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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, 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 (Ptolemy Savior), 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; $340.00 (€289.00)
 


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, 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, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right, right leg drawn back, boar's head left (control) in left field; $290.00 (€246.50)
 


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

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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; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy I Soter, 305 - 282 B.C.

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In Coins of the Ptolemaic Empire, Catherine Lorber writes that this, and similar types, "match the module and types of Alexandrian bronze hemiobols, but the style is local and somewhat crude; Alexander's features often resemble those of Ptolemy, probably unintentionally."
GP88275. Bronze hemiobol, Lorber CPE B134, Svoronos 630 (8 spec.), Cox Curium 73, BMC Ptolemies -, SNG Cop -, SNG Milan -, Noeske -, Weiser -, Hosking -, Malter -, VF, black patina, small earthen deposits, flan adjustment marks (scrapes), weight 4.364 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre mint, c. 294 - 282 B.C.; obverse diademed head of deified Alexander right, ram's horn at temple, long wavy hair; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), Eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head left, club over (ΠA monogram) left; ex Ora Eads Collection; ex CNG Sale 41 (19 Mar 1997), lot 1035 (part of); very rare; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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

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This type is found primarily in Lebanon and Svoronos attributed it to Sidon, with some reservations. In Coins of the Ptolemaic Empire, Catherine Lorber writes of this and related types, "Because mintmarks were a characteristic feature of coins issued by the coastal cities of Phoenicia and Palestine, the lack of mintmarks on these coins may point to an inland origin. The persistence of the double cornucopia after the reign of Ptolemy II suggests and important association with Arsinoe Philadelphus and perhaps an attribution to a city named for her."
GP88273. Bronze obol, Lorber CPE B340, Svoronos 761, Noeske 106, Weiser 44, SNG Milan 147, BMC Ptolemies -, SNG Cop -, Hosking -, Malter -, aVF, brown tone, edge split, beveled obverse edge, central cavities, weight 10.201 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, uncertain mint, c. 260 - 246 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head left, filleted double cornucopia left; ex Ora Eads Collection; ex CNG Sale 41 (19 Mar 1997), lot 1035 (part of); $150.00 (€127.50)
 


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)
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221 - 204 B.C.

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Ptolemy IV's surname Philopator means father lover, ironic since according to some authorities he poisoned his father. Ptolemy IV is a major protagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria. He was a cruel and evil monarch.
GP88102. Bronze obol, Lorber CPE B456, Svoronos 1153 (4 spec.), BMC Ptolemies -; Weiser -; SNG Cop -, Noeske -, SNG Milan -, Malter -, aVF, scratches, weak reverse strike, dark patina with highlighting earthen deposits, slightly beveled obverse edge, central cavities, weight 10.556 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre mint, obverse diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, club left, ΣE monogram between legs; scarce; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


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

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Svoronos attributed this type to Ptolemais due to the monogram, but symbols between the eagle's legs are usually control marks, not mint marks and the club in the left field is typical of Tyre.
GP88280. Bronze hemiobol, Svoronos 1060 (only 2 specimens known to Svoronos, Ptolemais mint), Lorber CPE -, SNG Cop -, Weiser -, Noeske -, Malter -, VF/aF, rough, central cavities, weight 5.497 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre or Ptolemaios mint, c. 204 - 180 B.C.; obverse filleted and horned head of Zeus Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, double cornucopia on eagles shoulder with one straight and one waiving fillet, club left, monogram between legs; ex Ora Eads Collection; ex CNG Sale 41 (19 Mar 1997), lot 1035 (part of); extremely rare; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C., Lifetime Issue

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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.
GS89320. Silver hemidrachm, SNG Saroglos 809 (same reverse die), Price 3318, Müller Alexander 1365, SNG Cop 1009, SNG München 741, SNG Berry 269, aVF, toned, rough, porous, weight 1.991 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 90o, Phoenicia, Aradus mint, c. 328 - 323 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, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) in exergue, Σ (control) left, A/P monogram (control) under throne below strut; $100.00 (€85.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Sunday, May 19, 2019.
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Phoenicia