The early Nabataeans forsook all building and agriculture because those who possess these things, in order to retain them, are easily compelled by the powerful to do their bidding. Rather than fight invaders, they would go into the desert, where only they could survive, and wait for the invaders to leave. Aretas II was a contemporary of Alexander Jannaeus. Aretas III was the first to issue coins, which he began after he defeated the Seleucid army in 84 B.C. and the council of Damascus asked him to govern their city. A Roman army under Marcus Aemilius Scaurus defeated Aretas III and besieged Petra, but paying a tribute, Aretas received formal recognition by the Roman Republic. The kingdom was slowly surrounded by the expanding Roman Empire, who conquered Egypt and annexed Judea, but wealthy from incense trade, Nabataea paid tribute and retained independence. The Nabataeans fought against Herod and also provided forces to the Romans during the Second Jewish Revolt. After the last Nabataean king, Rabbel II, died in 106 A.D., Trajan incorporated Nabataea into the Roman province Arabia Petraea. One of the latest known Nabataean language inscriptions, from 191 A.D., records "...This in the year 85 of the Eparchy [Roman Rule], in which Arabs destroyed the land." It seems likely that raiding Arab tribes extinguished what remained of a weakened Nabataean culture. In 747 A.D. what was left of the Nabataean cities was destroyed in a major earthquake.
Nabataean Kingdom, Syllaeus and Aretas IV, 9 B.C.
Syllaeus was chief minister for Obodas III and he briefly shared rule of Nabataea with Aretas IV after Obodas death. But Syllaeus had a powerful enemy. In 24 B.C. Syllaeus had betrayed Rome causing almost the complete destruction of an army sent into Arabia Felix. Syllaeus was twice called to the court at Rome, where in 6 B.C. he was convicted of treason and Obodas' murder. He was beheaded and his body was pitched from the Tarpeian Rock.
GB57580. Bronze AE 16, cf. Meshorer Nabataean 43A, Schmitt-Korte II 25 ff. (shin left, O between horns), SNG ANS 1426, VF, nice patina, weight 3.341 g, maximum diameter 16.2 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 9 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas right, Aramaic shin behind(?); reverse crossed cornucopias, Aramaic ayin left, shin (Syllaeus) between horns, het (Aretas) right; $155.00 (€134.85)
Roman Republic, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus & Publius Plautius Hypsaeus, 58 B.C.
M. Aemilius Scaurus, in 62 B.C., as questor to Pompey, was sent against King Aretas but withdrew when Aretas paid 300 talents. Aemilius was curule aedile when this coin was struck. This was the first time a moneyer publicized an event from his own career on coinage. Later he was praetor and propraetor, lost a campaign for Consul, and successfully defended Cicero. In 52 B.C., he was charged with bribery and went into exile.
RR73141. Silver denarius, SRCV I 379, Crawford 422/1b, Sydenham 913, RSC IAemilia 8, VF, reverse a little off center and struck with a worn die, weight 3.888 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 58 B.C.; obverse Aretas, King of Nabataea, kneeling beside camel raising olive branch with fillet, M SCAVR above, EX - S C at sides, REX ARETASin ex; reverse Jupiter in quadriga left, reins in right, hurling thunderbolt with left, scorpion below, P HYPSAEVS / AED CVR above, CAPT on right, C HYPSAE COS / PREIVE in ex; $140.00 (€121.80)
Nabataean Kingdom, Rabbel II and Shuqailat, 70 - 76 A.D.
Shuqailat, Rabbel's mother, likely ruled until her death in his sixth regnal year. Rabbel was still a child and during this period he was called "Rabbel, king of the Nabataeans." Later he was titled "Rabbel the king, king of the Nabataeans." This may seem a slight change, but it was significant to the Nabataeans. He was later given the appellation, "who resuscitated and saved his people."
GS67115. Silver drachm, Meshorer Nabataean 142 - H12 (various years), aF, weight 3.366 g, maximum diameter 12.3 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 70 - 76 A.D.; obverse Aramaic legend, "Rabbel, king of the Nabataeans, year..." (date off flan), laureate and draped bust of Rabbel II with long hair; reverse Aramaic legend, "Shuqailat, his mother, queen of the Nabataeans", laureate, draped and veiled bust of Shuqailat right; scarce; $80.00 (€69.60)
Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.
Possibly struck in the year of Christ's birth! Jesus was born sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Matthew describes King Herod as the ruler during the time of the Nativity, and Herod died in 4 B.C. Later, in order to kill Jesus and eliminate him as a rival king, Herod ordered the "Massacre of the Innocents" - the killing of all male children in Bethlehem aged two years and under. This means that Jesus may have been up to two years old already by that time, and this also sets the Nativity between 6 and 4 B.C.
GB90811. Bronze AE 14, Meshorer Nabataean 57, BMC Arabia -, SNG ANS -, aF, weight 2.088 g, maximum diameter 14.0 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 6 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Aretas with long hair right, Aramaic H (het) right; reverse two crossed cornucopias, Aramaic o (ayin) left, X (year 4) between the horns, and H (het) right; a very rare dated bronze of Aretas; $50.00 (€43.50)
Barkay, R. "The earliest Nabataean coinage" in NC 2011. Barkay, R. "New Nabataean Coins" in INJ 16 (2007-8). Bowsher, J.M.C. "Early Nabataean Coinage" in ARAM 2:1-2 (1990), pp. 221-228. Cohen, E. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011). Hill, G.F. A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum - Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia. (London, 1922). Hoover, O. "A Reassessment of Nabataean Lead Coinage in Light of New Discoveries" in NC 2006. Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of the Southern Levant: Phoenicia, Southern Koile Syria (Including Judaea), and Arabia, Fifth to First Centuries BC. HGC 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2010). Huth, M. Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms, Ancient Arabian Coins from the Collection of MartinHuth. ACNAC 10. (New York, 2010). Huth, M. & P.G. van Alfen. Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms. Studies in the Monetization of Ancient Arabia. ANSNS 25. (New York, 2010). Meshorer, Y. Nabatean Coins, Qedem 3. (Jerusalem, 1975). Plant, R., The Coinage of the Nabataeans, Seaby Coin and Medal Bulletin, March 1979, pp. 81-84. Robinson, E.S.G. "Coins from Petra etc." in NC 1936, pp. 288-291, pl. XVII. Schmitt-Korte, K. & Cowell, M. "Nabatean Coinage - Part I. The Silver Content Measured by X-ray Fluorescence Analysis" in NC 1989, pp. 33-58, pl. 11-17. Schmitt-Korte, K. "Nabatean Coinage - Part II. New Coin Types and Variants" in NC 1990, pp. 105-133, pl. 10-15. Schmitt-Korte, K. & Price, M. "Nabatean Coinage - Part III. The Nabatean Monetary System" in NC 1994, pp. 67-131, pl. 10-12. Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the Amercian Numismatic Society, Part 6: Palestine - South Arabia. (New York, 1981)
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