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2241RE: Secession of Commagene - 163/2 or 150 BC?

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  • egil4870
    Nov 23, 2013
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      Looking through the archive on this group, I realised that this post about the independence of Commagene resulted in an article in the Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, issue 215 this spring. It was called

      Numismatic evidence for dating the independence of Commagene to 150 BC?

       

      This dating is based on a reinterpretation of the numismatic evidence: The first Demetrius imitations were struck at the same time as Alexander Balas invaded the neighbouring province of Cilicia, and so were probably issued in support of Demetrius I in a makeshift mint. After Demetrius died, the coins were still struck in 149/8 BC, which suggests that Ptolemy of Commagene was a supporter of Demetrius, but did not recognise Balas. The original study of these Demetrius imitations was Oliver Hoover's

      'Notes on Some Imitation Drachms of Demetrius I Soter from Commagene', American Journal of Numismatics 1998, pp.71-94

       



      ---In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, <jens.jakobsson@...> wrote:

      Dear group,

      another observation based on Seleucid Coins II, which I am studying
      thoroughly. The book is a cornucopia for further Seleucid studies,
      especially as the text seldom strays from its subject, the coins. If
      there is another conference on Seleucid history, I'd like to suggest
      that its theme would be new political etc. advances based on the
      findings in SC.

      The secession of Commagene is treated on p.207 in SC II:vol 1, based on
      one of Oliver D. Hoover's articles. An 'unofficial' Commagenean mint
      started issuing drachms of Demetrius I, with dies imitating those from
      Antioch and monograms based on, but sligthly different from, that mint.
      These coins are attributed to Ptolemy, the first governor of Commagene.

      Ptolemy is known from an fragment by Diodorus Siculus, 31.19a.

      "Ptolemaeus, the governor of CommagenĂȘ, who even before had shown
      little respect for the Syrian kings, now asserted his independence, and
      because they were busy with their own affairs, established himself
      without interference in control of the country, being chiefly emboldened
      by its natural advantages for defence."

      This fragment appears before an account (31.19) of the Cappadocian
      dynasty; I suppose the Syrian kings who were busy with their own affairs
      would be either Antiochus V & Demetrius I or Demetrius I and Alexander
      Balas.

      Ptolemy is also known from the Nemrud Dag inscription of the ancestors
      of Antiochus I of Commagene; he is listed on the left pedestal among the
      Persians-Armenians rather than the right with Greeks-Macedonians. Nemrud
      Dag ancestor inscription <http://www.nemrud.nl/en/tr_tekst5.php> But
      possibly this is because the right pedestal is in fact devoted to the
      Seleucid dynasty (and Alexander the Great).

      SC II takes the view that Ptolemy broke away from the Seleucid Empire in
      163/2 BCE, i.e. the first of the two periods mentioned above. To some
      extent I can agree with this; the coins are imitations rather than
      issues of an official Seleucid administration. But my view is that if
      Ptolemy imitated the coins of Demetrius I, while the latter was king, he
      had not seceded completely. I see these coins as semi-official, so that
      Ptolemy and Demetrius I had some sort of agreement. Apparently, if
      Ptolemy had made himself independent, he would have been concerned with
      an attack from Demetrius. The loyalty of Ptolemy's troops during such an
      attack would hardly have improved if they were paid with coins naming
      Demetrius as their legitimate king. (A similar reason is one of many
      arguments why Diodotus I of Bactria did not issue his first coins in the
      name of the Seleucid king Antiochus II. See my article "Antiochus
      Nicator, a third Bactrian king?", NC 2010. Though in Diodotus' case,
      numismatic evidence supports the view that the 'Antiochus coins' are
      later.)

      The first Commagenean imitations, in good style, use Demetrius' regnal
      years: one example is given for SE (160 - 153/2 BC). But when Balas came
      to power in 150 BC, the Commagenean mint continued for some years to
      strike Demetrius coins, for instance in SE 164 (149/8 BC). So Ptolemy
      did not support Balas. In my view, he could have declared himself
      completely independent because the Seleucid dynasty had expired, the
      full independence of Commagene then beginning in 150 BC.

      Jens Jakobsson

      www.alexandersarvtagare.se
      <http://www.alexandersarvtagare.se/English1.html>



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