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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Phoenicia||View 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.

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

|Phoenicia|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Sidon,| |Phoenicia,| |Abdashtart| |I,| |c.| |365| |-| |352| |B.C.||AE| |16|NEW
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.
GB96097. Bronze AE 16, Betlyon 29; SNG Cop 203; BMC Phoenicia p. 147, 46 - 51; Lindgren II 2320; HGC 10 248 (S), aF, off center, red earthen deposits, weight 4.507 g, maximum diameter 16.1 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; $70.00 SALE |PRICE| $63.00
 


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Akko-Ptolemais, Phoenicia

|Phoenicia|, |Gallienus,| |August| |253| |-| |September| |268| |A.D.,| |Akko-Ptolemais,| |Phoenicia||AE| |27|
Akko was refounded as a Roman colony, colonia Ptolemais, probably in 53 or 54 A.D., the last year of Claudius' reign or the first year of Nero’s. Akko was one of hundreds of cities in the Roman provinces that minted civic coins. In the mid 3rd century cities stopped producing their own coins. The last city coins were struck under Gallienus, and Akko was among the very last cities to strike its own coins.
JD96394. Bronze AE 27, BMC Phoenicia p. 138, 50 var. (obv. leg.); Rosenberger 86 var. (same); Kadman Akko 256 var. (same, draped); Sofaer 293 ff. (draped, etc.); SNG Cop -, aF, rough green patina, light earthen deposits, a little off center, weight 13.158 g, maximum diameter 26.5 mm, die axis 0o, Ake Ptolemais (Acre, Israel) mint, 253 - 268 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES LIC GALLIEN[VS AVG], laureate head right; reverse COL P-TOL, portable shrine containing a statue of Zeus Heliopolites, shrine consisting of a frame within two pillars supporting a architrave with hatched decoration, two carrying poles projecting from bottom, figure of deity within standing facing on rock or base, wearing short chiton, double axe in right hand, harpe(?) in left hand; an unpublished variant of a very rare type; from the J. Berlin Caesarea Collection, 1977 surface find at Caesarea Maritima, Israel; $550.00 SALE |PRICE| $495.00
 


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

|Phoenicia|, |Valerian| |I,| |October| |253| |-| |c.| |June| |260| |A.D.,| |Tyre,| |Phoenicia||dichalkon|
Romans refounded Tyre as a colony in 64 B.C., when Pompey annexed Phoenicia to the Roman Empire. Tyre flourished under the Rome and remained a Roman port city, even under the Byzantine Empire, until the 7th century when it was taken by Muslim conquest.
RP96396. Bronze dichalkon, BMC Phoenicia p. 289, 465 var. (murex shell on right); Rouvier -; Baramki AUB -; SNG Hunt -; SNG Cop -, F, rough dark green patina, earthen deposits, weight 16.345 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, Oct 253 - Jun 260 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, laureate bust right; reverse COL TVRO METR, river-god (Adonis?) standing facing, head left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right hand dropping incense on flaming altar at her feet on left, long grounded reed vertical in left hand, murex shell on left; from the J. Berlin Caesarea Collection, 1971 Caesarea Maritima surface find; Coin Archives records only one specimen of the type at auction in the last two decades; extremely rare; $450.00 SALE |PRICE| $400.00
 


Tyre, Phoenicia, 78 - 77 B.C., Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver

|30| |Pieces| |of| |Silver|, |Tyre,| |Phoenicia,| |78| |-| |77| |B.C.,| |Judas'| |30| |Pieces| |of| |Silver||shekel|
Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver
"Then one of the 12, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, 'What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for 30 pieces of silver." Matthew 26:14-15. Shekels of Tyre were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple and are the most likely coinage with which Judas was paid for the betrayal of Christ.

The Temple Tax Coin
"..go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." Since the tax was one half shekel per man the coin would have to be a shekel to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter. Matthew 17:24-27
SL95986. Silver shekel, BMC Phoenicia p. 243, 141; Cohen DCA 919/49; HGC 10 357; SNG Cop -, NGC Ch AU, strike 4/5, surface 3/5 (5770405-008), weight 14.330 g, maximum diameter 28.6 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre mint, 78 - 77 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond under wing, date ΘM (year 49) over club left, ∆ right, Aramaic letter bet between legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection; NGC| Lookup; $3000.00 SALE |PRICE| $2700.00
 


The Temple Tax Coin, Tyre KP Type Half Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 46 - 47 A.D.

|The| |Temple| |Tax| |Coin|, |The| |Temple| |Tax| |Coin,| |Tyre| |KP| |Type| |Half| |Shekel,| |Jerusalem| |or| |Tyre| |Mint,| |46| |-| |47| |A.D.||half| |shekel|
At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were the only coins accepted by the temple. Some experts believe that after the coinage of Tyre was debased under Roman control, Herod the Great began to strike "Tyre" shekels in Jerusalem. These coins were of cruder fabric and style, but maintained the silver purity required to pay the temple tax. The "Jerusalem" shekels have the letters KP or KAP to the right of the eagle and dates range from PH (18/17 B.C.) to PKE (69/70 A.D.). The Greek letters KP or KAP are probably an abbreviation for KAICAP, Greek for Caesar.

JD95985. Silver half shekel, DCA Tyre II 911, Cohen DCA 922 (R2), RPC Online I 4702B, HGC 10 358 (unlisted date), Prieur -, BMC Phoenicia -, SNG Cop -, AUB -, F, toned, scratches, bumps, flan crack, obverse off center, weight 6.701 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre or Jerusalem mint, 46 - 47 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, POB (year 172) over club left, KP over monogram (control) right, Aramaic alef (control) between legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $950.00 SALE |PRICE| $855.00
 


Jerusalem or Tyre, 18 - 19 A.D., Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver, Lifetime of Christ

|30| |Pieces| |of| |Silver|, |Jerusalem| |or| |Tyre,| |18| |-| |19| |A.D.,| |Judas'| |30| |Pieces| |of| |Silver,| |Lifetime| |of| |Christ||shekel|
Judas' 30 Pieces of Silver
"Then one of the 12, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, 'What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for 30 pieces of silver." Matthew 26:14-15. Shekels of Tyre were the only currency accepted at the Jerusalem Temple and are the most likely coinage with which Judas was paid for the betrayal of Christ.

The Temple Tax Coin
"..go to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [the temple tax collectors] for me and thee." Since the tax was one half shekel per man the coin would have to be a shekel to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter. Matthew 17:24-27
SL96054. Silver shekel, RPC Online I 4657 (8 spec.); BMC Phoenicia p. 248, 199; Rouvier 2103; Cohen DCA 920; HGC 10 357, NGC Ch XF, strike 4/5, surface 2/5 (5769683-005), weight 12.58 g, maximum diameter 25 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, lifetime of Christ, 18 - 19 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart (Herakles) right, Nemean Lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle left, wings closed, right talon on ship's ram, transverse palm frond on far side, Phoenician letter bet between legs, PM∆ (year 144) and club left, KP over monogram right; NGC| Lookup; $3150.00 SALE |PRICE| $2800.00
 


The Temple Tax Coin, Tyre KP Type Half Shekel, Jerusalem or Tyre Mint, 36 - 37 A.D.

|The| |Temple| |Tax| |Coin|, |The| |Temple| |Tax| |Coin,| |Tyre| |KP| |Type| |Half| |Shekel,| |Jerusalem| |or| |Tyre| |Mint,| |36| |-| |37| |A.D.||half| |shekel|
At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were the only coins accepted by the temple. Some experts believe that after the coinage of Tyre was debased under Roman control, Herod the Great began to strike "Tyre" shekels in Jerusalem. These coins were of cruder fabric and style, but maintained the silver purity required to pay the temple tax. The "Jerusalem" shekels have the letters KP or KAP to the right of the eagle and dates range from PH (18/17 B.C.) to PKE (69/70 A.D.). The Greek letters KP or KAP are probably an abbreviation for KAICAP, Greek for Caesar.

SH94461. Silver half shekel, RPC I 4695, Prieur 1465, BMC Phoenicia -, aVF, attractive style, toned, bumps and marks, die wear, closed edge crack, weight 6.244 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 0o, Tyre or Jerusalem mint, 36 - 37 A.D.; obverse laureate head of Melqart right, lion's skin knotted around neck; reverse TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY (of Tyre the holy and inviolable), eagle standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, PΞB (year 162) over club left, KP over monogram right, Aramaic letter between legs; ex Forum (2010), ex Temple Tax Hoard; $775.00 SALE |PRICE| $695.00
 


Arados, Phoenicia, Unknown King "S", c. 348 - 339 B.C.

|Phoenicia|, |Arados,| |Phoenicia,| |Unknown| |King| |"S",| |c.| |348| |-| |339| |B.C.||stater|
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.
GS94263. Silver stater, cf. BMC Phoenicia p. 10, 59; Betlyon 26, pl. 7, 6; Rouvier III p. 132, 9; SNG Cop 23; HGC 10 34 (R1), VF, attractive toning, centered, tight flan, highest points not fully struck, die wear, weight 9.767 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 270o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 348 - 339 B.C.; obverse laureate bearded head of Ba'al Arwad right; reverse galley right, figure of Pataikos right on prow, row of shields on bulwark, Phoenician letters mem aleph samen (Melech Arad S - King of Arados S) from right to left above, three waves below; ex Gorny & Mosch online auction 267 (17 Oct 2019), lot 3298; ex Shlomo Moussaieff Collection (London, 1948 - 1980s); $400.00 SALE |PRICE| $360.00
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Demetrius I Poliorketes, 306 - 286 B.C.

|Macedonian| |Kingdom|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Demetrius| |I| |Poliorketes,| |306| |-| |286| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Demetrius I Poliorketes (The Besieger), son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, was given the title king by his father in 306 B.C. after he defeated Ptolemy I at the Battle of Salamis. In 294 he seized the throne of Macedonia by murdering Alexander V. The combined forces of Pyrrhus, Ptolemy and Lysimachus, forced him out of Macedonia in 288. Abandoned by his troops on the field of battle he surrendered to Seleucus in 286 and died in captivity in 283 B.C.
SL87623. Silver tetradrachm, Newell 30, pl. III, 13 (XXXIV/69); Newell Tyrus 32, pl. III, 7 (same dies); Hersh Tyrus 43a; HGC 3 1011; SNG Alpha Bank -, NGC F, strike 4/5, surface 3/5 (2490378-002), weight 16.877 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 180o, Phoenicia, Tyre mint, c. 306 - 295 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws 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, right leg drawn back, feet on footstool, club left in a circle on left, AP monogram under throne, ∆HMITPIOY downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) below; NGC| Lookup; rare; $300.00 SALE |PRICE| $270.00
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Ptolemy I, as Satrap, 323 - 305 B.C.

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Ptolemy| |I,| |as| |Satrap,| |323| |-| |305| |B.C.||obol|
Aradus minted coinage in the name of Alexander during his lifetime and shortly after. When Aradus gained autonomy in 259 B.C., the city again minted coinage in the name of Alexander. After the Ptolemaic victory over the Seleukid Kingdom at Raphia in 217 B.C. Aradus fell under the control of Egypt. In 214, Aradus ceased to issue Alexander coinage and struck regal Ptolemaic issues. In 202 B.C., as Ptolemaic power waned, Aradus returned to issuing coinage of Alexander. The last Alexander coinage of Aradus was struck in 166/165 B.C.
GS89324. Silver obol, unpublished in references but several known from auctions, CNG e-auction 201, lot 34 (same dies), VF, toned, earthen encrustation, porosity, weight 0.649 g, maximum diameter 9.0 mm, die axis 13.5o, Phoenicia, Aradus mint, c. 323 - 315 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style) eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, A/P monogram (control) left; from a New England collector; $160.00 SALE |PRICE| $144.00
 




  






REFERENCES|

Burnett, A., M. Amandry, et al. Roman Provincial Coinage. (1992 - ).
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Baramki, D. The Coin Collection of the American University of Beirut Museum. (Beirut, 1974).
Burnett, A. & M. Amandry. Roman Provincial Coinage II: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69-96). (London, 1999).
Cohen, E. Dated Coins of Antiquity: A comprehensive catalogue of the coins and how their numbers came about. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Duyrat, F. Arados Hellénistique: Étude historique et monétaire. (Beirut, 2005).
Duyrat, F. "Les ateliers monétaires de Phénicie du Nord à l'époque hellénistique" in Les Monnayages Syriens.
Elayi, J. & A. Elayi. Le monnayage de la cité phénicienne de Sidon à l'époque perse (Ve-IVe s. av. J.-C.). (Paris, 2004).
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Hersh, C. "Tyrus Rediviva Reconsidered" in AJN 10. (New York, 1998).
Hill, G. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum: Phoenicia. (London, 1910).
Houghton, A., C. Lorber & O. Hoover. Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalog. (Lancaster, 2002 - 2008).
Hoover, O.D. Handbook of Coins of the Southern Levant: Phoenicia, Southern Koile Syria (Including Judaea), and Arabia, Fifth to First Centuries BC. HGC 10. (Lancaster, PA, 2010).
Lindgren, H. & F. Kovacs. Ancient Bronze Coins of Asia Minor and the Levant. (San Mateo, 1985).
Lindgren, H. Lindgren III: Ancient Greek Bronze Coins. (Quarryville, 1993).
Meshorer, Y. "The Coins of Dora" in INJ 9 (1986).
Meshorer, Y. "One Hundred Ninety Years of Tyrian Shekels" in Studies Mildenberg (Wettern, 1984).
Mionnet, T. Description de Médailles antiques grecques et romaines, supplement vol. 8: Rois de Syria. (Paris, 1837).
Mørkholm, O. Early Hellenistic Coinage. From the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea (336-188 BC). (Cambridge, 1991).
Newell, E. Alexander Hoards II, Demanhur, 1905. ANSNNM 19. (New York, 1923).
Newell, E. The Dated Alexander Coinage of Sidon and Ake. (Oxford, 1916).
Newell, E. Seleucid Coins of Tyre: A Supplement. ANSNNM 73. (New York, 1936).
Prieur, M. & K. Prieur. The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and their fractions from 57 BC to AD 258. (Lancaster, PA, 2000).
Price, M. The Coinage of in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. (London, 1991).
Rouvier, J. "Numismatique des Villes de la Phénicie" in Journal International d'Archéologie Numismatique. (Athens, 1900-1904).
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Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2: Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
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