North Africa, Carthage AR Shekel. Time of Hannibal. Carthago Nova, circa 218-206 BC. Bare male head (Hannibal?) left / Horse right, palm tree behind. Villaronga 1973, 142; CNH p. 71, 64; BMC 104. 6.05g, 22mm, 1h.
Good Fine. Very Rare.
This coin is conventionally believed to carry the portrait of Hannibal on the obverse.
In 237 BC Hamilcar Barca, after having lost the First Punic War against Rome, but having won the Mercenary War against the Libyans, disembarked at Gadir with a Carthaginian expedition with the purpose of "re-establishing Carthaginian authority in Iberia" (Polybios, Histories, 2.1.6), and within 9 years he had expanded the territory of Carthage well into the Iberian peninsula, securing control of the southern mining district of Baetica and Sierra Morena, before dying in battle in 228. Hamilcar was succeeded by his son-in-law Hasdrubal the Fair who expanded the new province by skilful diplomacy and consolidated it with the foundation of Akra Leuka, Mahon and finally in 227, Qart Hadasht (Latin: Carthago Nova) as his capital. After his untimely death in 221 he was succeeded by Hannibal (247-182), oldest son of Hamilcar Barca, and Hamilcar's second son Hasdrubal (245-207 BC). The Barcids now wielded control over much of the mineral rich Mediterranean side of the peninsula until 219 when Hannibal made the fateful move of taking and sacking Saguntum, a well established Roman ally. The wholesale slaughter of this Roman ally's population, and the arrogance with which the Roman ambassadors sent to Carthage to seek redress were met, led directly to the Second Punic War: the great statesman Quintus Fabius, speaking to the Carthaginian senate, gathered a fold of his toga to his chest and held it out, saying "Here, we bring you peace and war. Take which you will." The Carthaginians replied "Whichever you please - we do not care." Fabius let the fold drop and proclaimed "We give you war."