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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Hellenistic Monarchies ▸ Nabataean KingdomView Options:  |  |  | 

Nabataean Kingdom

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.

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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; $135.00 (Ä118.80)

Nabataean Kingdom, Rabbel II and Shuqailat, 70 - 76 A.D.

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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; $70.00 (Ä61.60)

Nabataean Kingdom, Rabbel II, 70 - 106 A.D.

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Rabbel II was known as "He who gives life and salvation to his people," a title perhaps earned subjugating Arab tribes. The Nabataean Kingdom ended when Trajan created Provincia Arabia in 106 A.D. Gamilath was Rabbel's sister and wife; however, "Sister" may have been an honorary title. Rabbel spent much time in Bostra in Nabataean Syria.
GB76633. Bronze AE 16, Meshorer Nabataean 163, SNG ANS 1450, BMC Arabia 3, SGICV 5706, VF, crowded flan smaller than the dies, weight 2.367 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, Petra mint, c. 76 - 102 A.D.; obverse jugate laureate busts of Rabbel II and Gamilath, Rabbel II has long hair and ornament on the top of his head; reverse two crossed cornucopias, Aramaic legend "Rabbel / Gamilath" in two lines between the horns; $36.00 (Ä31.68)

Nabataean Kingdom, Malichus II, 40 - 70 A.D.

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In Malichus' time, Nabataean trade dwindled as the Romans diverted the perfume and spice cargos to Egypt. In 67 A.D. Malichus II sent an army of 5,000 horsemen and 1,000 soldiers to help Titus quash the Jewish revolt. Malichus lost control of Damascus but retained the territory to the east and southeast of the city.

The Meshorer 140A variety does not have monograms on the obverse.
GB76630. Bronze AE 18, Meshorer Nabataean 140A, SGICV 5703, SNG ANS 1444, BMC Arabia 4, F, weight 3.127 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 40 - 70 A.D.; obverse jugate laureate and draped bust of Malichus II and Shuqailat II right; reverse two cornucopias, crossed and filleted, Aramaic legend, "Malichus / Shuqai/lat" in two lines above and one below the cornucopias; ex Forum (2004); $20.00 (Ä17.60)



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 Martin Huth. 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)

Catalog current as of Tuesday, February 09, 2016.
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Nabataean Coins