AE Dichalkon. 21.15g, 29.6mm
MINTED: PHOENICIA, Tyre, AD 218-222
REF: Rouvier 2358; BMC Phoenicia 390
OBVERSE: IMP CAES M AV ANTONINVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
REVERSE: SEPT IM TVRO, COLO, Astarte standing facing, placing right hand on trophy and holding scepter in left, being crowned by Nike on column; Marsyas to inner left, murex shell to inner right.
Almost Very Fine. Green patina with earthen highlights.
A large impressive provincial, depicting Astarte, the chief deity of Tyre, and an important figure of worship in Phoenicia.
The island of Tyre, now part of Lebanon, was an ancient Phoenician settlement that originally also included a mainland township, known as the Old Town. When he was beseiging the city, Alexander the Great famously built a causeway across the several hundred yards of sea that separated Tyre from the coast and forced it to surrender. During the Roman period, Tyre flourished as a great maritime centre, often in rivalry with nearby Berytus (Beirut). Tyre was also famous in the ancient world for the production of an incredibly rare and expensive purple dye harvested from the murex shellfish. This Tyrian purple was used to colour the royal toga picta of the Roman emperors.
During the Roman civil war of AD 194, Tyre sided with future emperor Septimius Severus against Pescennius Niger, the Governor of Syria, who had also declared himself emperor. When Severus emerged victorious, he rewarded Tyre by making it the capital of the province of Syria, eventually raising it to the status of a Roman colony.
The provincial coinage of Tyre often drew on its ancient myths, and the amongst its legendary natives it counted Queen Dido, who founded the great city of Carthage, the princess Europa, who was abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull and taken to Crete, and Kadmos, Europa's brother, who taught the Greeks writing and the alphabet, and who also founded the Greek city of Thebes.
ELAGABALUS . PHOENICIA, Tyre . AE30 . Astarte, Goddess of War and Fertility
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