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Ptolemy Soter's annexation of Syria 320 B.C.

The incursions of Ptolemy Soter into Coele-Syria and Phoenicia after the death of Perdiccas have received scant attention from scholars in recent years, and the little they have received has failed to draw some vital conclusions.(1) The sources are compressed, but unanimous, that very soon after the settlement of Triparadeisus, Ptolemy subverted and overran the region, fortified and garrisoned the cities, and returned to Egypt.(2) He seems to have held this satrapy until it became a major arena in the third Diadoch war, c. 315-311 B.C.(3)

In this paper I will demonstrate that an important chronological conclusion can be reached by determining when the sources say Ptolemy annexed Coele-Syria and by analysing them in conjunction with other material.

The literary and epigraphic sources

Diodorus 18.43 summarizes events in Syria at this time, and gives them a temporal context: before the beginning of the archonship of Apollodorus (319/318B.C.) Although this passage is introduced after Eumenes' investment at Nora and Antipater's return to Europe,(4) it should be regarded as a continuation of 18.36.7.(5) Diodorus is here co-ordinating events in widely separate fields, and consequently the narrative leap-frogs from theatre to theatre. The action is placed in the period after the royal armies had left Egypt, and therefore, it is safe to assume, after the settlement of Triparadeisus, which took place in upper Syria(6) in autumn of either 321 or 320,(7) and it is reasonable to presume that Ptolemy waited at least until the armies were well on their way to Asia Minor before risking the invasion. In addition, Diodorus supplies the motive for the expedition: to facilitate the defence of Egypt, and includes the unique detail that it was Ptolemy's general, the otherwise unattested Nicanor,(8) who actually annexed Syria.

By contrast, the Parian Marble places the takeover in the archon year of Apollodorus, therefore, after midsummer 319 and in the same entry as that recording Antipater's death.(9) However, the credentials of the Parian Marble as a chronographic source have been scrutinised in recent years, and found less than universally reliable.(10) As I will demonstrate, in this case it is again deficient.

Pausanias also stresses the immediacy of Ptolemy's move after the death of Perdiccas, but his account is extremely compressed, essentially summarising the events of some five years in one paragraph.

The final source, and the one which contains the critical data, is Appian's Syrian Wars 52. This account parallels Diodorus. It is sketchy, yet complete, and being made from the Syrian perspective, it is particularly relevant:

`The first satrap of Syria was Laomedon of Mitylene, who derived his authority from Perdiccas and from Antipater, who succeeded the latter as guardian of the kings. To this Laomedon Ptolemy, the satrap of Egypt, came with a fleet and offered him a large sum of money if he would hand over Syria to him, because it was well situated for defending Egypt and for attacking Cyprus. When Laomedon refused Ptolemy seized him. Laomedon bribed his guards and escaped to Alcetas in Caria. Thus Ptolemy ruled Syria for a while, left a garrison in the cities, and returned to Egypt.'

Firstly, the context agrees with Diodorus (and Pausanias) that the takeover occurred after Triparadeisus, as Laomedon had derived his authority from both Perdiccas and Antipater.(11) Secondly, Appian attests the personal intervention of Ptolemy with a fleet,(12) and omits Nicanor's part in the action. The most likely scenario would seem to be that Ptolemy arrived at one of the Phoenician cities with a fleet, negotiated with Laomedon and when the latter proved intransigent, sent Nicanor and an appropriate army to capture him and effect the coup.(13) Ptolemy's motive is reiterated in much the same terms as in Diodorus: that Syria was well placed to defend Egypt, and to attack Cyprus.(14) Thus Appian reveals Ptolemy's imperialist ambitions, and the strategic importance of the region in relation to Egypt is again stressed. The final, and vital, detail transmitted by Appian, is that Laomedon escaped custody, and fled to Alcetas, in Caria.(15)

The chronology

It is well known that chronology is one of the major recurrent nightmares for scholars of the early Diadochoi, and that debate between proponents of the `high' (death of Perdiccas and Craterus/Triparadeisus in 321) and `low' chronologies (death of Perdiccas and Craterus/Triparadeisus in 320), has continued for some forty years.(16) Since R. M. Errington's fundamental article in 1970, however, the `low' chronology has gradually become routinely accepted, until recently the `high' system has been cogently restated by A. B. Bosworth,(17) using a combination of old and new evidence hitherto unavailable.(18) It seems to me that this resurrection is a happy one for ancient historians, and the passage of Appian under scrutiny adds to the growing body of hard evidence for the `high' chronology. The crucial step is to pinpoint the temporal context that makes a conjunction of Laomedon and Alcetas in Caria possible. For this, some background discussion will be necessary.

Although the sources, with the convenience of hindsight, play down the power of the Perdiccans after their leader's murder, the reality of the situation must have been far different. Attalus was ensconced in the near-impregnable city of Tyre, with ample funds and a large force and fleet.(19) Despite the defection of Alcetas, Eumenes was victorious in Anatolia, with a secure power-base in his own satrapy, while Alcetas himself was creating his own power-base in Pisidia.(20) Meanwhile, Docimus had secured Babylon.(21) In comparison, the royal army seems to have become a shambles of poor discipline and mutinous intrigue.(22) By following the movements of some of these generals, it is possible to pinpoint the year of Ptolemy's expansion, and, at the same time, place the general chronology of the period on a firmer footing.

Attalus seems to have operated semi-independently at first: he raised a large army(23) to add to his fleet command,(24) and attacked Rhodes and some cities on the Rhodian peraea. Arrian briefly documents the fate of this expedition, even naming the Rhodian nauarch, Demaratus. Ptolemy's Syrian foray, therefore, must have occurred after Attalus had departed, as, presumably, Tyre fell into Egyptian hands along with the other Phoenician cities. At any rate, there is no record of any intercourse between Ptolemy and Attalus, and we have already postulated, reasonably, that Ptolemy would have made no moves while a large force was in the vicinity.

Much rests on the point at which Attalus and Alcetas joined forces. Here the sources must be carefully scrutinised. Diodorus first associates the two at 18.41.7, but the context is after Antipater's departure from Asia and Eumenes' defeat.(25) Arrian Fl.41- 42, augmented by the Goteborg palimpsest fragment, associates the two Perdiccan generals in negotiations with Eumenes. The season is given: winter,(26) and Polemon and Docimus are also present. However, it is difficult to ascertain where the Perdiccans were when they received Eumenes' embassy. Plutarch seems to place them in Phrygia,(27) but does not mention Attalus.(28) The most feasible reconstruction would be that Attalus joined Alcetas later than this, after being defeated by the Rhodians, yet Arrian's account consistently links the two Perdiccan generals. It is, of course, possible that Eumenes' winter embassy reached Alcetas, Attalus, Polemon and Docimus separately, and indeed, Alcetas' wishes are discussed in isolation in lines 36-8 of the Goteborg palimpsest. Plutarch and Arrian are not specific as to whether the Perdiccan generals negotiated in person at Celaenae, but the failure of the negotiations resulted in Alcetas and, presumably, the others retiring to Pisidia or Caria. where, upon being joined by Attalus. they continued their preparations. Antipater, preoccupied on one front with Eumenes,(29) despatched the Carian satrap, Asander, to deal with them, unsuccessfully according to Arrian. Here Appian transmits the crucial information: that Alcetas was in Caria, presumably at some point during this campaign, when Laomedon arrived with the news that Ptolemy was in control of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia. The final stage of Alcetas' life in Pisidia is well documented by Diodorus,(30) and the ultimate fate of Attalus, Polemon and Docimus is detailed some time later.(31) Laomedon does not reappear in the sources; he either shared the fate of the Perdiccans of perhaps joined Antigonus in some capacity.(32)

It now remains to impose some specific chronology on the events, and draw conclusions. On the low' chronology, with Triparadeisus in autumn 320, Attalus' expedition, Antipater's winter campaign against Eumenes, the negotiations between the Perdiccan generals and Alcetas' withdrawal to Caria must all take place over the winter of 320/19. The movements of Antipater are particularly problematic, as he remains in Anatolia long enough to despatch Asander against Attalus and Alcetas as well as negotiate between Cassander and Antigonus,(33) then wends his troubled way back to Europe.(34) This schedule, although feasible, is intensely compressed, and is set in the worst season of the year, particularly for naval adventures.(35) Furthermore, it would mean that Ptolemy's takeover of Syria took place in winter/spring of 320/19, in order for Laomedon to reach Alcetas in Caria before he moved inland to Pisidia. Attalus and Polemon also move with curious rapidity, and the pace of events in the whole western empire from Babylon and Egypt to the Levant and Anatolia takes on the surreal nature of an accelerated silent movie. By contrast, the `high' chronology slows the pace down to a more acceptable and reasonable rate, providing a whole extra year from c. September 321 for the foregoing events. On this scheme, Ptolemy would have waited until both Antipater and Attalus had departed the Levant before moving on Coele-Syria, therefore, probably not until high summer of 320. Although a possible schedule can be worked out for both chronologies, the `high' is by far the snore comfortable.

No time scheme can be reconstructed for events in Coele-Syria, nor can it be ascertained either how long or where Laomedon was held captive.(36) Whatever the details, Alcetas was in Caria by the time the fugitive reached him. The most likely time for this conjunction must be after Attalus and Alcetas had joined up, thus, after Attalus' abortive attempt on Rhodes, and after the campaign against Asander.(37)

It is now necessary to pinpoint Alcetas' presence in Caria in the timeline. On either chronology. the Goteborg palimpsest proves that Antipater's winter campaign against Eumenes occurred in 320/19.(38) As Antipater must have returned to Europe by March/April 319, the campaign in Pisidia/Caria which he commissioned must have occurred in the three months previous to this. Arrian records this campaign before Antipater gave Antigonus command in the war against Eumenes; and Appian sets Laomedon's arrival in Caria in the same context before Antipater's departure and Antigonus' commission (Ch. 53). Diodorus is actually the odd man out here, in that he places Ptolemy's move after the account of Antigonus' campaign against Eumenes. yet certainly before the beginning of the archonship of Apollodorus. As we observed before, however, this is probably a hazard of Diodorus' method, and the obvious difficulty he had in controlling his own sources in book 18. The tone of 18.43 is certainly that of a flashback, and it seems unlikely that Diodorus intended this chapter to be placed definitively in the period after Eumenes was shut up in Nora. It must also be remembered that earlier in Diodorus 18 there is a considerable lacuna (at the end of 18.39), which may have contained, among other things, an archon-year change. I postulate that Diodorus would therefore have included Ptolemy's coup in the archon year of Neaechmus (320/19), which would reconcile him with the other sources.

This interpretation of Arrian, Appian and Diodorus supports the conclusion that Alcetas was in Caria with Attalus, fighting Asander, at some time in early 319: perhaps as early as January, certainly no later than March. He is next mentioned in his stronghold of Pisidia.(39) As we have observed, his movements are closely documented from there on until his death after Cretopolis in autumn of 319.(40) The sequential chronology of this detailed account, linking as it does Alcetas' death to that of Antipater, which is a fixed point, indicates that Alcetas, and Laomedon, were `ell out of Caria by the spring of 319 a' the latest. Thus everything points to a Ptolemaic annexation of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia in the summer/autumn of 320.

Numismatic evidence

Although the foregoing literary evidence is, to my mind, conclusive enough, there is significant numismatic evidence supporting the hypothesis of this paper, and, in consequence, the `high' chronological scheme. The coinage of Sidon during the reign of Philip Arrhidaeus provides near-confirmation that this Phoenician city changed masters in mid 320. The immense value of this coinage, in that it is dated, was demonstrated as long ago as 1916 by Edward Newell in his monograph,(41) and it is interesting to note that numismatists, as a consequence of these coins, have never perceived any option but that of dating Ptolemy's annexation to 320.(42) The series of dated coins begin with Phoenician numbers and mint marks, but change in the tenth year (324/3), to Greek letters commencing with Kappa (K). For four years in the middle of this series, Sidonian staters, tetradrachms and a unique pentobol were issued in the name of Philip III Arrhidaeus, and this effectively anchors the whole issue of Sidon over some twenty-eight years. The dating also fits well into the historical context, as the first Alexander issues cannot have been produced in Phoenicia until after Issus, i.e. 333/2 B.C., when Alexander received the submission of Sidon and commenced the seven month siege of Tyre. Thus Newell's dating system is corroborated by the historical sources,(43) and Sidonian lettered coins issued between 333/2 and 306/5 can be confidently dated.(44)

It is Newell's Sidonian series IV and V which are pertinent to this paper,(45) and linking these issues with their known historical contexts produces fruitful results. The absence of any issues for 323/2 in an otherwise complete series probably reflects the turmoil following Alexander's death in June 323. The Sidonian mint was possibly inoperative during the year October 323/October 322, in the absence of firm directives from Babylon during the transitional period. Newell postulates, very reasonably, that an unusually large issue was minted in 324/3 to cover Alexander's grandiose future plans, in which the Sidonian shipyards and local industry would have played a significant role. The surplus coinage was possibly sufficient to render a 323/2 issue unnecessary.(46) The initiative for Philip's accession at Babylon came from the phalanx, and was solidly opposed by the companions, no doubt including Laomedon, the satrap-designate of Phoenicia and Coele-Syna. This would explain his reluctance to coin in Philip's name when minting resumed in 322/1. Thus Sidonian issues for the years 322/1 (M) and 321/0 (N) are still in Alexander's name; however, there is a sudden change in late 320 to the use of Philip's name, so that both names appear on the issues for year 13 (N). Why the sharp transition in the middle of 320, and in the middle of an issue? The explanation, in my opinion, is that Ptolemy's land-sea expedition arrived in Sidon in the late summer of 320, after the departure of Attalus and the royal armies from the region, and he began his overtures to Laomedon. When they failed he sent Nicanor and an army to effect the coup, subdue the cities and capture the satrap. The sources mention his garrisoning of the cities, but Ptolemy stamped his mark on the region by, among other things, changing the name in which the coinage was minted in mid-issue. This would have served two purposes: firstly, by arrogating one of the prerogatives of sovereignty, he signalled to all within the satrapy that a new master was installed. Secondly, it may have been a gesture of submission to the authority of the kings and their guardians, in order to moderate any alarm over his expansionist ambitions and his blatant breach of the settlement of Triparadeisus.(47) Furthermore, the arrival of Ptolemy's expedition may have led to a need for a large quantity of coinage. Existing stocks (or dies) might have been unable to provide this, so a large new issue of coins might have been called for, necessitating the cutting of new dies. Whatever the reasons, some change seems to have occurred, at least in Sidon, in mid 320, and it is reflected in the coinage, which bore Philip's name up to and including the issues of 318/ 17, dated year 16 ([Gamma]). The major historical change for Sidon at this time was Ptolemy's takeover, and I regard the `N' coins of 320/19 as powerful supporting evidence for the `high' chronological scheme, and the conclusions of this paper.(48)


Firstly, the inevitable historiographical conclusion: the chronology of the Parian Marble is again faulty, and in this case, nothing can resuscitate it. Whether Ptolemy invaded Coele-Syria in 320 or 319, the dating to the archonship of Apollodorus isolates this document from all the other evidence, and is patently erroneous.

The literary and numismatic evidence points to a date for Ptolemy's annexation of c. late summer 320, as it must be remembered that Sidonian mint issues ran on a yearly basis from October. If Ptolemy did indeed order the coinage to be changed, he must have had at least two or three months to mint the N-dated Philip issues. If, as seems inevitable, Diodorus meant his account of Ptolemy's invasion to fall within the archon year of Neaechmus, it can be pinpointed to some time between mid-summer and the end of September, 320.

Finally, the most significant ramifications are for the overall chronology of the Diadochoi. If Ptolemy Soter was annexing Coele-Syria and Phoenicia in the late summer of 320, he certainly was not fighting Perdiccas at the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, nor was he negotiating the withdrawal of the royal armies from Egypt. The conclusions of this paper, if correct, effectively preclude the `low' chronology.(49)

PAT WHEATLEY The University of Western Australia

(1) The main recent contributions are: J. Seibert, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte Ptolemaios' (Munich, 1969), pp. 129 30; E. Will, Histoire politique du monde hellenistique i (Nancy, 1966), pp. 41 2; R. A. Billows, Antigonus the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1990), pp. 4, 72, 75; W. Heckel, The Marshals of Alexander's Empire (London and New York, 1992), pp. 174, 182, 212. See also, Stahelin, RE xii (1925), 755, no. 6; Bux, RE xii (1925), 7s6, no. 7, s.v. Laomedon; Volkmann, RE xxiii (1959), 1611ff., no. 18, s.v. Ptolemaios I Soter.

(2) Diodorus 18.43, 49.3, 73.2; Appian, Syr. 52; Parian Marble, FGrH 239 F B12; Pausanias 1.6.4. See also, Josephus, Antiquities, 12.i.3 s; it is not clear whether the latter entry refers to Ptolemy's movements in 320 or after Gaza in 312, see, Against Apion I 184ff., 209ff., and Agatharchides of Cnidus, FGrH 86 F20.

(3) Diod. 19.58.1 59.3; Appian, Syr. 53: Paus. 1.6.5; Plut. Demetr. 5.1-2.

(4) Diod. 18.41--2 and 39.7 respectively.

(5) Discussion of Diodorus' historical and chronographic method can be found in J. Hornblower, Hieronymus of Cardia (Oxford, 1981), particularly p. 107ff., E. M. Anson, Diodorus and the Date of Triparadeisus', AJP 107 (1986), 208 17, pp. 209-11; and L. C. Smith. The Chronology of Books XVIII-XX of Diodorus Siculus', AJP 82 (1961), 283-90.

(6) Diod.18.39.1. The nomenclature for the regions of Syria, Palestine and Phoenicia is discussed by A. B. Bosworth. The Government of Syria under Alexander the Great', CQ 24 (1974), 46 64, pp. 48-50.

(7) The dating of Triparadeisus to autumn is unavoidable; for discussion, see A. B. Bosworth, History and Artifice in Plutarch's Eumenes', in Plutarch and the Historical Tradition, P. A. Stadter (ed.). (London, 1992), 56-89, p. 76, (hereafter, Bosworth 1992a); it is the year which is obscure.

(8) Berve, ii, no. 559.

(9) For an analysis of the source tradition for Antipater's death, see Bosworth 1992a, p. 75, n. 102.

(10) Bosworth, Philip III Arridaeus and the Chronology of the Successors, Chiron 22 (1992), 55-81 p. 74, (hereafter, Bosworth 1992b), provides decisive comment on the veracity of the Parian marble, contra R. M. Errington, `Diodorus Siculus and the Chronology of the Early Diadochoi, 320-311 B.C.', Hermes 105 (1977), 478-504, pp. 503-4.


(12) The sources imply some kind of friendship between Ptolemy and Laomedon; they were among Alexander's childhood friends, and were both exiled by Philip 11 after the Pixodorus affair, Plut. Alex. 10.4; Arr. Anabasis 3.6.s Although friends of Alexander's were not necessarily friends with each other, an association between Laomedon and Ptolemy is evident in that the former was likely to have been part of Ptolemy's conspiracy to hijack Alexander's funeral carriage, see Heckel, pp. 211-12.

(13) Seibert, p. 129; Volkmann, RE xxiii, 1612.

(14) Will, p. 41, discusses Ptolemy's ambitions, linking them to traditional Pharaonic strategy and expansionism, see also, Seibert, p. 129; Volkmann, RE xxiii 1612 That Ptolemy was diplomatically active in Cyprus at this time is evident from Arrian, Succ. F24.6, (Vatican palimpsest).


(16) A convenient bibliography on the subject can be found in Bosworth 1992b, p. 5s, n. 1.

(17) Bosworth 1992a & b; and `Perdiccas and the Kings', CQ 43 (1993), 420-27; `A New Macedonian Prince', CQ 44 (1994), 57-65.

(18) In particular. the Goteborg palimpsest fragment of Arrian's Successors, published by J Noret' Un fragment du dixieme livre de la Succession d'Alexandre par Arrien', L' Antiquite Classique 52 (1983), 235 42. Some commentary and discussion can be found in S. Schroder, Zum Goteborger Arrian-Palimpsest', ZPE 71 (1988), 75-90.

(19) Diod. 18.37.3 4; Arr. Succ. F1.39.

(20) Diod. 18.46.1-3.

(21) Arrian, succ F24.3-5 (Vatican palimpsest); Babylonian chronicle, obverse 6. It is unclear whether the latter entry refers to Docimus or Seleucus. For discussion, see J. Grainger, Seleukos Nikator, Constructing a Hellenistic Kingdom, (London, 1990), pp. 29-30; Bosworth 1992b, pp. 77-8.

(22) Diod. 1839.2-4; Arr. Succ. Fl.31 3, 39; Polyaenus, Strat. 4.6.4. The sources are unanimous in presenting this picture of the royal army.

(23) Arr. succ. F1.39

(24) Diodorus states this three times: 18.37.2, 3, and 41.7.

(25) Antipater's return: Diod. 18.39.7; Arr Succ. F1.44. Note that there is probably a lacuna at this point in Diodorus, as is evident from events described by Arr. Succ. F1.40 45; Plut. Eum. 9-10; Justin 14.1 Defeat of Eumenes: Diod. 18.40 41; Plut. Eum. 9-10; Just. 14.2; Nepos Eum. 5.2-3.

(26) Arr. Goteborg palimp. line 19.


(28) This is noted by Heckel, p. 182, n. 74.

(29) Arr. Succ. F1.41-2; Plut. Eum. 8.3-5.

(30) Diod. 18.44-7.

(31) Diod. 19.16.

(32) Appian, Mithr. 9, links Antigonus with Laomedon. but this would seem to be an error, see Heckel. p. 212. The fact that Laomedon is not mentioned at Diodorus 19.16 in connection with Attalus, Polemon and Docimus, whereas two otherwise unknown commanders, Antipater and Philotas, are, may indicate that he was dead by this time.

(33) Arr. Succ. F1.43.

(34) Arr. Succ. F1.44-5. A very reasonable date can be hypothesized for Antipater's arrival in Europe by combining Diod. 18.40.1 2, Arr. Goteborg palimp. fr. line 19, and the Bab. chron. obv. 7-8. The former two offer the season; the latter suggests a date late in Philip's fifth regnal year (obverse 7: April 320 March 319, see Bosworth 1992b, pp. 59-60, and Grainger 1990, p. 30). In effect, this means Antipater left Asia after the mid-winter events described in the Goteborg palimpsest and Plut. Eum. 8.4-5. but before April 319.

(35) Bosworth 1992a, pp. 76 7.

(36) Will. pp. 41-2 suggests in Egypt, but this is conjectural. It would seem that Laomedon would have more chance of suborning a guard in his own satrapy than in Ptolemy's.

(37) Arr. Succ. F1.39-42; Appian, Syr. 52. Quite possibly. Asander's thrust against Attalus and Alcetas began in Pisidia, and spilled over into adjacent Caria when Asander withdrew. Alternatively Asander may have been caught between the forces of Attalus coming up from the Rhodian peraea and Alcetas advancing from Pisidia. Arrian states that the campaign was not immediately resolved: [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (F1.42).

(38) For discussion, see Bosworth 1992a, pp. 76-7.

(39) Diod. 18.44.1. Alcetas' final campaign against Antigonus is the first event Diodorus records in the archonship of Apollodorus. In Diodorus' context, Eumenes is already shut up in Nora (Diod. 18.41.1. Plut. Eum. 10; Just. 14.2.1-4; Strabo, 12.2.6; Nepos, Eum. 5.3), and Ptolemy is well in control of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia.

(40) Diod. 18.46.7. For the link to Antipater's death, see 18.47.4.

(41) E. T. Newell, The Dated Alexander Coinage of Sidon and Ake (Oxford, 1916). Newell's evaluation of this coinage is still the received opinion amongst numismatists, see e.g. Barclay V. Head, Historia Numorum (Oxford, 1911), pp. 796-7; I. L. Merker, `Notes on Abdalonymos and the Dated Alexander Coinage of Sidon and Ake', ANSMN 11 (1964), 13-20, with a convenient summary of Newell on p. 13; and M. J. Price, The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus i (Zurich and London, 1991), pp. 435-44 and plates. See also, H. Volkmann, RE xxiii (1959) 1612, no. 18.

(42) E.g. Newell, pp. 32-3, 61; Merker, pp. 19 20.

(43) Newell, pp. 22 3, 55; O. Morkholm, Early Hellenistic Coinage from the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea 336-186 B.C. (Cambridge, 1991), p. 47. Seibert, p. 13, n. 4, commits a grave error in dismissing the numismatic evidence on the grounds that the coins marked Nu (N) are dated from the thirteenth year of Alexander's reign in Macedon, i.e. 324/23. Clearly, local mints dated their issues from Alexander's conquest of Phoenicia, i.e. 333/2, by which parameters N = 321/20. Seibert's note is totally unsatisfactory: he uses a fallacious dating method to support the Parian marble's placement of Ptolemy's conquest in 319/18. Assigning a base-date of 336 to the Sidonian coins completely unhinges his postulation. Persian dominated cites would certainly not be coining in Alexander's name prior to Issus, and Newell's dating of these coins must be considered ineluctable. See also Head, p. 944, index rerum, s.v. Eras for the dating parameters of Alexander in Phoenicia.

(44) E. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World (London, 1968), p. 74, is cautionary, repudiating the numismatic practice of using coins as chronographic pinpoints. However, his comments on the coinage of Sidon are themselves confused, (he attributes the N coins to 317/16!), and Seibert may well be correct in assuming that Bickerman took the year 321/20 for Ptolemy's annexation of Syna from the inexact chronology of Diodorus. Nevertheless, as his paper demonstrates, when combined with Arrian and Appian, and taking into account the lacuna, Diodorus' chronology is in this case relatively accurate.

(45) Newell, pp. 14 17, Series IV: staters and tetradrachms issued between mid 323 and early 320 in the name of Alexander, dated years 10 (K), 12 (M), 13 (N). The absence of any issues for the year 323/2 ([Lambda]??) is, I feel, also significant and can be explained in historical context. Series V: staters tetradrachms and a unique pentobol issued from late 320 to 317 in the name of Philip Arrhidaeus, dated years 13 (N), 14 ([Xi]), 15 (O), 16 ([Gamma]). Issues after 317 revert to the name of Alexander, as Philip was murdered in October 317, (Diod. 19.11.5; Justin 14.5.10).

(46) Newell, pp. 31 2.

(47) Contra Bickerman, Chron. of the A. World, p. 74, who asserts that `Ptolemy did not issue coins in the name of Alexander the Great'. The hypothesis of this paper would also help to explain why Laomedon fled to Alcetas, and not Antipater, from whom he derived his authority. If Ptolemy was usurping the royal prerogatives in such a high-handed manner, Laomedon may have feared that he had the tacit support of the kings and their guardians, and calculated that his own best option was to throw his lot in with the Perdiccans. This may also support the indication in the Goteborg palimpsest that the war was by no means going Antipater's way, and that the Perdiccan cause was looking more promising than that of the loyalists during 320. That Ptolemy's tenure in Coele-Syria was considered illegitimate is evident from Diod. 18.73.2.

(48) Other interpretations of this evidence are, of course, possible, e.g. a `low' chronology scenario could be that the coinage may have changed when Philip Arrhidaeus himself passed through Sidon with Perdiccas en route to or from Egypt. However, in tandem with the literary evidence, these numismatic documents seem to provide a strong case for the `high' chronology.

(49) I am extremely grateful to Professor A. B. Bosworth, Dr N. G. Ashton, and Associate Professor J R. Melville-Jones for their encouragement and useful comments also Savithri Mizen for her help with German translations.
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Publication:The Classical Quarterly
Date:Jul 1, 1995
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