Every new discovery of an Alexander item is great news as far as I’m concerned. This time the news comes from Syria and more precisely from Najm Castle in the Aleppo area, which I visited recently, where a hoard of coins has been unearthed. Why don’t I find such hidden treasures….!
Well, to start with I am not a local, like this Syrian who did some construction works on his land and discovered a bronze box filled with no less than 250 coins! He was so honest to deliver them to the competent local authorities who quickly could sift through them. They were all from Hellenistic times and all made of silver, i.e. 137 tetra drachmae (four drachmae) and 115 drachmae.
The tetradrachmae all clearly show Alexander the Great on one side, while the obverse depicts Zeus sitting on a throne holding an eagle on his arm. As can be expected, most of these coins carry Alexander’s name but they come in two different ways: 34 coins read King Alexander and 81 just show Alexander. Strangely enough, the remaining 22 coins bear the name of King Philip!
On the single drachmae coins however, one hundred of them show the name of Alexander while the remaining fifteen coins are inscribed with the name of Philip.
Why the name of King Philip, Alexander’s father is showing on Hellenistic coins seems kind of odd as he never got as far as Syria and the Hellenistic period started only after Alexander’s death many years later. This article from Global Arab Network (March 2010) does not offer any further explanation, nor does it mention a timeframe when these coins were minted. That is highly unfortunate, I would say.
Isn’t this great news? There certainly are not too many Alexander coins around and if the Syrians banalize this find and think it is not worth more press space, they are certainly welcome to distribute them among the Alexander fans of this world. Personally, I would even travel all the way to Syria just to collect one of these Alexander coins. Who else?