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Rare Timarchos Bronze

249, Lot: 173. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUKID KINGS of SYRIA. Timarchos. Usurper, 164-161 BC. Æ (34mm, 34.50 g, 7h). Ekbatana mint. Diademed head right / Nike advancing left, holding wreath and palm. SC 1598; HGC 9, 769. Near VF, dark brown surfaces, some pitting, usual adjustment marks. Rare.

From the HLT Collection.

Timarchos was a close adherent of Antiochos IV, who appointed him as the Seleucid ambassador to Rome, and later as satrap of Media (or Babylonia). His brother, Herakleidas, was also an associate of the king, who appointed him as royal treasurer. Upon the death of Antiochos IV, his nephew, Demetrios (I), who was a hostage at Rome, appealed to the Romans to be made the new king. The Romans, however, looked for a weaker ruler, and supported the accession of Antiochos' child, Antiochos V. Demetrios soon escaped from Rome, and recruited a powerful army to back his bid for the Seleucid throne. Upon entering Syria, Demetrios easily took control, ordering the death of the young king, and removed Herakleidas from his position. One may assume Timarchos was also slated for removal. In late 162 or 161 BC, Timarchos appealed to the Romans for help, and they recognized him as king (though likely only over an independent Media). He quickly consolidated his rule in Media, and took the title Great King, apparently appealing to the sentiments of the native Persians to support his rule. Soon Timarchos had an army to challenge Demetrios, and he took control of Seleucia on the Tigris. Nonetheless, Demetrios' support was too strong, and Timarchos was defeated and killed in battle, probably somewhere near Babylon.

Although previous research had suggested his power base was Babylon, more recent discoveries, including the numismatic evidence, support the contention that Ekbatana was his capital. The numismatic evidence also suggests that Timarchos may have begun his revolt during the reign of Antiochos V, perhaps recognizing that the Roman candidate would obviously be unable to keep control of the kingdom while threats abounded on many fronts, including especially the ascendant Parthian kingdom of Mithridates I, to the east.