Founded 29-Nov-2009
Last update 29-Nov-2009

Bronze coin References

Identification Number TRY-AE-01

Mint: Antioch on the Orontes1
Period: 142 - 138 BC
Denomination: AE Unit
Weight: 5.47 g
Diameter: 17 - 19 mm
Obverse: Diademed head of Tryphon right; dotted border
Reverse: ‘ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΤΡΥΦΩΝΟΣ’ right, ‘[Α]ΥΤΟΚΡΑΤΟΡ[ΟΣ]’ left (“of King Tryphon, the Self-Empowered”); spiked Macedonian helmet with cheek guards facing left, adorned with wild goat’s horn above visor; control mark, if any, illegible
Die axis:
References: Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2034; Houghton, CSE, 259 and 261; Hunterian Coll. III, p. 78, Nos. 7-9; SNG Spaer, 1827-1838; BMC 4, pp. 68-9, Nos. 8-15 (Plate XX, 3)
Note: The helmet is used as the reverse type also on Tryphon’s tetradrachms and drachms from Antioch mint and on coins from some other mints. There are several interpretations of this Tryphon’s personal badge, but according to Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, Vol. I, p. 337, none of them is fully convincing (for a detailed discussion, see ibid, pp. 337-8). For example, it is interpreted as the insignia of Tryphon’s authority as head of the army, or as a pun on his name through the Homeric term tryphaleia (helmet), or as a reflexion of his claim that he held the kingship according to Macedonian custom, through acclamation by the soldiery.2 The horn that adorns the helmet is usually identified as that of an ibex (Capra ibex), a species of wild goat with extravagantly large horns.



1 Antioch was founded about 300 BC by Seleukos I Nikator, the founder of the Seleukid Dynasty, and it became the principal capital of the Seleukid Empire. The city was named after a family name Antiochos, passed from his father to his son (Antiochos I Soter). There were a number of other cities by the same name and this Antioch was known as Antioch on the Orontes (i.e. the Orontes River, along which it was located).

2 Newell, The Seleucid Mint of Antioch, p. 73, prefers the allusion to the old Macedonian custom of proclamation by the army: “The Macedonian helmet chosen for the reverse type of all these issues has direct reference to the claim of Tryphon that, –according to the time honored Macedonian custom,– he was supposed to have been unanimously elected by free Macedonian soldiers in open assembly. There may also be intended a punning reference to his name, for in both Homer and Hesiod a helmet is sometimes called τρυφαλεια.” Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, Vol. I, p. 337, note that the horn on Tryphon’s helmet does not closely resemble short horns which adorn a Macedonian helmet on Roman republican denarii celebrating the defeat of Philip V of Macedon, but it rather recalls the lavishly endowed wild goats depicted on various Thraco-Macedonian coinages of the archaic and classical periods.


Gardner, Percy:Catalogue of the Greek coins in the British Museum, Volume 4: The Seleucid Kings of Syria. London, 1878 (reprint, Arnaldo Forni, Bologna, 1963). (abbr. BMC 4)
Houghton, Arthur:Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton. The American Numismatic Society, New York, 1983. (abbr. CSE)
Houghton, Arthur; Lorber, Catharine; Hoover, Oliver:Seleucid Coins, A Comprehensive Catalogue. Part II, Volumes 1 and 2. The American Numismatic Society, New York, in association with Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., Lancaster/London, 2008. (abbr. SC II)
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)
MacDonald, George:Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, University of Glasgow. Volume 3. Further Asia, Northern Africa, Western Europe. Elibron Classics, Adamant Media Corporation, 2003. Replica edition of the edition published by James Maclehose and Sons, Glasgow, 1905. (abbr. Hunterian Coll. III)
Newell, Edward T.:The Seleucid Mint of Antioch. Chicago, 1978 (Obol International reprint of the New York 1918 original edition). (abbr. SMA)