Sandy Brenner/

A FAMILY AFFAIR. Seleucus’s father and predecessor, Antiochus III, successfully wrenched control of Coele-Syria from the Ptolemies of Egypt and remained largely on the margins of Jewish political and religious affairs afterward. His military losses at the hands of the upstart Romans in the west, however, left the Seleucid dynasty with mounting debt.

The busts on these silver tetradrachm coins were directly inspired by much older coins depicting Alexander the Great. Like Alexander, all three Seleucid rulers are shown with flowing locks and wearing a diadem, or royal headband.