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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 6, Lot: 109. Estimate CHF2000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 7 May 2012. 
Sold For CHF1600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUKID KINGS of SYRIA. Demetrios II Nikator. First reign, 146-138 BC. Drachm (Silver, 4.06 g 1), Seleucia in Pieria. Diademed head of Demetrios II to right. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ ΝΙΚΑΤΟΡΟΣ Anchor upwards; on crossbar at lower left, lily. SNG Spaer 1634 (same dies). SC 1927.1. Very rare. Lightly toned and extremely attractive. Good extremely fine.

Ex Nomos 2, 18 May 2010, 132 and Classical Numismatic Group 58, 19 September 2001, 703.

The lily symbol on the reverse might suggest an attribution of this coin to Jerusalem (!), since that was the city’s symbol par excellence on the issues of Antiochos VII that were minted there. Unfortunately, this coin is linked to others that do not bear this symbol (as SC 1925-1926 and 1927A) so any direct connection with Judaea is less likely. However, we still do not know why this symbol appears, or what its meaning was. Demetrios II was a son of Demetrios I, and managed to gain the throne after defeating the usurper Alexander Balas. He was an unsatisfactory ruler and almost immediately faced revolts and attacks from the Parthians: in 138 they captured him and he remained in captivity, even marrying a Parthian princess, until his release as a counterweight to a Seleukid attack on Parthia by Antiochos VII, Demetrius II’s own brother. During his long internment he grew a beard in Parthian style (see the following lot). His second reign was just as unsatisfactory as his first; he was murdered to general acclaim in 126 BC.