Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 110   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 60

Estimate: 4'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 3'200 CHF Price realized: 7'500 CHF
The Carthaginians in Italy, Sicily and North Africa. 15 shekels, Carthago 201-195, Æ 93.95 g. Head of Tanit (Kore-Persephone) l., wearing barley-wreath, bar and triple pendant earring and necklace. Rev. Unbridled horse standing r.; above, sun disk. MMA 104. SNG Copenhagen 400. Jenkins-Lewis, pl. 28, 11 (these dies).
Extremely rare. Green patina and very fine / about very fine
Ex Gorny & Mosch sale 228, 2015, 190.CarthageDespite Hannibal’s early victories over the Romans during the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.), as the conflict dragged on and political opposition to Hannibal’s conduct of the war grew at Carthage, all of his gains disappeared. In 205 B.C., the consul L. Cornelius Scipio carried the war to Africa and finally crushed the Carthaginian army at the Battle of Zama in 202 B.C. Unable to recover from this terrible and unexpected blow, the Carthaginian elite sued for peace. The Roman terms imposed on Carthage were punishing in the extreme. Punic possessions in Spain were ceded to Rome and the Carthaginians were forbidden to raise a fleet greater than 10 ships or an army of any size without Roman approval. Furthermore, Carthage was ordered to pay a war indemnity of 10,000 talents of silver (the equivalent of about 660,000 pounds). The cost of peace was high indeed. The indemnity bankrupted the Carthaginian treasury and the disbanding of the army left Punic territory in North Africa at the mercy of the Numidians, who began plundering raids almost immediately.In the context of this unmitigated economic disaster, Carthage began to produce a heavy token bronze coinage to stand in for the traditional silver coinage that it could no longer afford to produce. The present coin is a bronze shekel probably struck immediately after the collapse of the Carthaginian economy. Its quality as an emergency issue is indicated by the unprecedented size and weight (matched in the Greek world only by certain Ptolemaic bronzes) and the use of very few dies. It was probably struck alongside a smaller fraction for only a short period.The bronze shekel features types that were already long familiar on Punic silver issues of the fourth and third centuries B.C. The obverse depicts Tanit, the patron goddess of Carthage, although her iconography is closely modeled on earlier Syracusan depictions of Kore-Persephone. Like Greek Kore-Persephone, Tanit was a fertility goddess, but also had aspects of war and mother goddesses. She was infamous in antiquity for her rites, which included child sacrifice. The reverse type features the longstanding horse emblem of Carthage. It is associated with the city’s foundation myth. According to Vergil’s Aenead, while searching for a good site for Carthage, the Tyrian princess Dido ordered the excavation of a hill in Libya. When the excavators dug up the head of a horse it was seen as an omen that a city built there would be powerful in war. Thus Carthage was sited on the spot where the head was found. It is more than a little ironic that a symbol advertising martial prowess should still appear on an emergency coinage produced in the context of military defeat.

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