The Dating of the Coinage of Alexander the Great | ETANA
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For example, posthumous issues marked with a sphinx are attributed to Chios, while those with a lion looking back at a star were minted at Miletus. This cache of over 8, Alexander tetradrachms was found in Egypt in Newell himself originally came into possession of some of these, and had personally examined over 2, for his discussion of the coins in Reattribution.
By the time he published Alexander Hoards I2. Demanhur, 8 in he had compiled, from his own collection and other sources, a record of close to 6, coins from the hoard. On the basis of his observation of die links, he divided the tetradrachms into eleven groups, each of which had different control marks. In Newell's system, relying on the objective evidence of the obverse die links, it was apparent that they had a similar function in the Alexander coinage.
Tetradrachms, of course, formed only a part of the Alexander coinage, and this is the time to review all the types in silver, gold and bronze. All of the coins were minted on the Attic standard unlike his father's coins, of which only the gold was of Attic weight, while the silver was struck on the local Macedonian standard. For the gold, obverse: Athena wearing crested helmet decorated with serpent; reverse: For the silver tetradrachms and drachmsobverse: The bronze unit has, obverse: Alexander's coinage continued to be struck after his death in B.
His immediate successors continued to use his types, although eventually substituting their own names for that of Alexander. Both lifetime and posthumous Alexanders were struck in Macedonia, as well as in mints throughout the empire.
During Alexander's lifetime, twenty-five mints were producing his coins: In the last quarter of the third century, over a hundred years after his death, fifty-one mints were still producing Alexanders, mainly the tetradrachms.
Approximately forty-six hoards containing silver and thirteen containing gold from the main mint in Macedonia have been documented in greater or lesser detail. This title appeared first on coins of Babylon around B. The basis for putting group A first was that this group's reverse control marks include some also found on coins of Philip II: In addition, he was now able to offer conjectures about mint location on a new basis.
Since Philip's lifetime coins were most likely only minted in Macedonia, the earliest Alexanders, group A, must have also been minted there.
Newell placed the first Alexanders in B. Newell's chronology depended on evidence from the great Demanhur hoard in another respect.
In this hoard were found Alexander coins bearing dates. These are the coins minted at Sidon and Ake where issues made before Alexander's conquest bore Phoenician numerals dating the coins according to the regnal year of the local king.
Alexander's issue continued this system. In addition, Alexander was in possession of great sums of money seized from the Persians at the Battle of Issus.
These two factors, along with the necessity of clearly establishing himself as the leader of a new empire, immediately led to the minting of coins. These first two years of the Sidonian era refer to either the first two years of Alexander's power in Asia Minor beginning with his success at Issus or the rule of the local king Abdalonymos, whom Alexander appointed at this time.
These would have been the years and However, his dating of the actual beginning of Alexander coinage overall to B. In his "Alexanders Reichmunzen" of Gerhard Kleiner proposed that Alexander did not begin to mint his own coins at the beginning of his reign. In the meantime Alexander relied on the continued minting of coins of his father Philip and his own so-called 'eagle' tetradrachms, augmented by existing coins of Athens and Persia. Kleiner's theory was based on the style of the seated Zeus on the reverse of Alexander's silver tetradrachm, which he argued was derived from Cilician coinage minted under Mazaeus, the most recent Persian satrap.
His ideas were generally dismissed at the time, but more recent scholars have revived his work, with additions of their own.
We will leave Kleiner for now, to continue with our chronological study, but the debate over the dating of the Alexanders, begun by him, is probably the most highly contested and engaging question regarding the current study of the Alexanders.
In Margaret Thompson and Alfred R.
Bellinger published a work detailing the Alexander drachms of Asia Minor. Thompson and Bellinger's work was the first of its kind, and made clear a fact noted by Newell: Alexander's mints had different functions.
Some mints, principally the seven discussed in their work, were established for the express purpose of minting small silver for the empire, while others, particularly those in Macedonia, were responsible for the larger coinage. Thompson and Bellinger proposed that this was not an arbitrary system set up by Alexander, but a logical progression based on existing local coinages. Persian sigloi, not minted on an Attic standard, were commonly used in Asia Minor.
Therefore the drachm, rather than the tetradrachm, would have been more familiar means of exchange for the people of this area. Thompson and Bellinger established the arrangement of drachms from the seven main mints along with the staters associated with them 24 based on the close die links among the coins. They used three important dates as the backbone of the chronology for this arrangement: None of the Alexander drachms of Asia Minor can have been produced beforeany coins that bear Alexander types but the name of Philip III must be afterand no coinage of Philip III can have been minted later than The large silver denomination was struck on the local Macedonian standard of approximately Le Rider set the beginning date for Philip's silver coinage at his accession of the throne in B.
He divides the coinages into two series, the first commencing in at Pella, and the second in at Amphipolis. The posthumous issues at Pella continued until c. Le Rider places the first striking of the gold issues later in Philip's reign, perhaps B.
Le Rider's dates are important to our study of the dates of Alexander's coinage. If Philip's coinage was being minted in B. If the silver did stop for a bit inperhaps due to Alexander's short lived eagle coins while the gold continued, this perhaps can be explained by the fact that the gold was minted on an Attic standard, as were Alexander's coins.
Le Rider argues that if the coinage of Philip did not stop immediately upon the minting of the new Alexanders, then it was not long afterwards. He provides as evidence the fact that the common symbols shared by the two issues prow, stern, janiform head, rudder do not occur again in Alexander's lifetime.
Yet he mentions a group of Philips which have all the same symbols with the addition of a bee, hinting perhaps that this group continued later than the others. His article was essential in that it posed a serious challenge to the traditional dating system worked out by Newell, spurring much discussion among scholars. As of today, opinion is quite divided on the subject; there are as many proponents of low dates as high. This was not the case after Kleiner's article was published, and Zervos deserves the credit for being the first to provide successfully an alternative to a well-established tradition.
He reorganizes and explains Kleiner's ideas, corrects them as necessary and provides additional evidence for his theories. Zervos emphasizes not only the iconographic but also stylistic characteristics of the early Alexander coins, and provides sufficient numismatic evidence for his proposals. Kleiner had not done this, having based his dating system on iconography and history, and having attempted to alter the numismatic evidence to suit his theory by lowering the date of the Sidon and Ake coinage.
Zervos principally details Kleiner's theory regarding the silver tetradrachms. Because the figures of Zeus of the earliest Alexander coins of Tarsus and the earliest of Amphipolis are so similar, Kleiner argues that the Baal minted by Mazaeus was the prototype for the Zeus at the same mint for coins issued by Alexander, and from them the Zeus of Amphipolis was derived.
In other words, the Alexander coins were first minted in Tarsus, and minting in Amphipolis began subsequently.
Zervos outlines five characteristics of the coins showing eastern 'oriental' origin in style. These five characteristics are: With regard to the obverse head of Heracles, Zervos agrees with the traditional theory that this type was derived from the Heracles used on the coins of Alexander's predecessors.
Yet he does not believe that this contradicts his theory; rather he explains the types as having been introduced separately at Tarsus and Amphipolis. Used first at Tarsus to compliment the Zeus reverse, when later adopted at Amphipolis, the head was an independent continuation of Macedonian type in a local style unconnected to the iconography at Tarsus.
Therefore since the two types are decidedly distinct, the style of Heracles cannot be used in argument against the lower dating system. First, the hoard of Kyparissia, whose burial Newell dated c B. Previous scholars had argued therefore that Amphipolis must have been minting first. Zervos believes that this is not necessarily true, as Amphipolis produced more coins in general.
Secondly, in examining the Demanhur hoard, he argues that as Newell described them, a greater percentage of the Tarsus coins than those of Amphipolis were worn. Thus, Tarsus had been minting prior to Amphipolis.
This seems to have been Kleiner's chief confusion, which was based on the gold types. Therefore, because of the stylis, he dated the coinage to after the Battle of Tyre where Alexander did in fact use ships.
As he did not separate the commencement of the gold minting from that of the silver, he dated both to Zervos argues that because of the common coin types at both mints, the coinage must have been planned in Macedonia and in Tarsus, and since the silver was based on the Tarsus silver, the gold too must have been minted later than the Tarsus silver.
Zervos's theories were questioned by Martin Price, and the two scholars amicably published their views side by side in the Numismatic Chronicle of The styles used are not uniquely 'oriental,' and all have precedence in earlier Greek coinage. In particular, he argues that the outstretched hand is not an unnatural pose at all, but one proper for holding a bird.
The hand is depicted in this manner at the main Macedonian mint during Alexander's lifetime, while at another significant mint the hand is rendered more 'classically,' or naturally. But, as Price argues, the 'unnatural' pose must have been acceptable to the classical aesthetic as well, and had been presumably prescribed by Alexander or the controller of his coinage, only changing after the king's death. It merely indicates that the hoard contained a large number of late lifetime and early posthumous Alexanders.
Price maintains that Alexander began minting his silver coins immediately upon becoming king. Three years later, in B.
Tarsus was an administrative center close to Issus, and his mint was established at the mint which had been used by the Persian satraps of Cilicia. At this point, as is accepted by scholars in general, eastern influence can be seen on the Alexander coins, since the die-engravers were the very same who had produced the coins for the satraps. At the main mint, the latest issues of Philip II are closely die-linked, as well as having the same symbols on the reverse prow, etc.
Macedonia had grown strong under Philip II.
The Dating of the Coinage of Alexander the Great
Even though Alexander was only 20, he launched a massive military expedition against the Persian Empire. The area of contention between the Persians and the Greeks was Asia Minor modern day Turkey — the Turks had not arrived yet. Most of the coastal cites of Asia Minor were inhabitated by Greek-speaking people, but they were ruled by the Persian Empire. Alexander invaded Asia Minor to liberate the Greeks and drive out the Persians.
While traveling back home through Babylon, Alexander died at the age of 33 in BC. The coins minted under his name from to BC are referred to as lifetime issues and command a high price today. There were many kingdoms formed out this Alexandrian Empire but the three principal kingdoms were the Macedonian Kingdom, Seleucid Kingdom, and Ptolemy Kingdom.
She was the last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. The borders of all these kingdoms changed frequently. These coins are posthumous issues and naturally make up the bulk of the Alexander coins found today.
The drachm is about 18 mm wide and weighs about 4. The tetradrachm size varies according to when and where it was minted but ranges from mm wide and weighs Alexander coins were considered sound money as the receiver knew that the coin was of a certain weight of silver. The value of the coin principally came from what it was made of, not who issued the coin. The weights of the coins were regulated by city officials called magistrates.
It is often their official symbols and monograms that we find on the coins. Ancient forgers used to coat copper coins with silver and try to pass them off as pure silver coins. By piercing the coin, the person could tell if the silver ran through the coin. It was not for the purpose of establishing the free flow of commerce.
Coins were also made of gold and bronze, but we will principally deal with the silver issues here. When Alexander was alive, there were about 26 mints producing his coinage.
Alexander the Great Tetradrachms - Alexander III Tetradrachms - Alexander Coin Attribution
After his death, Greek rulers and cities throughout the former Alexandrian Empire produced Alexander coinage at 52 mints at its peak. In all about 91 different mints produced Alexander coinage over the years.
The last Alexanders were minted at Mesembria around 65 B. On the back reverse was the supreme god, Zeus, who was the father of Herakles. Zeus sits on his throne holding a scepter and eagle. Although some people have argued the image of Herakles was Alexander himself, there is no convincing evidence of this and the face of Herakles is different in different regions.
Herakles was the greatest hero of the Greeks. Born of the Greek god Zeus and made mortal, Herakles attained divine status by accomplishing 12 great tasks on Earth known as the 12 Labors of Herakles.
The idea of a man becoming a god obviously was an attractive image for Alexander. The headdress that appears on the head of Herakles is the lion skin of the fierce Nemean lion that was killed by Herakles during his first labor. This is a lifetime issue - B. C - The legs of Zeus are side by side There are two main styles on the back reverse. One has Zeus with his legs side by side and another style has one leg behind the other.
While most lifetime issues have Zeus with his legs side by side and most posthumous issues have one leg behind the other, it is best to consult a reference book to be sure as there are exceptions.
This is a posthumous issue. There are two types of inscriptions found on the reverse of Alexander coins.