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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Greek Imperial ▸ Decapolis, Arabia & SyriaView Options:  |  |  |   

Roman Provincial Coins from the Decapolis, Syria and Arabia

The Decapolis means "the ten cities" in Greek, yet we don't really know how many cities there were, or where they were. In 106 A.D., under the Roman emperor Trajan, the Nabataean Kingdom and the cities of the Decapolis were incorporated into the newly established Provinces of Syria and Arabia.

Click here to read "The Decapolis of Jordan" by Rami G. Khouri


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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Gaius Licinius Mucianus (named on this coin) was governor of Syria. When he failed to put down the Jewish revolt, Vespasian was sent to replace him. After the death of Galba, Mucianus and Vespasian both swore allegiance to Otho. Mucianus persuaded Vespasian to take up arms against Vitellius, who had seized the throne. They agreed Vespasian would settle affairs in the East, while Mucianus made would attack Vitellius. On his way to Rome, Mucianus defeated a Dacian invasion of Moesia. Mucianus reached Rome the day after Vitellius' death. Mucianus never wavered in his allegiance to Vespasian and was appointed consul for the third time in 72. As no mention is made of Mucianus during the reigns of Titus or Domitian, he probably died during the reign of Vespasian.
RP85562. Bronze AE 28, McAlee 319 (ex. rare, same dies), cf. RPC 4316 (not specifying obverse legend direction), aVF, nice portrait, dark patina with buff earthen highlighting, spots of light corrosion, obverse legend mostly weak or off flan, weight 11.757 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 15 Jan 69 - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse [IMP M OT]-HO - [CAE AVG] (counterclockwise from upper left), head laureate right, dot in field behind; reverse EΠI / MOYKIA/NOY AN/TIOXEΩ/N ET ZIP (legate Mucianus, of Antioch, year 117) in five lines within a linear circle in a laurel wreath; this variant with a counterclockwise obverse legend is extremely rare; ex Gemini auction XIII (6 Apr 2017), lot 158, ex Jyrki Muona Collection; $2250.00 (€1912.50)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria

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On 11 February 244, Emperor Gordian III was murdered by mutinous soldiers in Zaitha (Mesopotamia). Philip the Arab (Marcus Julius Philippus) declared himself emperor and made a disgraceful peace with the Sasanian Empire, withdrawing from their territory and giving Shapur 500,000 gold pieces. The Sasanians occupied Armenia. Philip was recognized by the Roman Senate as Emperor and he nominated his son Philippus, age 6, as Caesar and heir to the throne. He gave his brother Priscus supreme power (rector Orientis) in the Eastern provinces; and began construction of the city of Shahba, Syria in the province of his birth.
RY85323. Billon tetradrachm, Prieur 321 (1 spec.); McAlee 889 (v. rare); BMC Galatia p. 212, 505, EF, sharp attractive portrait, attractive iridescent toning, parts of legends weak, areas of some porosity, weight 13.256 g, maximum diameter 27.3 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 1st issue, 244 A.D.; obverse AVTOK K M IOV Λ ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust left, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (holder of Tribunitian power), eagle standing slightly left on palm frond, wings open, head left, wreath in beak, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; very rare; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Chalcis ad Belum, Chalcidice, Syria

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The Chalcis ad Belum lie north of the modern Syrian village of Al-Iss near Al-Hadir, 25 km southwest of Aleppo on the west bank of the Queiq River (the ancient Belus River). Chalcis was distinguished from its namesake in Macedonia by its river. The river, but not the city, was named for the Semitic god Bel or Ba?al.
RY84646. Bronze AE 26, RPC Online 3461 (8 spec.), Butcher 4a; SNG Munchen 511, SNG Milan 3, BMC Galatia -; SNG Cop -, VF, green patina with red earthen highlighting, well centered on a tight flan, some flatness bust high point, weight 14.003 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 0o, Chalcis ad Belum (Qinnasrin, Syria) mint, 25 Jan 98 - 8/9 Aug 117 A.D.; obverse AYTOKP KAIC NEP TPAIANOC APICT CE ΓEPM ∆AK ΠAPΘ, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ΦΛ XAΛ/KI∆EWN in two lines, ∆ below, all within laurel wreath of eight bunches of leaves tied at the bottom; rare; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Uncertain Mint, Anatolia or Syria

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The mint, the quaestor who struck this type, and even the identity of the person in the portrait remain uncertain. The type has previously been attributed to Macedonia and the portrait identified as Brutus (Friedlander) or Caesar (Grant). David Sear notes the type has never been found in Macedonia. Finds point to Syria or Anatolia. It is possible that the type was issued, with his own portrait, by Sosius, a general under Marc Antony who was quaestor in 39 B.C. Much more likely, however, the portrait is of Augustus.
RB71004. Bronze AE 27, RPC I 5409; Sear CRI 957 (Syria); AMNG II 29 (Pella), F, green patina, weight 17.823 g, maximum diameter 26.6 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Anatolian or Syrian mint, obverse bare head right; reverse hasta (spear), sella quaestoria (quaestor's seat of office), and fiscus (imperial treasury), Q (for quaestor) below; previously a rare type but recent finds have made it somewhat easier to acquire; $270.00 (€229.50)
 


Diadumenian, Mid May - 8 June 218 A.D., Hierapolis, Cyrrhestica, Syria

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Modern Membij, was renamed Hierapolis, (Holy City) by Seleucus Nicator and his wife Stratonice when they built a temple for the goddess of fertility and water, Atargatis (dea Syria). The city retained the name Hierapolis for only a few hundred years. Religious ceremonies before Roman times may have included child sacrifice. -- The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and Their Fractions by Michael and Karin Prieur
RY85320. Silver tetradrachm, Prieur 947 (43 spec.), Bellinger Syrian 108, SNG Cop -, BMC Galatia -, VF, light toning, attractive style, tight flan, reverse slightly off center, light marks, porous, edge split, weight 13.025 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 180o, Cyrrhestica, Hierapolis-Bambyce (Membij, Syria) mint, Middle May - 8 Jun 218 A.D.; obverse AYT K M OΠEΛ ANTΩEINOC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞ YΠATOC (holder of Tribunitian power, consul), eagle standing facing, wings spread, head right, wreath in beak, lion walking right between eagle's legs; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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Otho ruled for only three months. The imperial mint at Rome did not issue bronze in his name, but two provincial mints did. Alexandria issued bronzes with Greek legends, and Antioch issued bronzes with Latin legends.
RY86420. Bronze as, McAlee 320(b) (v. rare, same dies), RPC I 4318, BMC Galatia p. 176, 208 var. (dot above); SNG Fitzwilliam 5871 var. (no dot), F, marks, light scratches, light encrustations, light corrosion, weight 14.091 g, maximum diameter 29.3 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 15 Jan 69 - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP M OTHO CAE AVG (outwardly, clockwise from upper right), laureate head right; reverse S C, dot (control symbol) below, all within inner linear border surrounded by a laurel wreath with eight bunches of leaves; very rare; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria

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In 248, overwhelmed by the number of invasions and usurpers, Philip offered to resign. The Senate decided to support the Emperor, with Gaius Messius Quintus Decius most vocal of all the senators. Philip was so impressed that he dispatched Decius with a special command of the Pannonian and Moesian provinces. His loyal supporter, Decius, was, however, proclaimed Emperor by the Danubian armies in the spring of 249 and defeated and killed Philip in September.
SH60141. Silver tetradrachm, McAlee 907a, Prieur 357, SNG Righetti 2027, SNG Cop -, EF, weight 10.949 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 247 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M IOYΛI ΦIΛIΠΠOC CEB, radiate and cuirassed bust left, Gorgon's head on cuirass; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC YΠATO Γ (holder of Tribunitian power, consul for the 3rd time), eagle standing right, head right, wings open, wreath in beak, ANTIOXIA over S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $225.00 (€191.25)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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MON VRB stands for MONETA VRBIS. According to H. R. Baldus this initial issue of coins was minted in Rome. Indeed the portrait style is unmistakably that of the mint of Rome, and even if the coins were actually minted in Antioch, the dies were surely engraved by the Rome mint.
SH60149. Billon tetradrachm, McAlee 899, Prieur 304, BMC Galatia 507, EF, weight 13.825 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome or Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 244 or 246 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M IOYΛ ΦIΛIΠΠOY CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (holder of Tribunitian power), eagle standing facing on ground line, wings open, head and tail left, wreath in beak, S - C (senatus consulto) below wings, MON VRB in exergue; double strike evident in obverse legend, minor flan crack, small encrustations, very sharp, handsome portrait and eagle; $225.00 (€191.25)
 


Northern Syria, 3rd Century A.D.

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This type has long been attributed to Pharaoh Nektanebo II. Butcher, however, notes it is quite common in the vicinity of Antioch and in Northern Syria and the obverse style is similar to third century Antiochene zodiacal type coins. He suggests they may have been struck under Hadrian.
RY77448. Bronze AE 16, Butcher p. 405, 11; Weiser p. 16, 1 (Nektanebo II, Memphis, Egypt), aVF, scratches and marks, weight 3.396 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain (Antioch?) mint, 3rd century A.D.; obverse ram (Ares) leaping left, head turned back right; reverse balance scale (Libra); $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria, 5 - 4 B.C., Legate P. Quinctilius Varus

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Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman general and politician under Augustus. From 7 or 6 B.C. until 4 B.C. he governed Syria where he was known for harsh rule and high taxes. Josephus mentions the swift action of Varus in 4 B.C., against a revolt in Judaea following the death of Herod the Great. Varus occupied Jerusalem and crucified 2000 rebels. Varus is most infamous for losing three Roman legions in an ambush by Germanic tribes led by Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, at which point he took his own life. Upon hearing the news, Augustus tore his clothes, refused to cut his hair for months and, for years afterward, was heard, upon occasion, to moan, "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my Legions!" (Quintili Vare, legiones redde!).
RY86399. Bronze trichalkon, McAlee 87; Butcher 50c; RPC I 4252; SNG Cop 92; SNG Munchen 640; BMC Galatia p. 159, 59; Cohen DCA 402 (S), gF, well centered, green patina, porous, weight 7.683 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, legate P. Quinctilius Varus, 5 - 4 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse ANTIOXEΩ EΠI OVAPOV, Tyche of Antioch seated right on rocks, turreted, wearing chiton and peplos, palm frond in her right hand, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right below, his head turned facing, ZK (Actian Era year 27) in the right field; scarce; $200.00 (€170.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Friday, November 17, 2017.
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Roman Decapolis, Syria and Arabia