Sep 11 – 16, 2022
University of Warsaw
Europe/Warsaw timezone

Naval imagery on Seleucid bronze coinage: the curious case of the city of Antioch

Sep 13, 2022, 2:00 PM
University of Warsaw

University of Warsaw

Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28 Warsaw


Pim Möhring (National Numismatic Collection, De Nederlandsche Bank)


During the reign of Seleucus IV (187-175 BCE) bronze coins, depicting prow of galley, were minted in Antioch on the Orontes. This appears to be a unique and remarkable development. Antioch was a river city without naval traditions, with nearby Seleucia Pieria and Laodicea functioning as its port-cities. The ancient sources do not mention Seleucus undertaking any naval activity. On the contrary, he supposedly refrained from doing so, due to Roman restrictions. How then can the contradictory presence of naval imagery be explained? I will examine the assumption of low Seleucid naval activity from a historical perspective and explore possible explanations of the "prow" type within broader numismatic developments relating to naval imagery in a Mediterranean context. How does the prow relate to local traditions, military victories, or naval prowess? Where do Seleucus IV and Antioch fit in? And why is the "prow" predominantly shown on bronze coins?

Primary author

Pim Möhring (National Numismatic Collection, De Nederlandsche Bank)

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