|Lot 124. |
KINGS of ARMENIA MINOR. Aristoboulos, with Salome. AD 54-92. Æ (4.64 gm; 20 mm). Dated RY 13 (AD 66/7). Diademed and draped bust of Aristobulus left / Diademed and draped bust of Salome left. Meshorer 365 corr. (date); Hendin 1257a; Kovacs 300; RPC I 3840 corr. (same). Nice brown-reddish patina. Well-centered. Choice Good Very Fine. Two excellent portraits. Extremely rare and in a superb state of preservation.
Salome is described in the Gospels (Matthew 14 and Mark 6) only as the daughter of Herodias, who asked Herod Antipas for the head of John the Baptist in return for her daughter’s risqué dance for the king. Salome’s name is supplied by Josephus in Antiquities 18.5, where he also informs us that she grew up to marry her great-uncle Philip the Tetrarch and, after Philip’s death, her cousin Aristobulus, who is featured on the obverse of this coin and with whom Salome had three sons. Aristobulus was the son of Herod V of Chalkis and great grandson of Herod I, and was appointed king of Armenia Minor in the first year of Nero’s reign.
The present issue was struck in 66/7 CE (year 13 of Aristobulus’ reign), the first year of the Jewish war and around 40 years since the execution of John the Baptist, which has been tentatively dated to some time between 25 and 29 CE. Hendin (5th ed., p. 275) suggests that Aristobulus struck this issue for propagandistic and political purposes, in the first year of the war, as a show of loyalty to Rome and his patron Nero.
When RPC was published, citing three known examples of this type, the date was off the flan on two pieces and the one example with partial date had been tentatively read as date ? or ? (RPC p. 570). Frank Kovacs subsequently discovered an example with a clear date 13 (Hendin p. 275, pl. 24, same obverse die as the present coin), and Kovacs’ opinion was that other reported dates were most likely mis-readings of that date. The publication of additional specimens has since confirmed Kovacs’ opinion, and it is now clear that all coins of this type are dated year 13.
Estimate: US$ 10,000