Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich
Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich, Auction 117

Greek, Roman and Gupta Empire gold coins

Tu, 01.10.2019, from 04:45 PM CEST
The auction is closed.


Alexandrine Empire, Satraps of Baylonia under Alexander III. Uncertain Satrap, possibly Mazaios 331-328. Double daric circa 331-328, AV 17.67 g. The Great King advancing r., holding bow and spear; below, the Aramaic letter y (Bēth or Kāp). Rev. Striated oblong incuse. Nicolet-Pierre –. Mitchiner type 15.
An apparently unique and unrecorded variety. An issue of great importance and fascination
bearing an Aramaic character. Light reddish tone and about extremely fine

From a Swiss Private collection and notarised as being in Switzerland prior to 2005.This apparently unique double daric features the usual daric type of an archaizing kneeling-running figure, probably intended to represent the Persian Great King. Based on considerations of style and fabric the present coin was probably struck at Babylon after Alexander the Great’s victory over Dareios III at Gaugamela (331 BC) and his capture of the city later in the year. Double darics with Greek controls were struck in Babylon, perhaps already in 330 BC, but more likely after the death of Alexander in 323 BC. The present piece should probably precede the Greek series judging from the use of the Aramaic letter (beth or kap), a feature otherwise undocumented for the late double darics. If the use of Aramaic—the official language of the Achaemenid Persian administration—can indeed be taken to indicate the priority of this issue, then it should probably be associated with the tenure of Mazaios (Mazday) as satrap of Babylon (331-328 BC) under Alexander the Great.By the time of Alexander’s arrival, Mazaios had already enjoyed a storied career in the service of the last Great Kings of Persia. He was already serving as satrap of Cilicia in 351 BC, when Tennes, the subject king of Sidon, revolted against Persian authority. Mazaios was defeated by Tennes and his Greek mercenaries in an initial campaign, but added Phoenicia and Syria to his satrapy once the revolt was fully crushed and Tennes executed in 346/5 BC. Under Dareios III (336-330 BC), Mazaios was elevated from his Cilician satrapy to become satrap of Mesopotamia and enjoyed a close relationship with his monarch. Indeed, he was even promised the hand of Barsine, the daughter of the Great King, in marriage.By the time of Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Persian Empire in 334 BC, Mazaios is thought to have held the important post of satrap of Babylon. In 331 BC, he obstructed Alexander’s advance through Babylonia forcing the Macedonian king to meet Dareios III and a grand Persian army on the prepared battlefield of Gaugamela. Unfortunately, when the Great King fled the field, the Persian forces collapsed leaving Mazaios no hope of defending his satrapy and saving Babylon from the invader. However, fortune seems to have smiled upon the satrap, for as Alexander moved on the great central capital of the Persian Empire, he made it known that Babylon would not be sacked. Mazaios therefore immediately opened the gates and welcomed the victor of Gaugamela. In gratitude for his prompt submission, Alexander reconfirmed Mazaios as satrap of Babylon. After all, it would be easier to rule the conquered Persian Empire if Alexander could gain collaborators from the overthrown Achaemenid regime. Mazaios was the first such Persian administrative appointment in Alexander’s eastern empire and by all accounts served the Macedonian king well. When he died in 328 BC, Alexander appointed Stamenes, another Persian, to govern as satrap as part of the king’s developing policy of trying to unite Persian and Macedonian in the maintenance of his empire. The sons of Mazaios also participated in this policy, both serving in the cavalry during Alexander’s eastern campaigns.

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Price realized 16'000 CHF
Starting price 16'000 CHF
Estimate 20'000 CHF
The auction is closed.
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