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Apollo Sitting on an Omphalos
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Gift of Chester B. Franz

Unknown
Seleucid, Seleucia (in present-day Iraq), about 281 - 261 B.C.
Silver
1 in.
80.NH.2.27

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A portrait of king Antiochus I decorates the front of this four-drachma coin, a tetradrachm. On the back is a figure of the Greek god Apollo. Antiochus I belonged to the Seleucid dynasty of kings, founded by Seleucus I, one of the generals of Alexander the Great. The Seleucids governed Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Central Asia after Alexander's death in 323 B.C. On this coin, several features of the portrait of Antiochus I intentionally mimic depictions of Alexander: the expressive eyes, the tangled hair, and the diadem with fluttering ribbon ties.

The Seleucids claimed Apollo as their patron god, and the figure of the seated god is commonly seen on the backs of Seleucid coins. Apollo sits on the omphalos, the symbolic navel of the world located in the god's sanctuary at Delphi in Greece. The god is lifting an arrow to inspect it for straightness; his bow leans against the omphalos. The Greek inscription reads "Basileus Antiochou," meaning "of king Antiochus," and the two emblems next to the inscriptions identify Antiochus' mint in the city of Seleucia on the river Tigris in Iraq.


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Back: Greek God Apollo
Back: Greek God Apollo