Kingdom of Macedon, Alexander III ‘the Great’ - Persian Treasure

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Alexander’s stunning conquest of the Persian Achaemenid Empire delivered into his hands a vast wealth of proportions so incredible that it was scarcely believable. At the time of the death of Alexander’s father Philip II in 336 BC the Macedonian state was indebted to the sum of five hundred talents of silver. Yet less than five years later Alexander was the wealthiest man on the face of the earth and the Macedonian kingdom spanned some three thousand miles at its greatest length. The treasuries of Susa, Babylon and Persepolis rendered a treasure estimated at some one hundred and eighty thousand talents. A significant quanity of the captured gold was sent back to Amphipolis where a part was used for the striking of the Alexandrine distaters, the heaviest gold coins the world had yet known. Valued at forty silver drachms, this new denomination meant that Alexander’s discharged veteran soldiers could be paid out their one talent in 120 distaters. In practice, the relatively low output of gold distaters compared with the staters seems to suggest that perhaps they fulfilled a more ceremonial than practical role.

Kingdom of Macedon, Alexander III ‘the Great’ AV Distater. Amphipolis, circa 325-323 BC. Head of Athena right, wearing triple crested Corinthian helmet decorated with coiled serpent / Nike standing to left, holding wreath in outstretched right hand and stylis over left shoulder; thunderbolt to left, ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ to right. Price 163; Müller 1; for the date, see Troxell, p. 128. 17.23g, 22mm, 8h.

Good Extremely Fine. Exceptionally well preserved for the issue; one of the very finest surviving distaters.