- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. If you are new to collecting, start with Ancient Coin Collecting 101. All blue text is linked. Keep clicking to endlessly explore. Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. All blue text is linked. Keep clicking to endlessly explore. If you have written a numismatic article, please add it to NumisWiki.

Resources Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
How to

Index Of All Titles


Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Armenian Numismatics Page
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Horse Harnesses
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Kushan Coins
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Malloy Weapons
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Militaria
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Serdi Celts
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite

   View Menu


The coinage of Arabia begins with the issues of the Nabataean kings. These, about the time of Hadrian, are superseded by the Imperial coins of the principal towns of Arabia Petraea. The era in use in these towns is the Arabian, of which the exact date is not quite fixed (A.D. 105 or 106; see Kubitscheck in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclop., i. 641 f.). The coinage of Arabia Felix forms a separate and distinct class.


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.

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.

The coins bear the portraits of the kings and their queens, sometimes jugate; other types are mentioned below.

Aretas III (Philhellen), B.C. 87-62. Æ. TypesNike; Tyche of Damascus seated on rock, river-god at her feet; Goddess holding wreath(?) and resting on spear. Inscr., ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΡΕΤΟΥ ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝΟΣ.

Obodas II, son of preceding. Circa B.C. 62-47. AR Phoenician didrachms. TypeEagle. Inscr., (King Obodas, king of Nabathaea).

Malichus I, son of preceding. Circa B.C. 47-30. AR Phoenician didrachms. TypeEagle. Inscr., (King Malichus, king of Nabathaea).

Obodas III, son of preceding. B.C. 30-9. AR Phoenician didrachms, Attic drachms, and Æ. TypesEagle; Goddess raising r. hand. Inscr., as on coins of Obodas II, or without . Dates—years 3-20.

Aretas IV (Philopatris), brother of preceding. B.C. 9-A.D. 40. With his queens Chuldu and Shaqilath. AR Attic drachms and Æ. Types—Goddess raising r. hand; Eagle; Cornucopiae; Two cornuacopiae. Inscr., (Aretas, king of Nabathaea, lover of his people); (Aretas, king of Nabathaea); (Chuldu, queen of Nabathaea); (Shaqilath, queen of Nabathaea); (Peace), &c. Denominations (silver obol); (silver half). Dates—years 1-16 with Chuldu, 23-48 with Shaqilath.

Malichus II, son of preceding, and his sister and wife Shaqilath. Circa A.D. 40-75. AR Phoenician drachms and Æ. Types of Æ—Two cornuacopiae. Inscr., as on coins of Malichus I, and (Shaqilath, his sister, queen of Nabathaea), &c. Dates—years 9-17.

Rabbel II (Soter), son of preceding, with his mother Shaqilath and his sister and wife Gamilath. AR Phoenician drachms and Æ. Type of Æ—Two cornuacopiae. Inscr., (Rabbel, Shaqilath, his mother); (King Rabbel, king of Nabathaea); (Gamilath, his sister, queen of Nabathaea), &c. Date—year 20(?).


Adraa, about thirty miles north-west of Bostra. Imperial, M. Aurelius to Gallienus. Inscr., ΑΔΡΑΗΝΩΝ or ΑΔΡΑΗΝΩΝ ΤΥΧΗ. TypesAstarte in temple; Baetyl of ΔΟΥCΑΡΗC ΘЄΟC (the Arabian Dionysos on alter-shaped base; Herakles seated on rock; &c. The era of Adraa is that of the province of Arabia. See Dussaud, Rev. Num., 1904, pp. 160 f.

Bostra, the capital of Roman Arabia, was situate in a fertile oasis about seventy miles south of Damascus; refounded by Trajan A.D. 105 or 106. Imperial, Hadrian to Elagabalus. Inscr., ΑΡΑΒΙΑ on coin of Hadrian, and subsequently ΤΥΧΗ ΝΕΑC ΤΡΑΙΑΝΗC ΒΟCΤΡΑC, or ΒΟCΤΡWΝ, ΒΟCΤΡΗΝWΝ, &c. Era—the Arabian. Colonial, Sev. Alexander to Treb. Gallus. Inscr., COLONIA BOSTRA, COL. METROPOLIS BOSTRA or BOSTRENORVM. TypesTyche of the city; Three baetyls of the god Dusares (see Dussaud, Rev. Num., 1904, p. 163); Bust of Ammon (? Dusares-Ammon) with ram’s horns and globular headdress; Camel; Arab on Camel; Temples of various divinities; &c. Games, ΔΟΥCΑΡΙΑ, ΑΚΤΙΑ ΔΟΥCΑΡΙΑ, or ΑCΤΙΑ DVSΑRΙΑ.

Charach-Moba (El-Kerak, east of the Dead Sea, and south of Rabbath-Moba). Imperial of Elagabalus only. Inscr., ΧΑΡΑΧΜWΒΑ or ΧΑΡΑΧ[ΜWΒΗΝ]WΝ. TypesTyche; Figure seated before wine-press (Babelon, Rev. Num., 1899, p. 274).

Eboda (Ptol. v. 17.4), south of Gaza and south-west of the Dead Sea, now called Abdeh. Imperial of Nero. Inscr., ΕΒWΔΗΣ. TypeNike Apteros (Imhoof, Monn. gr., p. 450).

Esbus (Heshbon), some twenty miles north-east of the Dead Sea. Imperial of Elagabalus only. Inscr., ЄCΒΟΥC or ΑΥΡ. ЄCΒΟΥC. TypesAstarte in temple; Zeus seated; Mên (De Sauley, Terre-Sainte, p. 393).

Medaba (Mâdebâ), south-west of Esbus. Imperial of Caracalla and Elagabalus. Inscr., ΜΗΔΑΒWΝ ΤΥΧΗ. TypesTyche; Tyche-Astarte with cornucopiae and bust of Osiris (Babelon, Mél. Numism., iii. pp. 251 f.). Era—the Arabian.

Petra, the metropolis of the Nabathaeans, adopted the surname Adriana in consequence of favors conferred upon it by Hadrian. Imperial, Hadrian to Elagabalus. Inscr., ΠЄΤΡΑ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙC, ΑΔΡΙΑΝΗ ΠΕΤΡΑ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙC, &c. TypesTyche of city seated on rock; Figure sacrificing; &c. Era—the Arabian.

Philippopolis, founded by the Emperor Philip, a native of Bostra, from which place it was distant about twelve miles. It was constituted by him a Roman colony. Imperial colonial of Philip, Otacilia, and Philip Jun., and posthumous coins of Marinus, Philip’s father, reading ΘЄΩ ΜΑΡΙΝΩ. Inscr., ΦΙΛΙΠΠΩΠΩΛΙΤΩΝ ΚΟΛΩΝΙΑC S. C. TypesRoma seated or standing, &c.

Rabbath-Moba (De Sauley, Terre-Sainte, p. 354). Imperial, Antoninus Pius to Gordian. Inscr., ΡΑΒΒΑΘΜWΒΑ, ΡΑΒΒΑΘΜWΒΗΝWΝ, ΡΑΒΑΘΜΟVΒΗΝWΝ, &c, usually of very barbarous work and blundered. Era—Arabian. Types—Ares, Astarte, Poseidon, &c. The occurrence of Ares (who is seen standing to front on a pedestal, between two altars) confirms the statements of Stephanus and Eusebius that the later name of this city was Areopolis.


For the coins of South Arabia (Yemen) see Mordtmann, Num. Zeit., xii. 28; B. V. Head, Num. Chron., 1878, 273, and 1880, p. 369; Prideaux, Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, 1881, p. 95; Erman, Zeit. f. Num., ix. 296, and Kubitschek in D. H. Müller’s Südarabische Altertümer (Vienna, 1899).

The Sabaei and Homeritae (Himyarites) were from very early times down to the sixth century A.D. a powerful and prosperous people, governed by their own kings, and dwelling in the most fertile district of Arabia, which faces the Indian Ocean, and extends as far as the Persian Gulf. The highest point of their wealth and power was attained by the Himyarite dynasty, which ruled the land between the fourth century B.C. and circ. A.D. 120. Their earliest coins belong to the fourth and third centuries B.C., and consist of imitations of the older Athenian silver money, which probably found its way across the desert by the caravan route from the prosperous seaport of Gaza, where, as we have already seen, the money of Athens was also imitated. Most of these coins which come to us from Southern Arabia bear, in addition to the Athenian types, Himyarite letters or inscriptions, and sometimes an inscription in an unknown character. A small class have on the obverse, instead of the head of Athena, a beardless male head (Kubitschek, Pl. XIV. 13, 14). In the second century B.C. the Athenian types appear to have been temporarily superseded by those of Alexander the Great, then predominate in all the markets of the ancient world, a tetradrachm having been discovered by me, which bears, in the Himyarite character, the name of a king called Abyatha (Num. Chron., 1880, Pl. XV. 3).

In the second half of the first century B.C. the Athenian tetradrachms of the ‘new style’, with the Owl standing on an Amphora, served as models for the coinage of the Sabaean kings, as is proved by the important Find of San'â (B. V. Head, Num. Chron., N. S. xviii. 273). Of this later gold and silver currency there are several series, the earlier bearing on the obverse a head of Augustus, and are doubtless copied from Roman coins, which must have become known in Southern Arabia at the time of the expedition of Aelius Gallus into that country in B.C. 24. The inscriptions on these coins consist of monograms in the Himyaritic character, and of a second legend in an unknown character. After the Christian era the Himyarite coinage loses much of its importance, and the execution becomes more and more barbarous. To this later period belong small coins with local types—Beardless head, rev. Bucranium or Antelope’s head; and Beardless head on both sides, with name of mints Raidan, Na'am, Ya'ub, &c.

Although the Southern Arabians seem to have been content to copy the well-know money of the Greeks, it is remarkable that they did not adopt the Attic standard of weight. The Himyarite drachm, like the old Persian siglos, weighed 84 grs. The coin of Abyatha being a tetradrachm of Attic weight, would be equivalent to three Himyarite drachms.


Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.

Arabia, one of the largest regions of Asia, between Egypt and India, divided nominally into three parts - Felix, Deserta, and Petraea; bounded by Syria and Mesopotamia on the north; by the Arabian Gulf or Red Sea on the west; and by the Indian Ocean (Erythraum Mare) on the south.

Arabia Felix (Arabia the Blessed) derived its name from its great fertility.

Arabia Petraea (Arabia the Rocky) lies centrally, running from north-west to southeast. Its north is extremely sterile and scantily populated but the southern portion includes fertile cultivated plains. Under Augustus the Romans sent troops into Arabia Petraea but they failed to make a conquest of it. The Arabs remained subdued until the time of Trajan.

Arabia Deserta (Arabia the Desert), the smallest and northernmost district was inhabited by the Idumaeans, the Moabites, the Midianites and the Amalekites.

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins