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Research Coins: Feature Auction


“Bring me the head of the Baptist!”

CNG 96, Lot: 653. Estimate $50000.
Sold for $45000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SYRIA, Chalcidice. Chalcis. Aristobulus V, with Salome. AD 54-92. Æ (22mm, 9.04 g, 12h). Dated RY 13 (AD 66/7). [BACI]ΛE[Ω]C APICTOBOY[ΛOY], diademed and draped bust of Aristobulus left; [ЄT IΓ] (date) in legend / BACIΛICCHC CAΛΩMHC, diademed and draped bust of Salome left. Cf. RPC I 3840 (for type); Hendin 1257a. Fine, natural green patina, minor earthen encrustation. Extremely rare, possibly the third to ever appear at auction. The only recent sale record, lot 953 in CNG 93, brought $70,000.

Aristobulus’ wife, Salome, was the widow of Philip the Tetrarch and the daughter of Herodias by her first husband, Herod II (known in the New Testament as either as Philip or Herod). Although she is unnamed in the Gospels and the incident was unknown to Josephus (cf. AJ 18.5.4), it has been traditionally assumed that it was Salome – at the insistence of her mother – who asked Herod Antipas (who was besotted with his young step-daughter) for the head of John the Baptist in return for her risqué dance for the king. As a result, Salome has become a symbol for dangerous female seductiveness.