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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.


Arados, Phoenicia, Unknown King "N", c. 348 - 338 B.C.

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Early coins of Arados have the Aramaic letters mem aleph (read from right to left) above the galley, abbreviating Melech Arad (meaning King of Arados), sometimes followed by the king's initial, and sometimes by the Phoenician regnal year date.
SH85437. Silver stater, BMC Phoenicia p. 10, 58; Betlyon 26, note 104, pl. 7, 4; Rouvier III p. 131, 5; HGC 10 33 (R1); Sunrise 114; SNG Cop -, VF, well centered on a tight flan, struck with high relief dies, test cut on obverse, weight 10.346 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 270o, Arados mint, c. 348 - 338 B.C.; obverse laureate head of bearded Ba'al Arwad right, with profile eye; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph nun (Melech Arad N - King of Arados N) from right to left above, three waves below; rare; $1500.00 (€1275.00)
 


Arados, Phoenicia, 200 - 190 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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In 259 B.C., Arados increased her autonomy and dominated a federation of nearby cities including Gabala, Karne, Marathos and Simyra. Thus began the era of Aradus, to which the subsequent coins of the city are dated. Arados was not completely independent, however, the Seleukids retained overlordship.

Arados struck Alexandrine tetradrachms with a palm tree left and Phoenician dates from 243 to 205 B.C. and then with Greek dates from 202 to 167 B.C. They were not struck every year.
GS85703. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3390 ff., Mektepini 614 ff.; Duyrat 1270 ff., Cohen Dated 771, gVF, attractive style, reverse double struck, earthen encrustations, weight 17.039 g, maximum diameter 31.0 mm, die axis 0o, Arados mint, c. 200 - 190 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion-scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, palm tree with two bunches of dates in left field under arm, AP monogram under throne, uncertain Greek additive date (60 - 69?) below; $600.00 (€510.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy V Epiphanes, 204 - 180 B.C.

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In "Le Tresor de Gezeir (lac Mariout, Alexandrie)" in Revue Numismatique 2006, T. Faucher and M. Shahin attribute this type to Ptolemy IX. Their attribution is based in part on the ΣΩ monogram referring to the epithet of Ptolemy IX Soter II. This same monogram is, however, found on silver and gold coins from early in the reign of Ptolemy V, where it may refer to the chief minister Sosibius. Sosibius appears to have had complete control of the administration under Ptolemy IV. Under the young Ptolemy V Epiphanes, Sosibius assumed the guardianship but in conjunction with his rival insidious Agathokles. In time, Agathokles supplanted Sosibius and had him put to death.
GP85476. Bronze obol, Svoronos 1191 (Ptolemy IV, Cyprus, 219 B.C.), Weiser 114 (Ptolemy V, Tyre), SNG Cop 534 (Ptolemy V), Noeske 187 (same), Cohen DCA 35 (same), VF, tight flan, some areas of weak strike, central dimples, weight 9.267 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Phoenician mint, 203 - 202 B.C.; obverse horned head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin, K behind; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEOΣ, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, head left, Ω over Σ left, LΓ (regnal year 3) right; rare; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


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; $105.00 (€89.25)
 


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; $105.00 (€89.25)
 


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 (€85.00)
 


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; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


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; $85.00 (€72.25)
 


Salonina, August 253 - September 268 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.
RP84808. Bronze AE 27, Rouvier VII p. 107, 2562; Lindgren II 2400; Mionnet VIII supp. p. 314, 359; BMC Phoenicia -; Baramki AUB -; SNG Hunt -; SNG Cop -; SNG Righetti -, F, red earthen fill, porous, edge bump, weight 15.353 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, Aug 253 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse CORNE SALON . . ., diademed and draped bust right; reverse COL TYRO ME TRO, Astarte standing facing, head left, wearing kalathos, right hand on trophy of arms standing on left, transverse scepter in left hand, Nike standing on column on right crowning the goddess, murex shell low inner left; very rare; $85.00 (€72.25)
 


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D., Berytos, Phoenicia

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Named for the daughter of Augustus, Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus was founded in 14 B.C. with veterans of the 5th and 8th legions. Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa I, and Herod Agrippa II built sumptuous monuments and sponsored gladiatorial combats at Berytos. After the siege of Jerusalem, Titus gave gladiatorial games at Berytos, in which the combatants were Jews.
RP55005. Bronze AE 25, RPC II 2045; Rouvier 513; BMC Phoenicia p. 63, 80; Lindgren-Kovacs 2257, F, green patina, scratches, reverse off-center, weight 13.564 g, maximum diameter 25.4 mm, die axis 180o, Berytos (Beirut, Lebanon) mint, obverse IMP T CAESAR AVG F, bare head left; reverse COL IVL AVG, priest with yoke of two oxen right, plowing the pomerium (sacred boundary), founding the new colony; $80.00 (€68.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Wednesday, December 13, 2017.
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Phoenicia