PHOENICIA, Berytos

1st century BCE

Æ19.5, 5.9 gm

Obv: Turreted head of Tyche right

Rev: Poseidon standing left in quadriga drawn by four hippocamps

Ref: SNG Copenhagen 83 

Vauctions 312, lot 125, September 2014

This wonderful coin was inexplicably unloved in a recent auction.  Who in their right mind wouldn't want a coin that features a quadriga of hippocamps?  With Poseidon?!  It may not be fleur de coin but good luck finding one in better condition!

 

Unsurprisingly given the devices, this coin is from a land renowned for seafaring.  Berytos (now Beirut) was positioned in the center of Phoenicia's coastal territory (more about Phoenicia's history on my page showing a wonderful Byblos dishekel).  

 

I'm unsure of the date of issue.  It was struck in the first century BC, perhaps mid, perhaps 27/28.  If you have any information pointing to a historically correct attribution, please let me know.  I will continue to research the coin.  Many important political changes occurred in that time frame and it would be nice to know more about the political climate at the time of this coin's issue.  Was it struck while Pompey the Great was using Berytos as a naval base?  Was it struck around the time of the Battle of Actium?  Some time in between?  Whatever the circumstance, the coin appears to be a statement of the city's naval power and prosperity.