Antiochus III, 223 – 187
Tetradrachm, Nisibis circa 223-187, AR 16.90 g. Diademed head r. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ – ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ Elephant advancing r.; in fields, two monograms. Houghton, The Elephants of Nisibis, in ANSMN 31 (1986), 5 (this coin). SC 986.1 (this coin listed). SNG Copenhagen 143. SNG Spear 691 (different monograms but this obverse die). Boston 272a (different monograms but this obverse die).
An extremely rare variety of a very rare type. A superb portrait and an interesting
reverse composition. Wonderful old cabinet tone, minor traces of double
striking on reverse, otherwise extremely fine
Ex Numismatic Art and Ancient Coins 17 April 1986, 243 and NGSA 6, 2011, 111 sales.
Between 212/11 and 204 BC, Antiochos III embarked upon the reconquest of the Upper Satrapies, many of which seceded from the Seleukid Empire during the chaotic reign of Seleukos II. He restored Seleukid authority in Armenia and Parthia, formed an alliance with Euthydemos I of Baktria, and renewed former Seleukid treaties with the Mauryan Empire of India. The latter allowed him to increase the number of his war elephants such as the one depicted on the reverse of the present coin. Indeed, the animal on this coin may refer precisely to the additional elephants obtained by the king since it was struck in the period following the return of Antiochus III to the West. Upon his return, he put his soldiers and elephants to good use reconquering former Seleukid territories in Asia Minor and successfully wresting Phoenicia and Koile Syria from Ptolemaic control in 201 BC. Alas, as the power of the Seleukid king grew, he came into conflict with the Romans and their Greek allies. In 192 BC, Antiochos III mounted an invasion of mainland Greece in support of the Aitolian League and hoped to drive the Romans back to Italy. Unfortunately, he was defeated at Thermopylae and forced to withdraw to Asia Minor, where he was again defeated at the Battle of Magnesia (190/89 BC). In the following year, the king was forced to accept the humiliating Peace of Apamea, which denied Asia Minor north of the Taurus to the Seleukid Empire and limited the number of ships and elephants in the Seleukid arsenal.