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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.

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; $3300.00 SALE |PRICE| $2970.00
 


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
 


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; $870.00 SALE |PRICE| $775.00
 


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 on a 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
 


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

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleukos| |II| |Kallinikos,| |246| |-| |226| |B.C.|, |AE| |18|
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; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00
 


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

|Phoenicia|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Sidon,| |Phoenicia,| |Ba'Alshillem| |II,| |c.| |401| |-| |366| |B.C.|, |1/16| |shekel|
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).
GB95285. Silver 1/16 shekel, Meshorer-Qedar 199; Elayi 2004 851 ff.; HGC 10 240; Betlyon 27 (Abd'astart, Straton I); BMC Phoenicia p 146, 36 (same); SNG Cop 197 ff. (same), aF/VF, toned, edge test cuts, weight 0.551 g, maximum diameter 9.50 mm, die axis 180o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, c. 371 - 370 B.C.; obverse war galley left, Phoenician letter beth above, waves below; reverse King of Persia to left, standing right, slaying erect lion to right, Phoenician letter ayin between them; ex Polymath Numismatics (Merrill, WI); $70.00 SALE |PRICE| $63.00
 


Marathos, Phoenicia, 173 - 172 B.C.

|Phoenicia|, |Marathos,| |Phoenicia,| |173| |-| |172| |B.C.|, |AE| |21|
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; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00
 


Marathos, Phoenicia, 222 - 151 B.C.

|Phoenicia|, |Marathos,| |Phoenicia,| |222| |-| |151| |B.C.|, |AE| |23|
Marathos was the most northern coastal town in Phoenicia. 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 Arados, to which the subsequent coins of Marathos are dated. The federation of cities was not completely independent. The Seleukids retained overlordship. This type was issued intermittently from era of Arados year 38 (222 - 221 B.C.) to year 108 (152 - 151 B.C.). Arados destroyed Marathos, c. 145 B.C., but later rebuilt it as a colony.
GY89298. Bronze AE 23, BMC Phoenicia p. 120, 3 ff. (various dates); Cohen DCA 830; HGC 10 193, F, well centered, porosity, encrustations, weight 7.214 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Marathos (near Tartus, Syria) mint, 222 - 151 B.C.; obverse veiled bust of Astarte (possibly Berenike II) right; reverse Marathos standing left, aphlaston in right hand, left arm resting on column behind, uncertain Phoenician date left, Phoenician ethnic (MRT) right, Phoenician control letters lower left and right; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00
 




  



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REFERENCES|

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