Златните и сребърни александровки, сечени в град Кара, Северна Месопотамия, под контрола на Филип III Аридей, Антигон Монофталм и Деметрий Полиоркет

Golden and silver Alexanders struck in the town of Carrhae – Northern Mesopotamia under the control of Philip III Archidaeus, Antigonus Monophtalmus and Demetrius Poliorcetes

  • Boryana Russeva National Institute of Archaeology with Museum Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


The ancient Carrhae, today’s Harran, is the biblical Harrânu – the residence of Patriarch Abraham of the Jews and one of the provincial capital cities of the Northern Mesopotamia. For the first time the town was mentioned about 2000 BC in the tablets of Mari along with its greatest landmark – the Temple of the God of the Moon (Sin) set up in honour of the famous cult of Ba’al-Haran.
The imperial mint in Carrhae was established as early as under Philip III Arrhidaeus when issued the emission of golden and silver Alexanders of Price 3796-3809 signed with a common monogram (fig. 1-2). The localization of this early posthumous Alexander type coinage in Mesopotamian Carrhae we owe to Georges Le Rider who has dated the emission ca. 320 – 317 BC, while M. Price considers the same emissions struck within the general period of ca. 315 – ca. 305 BC together with obviously the later in style and iconography tetradrachms and drachms in Price’s Corpus under Nos. 3787-3789A (fig. 4a-4b). Most probably the latter were issued immediately before the golden and silver Seleucids of SC1.39-46, signed initially by the name of Alexander, and then by Seleucus – a production of the first Seleucid (fig. 5-6). The authors of SC1 are dating them from ca. 310-290 BC while according to Price only the variants with Alexander’s name were minted in ca. 305 – ca. 300 BC.
A unique gold coin appeared recently on the numismatic market – a posthumous stater of the types and name of Philip II Macedon (fig. 3), signed with the monogram peculiar of the early Alexanders from Carrhae. The golden Philip’s issue was struck synchronously with the Alexander’s type of gold of the variants Price 3801-3802 (fig. 2) for the identical controls on both coin emissions. For this reason, the experts from CNG convey from Carrhae to the capital city of Cilicia – Tarsus, the entire series of early Macedonian silver and gold which main control is the signature of – a manipulation rejected as unconvincing by the author of the work here presented. Furthermore, the mint of Carrhae of Mesopotamia issued also the variants of Price 3565-3567A sharing the same coin dies (fig. 7-9), tied in turn with the group of Alexanders of the variants of Price 3787-3789A. Alongside being bound in die inside each one, both identical in style and minted synchronously coin groups of Price 3565-3567A and Price 3787-3789A also share the same obverse die through (retouched!) obverse matrix from Gülnar 1963 (pl. 54) – a piece of the variant of Price 3787 and Varna’1955, N 59 of the variant of Price 3567A.
Price 3787-3789A and Price 3565-3567A which “forment un groupe homogéne” in the Le Rider’s words, were obviously too popular among the ancient ones and most probably were intended to pay mercenaries for we have them in more than one Hellenistic hoards found mostly on the territory of the Balkans. The word is about the hoards from Pet mogili (IGCH 856) and Varna’1955 (IGCH 859), Jabukovac and Olympia, Balkan area hoard, Gülnar (Meydancikkale) and Kirazli – all of them containing coins of both homogeneous in style and chronologically identical groups of tetradrachms of the mint in Carrhae struck in the years between 315 and 310 BC and therefore bound with the control of the Antigonides in these areas.
It seems noteworthy that this silver coinage of Carrhae was issued most probably in a hurry, urgently, hinted by the retouched coin dies as well as by the relatively negligent iconography of some of the variants. Quite possibly these Alexanders type of tetradrachms (and drachms) were a target emission to pay the military contingents of Antigonоs Monophtalmоs and his son in the tumultuous years of confrontation with Seleucоs Nicator for power over the Eastern regions of the Empire. The date of ca. 317/315-310 BC would precede the time when the Seleucids of Carrhae were issued, among which we again meet the signature of the same engraver ΔΙΟ[] (fig. 5-6) we know from the variants of Price 3567A and Price 3787 (fig. 4a-4б).

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