Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXVAuction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 503

Price realized: 44,000 GBP   (Approx. 49,566 USD / 50,493 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Seleukid Empire, Seleukos I Nikator with Antiochos I Soter AV Stater. Coregency issue, in the types of Alexander III of Macedon. Indian standard. Aï Khanoum, circa 294-281 BC. Head of Athena to right, wearing hoop earring, necklace, and triple-crested Corinthian helmet adorned with a coiled serpent / Nike standing to left, holding wreath in extended right hand and cradling staff or sceptre in left arm; [ΣEΛEYKOY K]AI ANTIOXO[Y] to right, Δ-in-circle above horned helmet to left in left field, BAΣIΛEYΩN below. Roma XXII, lot 420; CNG 120, lot 415; CNG 117, lot 263; otherwise unpublished. 7.08g, 17mm, 7h.

Extremely Fine. Of the greatest rarity; only the fourth known example and the first to reveal the lower legend. Arguably finer, or at least on par with the example sold in May 2022 by CNG (Auction 120, lot 415) for USD 70,000.

From the Oxus Collection.

In 312 BC Seleukos I regained Babylonia, which he had been allocated following the assassination of Perdikkas but had lost to Antigonos Monophthalmos, regent of Macedon, and set out from this place to build a vast kingdom. His control soon had spread over Susiana, Media and Persis, whereupon he decided to turn his attention to the lands in the east of Alexander's former empire. Over the course of nine years (311-302) Seleukos brought the whole of this eastern part of the Alexandrine dominions as far as the Jaxartes and Indus rivers under his control. Appian (History of Rome, the Syrian Wars 55) reports that "he acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleukid' Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Baktria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrkania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander... so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleukos."

The nascent Indian Mauryan Empire that had come into being under Chandragupta had meanwhile expanded its control up to the Indus river. Justin (15.4.12-13) reports that "after the death of Alexander, [India] had shaken, as it were, the yoke of servitude from its neck, and put his governors to death. The author of this liberation was [Chandragupta]". Now being faced with a powerful rival empire on his back doorstep, Seleukos waged war against Chandragupta but eventually reached a favourable treaty by which in surrendering territories he could not securely hold he obtained a force of five hundred Indian war elephants that would later play a decisive role in battle with his rival diadochi, particularly at Ipsos against Antigonos and Demetrios.

The Aï Khanoum mint, in the east towards India, issued a series of coinage struck on the lighter Indian standard in silver and gold (though of the latter, only two examples are known), the likely purpose of which must have been to facilitate cross border trade. Uniquely, this series presents together the names of both Seleukos I and his son Antiochos, who had been made co-regent with his father and viceroy of the eastern provinces following some difficulties with a rebellion in the satrapy of Persis. As coregent in the east, Antiochos governed well, pursuing a policy of colonisation and the improvement of existing cities.

Contact between the Seleukid kingdom and the Mauryan empire seems to have remained cordial and stable well after Seleukos' reign, with Antiochos maintaining a friendly relationship with the Mauryan ruler Bindusara, who had succeeded his father in c. 297. Athenaeus, (Deipnosophistae, XIV) relates an episode in which Bindusara entreats Antiochos to "buy and send him some sweet wine, and some dried figs, and a sophist" (for, as Aristophanes says "there's really nothing nicer than dried figs") and that Antiochos wrote to him in answer: "The dried figs and the sweet wine we will send you; but it is not lawful for a sophist to be sold in Greece".

Estimate: 25000 GBP