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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 64, Lot: 467. Estimate $500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 24 September 2003. 
Sold For $550. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

NABATAEA. Syllaeus. 9 BCE. AR Quarter Drachm or Denarius (0.91 gm). Diademed head of Obodas III right / "Shin" (Syllaeus) and "het" (Aretas) in wreath. Meshorer, Sup. 4; Schmitt-Korte and Price,"Nabataean Coinage III", NumChron 1994, pl. 10. Good VF, attractive toning. Very rare. ($500)

Syllaeus was minister and advisor under the aged king Obodas III. It appears that at the end of his reign Syllaeus and another noble, Aretas, were engaged in a struggle to succeed the king. There is still some question whether Aretas was the son of Obodas. Scarce bronze and truly rare silver coins were struck with the initials for Syllaeus and Aretas. Obviously the two rivals sought a brief accomodation in a joint reign. However, Syllaeus had earned the enmity of the new power in the near east, Rome. In 24 BC he had betrayed the Roman army sent into Arabia Felix, causing its almost complete destruction. He then clashed with Rome's tame prince, Herod of Judaea. Facing accusations of treason, Syllaeus twice had to go to the court at Rome to defend himself and justify his claim to the throne, in 9 and 6 BC. Syllaeus was subsequently beheaded and Aretas left as sole ruler.