Antiochus I Soter was a Greek king who ruled the Seleucid Empire from 281 BC to 261 BC. He was the son of Seleucus I Nicator (reign: 305-281 BC), the founder and king of the eponymous Seleucid Empire. Ai-Khanoum was a city founded by Alexander the Great in present-day Afghanistan, and it served as an important center of Hellenistic culture.
The coin of Antiochus I Soter from the Ai-Khanum mint typically features a portrait of the king on the obverse, with a diadem and a flowing beard. The reverse typically features an image of Apollo seated on an omphalos, holding a bow and an arrow. An omphalos was a revered stone believed to signify the epicenter of the world at Apollo’s Delphi sanctuary in Greece. It must be noted that the reverse design on the coin persisted for many generations under the Seleucids.
In some cases, the reverse bears a horned horse head. It is likely that the horns were decorative add-ons to the bridle intended to enhance the animal’s intimidating appearance. While it is possible that they were part of Alexander’s renowned warhorse Bucephalus’ gear, it is more probable that they were designed to honor the horse (whose name is unknown) that transported Seleucus to Babylon in 312 BC.
The inscription on the coin is usually in Greek, and it identifies Antiochus as the king (basileos) of the Seleucid Empire. The coin also often includes the mint mark, which can help identify where and when the coin was minted.
These coins are highly sought after by collectors and historians for their historical significance and artistic beauty.