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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Satraps of Caria

Triton XX, Lot: 306. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $4250. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SATRAPS of CARIA. Maussolos. Circa 377/6-353/2 BC. AR Tetradrachm (23mm, 15.13 g, 12h). Halikarnassos mint. Struck circa 370-360 BC. Head of Apollo facing slightly right, wearing laurel wreath, drapery around neck / Zeus Labraundos standing right; ME monogram to left, MAYΣΣΩΛΛO to right. Konuk, Identities 21; Babelon, Perses 397 var. (no monogram); Traité II 95; SNG von Aulock 2358; SNG Kayhan 873; BMC 8. Near EF, toned.

As part of the Achaemenid Empire, Caria in the fourth century BC was under the rule of a family of semi-independent satraps known as the Hekatomnids after the dynasty's founder, Hekatomnos. Born in Mylasa, Hekatomnos was appointed satrap of Caria by Artaxerxes II after the fall of Tissaphernes in 392/1 BC and was later given control of Miletos in 386 BC. Interested in Hellenic culture (and possibly hedging his diplomatic bets), Hekatomnos sent his youngest son, Pixodaros, to Athens as part of a deputation; his older son, Maussolos, was bound by xenia, or guest friendship, with Agesilaus, king of Sparta. Hekatomnos died in 377/6 BC and was succeeded by Maussolos.

At the time of Maussolos’ accession, Achaemenid power was weakened by the independence of Egypt and a revolt of the subject Kadusioi. As a result, the satraps of Asia Minor were able to exercise considerable independence; an opportunity of which Maussolos took full advantage. Moving the satrapal capital to Halikarnassos, he fortified the city and allowed its population to increase in size. As part of the civic building program, he constructed a massive tomb for himself near the city’s center. Known later as the Mausoleum, its size and elaborate decoration made it one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. In addition, Maussolos moved and refounded the Greek cities of Knidos, Erythrai, and Priene. His relations with the Persians took a downturn when he briefly joined the Great Satrap Revolt, a series of rebellions that continued to spring up in the Persian Empire throughout the 360s, all of which ultimately failed. For the remainder of his rule thereafter, Maussolos continued to act more or less independently, although he had to accept a Persian garrison in Halikarnassos. During the early years of his reign, a new obverse type, featuring the facing head of Apollo/Helios, was introduced. It became the standard obverse type for most of the Carian satrapal issues thereafter. Maussolos died in 353/2 BC, and was succeeded by his sister-wife, Artemisia. Her rule, however, was short-lived, and in 351/0 BC power passed to Hidrieus, Artemisia's brother and the second son of Hekatomnos. Hidrieus' reign was also relatively short-lived, as he contracted a disease and died in 344/3 BC. Rule then passed to another sister, Ada.

In 341/0 BC, Pixodarus, the youngest son of Hekatomnos, overthrew his sister, Ada, possibly aided by the support of the Persian commander of Asia Minor, Mentor of Rhodes. This usurpation did little to endear the new satrap to Artaxerxes III, who had recently approved Ada’s appointment following the death of her husband, Hidrieus. Ada, nevertheless, continued to receive support from the countryside, and still held the city of Alinda. As a result, Caria was thrown into turmoil and hesitated to support Persia following the invasion of the Macedonians under Parmenion in 336 BC. This non-support of their nominal overlord was also compounded by the secret negotiations of alliance that Pixodaros had been conducting with the Macedonian king. In 337 BC, Pixodaros attempted a marriage between one of his daughters and the future Philip III Arridaios. Believing himself overlooked, Philip's elder son, Alexander III, sent a private embassy to Halikarnassos, asking for the hand of the same princess. When word of this reached Philip II, he cancelled the Macedonian-Carian alliance. Pixodaros died of natural causes in 336/5 BC, and was succeeded by Orontobates, an otherwise unknown Persian, who apparently married the princess Pixodaros had attempted to betroth to Philip III. The fate of Orontobates is uncertain, but after Caria was conquered by Alexander III in 332 BC, the Macedonian king made diplomatic overtures to Ada, and reappointed her as satrap.

Koray Konuk is presently preparing his Ph.D. dissertation, a detailed analysis of the coins of the Hekatomnids, for a forthcoming RNS publication, "The Coinage of the Hekatomnids in Caria."