Featured Savior but for whom?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David@PCC, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    I like coins that present a mystery, and this one has yet to be solved. Some background will be needed as most are probably unaware of this issue of coinage.

    The proposed date of the coin in question is generally around the third Syrian war between the Seleucids and Ptolemies, at least that is a good place to start. Prior during the 2nd Syrian war Antiochus II made peace with Ptolemy II after 8 years of war. The stipulation was that Antiochus marry Ptolemy's daughter Berenice Syra. This was advantageous to Prolemy as the child of this marriage and future ruler would be from the house of Ptolemy. There was one problem however, Antiochus was already married to his cousin Laodice I.

    But to make peace, Antiochus divorced his wife and married Berenice. The happy marriage lasted a few years until Ptolemy died, at which point Antiochus decided to go back to his first wife. After the divorce Laodice moved into a palace in Anatolia. It has been said Antiochus preferred Laodice as a wife even giving land grants after the divorce.

    That may have been the end of the story, but Berenice's brother Ptolemy III demanded that Antiochus honor his second marriage. It seems Antiochus was in quite a pickle at this point, and I'm sure there was much back and forth with him. When a large rival kingdom is threatening to crush you, such decisions need to be thought at. What ever happened he choose poorly and was most likely killed by Laodice who was fed up with the matter.

    Now Antiochus did have 2 sons with Laodice, and 1 with Berenice. You can see where this is going. Already having probably murdered Antiochus, she arranged the murder of Berenice and her son, now around age 5. Ptolemy wasted no time and promptly marched on Antioch where Berenice was holding out to aid his sister, after all she was still the queen.

    Not knowing exactly what was taking place in Antioch Ptolemy arrived a tad too late to prevent the murder of his sister and nephew. Things are a bit fuzzy after this at least in Antioch, but Laodice promoted her son Seleucus II to king. However there still was support for Berenice and her son, and it is believed (possibly) that Ptolemy hid the fact his sister was dead. Ptolemy was free to roam around the Eastern empire, possibly due to this fact but was recalled a year or so later by an Egyptian revolt.

    All of this of course started the third Syrian war which would eventually pit the 2 sons of Antiochus against each other. Now for the coin. These are grouped together because of the inscription they all share which is ΣΩTHPOΣ ANTIOXOY or of the savior Antiochus. Now which Antiochus does the coin refer is commonly accepted as Antiochus I Soter due to the title and portrait. What is unusual is that this is the first instance of using an epitaph on a coin within the dynasty. That makes the issuer a bit of a mystery.

    Mint associated with Antioch
    246 to 244 BC
    Obvs: Diademed head of Antiochos I right.
    Revs: ΣΩTHPOΣ ANTIOXOY, anchor between caps of the Dioskouroi; ΔEΛ monogram to right.
    AE 15x17mm, 3.75g
    Ref: SC 642; HGC 10, 296(R3)

    What is probable is the mintmark on the reverse of ΔEΛ which is associated with a mint within Antioch from later coins that use this mark. But it is believed the first use of this mintmark was in Antioch but just not at the primary mint. Also a mystery is the reverse symbolism of an anchor and Dioscuri caps. Certainly the anchor represents Seleucid power and the caps were also used during the reign of Antiochus II. As others have pointed out the Dioscuri could also represent Egypt as that is a common theme. One more oddity with this series is the use of a new denomination, an Octadrachm that shares a die with Tetradrachms and is unique. This denomination is common for Egypt but not the Seleucids.

    So there you go, a coin with a long deceased ruler on it that was issued anonymously, with an unknown date, mint, and purpose. Perhaps when I have more time I will come up with my own identification theory.

    The possible candidates are Antiochus II to honor his father, Berenice to pay for troops and her protection, Ptolemy III to pay Seleucid troops under the guise of his sister, Laodice to secure the empire (even though she didn't control Antioch), garrisons of Antioch, and finally the sons of Laodice. Did I forget anybody?

    This post could be very long but I recommend reading Antiochos Soter and the Third Syrian War by Kyle Erickson that talks specifically about this series. And here is a pedigree chart to help out with the confusing cousin marrying, ect...
    From this site

    I welcome any discussion or other coins.
    Volodya, PeteB, eparch and 27 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Colby J.

    Colby J. Well-Known Member

    Holy Crap that's cool!
    I think it's leaning toward the payment side on Ptolemy III, because of the obverse head. I don't really have experience in this roll of ancient numismatics though. I like to focus on early Roman Empire and simple Phoenician coins.
    But you never know, you may have found a new variety. Aside from that, the coin looks well struck and in decent condition. You got yourself there a piece of real history!
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
    David@PCC likes this.
  4. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    David, I saw this example on the wildwinds website, from www.slavey coins.com.
    Antiochus I, Seleukid Kingdom, AE 16, SC 642, Hoover 296.
  5. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    Thanks! It does come from an interesting era that probably warrants more study. That would be great if Ptolemy struck these, but that may make more questions than answers?

    That is a nice one. The only ones I found were 2 in online archives, this WW example, and one in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Hoover assigns it's rarity as R3 or "generally found in isolated examples in collections and excavations. ....not likely to appear for many years, if at all."
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Khnum-Hotep

    Very interesting historical jigsaw puzzle you bring up, framed by the coinage. Congrats.
    David@PCC likes this.
  7. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Awesome write-up of a great Game of Thrones story! Here's an Antiochos II tet with a portrait of his father; if forced to bet I'd choose Ant II as the issuer of your coin.


    And I'm always glad of an excuse to haul out my Ptolemy III octobol:
    Screen Shot 2019-10-18 at 5.59.09 PM.jpg
    Evan Saltis, Paul M., TIF and 6 others like this.
  8. Pavlos

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

    Very cool @David@PCC, I remember seeing a chapter about the Soter series in the Handbook of Syrian coins by Hoover, but I never got the time to read about it. Very interesting reading the background about it in your post. I also did not know that these were the first epithets used on Seleukid coins.

    Here a coin from the saviour himself:
    Antiochos I Soter (281 - 261 B.C.) Æ Denomination C, Antioch mint, struck ca. 268-261 B.C.
    Diademed head of Antiochus I right.
    Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ANTIOXΟΥ (“of King Antiochos”). Apollo seated left on omphalos, testing arrow and resting left hand on grounded bow.
    Reference: SC 351.
    3.60g; 14mm
    Roman Collector, Paul M., TIF and 7 others like this.
  9. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Smiles, everyone! Supporter

    Very informative post David@PCC ! Thank you for sharing it. I collect Seleucid coins and it’s easy to get confused about chronology and lineage of the kings. Here’s my most recent poster of my collection. Feel free to correct me if you see any errors! I periodically have my posters printed so I can display them in my little design studio but I’ve held off on this one because I know there are problems with it.


  10. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Wow :jawdrop:! Beautiful collection & stunning display :D.
    Deacon Ray and David@PCC like this.
  11. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    That a good guess, the symbolism makes sense. I recently picked up a 93g "puck".

    The 17 page article by Kyle Erickson is worth the read, goes into detail about the different possibilities for these.

    All your attributions look correct on this one!
    Deacon Ray likes this.
  12. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Smiles, everyone! Supporter

    Thank you, sir!
  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Oooh, a challenger, cool! Show 'n' tell time! :D
  14. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    Ok. Fits the thread as he is the brother of Berenice.
    Ptolemy III Euergetes
    246 to 222 BC
    Mint: Alexandria Phase 2, Series 1
    AE Oktobol
    Obvs: Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right.
    Revs: ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Eagle standing left on thunderbolt. No control marks.
    45mm, 93.26g
    Ref: Svoronos 412; SNG Copenhagen 141
  15. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    Great coin! How much does it weigh?

    Here’s my 94.14 gram octobol chonker. It’s attributed to Ptolemy II (Svornos 446) by the seller, but it’s my understanding that these coins are sometimes attributed to Ptolemy III.
  16. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Wow guys!! :jawdrop: You have seriously rearranged the octobol heavyweight championship standings! The new ranking is:

    @Paul M. 94.14g
    Severus Alexander 93.27g*
    @David@PCC 93.26g*
    @Pellinore 92.3g
    @TIF 91.8g
    @dougsmit 90.1g

    * tied within the margin of error

    In celebration, Paul. M., I think you should make that honkin' octobol your avatar photo!

    Let the games continue...

  17. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    Yay! I’m winning! Maybe I will make it my avatar. It is a super cool coin, after all!
    David@PCC and Severus Alexander like this.
  18. Alegandron

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

    I dunnooo... those Carthage 15 Shekel coins issued by Hannibal were pretty big STRUCK coins tooo... :)
    David@PCC and Severus Alexander like this.
  19. PtolemAE

    PtolemAE Member

    bigoctobol_95x66g.jpg Decent Svoronos 446 octobol, 95.66 gm. Note that the range for these is from about 75 to over 110 grams and the *mean* weight (published in A Metrological Survey of Ptolemaic Bronze Coins, AJN 2013) is about 91.5 grams averaged over many specimens. That said, ones over 100 grams are pretty tough to find.
  20. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    Is that your coin @PtolemAE? That may be the nicest one I've seen.
  21. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Wow, that is a truly stunning example!! You are not just the new weight champ, but the champ in every respect! I wouldn't be surprised if that's best-of-type. A hearty welcome to CoinTalk!

    The new standings:

    @PtolemAE 95.66g
    @Paul M. 94.14g
    Severus Alexander 93.27g*
    @David@PCC 93.26g*
    @Pellinore 92.3g
    @TIF 91.8g
    @dougsmit 90.1g

    * tie
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page