jpg
    Sulla80, Marsyas Mike, Ryro and 5 others like this.
  6. Pavlos

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

    I find it very discouraging to craft long and educational posts to initiate conversations and to share interest among members on this forum and then getting no meaningful numismatic responses other than "nice coin". Don't take me wrong in that but I don't find a purpose anymore to write such posts on here, as with or without the historical background, the responses will always be the same or none at all.
  7. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Alexander III, the Great; 336-323 B.C. AR tetradrachm (17.2 gm). Struck after 311 BC under Seleukos I, Nikator. 312-281 BC. Obv: Hd. of Herakles, r. wearing lion’s skin. Rev: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ and "A" to right. Zeus std. l. on throne holding eagle in r. hand, scepter in his l. To left, forepart of horse grazing, anchor above. Monogram below throne. Price 3925. Qazvin Hoard 30, this coin? Like ESM 470, but with “A” in r. field.
    SC 202.10c, Ekbatana mint. An artistic and rare coin. "Of the highest rarity," per an expert in Alexander III coinage. AlexIIIEcbatana2P.__a.jpg
  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I believe that overly long posts attract fewer readers than they might deserve. I have had better luck breaking things into smaller pieces. You can provide links for further research by those interested but most people here will only read long posts if it is a subject on which they had prior interest. Part of this may be that some readers are using phones that make long posts tedious. There is also the matter of your post containing more than I even knew about a subject and more than I might want now. In this case, I would be more interested in Ekbatana under the Parthians than the Seleucids since my interest in Seleucids is not great. I don't know enough in this case to have a meaningful comment. I fear we are now in the Twitter generation. If you can say it in a few well crafted lines, you have a better chance of being read and appreciated.
    Ryro, zumbly, Pavlos and 1 other person like this.
  9. Pavlos

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

    Yes unfortunately we are. I think the amount of people on here that are interested in the parts of history where I am interested in (for example Epeiros) are only very very few. I was hoping atleast to trigger conversations from people about the coins or historical background who are interested in it. Because I think that is the point of a forum, to share knowledge and opinions. However this is not the first time this happened and therefore I won't do any long educational posts anytime soon anymore. In the future I will keep my posts small with only a few sentences.
  10. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    You've expressed this sentiment before. I fear that saying it again is going to have the opposite effect of what you desire. If the responses aren't meeting your expectations, you can adjust your expectations or adjust your behavior (meaning the content or style of your writeups).

    I agree with Doug's assessment. I read your post but had no coins to contribute and nothing insightful to add, nor did I have questions, so instead I clicked "like" to acknowledge your efforts.

    Maybe you covered the subject well and people had no questions, or maybe it was a collection of facts others have read before, or maybe it wasn't their area of interest. Or maybe they just haven't seen it yet-- it was posted less than 24 hours ago. Or, maybe you didn't ask any questions which would elicit dialogue (request for posting coins of Ekbatana notwithstanding).

    Sites like this tend to fill a more social need rather than scholastic. I think the ancients section of CoinTalk is far more educationally oriented than most hobby sites and coin sites (and I like that about CT), but it is still just hobby-specific social media. I come here to have fun-- to see coins, to show my coins, and to learn a few things :).

    Also, in past weeks/months there has been a sharp increase in the number of new threads. I can't keep up with all of them and have stopped trying so my reading and interaction is rather hit or miss, often skipping threads which are outside of my general collecting sphere. In particular I tend to skip posts which are dense and dry. When such a post is not in my general sphere of collecting, reading it is a chore rather than a joy.
    Cucumbor, PeteB, zumbly and 1 other person like this.
  11. DBDc80

    DBDc80 Numismatist

    Dont get discouraged man! I for one loved your post! Even though not within my sphere. I love all aspects of history from ancient to early American. It is always nice to see someones passion for a certain period reflected in their posts! Sometimes you learn things that you may not have known before, that is, for me, part of the fun! Please keep up those posts, if for nothing else to educate and share your passion for this particular period/culture of history. And indeed, fwiw....nice coins you have there!
    Sulla80, Ryro and Pavlos like this.
  12. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    I've always enjoyed your posts. And certainly I've spent good time on writing threads that have fallen flat (see my diadochi thread. I thought that thing would explode like dynamite...instead it exploded like a turd flushing down the toilet).
    A couple of things:
    Doug and TIF are spot on in regards to your posts length. As someone that also collects in some niche areas, I find that posting a little and then if the thread gains momentum posting a second or even third thought to get more (and maintain) interest does the trick to get the thoughts flowing and pictures posting.
    Secondly, as a fan of most of your posts and coinsI find your complaints about this board, those congratulating you on an excellent acquisition to be very off putting and reminiscent of a young boy running too fast, skinning his knee and then kicking the ground crying about it.
    I know, harsh. Don't talk trash on the board homie. But I hope you keep posting cool coins and education and less complaints. Cripes! The last time you complained your thread was featured later that day! An honor that many haven't had. After reading the write up I was thinking about adding this to @Curtisimo's awesome scholarly list. I still may. Though with some resignation.
    If I had any coins from this area I would add them but since I don't you have my like and obligatory "nice coins".
  13. Pavlos

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

    Thank you for your message. I have understood already regarding post lengths. I however don't agree I am complaining, I am sharing my opinion (or my point of view). I have always stayed polite and I did not bring anything to a personal extend. But it seems that people think I attack this forum with my opinion (probably because I am a new member) and it is now considered a complain, or in your words "trash talk".

    Anyway, I hope we can now go back to coins, with everyone something valuable to add, and on the end to have fun with eachother.
    Ryro likes this.
  14. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    I was at the coin show yesterday and didn't get a chance to respond.

    You posted about a fairly obscure city and a part of history that most people don't know. It takes a lot more work to absorb information that is new and unconnected to most folks' collection. I realize it would be great if everyone had something cool to say about Ekbatana but trust me, you are getting more feedback than you would get if you wrote a book or a blog post. I had a blog for 5 years and no one ever responded.

    I have posted my Ekbatana tetradrachm before so I will now post something much rarer. I have a Medusa/bull bronze of Ekbatana. The bronze coinage of this mint is scarcer than hens teeth.

    Seleukid Kingdom. Seleukos I Nikator. 312-281 B.C. AE 3.84g 14mm. Ecbatana/Ekbatana, late 280s B.C.

    Winged head of Medusa right / ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΕΛΕΥΚΟΥ, bull butting right; between hind legs, monogram.

    Ecbatana is believed to have been near Hamadān, Iran. Several folks have posted their Parthian coins from the city. It was also a Sasanian mint. The mint abbreviation is AHM. I don't have an AHM handy to show but I will show an earlier Sasanian coin suspected to be from Ecbatana/Hamadan:
    Sasanian, Ardashir I (224-240 AD), 3.48g, 23mm drachm, mint B ("Hamadan")
    Obv: mzdysn bgy 'rthštr - MRKAn MARKn 'ry 'n (= Mazda worshipper, the divine lord Ardashir, king of kings of Iran, whose origin is from the gods"); Right bust of Ardashir I wear crown cap; within dotted border
    Rev: NWRA [ZY], 'rthštr (= "Fire of Ardashir"); Fire altar with mushroom-shaped bases supporting lion paw legs; within dotted border
    Ref: phase 2c, type IIa/3a, flame style 1 cf. Iran » Sasanians » Ardashir I, AD (20:cool: 224-241 » Bust right with Parthian-style headdress
    Sulla80, DBDc80, Johndakerftw and 9 others like this.
  15. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    It would be unfortunate if you stopped posting your write ups. I feel many of the longer and meatier posts we get on CT such as yours have an educational purpose and merit and are worth having here whether or not they receive many comments or participation from other members. Others may not have much to contribute or add to the topic right now, but just by sharing your coins and write ups, I have no doubt that you’re contributing to the knowledge of others and will possibly even open up a new area of interest to collect for them. And this applies not just today or this week, but in the future as well when someone stumbles onto your post through a search here on CT or via a search engine.
    Sulla80, TIF, Pavlos and 1 other person like this.
  16. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I have read many (but not all) of your blog posts. Occasionally I considered making a comment but that meant making decisions-- which account to use for logging in, should I post an anonymous comment, do I have to put my name/URL, will my identity be displayed, etc. But I'm a secret fan :)
    Sulla80 likes this.
  17. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    The search engine point is important. Most people who read your post will read it years from now, when they stumble upon it while searching.

    The writing itself will help you remember. I hope that in addition to posting here you print out all of your posts and put them into the same binder as your collection database. Your collection shouldn't just be coins, it should also include your thoughts about your collection.

    To make it easier, next time post giving your name as TIF and your URL should be http://www.tifcollection.com
    Pavlos, Sulla80 and Ryro like this.
  18. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one step at a time Supporter

    I will add a vote for long and informative posts and contribute a Parthian coin from Ekbatana or Ecbatana(?) mint - this one is easier than most to recognize with inscription on the obverse and Nike reverse.
    Vonones I sm.jpg
    Vonones I (c. A.D. 8 - 12) AR Drachm, 3.8 g, 17.5-19.5mm
    Mint: Ecbatana
    Obv: bust of king Vonones I left, tapered beard, short hair; border of dots; semi-circular Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΟΝΩΝΗΣ == "King Vonones"
    Rev: Nike walking right; in right hand, palm; below palm monogram 26; Greek inscription in a square from top left : ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ - ΟΝΩΝΗΣ - ΝΕΙΚΗΣΑΣ - ΑΡΤΑΒΑΝΟΝ == "King Vonones Conqueror of Artabanus"
    Ref: Sellwood 60.5
  19. DBDc80

    DBDc80 Numismatist

    gorgeous drachm @Sulla80!
    Sulla80 likes this.
  20. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    I also have a coin from the 5th Syrian war. In case it is too poor, it is a shield with gorgoneion boss / elephant, with horsehead countermark. I bought it from Guy Clark in 2001 probably without seeing a picture of it first. It probably saw a lot of circulation; then the application of the countermark flattened the obverse significantly.

    Seleukid Kingdom. Antiochos III. 223-187 B.C. AE (17 mm, 3.5g).
    Obv: Macedonian shield with gorgoneion on boss
    Rev: Elephant advancing right.
    Countermark: horsehead

    This coin was struck at "Uncertain mint 60", probably a military mint in Coele-Syria (the modern Beqaa Valley, Lebanon). These often come with the horsehead countermark. See Arthur Houghton, "Antiochus III in Coele Syria and Phoenicia".
  21. Pavlos

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

    That is a very interesting bronze coin, I have never seen one before, I think this coin is minted alongside the tetradrachms in the name of Seleukos. I have recently won a Antiochos II coin from Laodikeia ad Mare. I realized after that this is also a quite scarce mint, I will post that coin when I receive it.

    I have seen that coin before as well, a cool looking coin. I wonder what the difference in value is between this coin type and my elephant coin type. These 2 coins types were atleast minted side by side during the fifth Syrian war. My coin weights 9.55g, so who knows your coin is a fraction?

    That is a great looking drachm, and on the reverse nike with a palm, rather then the sitting archer. I noticed that the sitting archer is almost on all Parthian coins? Interesting at least that the Parthians worshipped Greek gods rather then having the old Zoroastrian religion, or am I wrong in that?.
    Sulla80 likes this.
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