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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Extremely Rare First Silver Issue

Triton XXII, Lot: 268. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $1700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CARIA, Antioch ad Maeandrum. Mid 2nd century BC. AR Tetradrachm (25mm, 13.33 g, 12h). Stephanophoric type. Eunikos, magistrate. Bearded head of Zeus right, wearing laurel wreath / Zebu bull standing left, head facing; to left, small female figure, wearing long chiton, standing right; ANTIOXEΩN/TΩN ΠPOΣ TΩ in two lines above, MAIANΔPΩΣ to right, EVNIKOΣ in exergue; all within laurel wreath. HN Online 2069.1 (this coin); Leu Numismatik AG 2, lot 107 (same obv. die); Leu Numismatik AG 3, lot 99 var. (same obv. die, name and ethnic reversed); Roma XVI, lot 296 (same obv. die); otherwise unpublished. VF, toned, light porosity, areas of weak strike. Extremely rare.

The Carian city of Antioch, located near the eastern end of the Maeander valley, was founded on the south bank of the river Maeander, where the river is joined by a major tributary, the Morsynos River, flowing north from Aphrodisias. It was a Hellenistic settlement that was founded by Antiochos I Soter (though some argument has been advanced in favor of Antiochos III), and likely through a synoecism of two villages, Symmaithos and Kranaos (Pliny, NH 5.108). The location was a significant crossing point of the Common Road over the Maeander, between the important cities of Tralles, to the west, and Laodikeia on the Lykon, to the east. Given its important location, surprisingly little is known today about Antioch in the Hellenistic period; there is little mention of the city in contemporary literature and epigraphy, and the site remains unexcavated. In contrast, the city took on a much more important role in the Roman period, when it was fortified, and figured significantly in many emperors' eastern campaigns.

Its strategic location along a major trade route certainly must have enriched the city, which grew to a considerable size by the first century AD, spanning both sides of the Maeander (cf. Strabo 13.4.15). While the Roman provincial coinage at Antioch is quite sizable, the Hellenistic civic coinage is quite rare. All the civic issues date from the 2nd-1st centuries BC, and primarily consists of bronze coins, with very rare issues of silver tetradrachms and drachms. The types are fairly consistent across all denominations, with the obverse featuring the portrait of either Zeus or Apollo, with the reverse featuring a zebu bull or (very rarely) an eagle standing on a thunderbolt. Interestingly, some of the coins bear the name of a magistrate, while others do not.

The silver is all traditionally dated to the 2nd century BC, and may have begun with a couple rare issues of Alexander type tetradrachms that M.J. Price (following H. Seyrig) tentatively placed there, circa 190-180 BC, but it is more likely that they are issues of Tabai (cf. Price p. 311). No Seleukid issues are currently attributed to Antioch, but there are many western issues that are unattributed from the reigns of Antiochos I through Antiochos III, so it is possible that some of these issues may actually belong to this city. The present piece is a stephanophoric type tetradrachm – a type known in only four examples for this city. If it was struck alongside the other stephanophoroi in western Asia Minor in the mid-2nd century BC, this tetradrachm may be the earliest of the city’s silver; it notably bears the longer legend "Of the people of Antioch by the Maeander," rather than the usual "Of the people of Antioch" that is canonical on the all other Hellenistic issues of Antioch.