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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.


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

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In 226 B.C., Rhodes suffered an earthquake which damaged and destroyed much of the city. The Colossus of Rhodes snapped at the knees and fell. Polybius records aid promised by Ptolemy III: "300 talents of silver, a million artabas of wheat, timber for the construction of ten quinqueremes and ten triremes, consisting of 40,000 cubits of squared pine planking, 1,000 talents of bronze coinage, 3,000 talents of tow, 3,000 pieces of sail-cloth, 3,000 talents for the repair of the Colossus, 100 architects with 350 workmen, and fourteen talents every year for their wages, and in addition 12,000 artabas of wheat for competitions and sacrifices, and 20,000 for the supplying of ten triremes. Most of this he gave at once, as well as a third of the money promised." This unpublished coin shares the style of an issue struck by mints across Phoenicia, with some of the coins dated year 23. Morkholm has identified the king as Ptolemy III, and the date as 225 - 224 B.C. Prior to this issue, Ptolemy III had last struck silver tetradrachms in 243 B.C. The unusual need for new silver coinage after 17 years was almost certainly to finance his generous gifts to Rhodes.
SH82654. Silver tetradrachm, Unpublished, cf. Svoronos 701 (control monogram), VF, bumps, marks, and scratches, obverse die wear, tight flan, reverse slightly off center, graffiti (E+?) in reverse right field, weight 14.115 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 225 - 224 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, Tyre monogram over club left, monogram (control symbol) right; very rare; $750.00 (€637.50)
 


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 (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 200 - 190 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion-scalp headdress; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus Aëtophoros 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; $430.00 (€365.50)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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We might expect the K on the reverse right to indicate regnal year 20. BMC Ptolemies notes, however, the title ΣΩTHPOΣ (savior) did not appear on the coinage until Ptolemy II's regnal year 25. On some very similar specimens, it is not just a K but instead a KE ligature (), which has been interpreted to mean year 25. Svoronos describes this type (Sv 723) with a KE ligature but the plate coin actually looks like a plain K. It seems likely that a KE ligature was intended but for some specimens it was not correctly engraved or not fully struck.
SH82655. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Milan 142 (same rev. die); cf. Svoronos 723 (ligate KE); BMC Ptolemies p. 29, 55 (same); SNG Cop 509 (same), Weiser -, Noeske -, aVF, test marks, obverse a little off center, bumps and scratches, graffito on reverse before eagles neck, weight 13.808 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, 261 - 260 BC; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ, eagle standing on thunderbolt left, ΣI over ∆I inner left, K inner right; ex Bertolami Fine Arts e-auction 57 (Mar 2018), lot 46; ex Pavlos Pavlou Collection; rare; $380.00 (€323.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonos I Monophthalmos, Strategos of Asia, 320 - 306/5 B.C., or King, 306/5 - 301 B.C.

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Antigonos I Monophthalmos ("the One-eyed") (382 B.C. - 301 B.C.) was a nobleman, general, and governor under Alexander the Great. Upon Alexander's death in 323 B.C., he established himself as one of the successors and declared himself King in 306 B.C. The most powerful satraps of the empire, Cassander, Seleucus, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus, answered by also proclaiming themselves kings. Antigonus found himself at war with all four, largely because his territory shared borders with all of them. He died in battle at Ipsus in 301 B.C. Antigonus' kingdom was divided up, with Seleucus I Nicator gaining the most. His son, Demetrius I Poliorcetes, took Macedon, which the family held, off and on, until it was conquered by Rome in 168 B.C. -- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
GS87629. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3575, Müller Alexander 900, SNG München 755, SNG Saroglos 598, SNG Alpha Bank 678, SNG Oxford 3169, Meydancikkale 2204, VF, well centered, toned, light earthen deposits, bumps, marks, scratches, weight 16.992 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Phoenician or Syrian mint, c. 317 - c. 300 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right, right leg drawn back, boar's head left (control) in left field; $290.00 (€246.50)
 


Arados, Phoenicia, Uncertain King, c. 400 - 384 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.
GS87352. Silver stater, Elayi-Elayi Arwad group III.2.1; HGC 10, 32 (R1), VF, typical compact flan, bumps and marks, weight 10.308 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 270o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 400 - 384 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 (abbreviating Melech Arad - King of Arados) from right to left above, three waves below; ex CNG e-auction 424 (11 Jul 2018), lot 252; rare; $235.00 (€199.75)
 


Persian Empire, Sidon, Phoenicia, Abdashtart I, c. 365 - 352 B.C.

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Cyrus the Great conquered Phoenicia in 539 BC. The Persians divided Phoenicia into four vassal kingdoms: Sidon, Tyre, Arwad, and Byblos. It is likely that much of the Phoenician population migrated to Carthage and other colonies following the Persian conquest. In 350 or 345 B.C. a rebellion in Sidon led by Tennes was crushed by Artaxerxes III.
GB87137. Bronze AE 17, Betlyon 29; SNG Cop 203; BMC Phoenicia p. 147, 46 - 51; Lindgren II 2320; HGC 10 248 (S), VF, tight flan, light corrosion and encrustations, weight 6.040 g, maximum diameter 17.3 mm, die axis 0o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, c. 365 - 352 B.C.; obverse pentekonter (fifty-oared war galley) left, two zigzag rows of waves below, linear border, no date; reverse Persian king and driver in slow biga left; scarce; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 175 - 164 B.C.

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Antiochus IV took the name "Epiphanes," meaning "Select of God." His subjects made a pun on his name, calling him "Epimanes" or "madman." In 168 B.C., Antiochus IV ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. The Temple in Jerusalem was seized and dedicated to Zeus. The Jews revolted and after three years of fighting, Judah Maccabee defeated the Seleukid army. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in 165 B.C. According to the Talmud, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, enough time to prepare and consecrate fresh oil.
GY87387. Bronze AE 21, Houghton-Lorber 1453d; BMC Seleucid p. 39, 51; Rouvier, JIAN V, p. 122, 1208; HGC 9 665 (R1), F, well centered, light corrosion, weight 5.456 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Quasi-municipal, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, c. 168 - 164 B.C.; obverse diademed and radiate head of Antiochos IV right, ∆ (control) behind; reverse galley left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two lines above, ΣI∆ΩNIΩN over Phoenician script (of the Sidonians) below; rare; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos II Kallinikos, 246 - 226 B.C.

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The Seleukid Empire was under attack by Egypt when Kallinikos assumed the throne. He lost much of Thrace and coastal Anatolia to Ptolemy III. While he was fighting, his mother made his younger brother Antiochos Hierax joint ruler. Kallinikos agreed to partition the empire; however, Hierax wanted it all and Hierax and his Galatian mercenaries defeated him. Kallinikos managed to retain the lands east of the Tauros. The War of the Brothers weakened the empire, permitting regions such as Parthia to secede. Anatolia was soon lost. Kallinikos died after a fall from his horse.
GB87749. Bronze AE 18, Houghton-Lorber II addenda C72, Duyrat 1095 – 1111, Lindgren III 978, HGC 9 –, HGC 10 –, VF, dark green patina, off center, porous, weight 4.268 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 226 - 224 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion scalp headdress; reverse prow left with Athena figurehead, horizontal anchor left above; rare; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


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; $80.00 (€68.00)
 


Marathos, Phoenicia, 112 - 111 B.C.

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Marathos (earlier called Amrit) was an ancient Phoenician city located near Tartus in Syria. Founded in the third millennium B.C. and abandoned at the end of the second century B.C., the city's Phoenician ruins have been preserved in their entirety without extensive remodeling by later generations. One of the most important excavations at Marathos was the Phoenician temple dedicated to the god Melqart of Tyre and Eshmun. The colonnaded temple consists of a large court cut out of rock measuring 47 × 49 metres and over 3 metres deep, surrounded by a covered portico. In the center of the court a well-preserved cube-shaped cella stands. The open-air courtyard was filled with the waters of a local, traditionally sacred spring, a unique feature of this site. The temple dated to the late 4th century B.C., shows Achaemenid influence in its layout and decoration. According to Dutch archaeologist, Peter Akkermans, the temple is the "best-preserved monumental structure from the Phoenician homeland."Persian Empire
GB85949. Bronze AE 20, Duyrat Ateliers 347 - 356; BMC Phoenicia p. 125, 38; Cohen DCA 835; HGC 10 195; cf. SNG Cop 171 (year 146), gVF, well centered on a tight flan, a little rough, weight 5.925 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Marathos (near Tartus, Syria) mint, 112 - 111 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse filleted double cornucopia, Phoenician MRTh (Marathos) on left, Phoenician date (year 148) upward on right; $80.00 (€68.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Wednesday, December 12, 2018.
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Phoenicia