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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ PhoeniciaView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Phoenicia

Phoenicia, from the Greek Phoiníkē meaning either "land of palm trees" or "purple country," was located on the Mediterranean coastline of what is now Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Syria, and southwest Turkey, though some colonies later reached the Western Mediterranean and even the Atlantic Ocean, the most famous being Carthage. The enterprising, sea-based Phoenicians spread across the Mediterranean from 1500 to 300 B.C. Their civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece, perhaps the most notable of which were Tyre, Sidon, Arados, Berytus and Carthage. Each city-state was politically independent and it is uncertain to what extent the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality. In terms of archaeology, language, lifestyle, and religion there was little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other Semitic Canaanites. The Phoenician alphabet is an ancestor of all modern alphabets. By their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to Anatolia, North Africa, and Europe, where it was adopted by the Greeks, who in turn transmitted it to the Romans.


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander III The Great, 336 - 323 B.C.

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Lifetime or very early posthumous issue struck under Menes or Laomedon.
SH85064. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3332, Müller Alexander 1370, Duyrat series 11, SNG Cop 802, SNG Mun 735, SNG Fitz 2162, SNG Alpha Bank 675, SNG Ash 2991, SNG Saroglos 579, VF, attractive style, bold strike with high relief dies, light toning, bumps, and marks, weight 17.179 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 80o, Phoenicia, Arados mint, c. 324 - 320 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse Zeus enthroned left, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, long lotus tipped scepter vertical behind in left, kerykeion left, A over P monogram under throne, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ exergue; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, part of lot 1906; $510.00 (€453.90)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander III the Great, 336 - 323 B.C.

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Lifetime or very early posthumous issue.
GS85061. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3321, Müller Alexander 1363, Demanhur 3405 - 3426, VF, well centered and struck, attractive style, toned, scratches on reverse, weight 17.038 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 45o, Phoenicia, Arados mint, struck under Menes or Laomedon, c. 324 - 320 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse Zeus enthroned left, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), ΣΩ left, A/P monogram under throne, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ exergue; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, lot 1203; $490.00 (€436.10)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C., Tyre, Phoenicia

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Svoronos 1013 has Θ (theta) between the legs of the eagle. This specimen appears to have an MY monogram engraved over a partially effaced Θ. The MY monogram is not listed in Svoronos for year two, but we know of two other examples, both Θ and the MY monogram are published in Svoronos for year three.
GP84108. Silver tetradrachm, unpublished, cf. Svoronos 1013 (Q between legs), SNG Cop 499 (same), Cohen DCA 30, BMC -, SNG Milan -, Malter -, Hosking -, Noeske -, Weiser -, gVF, excellent portrait, off center, bumps, scratches, darker areas, weight 14.194 g, maximum diameter 26.6 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 29 Aug 246 - 28 Aug 245 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse PTOLEMAIOU SOTHROS (of Ptolemy the savior), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, head left, Tyre monogram over club, B (year 2) over I right, MY monogram over Θ over effaced between legs; ex CNG e-auction 375 (1 Jun 2016), lot 48; Dennis Rider Collection of the Coins of Tyre; extremely rare; $480.00 (€427.20)
 


Persian Empire, Sidon, Phoenicia, Ba'Alshillem II, c. 401 - 366 B.C.

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Sidon, named for the "first-born" of Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:15, 19), is frequently referred to by the prophets (Isaiah 23:2, 4, 12; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Ezekiel 27:8; 28:21, 22; 32:30; Joel 3:4). The Sidonians long oppressed Israel (Judges 10:12) but Solomon entered into a matrimonial alliance with them, and thus their form of idolatrous worship found a place in the land of Israel (1 Kings 11:1, 33). Jesus visited the "coasts" of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24) where many came to hear him preach (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17). After leaving Caesarea, Paul's ship put in at Sidon, before finally sailing for Rome (Acts 27:3, 4).
GS70326. Silver 1/16 shekel, Elayi 2004 851 ff.; HGC 10 240; Betlyon 27 (Abd'astart, Straton I); BMC Phoenicia p 146, 36 (same); SNG Cop 197 ff. (same), VF, toned, tiny edge cuts, banker's mark, tight flan, bumps and marks, weight 0.648 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 90o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, c. 371 - 370 B.C.; obverse war galley left, Phoenician letter beth above, banker's mark or countermark above galley; reverse King of Persia (to left) standing right, slaying erect lion to right, Phoenician letter ayin between them; $140.00 (€124.60)
 


Orthosia, Phoenicia, 41 - 40 B.C.

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Orthosia (near modern Arida, Lebanon) was located south of the Eleutheros River (the modern Kabir) in the far north of Phoenicia. It was a refounded by one of the Diadochi but which one is uncertain because the city changed hands frequently. The name Orthosia was derived from an epithet of Artemis and she was the principal divinity of the town.
GB73950. Bronze AE 24, HGC 10 209 (S, this date noted); RPC I - (this date noted p. 644); BMC Phoenicia p. 126, 1 (date obscure); SNG Cop 175 (no visible date); Rouvier -, VF, green patina, light encrustations and marks, edge chip, weight 6.820 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 0o, Orthoseia mint, 41 - 40 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Tyche right; reverse Baal of Orthosia standing on two winged lion-griffins, L∆K (year 24 of the Pompeian Era) horizontal on left, OPΘΩΣIEΩN in exergue; while others with this date are known to exist, we could not find another example; this date very rare; $120.00 (€106.80)
 


Julia Maesa, Augusta 8 June 218 - 224 or 225 A.D., Tyre, Phoenicia

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Astarte, called "Ashtroth" in Scripture, was the favorite goddess of the Sidonians, Tyrians, Philistines, and Syro-Phoenicians generally. She was associated with the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus Genetrix, being believed by the ancients to be the goddess of generation, as well as of beauty. Astarte was chiefly worshiped and appears on the coins of Berytus, Bostra, Sidon, and Tyre. Her image is of a young woman, wearing a tall headdress; and clothed in a tunic, high in the neck- sometimes, not reaching lower than the knees, or sometimes with a longer dress, but with one knee exposed, and one foot planted on a galley's prow.
RP77848. Bronze dichalkon, Rouvier 2405, cf. Baramki AUB 256 (Marsyas at Astarte's feet?), BMC Phoenicia -, SNG Cop -, SNG Hunterian -, SNG Delepierre -, SNG Righetti -, aF/gF, well centered, light earthen deposits, light corrosion, weight 13.187 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 8 Jun 218 - 224/225 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAI-SA AVGV, draped bust right, wearing stephane; reverse T-VRI-ORV-M, hexastyle temple, Tyche-Astarte standing facing within under central arch, wearing tall headdress and short tunic, right hand on trophy standing to her left, transverse long scepter in left hand, left foot on galley, being crowned by Nike on short column to her right, pellet in pediment; murex shell, altar, and palm tree left to right in exergue; $120.00 (€106.80)
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Tyre, Phoenicia

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Astarte, called "Ashtroth" in Scripture, was the favorite goddess of the Sidonians, Tyrians, Philistines, and Syro-Phoenicians generally. She was associated with the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus Genetrix, being believed by the ancients to be the goddess of generation, as well as of beauty. Astarte was chiefly worshiped and appears on the coins of Berytus, Bostra, Sidon, and Tyre. Her image is of a young woman, wearing a tall headdress; and clothed in a tunic, high in the neck- sometimes, not reaching lower than the knees, or sometimes with a longer dress, but with one knee exposed, and one foot planted on a galley's prow.
RP77850. Bronze AE 29, Baramki AUB 283; BMC Phoenicia p. 287, 453 corr. (rev. leg.); SNG Hunterian 3431 var. (palm and murex reversed, etc.); Lingren-Kovacs 2396; SNG Cop -, F, green patina with lighter highlighting fields, reverse slightly off center, weight 14.794 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse COL - TY-RO - MET, hexastyle temple, Tyche-Astarte standing facing within under central arch, wearing tall headdress and short tunic, right hand on trophy standing to her left, transverse long scepter in left hand, left foot on galley, being crowned by Nike on short column to her right; tree, altar, and murex shell from left to right in exergue; rare; $105.00 (€93.45)
 


Marathos, Phoenicia, 173 - 172 B.C.

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Marathos, the most northern coastal town in Phoenicia, was apparently under Ptolemaic hegemony when this coin was struck. The bust of Hermes is usually attributed to be also that of Ptolemy VI. Destroyed by its neighbor and rival Aradus, c. 145 B.C., Marathos was later rebuilt as a colony of Aradus.
GP73972. Bronze AE 21, Svoronos 1082 - 1085 (various controls); Duyrat Ateliers 252 - 261 (same); Cohen Dated 832; cf. HGC 10 194 (S); SNG Cop -; BMC Phoenicia -, F, black patina, rough, corrosion, weight 6.489 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Marathos (near Tartus, Syria) mint, 173 - 172 B.C.; obverse laureate and draped bust of Ptolemy VI as Hermes, kerykeion over shoulder; reverse Marathos standing left, apluster in right, Phoenician date IIIIIIINNNN (year 87) on left, Phoenician MRT (Marathos) right, Phoenician control letters low across field; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Berytus, Phoenicia

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The ceremonial founding of a new Roman colony included plowing a furrow, the pomerium, a sacred boundary, around the site of the new city.

Rouvier notes that this type is very often incorrectly attributed to earlier emperors as the legend is frequently missing and the portrait resembles those of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nerva.
RP84807. Bronze AE 26, Sawaya cf. 540 (D98/-, unlisted reverse die); RPC Online III 3832 (23 spec.); BMC Phoenicia p. 64, 814; SNG Cop 95; Baramki AUB 52; Rouvier 520, F, tight flan, reverse slightly off center, weight 14.082 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 0o, Berytus (Beirut, Lebanon) mint, 98 - 102 A.D.; obverse IMP NER TRAIAN CAES - AVG GERM P P, laureate head right; reverse •COL / IVL - AVG - FEL - BER• (Colonia Julia Augusta Felix Berytus, FEL is upside down in exergue), veiled founder-priest plowing right with two oxen, plowing sacred pomerium around city; $95.00 (€84.55)
 


Orthosia, Phoenicia, c. 30 - 28 B.C.

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A similar type was struck at Orthosia for Cleopatra with her bust on the obverse. After Antony and Cleopatra were defeated, under the rule of Augustus, her bust was replaced by Tyche. RPC lists this type dated with years 36, 40 and 41. No date is visible on this coin. The date may simply be worn or perhaps it is an early issue struck with an undated die. The reverse style is so close to that of the coins struck under Cleopatra that the die may have been recycled from her last issue with her regnal year erased.
SH73047. Bronze AE 20, cf. SNG Cop 175 (also no date visible), RPC I 4504 (year 36 = 29 - 28 B.C.), Rouvier 869 (same), F, corrosion, weight 8.937 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Orthosia mint, rule of Augustus, c. 30 - 28 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Tyche right; reverse Baal of Orthosia in chariot pulled by to griffins to right, crescent above his head, OPΘΩCIEΩN in exergue, undated(?); extremely rare; $90.00 (€80.10)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Duyrat, F. "Les ateliers monétaires de Phénicie du Nord à l'époque hellénistique" in Les Monnayages Syriens.
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Catalog current as of Monday, July 24, 2017.
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Phoenicia