The insular city of Arados, located in northern Phoenicia was inhabited since the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC) by peoples who engaged in maritime trade. The kings who ruled the city also maintained their authority over a good deal of territory on the Phoenician mainland under the auspices of their god, Ba'al, who was known to the Greeks as Zeus Baitokaikes.

During both the Bronze and the Iron Ages Arados became wealthy through the maintenance of international trade relations. Aradian traders continued to ply the seas carrying their wares to their traditional customers well into the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

During the invasion of Alexander the Great Arados was spared the destruction that befell Tyre by submitting to the Macedonian king. Nevertheless, following the collapse of the united Alexandrine empire Arados reclaimed some of her independence while recognizing the suzerainty of Ptolemy I Soter. While acting as nauarch for Ptolemy, Seleukos I used Arados as one of his bases to harass Antigonid positions. This city was one of the first to strike coins bearing the anchor badge of the Seleukid house.

When Arados was allotted to Seleukos as part of the spoils of the Battle of Ipsos in 301 BC, her kings seem to have struggled to maintain a local authority that was independent of direct Seleukid intervention. Concern for autonomy may have led the Aradians to accept the naval forces of Demetrios Poliorketes in the early 290s. Presumably they hoped that Demetrios would weaken Seleukid power in Syria and Phoenicia and allow greater freedom to the cities. With the capture of Demetrios in 286 the dream of complete independence evaporated. However, in order to keep the peace Seleukos arranged to allow Arados to continue to exist as a Seleukid client kingdom with its own kings.

In 259 BC Arados increased her autonomy and dominated a federation of nearby cities including Gabala, Karne, Marathos and Simyra. Nevertheless, in the interests of safety the Aradians still accepted the overlordship of the Seleukid government in Antioch-on-the-Orontes.

Although the league of cities gradually fell apart during the second and first centuries BC, Arados continued to be an active and prosperous port for eastern trade under the Romans.

See a silver hemidrachm of Seleukos I Nikator struck at Arados.

See a civic coin of Arados.

All coins are shown actual size and are fully described. For an enlargement and a brief discussion of each coin's historical and iconographic importance please click on the appropriate coin picture.

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