Blank Obverse

Founded 20-May-2008
Last update 20-May-2008

Coin References

Identification Number A04-AE-07

Ruler: Antiochos IV
Mint: Ake-Ptolemais1
Period: 175 - 164 BC
Denomination: AE Half Unit
Weight: 1.90 g
Diameter: 12 - 13 mm
Reverse: ‘[ΒΑ]ΣΙΛ[ΕΩΣ]’ right, ‘[ΑΝΤ]ΙΟΧΟΥ’ left (“of King Antiochos”); nude Apollo seated left on omphalos2, holding arrow in outstretched right hand and resting left hand on bow; aphlaston3 in outer left field; ‘ΛΤ’ in exergue; dotted border
Die axis:
References: Houghton, CSE, 115-116 var. (different control marks in exergue; attributed to Antioch); SNG Spaer, 1041-1044 var. (different control marks in exergue; attributed to Antioch) and 1108-1129 var. (different control marks in exergue)
Note: There are probably two possible reasons why the obverse is blank and covered with fine striations. The first one is that the surface of the flan was prepared for striking with a file or rasp being used to flatten it out. Later on, the flan was sloppily put on an anvil off an obverse die so that the reverse was properly struck but the obverse remained unstruck and it still shows the marks of a prepared surface. The second possibility is that both the obverse and the reverse were properly struck but later the coin has been intended to be used as a host for restriking. For this reason, the obverse has been purposely filed down as the first step in preparing the coin for restriking. There are several examples of serrate Seleukid coins reused by the Bar Kochba rebels. These examples shows that foreign types were always filed before overstriking with Jewish types.4



1 Ake-Ptolemais (also Akko, Acco, Accho, Acre, Saint-Jean d’Acre) was an important Phoenician port. The name Ake (Akko, Acco) means hot sand. Its history is very old and the city is mentioned in Egyptian texts from the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. It originally belonged to the Phoenicians. When the Israelites came to the land of Canaan, in the 13th century BC, the area of Ake was assigned to the tribe of Asher, but the Israelites were never able to occupy it. Ake afterwards passed into the hands of the Babylonians, and from them to the Persians. After the death of Alexander the Great, it passed to the Ptolemaic Empire. In about 260 BC, its original name was changed to Ptolemais, probably in honor of Ptolemy II. The city was under Seleukid rule from 200 BC, after the battle of Panion (the defeat of Ptolemy V by Antiochos III). From the time of Antiochos IV, it bore the additional name of Antioch. The quasi-municipal coins from the 2nd century BC bear the inscription ‘ΑΝΤΙΟΧΕΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΕΝ ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΔΙ’, i.e. “Antioch in Ptolemais” (Antiochos IV probably founded a colony there named after himself). Seleukid royal coins were minted there from Seleukos IV to Antiochos IX (except of Antiochos VII). The city was captured by Alexander Jannaeus in 104/3 BC. See, e.g., Head, Historia Numorum, Ptolemais-Ace; Houghton, CSE, Ake-Ptolemais (p. 77); Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, Ace.

2 The omphalos (“navel” in Greek) was a sacred stone at Delphi. It was supposed to mark the center of the earth. Similar stones were erected in several areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.16.3: What is called the Omphalus by the Delphians is made of white marble, and is said by the Delphians to be the center of all the earth.

3 An ornamented high end of the stern of ancient galleys (the up-curving timbers of the hull terminated in a fan-like or plum-like ornament).

4 My sincere thanks to Arthur A. Houghton and Oliver D. Hoover for their expert opinion on this coin.


Head, Barclay V.:Historia Numorum. A Manual of Greek Numismatics. Oxford, 1911, 2nd ed. (Ed Snible and coworkers: Digital Historia Numorum,
Houghton, Arthur:Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton. The American Numismatic Society, New York, 1983. (abbr. CSE)
Houghton, Arthur; Spaer, Arnold (with the assistance of Catharine Lorber):Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum. Israel I. The Arnold Spaer Collection of Seleucid Coins. Italo Vecchi Ltd., London, 1998. (abbr. SNG Spaer)
Pausanias:Description of Greece. Translated by W. H. S. Jones and H. A. Ormerod. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, 1918. (The Perseus Digital Library,
Smith, William (ed.):Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London, 1854. (The Perseus Digital Library,