SELEUKID KINGS OF SYRIA. Antiochos VII Euergetes (Sidetes), 138-129 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 31 mm, 16.67 g, 12 h), Attic standard, Ake-Ptolemais. Diademed head of Antiochos VII to right. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ / ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟY - EYEPΓETOY Athena standing front, head to left, holding Nike in her right hand and resting her left on shield decorated with gorgoneion and set on ground; spear leaning against her left arm; to outer left, monogram of ΠA; all within laurel wreath. SC 2118. Of the highest rarity, apparently the second known example of this extremely important issue. A few light marks, otherwise, good very fine.
The attribution of this unusual undated Attic-weight tetradrachm of Antiochos VII to Ake-Ptolemais is secured by the sharing of the reverse monogram to dated Phoenician-weight tetradrachms and didrachms with eagle reverses from said mint (SC 2116-2117), as well as by stylistic comparison of the portraits, all of which were likely crafted by the same artist (SC p. 389). Why Ake-Ptolemais issued such undated tetradrachms of Attic weight with the Athena Nikephoris type is unknown, but a military background seems particularly likely in the light of Antiochos' VII vibrant attempts to restore Seleukid dominance in the Middle East. All of the king's dated coinage from Ake-Ptolemais was struck in 136/5 BC, thus connecting the mint's output in silver - including our coin - to the Seleukid advance into Judaea and the subsequent siege of Jerusalem in 135/4 BC. The latter resulted in the submission of the Jews to Antiochos, who refrained from installing a Seleukid garrison in their holy city in exchange for a payment of 500 talents of silver and the taking of hostages. When the king launched his great Parthian campaign in 131/0 BC, he was accompanied by a Jewish contingent led by the high priest John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC). It was only after Antiochos' defeat and demise in Parthyene in 129 BC that John would break once again with the Seleukids and set on expanding the realm of the Jewish state by conquering large parts of Samaria and Idumaea.