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Alexander the Great AR Tetradrachm: Babylon "MI" Series

Alexander the Great AR Tetradrachm: Babylon "MI" Series


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Greek: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1259952
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This scarce coin is a silver tetradrachm that was minted in the name of Alexander the Great, circa 311-305 B.C. This coin is approximately 26 mm in diameter, weighs 17.1 grams, is perfectly centered, and is in about extremely fine/extremely fine condition: EF-/EF. This piece also has attractive old cabinet toning, and has an even light gray patina. The obverse has the head of Herakles facing right, wearing a lion's skin headdress, and the obverse is seen in extremely high relief. The obverse has superb artistic style, and the eye of Herakles is seen wide open and is slightly upturned. This is a Greek Hellenistic convention of art that also is meant to portray a deified god, and the portrait seen here may also represent Alexander the Great in the guise of Herakles. The reverse has a seated Zeus facing left, holding an eagle in his extended right arm, with the name of "Alexander" seen behind, and "King" below in Greek lettering. In addition, there is a monogram seen below the throne that is seen within a victory wreath, and the letters "MI" are seen before the throne with a symbol seen below. This symbol represents a type of scythe known as a "grape picker", and this weapon was used on a long pole in order to attack cavalry by slashing and pulling down the rider from his horse. This type of weapon was especially effective against heavy armored riders, who removed from their mounts, could then easily be dispatched by an infantryman. This symbol is extremely rare, with only one recorded example by Martin Price in "The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus", The British Museum, 1991. Price also classified this coin as being from the "MI" series, Babylon Mint, circa 311-305 B.C., nos. 3745-3775. The coin offered here is analogous to no. 3768, which is listed as having a "sickle" symbol. This symbol is extremely rare relative to ancient Greek numismatics, and the coin offered here, and the Price example may be the only two recorded examples. In addition, Nancy Waggoner in "The Alexander Mint at Babylon", Columbia University, 1968, thought that the "MI" series, denoted by the "MI" letters seen on the reverse, was a result in a change in the mint personnel at Babylon with the resumption of power there by Seleucus I, circa 311 B.C. Seleucus I gained power in Babylon by wrestling control of Babylon from Antigonos I Monophthalmos, and finally defeating him at the battle of Ipsos circa 301 B.C. The coin offered here may in fact be the first coin issue minted by Seleucus I, and it is interesting to note that the symbols seen on the "MI" series are military in nature, and some of these symbols include a "double-ax", a "ship's prow", and a "spearhead". The "MI" letters are also seen on several subsequent regal coin issues of Seleucus I after circa 305 B.C. The coin offered here is an Alexander the Great type that is seldom seen on the market with the symbols attributed to Seleucus I, and was an issue that helped to secure Seleucus I as "King of Asia". Ex: Harlan Berk collection, circa 1980's. I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: