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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


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D., Antioch, Syria

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This coin was struck to pay Titus' legions and their expenses immediately after the Fall of Jerusalem at the end of the First Jewish Revolt. This disastrous revolt was triggered in 66 A.D. by a massacre of Jews and the desecration of the synagogue in Caesarea, where this coin was struck. On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
RY87463. Silver tetradrachm, McAlee 379, RPC II 1969, Prieur 140 (17 spec.), Wruck 100, BMC Galatia -, F, nice portrait, centered on a tight flan, toned, bumps and marks, eagle's head unstruck (damaged or filled die), weight 14.088 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, as caesar, 70 - 71 A.D.; obverse AYTOKP TITOΣ KAIΣ OUEΣΠ, laureate head right with aegis; reverse ETOYΣ Γ IEPOY (holy year 3[of Vespasian]), eagle standing left on palm frond, head left, wreath in beak, wings open, upright club to left; scarce; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


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); $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria, 7/6 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 as the 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!).
RP87432. Bronze trichalkon, McAlee 85; RPC I 4242; SNG Cop 90; BMC p. 158, 57; Butcher 48; Cohen DCA 402, aVF, well centered, a little rough, porous, obscure countermark (or flaw) on obverse, weight 6.267 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, legate P. Quinctilius Varus, 7/6 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, three pellets (mark of value) below neck; 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, EK (Actian Era year 25) in the right field; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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"The two stars are probably the morning and evening stars, which are related to the Dioscuri, who, along with the great god and Allath, the great military goddess, were the chief deities of the Arabic cults. The twin gods were known as Aziz and Monim in Emesa, Abgal and Maan or Maanu and Shaaru in Palmyra, or Arsu (the cameleer god) and Azizu (the god riding a horse)." -- Michel Prier in The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and Their Fractions from 57 BC to AD 253
RY87469. Billon tetradrachm, McAlee 673, Prier 212, Bellinger Syrian 12, SNG Cop -, BMC Galatia -, gVF, well centered and struck, nice portrait, toned, light corrosion/porosity, weight 11.741 g, maximum diameter 26.2 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 208 - 212, probably 211 - 212 A.D.; obverse •AYT•KAI• - •ANTONEINOC•CE-B•, laureate bust right, bare shoulder from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX•EΞ•YΠATOC•TO•Γ (holder of Tribunitian power, consul for the 3rd time), eagle standing facing, head right, tail right, wings open, wreath in beak, six-pointed stars at sides; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Tetrarchy of Chalkis, Coele Syria, Ptolemaios, 85 - 40 B.C.

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Ptolemaios son of Mennaios (also known as Ptolemy I), an Ituraean Arab dynast, established the Kingdom of Chalkis, c. 85 B.C., during the collapse of the Seleukid Empire. The kingdom, with its capitol at Chalcis sub Libano at the foot of Antilibanus, included Heliopolis, the valley of the Marsyas, and the mountainous region of Ituraea. In 64 B.C., he bribed Pompey the Great to forgo annexing his kingdom into the new Roman province of Syria and to allow him to continue ruling his territory as Tetrarch. Ptolemaios was succeeded by his son Lysanias, who was put to death by Marc Antony for supporting Mattathias Antigonus over Herod the Great. Antony gave the tiny kingdom of Chalkis to Cleopatra as a gift.
GY86696. Bronze AE 19, Herman 4; SNG Cop 414; BMC Galatia p. 280, 5; Lindgren I A2134B; HGC 9 1440 (S), VF, green patina, earthen deposits, light marks and scratches, high points bare copper, weight 3.506 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 0o, Chalkis sub Libano mint, 63 - 62 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse the Dioscuri standing facing, center legs crossed, heads turned confronted, each leaning on spear in outer hand, LB (year 2 Pompeian Era) ∆ / ΠTOΛEMA right, TETPAPΠX left, APXE below, all within wreath; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


Apameia, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria, 10 - 9 B.C.

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Apamea is believed to be the Biblical city Shepham (Num. xxxiv. 11). Rome received Apamea with the Pergamene Kingdom in 133 B.C., but sold it to Mithridates V of Pontus, who held it till 120 BC. After the Mithridatic Wars it became a great center for trade, largely carried on by resident Italians and Jews. Pompey razed the fortress and annexed the city to Rome in 64 B.C. Apamea is mentioned in the Talmud (Ber. 62a, Niddah, 30b and Yeb. 115b). By order of Flaccus, nearly 45 kilograms of gold, intended by Jews for the Temple in Jerusalem was confiscated in Apamea in 62 B.C. In the revolt of Syria under Q. Caecilius Bassus, it held out against Julius Caesar for three years until the arrival of Cassius in 46 B.C.Great Colonnade at Apamea
RY86707. Bronze AE 21, De Luynes IV p. 42, 3458; RPC I 4354 (4 spec.); SNG Cop 300; BMC Galatia p. 234, 11 var. (MA below); HGC 9 -; SNG Mün -; Lindgren -; Hunter -, VF, dark patina with red earthen highlighting, tight flan, reverse off center, weight 7.784 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Syria, Apameia (Qalaat al-Madiq, Syria) mint, 10 - 9 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos right, wreathed in ivy; reverse cornucopia overflowing with fruits and grains, ΓT (year 303) inner left, AΠAMEΩN / THΣ IEPAΣ − KAI AΣYΛOY in three downward lines (first two on left, last on right), ∆I below; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; extremely rare; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


Tetrarchy of Chalkis, Coele Syria, Lysanias, 40 - 36 B.C.

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Lysanias is called Tetrarch of Abila by Josephus. Lysanias' father Ptolemaios was married to Alexandra, one of the sisters of Mattathias Antigonus. Lysanias offered the Parthian satrap Barzapharnes a thousand talents and 500 women to depose Hyrcanus and put his uncle (or step-uncle) Antigonus on the throne of Judaea (Josephus B.J. 1.248). When Lysanias continued to support Antigonus against the Roman nominee Herod the Great, Mark Antony had him executed, and gave his territory to Cleopatra VII.
GB67917. Bronze AE 21, Herman 11.g, RPC I 4769, HGC 9 145 corr., Lindgren III 1243, BMC Galatia -, VF, weight 5.480 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, Chalkis sub Libano mint, c. 40 B.C.; obverse veiled female bust right, no inscription; reverse double cornucopia, flanked by four ligatures ΛYCA, TETP, APX, IΦ (Lysanias tetrarch and high priest); very rare; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Petra, Arabia

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UNESCO describes Petra as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." The BBC selected Petra as one of "the 40 places you have to see before you die."
RP84854. Bronze AE 25, Spijkerman 32, Rosenberger 19, SGICV 2281, SNG ANS -, VF, attractive earthen fill, weight 10.019 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 0o, Petra mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AV K Λ CEΠT CEOYHPOC IN ΠEP CEB (or similar), laureate bust right; reverse METPOΠOΛIC A∆PIAN ΠETRA, Tyche seated left on rock, turreted and veiled, right hand extended and open, trophy over shoulder in left; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Raphanea, Seleukis Pieria, Syria

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Josephus mentions Raphanea in connection with a stream that flowed only every seventh day (probably an intermittent spring now called Fuwar ed-Deir) and that was viewed by Titus on his way north from Berytus after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Near Emesa, Raphanea was the fortified headquarters of the Legio III Gallica from which in 218 A.D. 14-year-old Elagabalus launched his successful bid of to become Roman Emperor. The crusaders passed through it at the end of 1099; it was taken by Baldwin I and was given to the Count of Tripoli. It was then known as Rafania.
RY86732. Bronze AE 23, BMC Galatia p. 267, 4; Lindgren I 1210 var. (star in ex.); SNG Cop -; SNG München -, F, dark patina with red earthen highlighting, centered on a tight flan, corrosion, porosity, legend not fully struck, weight 9.155 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Raphanea (Rafniye, Syria) mint, as caesar, c. Summer 221 - 13 Mar 222 A.D.; obverse M AYP AΛEΞAN∆POC, bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse PEΦ-A-NE-ΩN, turreted Genius standing half left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs and over left shoulder, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, humped bull standing left at feet on left, eagles flanking left and right; ex Classical Numismatic Group, ex J.S. Wagner Collection; very rare; $115.00 (€97.75)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Saturday, November 17, 2018.
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Roman Decapolis, Syria and Arabia