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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Hellenistic Monarchies| ▸ |Nabataean Kingdom||View 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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Aretas IV was probably the son of Obodas III, but this is not certain. Syllaeus was chief minister for Obodas III and initially shared rule with Aretas after Obodas death. But the rulers of Nabataea served under the authority of Rome and Rome, begrudging Syllaeus as an enemy, did not approve. In 24 B.C. Syllaeus had betrayed Rome causing the near complete massacre of a Roman army sent into Arabia Felix. Syllaeus was 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.
SH12877. Silver 1/4 drachm or denarius, Meshorer Nabataean, Sup. 4; Schmitt-Korte and Price,"Nabataean Coinage III", NumChron 1994, pl. 10, Choice VF, weight 1.069 g, maximum diameter 12.0 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 9 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Obodas II, Syllaes' Aramaic monogram (shin) behind; reverse S (shin = Syllaeus) and H (heth = Aretas) in wreath; very rare; SOLD


Nabataean Kingdom, Aretas IV, 9 B.C. - 40 A.D.

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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.
SH51930. Silver drachm, Schmitt-Korte II 57, Meshorer Nabataean 65 var. (numeral date), Cohen dated 973 var. (same), VF, flat strike areas, weight 4.293 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 4 - 3 B.C.; obverse Nabataean legend, "Aretas, king of the Nabataeans, lover of his people", laureate and draped bust of Aretas IV right, with long hair; reverse Nabataean legend, "Huldu, queen of the Nabataeans, year six" (year spelled out), veiled bust of Huldu right, flanked by Nabataean O (ayin) right and H (heth) left across lower field; very rare with year six spelled out vice the Nabataean numeral; SOLD


Roman Republic, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus & Publius Plautius Hypsaeus, 58 B.C.

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M. Aemilius Scaurus, in 62 B.C., as quaestor 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.
RR81825. Silver denarius, Crawford 422/1b, Sydenham 913, RSC I Aemilia 8, RBW Collection 1519, SRCV I 379, nice gVF, weight 3.942 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, obverse Aretas, King of Nabataea, kneeling beside camel raising olive branch with fillet, M SCAVR above, EX - S C at sides, REX ARETAS in exergue; 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 exergue; well centered on a tight flan, minor flat center on reverse, toned; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

Barkay, R. "New Nabataean Coins" in INJ 16 (2007-8).
Barkay, R. "Seven new silver coins of Malichus I and Obodas III" in NC 2006, pp. 99 - 103.
Barkay, R. "The earliest Nabataean coinage" in NC 2011.
Bowersock, G. Roman Arabia. (Cambridge, 1983).
Bowsher, J. "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).
Dussad, R. "Numismatique des rois de Nabatene" in Journal Asiatique 12 (1904), pp 189 - 238.
Hill, G. 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. 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. "Coins from Petra etc." in NC 1936, pp. 288-291, pl. XVII.
Schmitt-Korte, K. & M. Cowell. "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. & M. Price. "Nabatean Coinage - Part III. The Nabatean Monetary System" in NC 1994, pp. 67-131, pl. 10-12.
Spikerman. A. The coins of the Decapolis and Provincial Arabia. (Jerusalem, 1978).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 6: Palestine - South Arabia. (New York, 1981).
Tal, O. "Coin denominations and weight standards in fourth-century BCE Palestine" in INR 2, pp. 24 - 28.

Catalog current as of Tuesday, October 22, 2019.
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Nabataean Coins