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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 (Arwad, Syria) 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; $1210.00 (€1028.50)
 


Shekel of Tyre, KP Type, 34 - 35 A.D., Temple Tax for Two

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Full Shekel - Tax for Two. 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.
SL86642. Silver shekel, RPC I 4670 (2 spec.); Prieur 1431 (2 spec.); Cohen DCA 920-170 (C); BMC Phoenicia -; Baramki AUB -; Rouvier -, NGC AU, strike 4/5, surface 3/5 (4241491-015), weight 13.53 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 44 - 45 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 left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond under right wing, date PO (year 170) over club left, KP (καισαρ?) over monogram (control) right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; $1160.00 (€986.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Alexander I Balas, 152-145 B.C.

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Alexander Balas, of humble origin, claimed to be Antiochus IV's son and heir to the Seleukid throne. Rome and Egypt accepted his claims. He married Cleopatra Thea, daughter of King Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt. With his father-in-law's help, he defeated Demetrius Soter and became the Seleukid king. After he abandoned himself to debauchery, his father-in-law shifted his support to Demetrius II, the son of Demetrius Soter. Balas was defeated and fled to Nabataea where he was murdered.
SH82665. Silver tetradrachm, Sawaya 34 (D12/R2), SNG Spaer 1507 (same dies), Houghton-Lorber 1824.3, HGC 9 881, Rouvier –, EF, excellent portrait, nicely toned, die break on the obverse, minor bumps and marks, weight 14.169 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 0o, Laodikeia in Phoenicia (Berytos) mint, 29 Aug 149 - 28 Aug 148 B.C.; obverse diademed head right; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY, eagle standing left on palm frond, ∆ΞP (year 164) over monogram on left, trident with head up on right; ex Auctiones GmbH e-auction 52, lot 36; ex D.A.K. Collection; ex Triton XIX (4 Jan 2016), lot 291 ($1000 plus fees); $900.00 (€765.00)
 


Shekel of Tyre, KP Type, 38 - 39 A.D., Temple Tax for Two

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Full Shekel - Tax for Two. 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.
SL86644. Silver shekel, Baramki AUB 88; Cohen DCA 920-164 (S); RPC I 4668 (2 spec.); Prieur 1428 (4 spec.); Rouvier 2111; BMC Phoenicia -, NGC XF, strike 3/5, surface 3/5 (4241491-013), weight 13.84 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem or Tyre mint, 38 - 39 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 left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond under wing, date PΞD (year 164) over club left, KP (καισαρ?) over monogram right, Phoenician letter beth (control) between legs; scarce; $870.00 (€739.50)
 


Tyre, Phoenicia, 80 - 79 B.C., The Temple Tax Coin

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Half Shekel - the currency of the Jerusalem Temple.

At the Great Temple in Jerusalem the annual tax levied on Jews was 1/2 shekel per male. The 1/2 shekel and shekel were not always used in everyday commerce, but were the only coins accepted by the temple. Many taxpayers required a currency exchange, so money changers set up in the Temple court. Jesus found this business and their shouting (advertising rates) offensive, so he threw over their tables.
SH86530. Silver half shekel, HGC 10 358; Cohen DCA 921 (S); BMC Phoenicia p. 251, 226 var. (different monogram right); cf. Rouvier 2131 (this year and monogram, shekel), aVF, centered, toned, scrapes, edge chips and lamination defects, corrosion, rough, weight 5.430 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre mint, 80 - 79 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 standing left, right foot on ship's ram, palm frond behind, ZM (year 47) over club left, ΦIΛ monogram right, Aramaic letter bet between legs; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $850.00 (€722.50)
 


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; $480.00 (€408.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.

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Struck by Menes or Laomedon. Most coins of this issue from Arados were struck in the name of Philip III.
GY82766. Silver tetradrachm, Duyrat Group V, Series 11, 1056 (D254/R514); Price P158; Müller Alexander P100; SNG Ashmolean 3207, SNG München -, SNG Cop -, VF, attractive style, well centered and struck with high relief dies, light rose toning, bumps and marks, weight 17.059 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 270o, Phoenicia, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, c. 320 - 316 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, clad in Nemean Lion scalp headdress, forelegs tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left on high-back throne, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, left foot on footstool, eagle in extended right hand, long lotus tipped scepter vertical behind in left hand, ΦIΛIΠΠOY downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ in exergue, ΛY over prow left, I under throne; $320.00 (€272.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.

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Struck in the name of King Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander the Great's half-brother. Philip III and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV, were made joint kings after Alexander's death. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule and both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Philip was murdered by Olympias to ensure the succession of her grandson.
GS82774. Silver tetradrachm, Duyrat Group V, Series 6, 957 (D 217 / R441), Price P148, Meydancikkale 2002 - 2003, Müller-, Choice VF, bold well-centered strike with high relief dies, attractive archaic style, toned, bumps and marks, weight 16.879 g, maximum diameter 27.4 mm, die axis 235o, Phoenicia, Arados (Arawad, Syria) mint, 323 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress, forelegs 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 forward (archaic Alexander lifetime style), monogram left, Z (appears as I or H on its side) under throne, ΦIΛIΠΠOY (Philip) downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) in exergue; rare; $320.00 (€272.00)
 


Byblos (Gebal), Phoenicia, 62 - 60 B.C.

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Byblos was strongly influenced by Egyptian art, culture and religion. In Egyptian myth, Byblos is where Isis found the body of her dead husband in the trunk of a tree which had grown around him after he was murdered by his brother Set. In Pharaonic times, Isis had nothing to do with the sea, and it was Hathor who protected sailors. The Greeks syncretized the two goddesses resulting in Isis Pelagia, mistress of the sea and protector of sailors.

Most recent studies conclude this type is dated to the Pompeian Era. Many older studies listed it as Actian Era, 28 - 27 B.C. RPC also notes the possibility that it is dated the third regnal year of Nero, 56 - 57 A.D.
GB87104. Bronze AE 25, Imhoof-Blumer MG p. 443, 23; Rouvier 670; SNG Righetti 2257; De Clercq p. 18 & pl. IV, 340; SNRIS Byblus 10 (7 spec.); RPC I -; Cohen DCA -, VF, overstruck, weight 8.395 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 45o, Byblos (Jbail, Lebanon) mint, 62 - 61 B.C. or 61 - 60 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse (Phoenician: of Gebal the Holy), Isis Pelagia standing right on a barge, wearing crown and long chiton, a sail swollen by the wind held under foot and with both hands, L - Γ (year 3 [Pompeian Era]) flanking head, large (Byblos monogram) behind; very rare; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


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; $150.00 (€127.50)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Monday, July 16, 2018.
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Phoenicia