Classical Numismatic Group > Auction 123Auction date: 23 May 2023
Lot number: 214

Price realized: 42,500 USD   (Approx. 39,432 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

SELEUKID EMPIRE. Timarchos. Usurper, 164-161 BC. AR Tetradrachm (27mm, 16.73 g, 5h). Ekbatana mint. Diademed and draped bust right, wearing Boeotian helmet, within fillet border / [BAΣIΛEΩΣ] MEΓAΛOY TIMAPXOY, Dioskouroi, holding couched spears in right hand, palm fronds in left, on horses rearing right. SC 1589; A. Houghton, "Timarchus as king in Babylon" in RN 1979, A (same obv. die); Le Rider, Suse, pl. LXV, 5–6 (same dies as no. 6); HGC 9, 761. Compact flan, a little off center on reverse, indications of overstriking. VF. Extremely rare, the fourth known, and none in CoinArchives (the one helmeted Timarchos tetradrachm listed there is of SC 1588 type).

Unlike many ephemeral Hellenistic reigns, the brief revolt of the Seleukid usurper Timarchos is fairly well-documented by a number of near-contemporary sources. Hailing from Miletos, Timarchos was a friend of the flamboyant Seleukid king Antiochos IV Epiphanes and served as his ambassador to the Roman Republic. Later, Timarchos was appointed to an eastern satrapy, either Babylon or Media. Upon Antiochos' death in 164 BC, Timarchos appealed to the Roman Senate that he, not the brother of Antiochos, returning exile Demetrios I, should be named Seleukid king. The Senate, seeking to keep the Seleukid Empire weak and divided, approved his claim. Demetrios, however, moved quickly, securing the western capital of Antioch and the rest of Syria while Timarchos raised a large army and consolidated his hold on the eastern provinces, including the cities of Ekbatana and Seleukia on the Tigris. With his realm adjoining the breakaway Greco-Baktrian kingdom, then ruled by Eukratides I "the Great," Timarchos chose to imitate Eukratides' silver tetradrachm type depicting his bust wearing a distinctive, broad-brimmed cavalry helmet, with the reverse showing the Dioskouri on horseback holding couched lances. Like Eukratides, he took the old Achaemenid title of Great King (Megas Basileus). Whether this close copying of coin types and titles suggests a formal alliance between the two rulers remains unresolved. Ultimately, Demetrios marched east and confronted the forces of Timarchos in a great battle outside of Babylon in the Spring of 161 BC, where Timarchos suffered defeat and death. His precious metal coinage was recalled and melted down, accounting for its great rarity today, with only four silver tetradrachms from Ekbatana, a single example from Seleukia on the Tigris, and a handful of drachms surviving.

Estimate: 30000 USD