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    Description

    Remarkably Well Preserved

    ZEUGITANA. Carthage. Time of First Punic War, ca. 264-241 BC. EL trihemistater (23mm, 11.03 gm, 12h). NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 4/5. Head of Tanit left, wreathed with grain ears, hair drawn into multiple coils and tendrils at back of head, wearing triple-pendant earring / Horse standing right, double uraeus to either side of radiant solar disk above, three pellets on ground line before rear hoof, two behind. Jenkins & Lewis Group 10a, 414. SNG Copenhagen 182. Very rare and seldom encountered in high grade! Minor obverse die rust on cheek, otherwise an exceptional specimen of this remarkable issue, struck in an unusually gold-rich alloy.

    Carthage, a Phoenician colony on the coast of North Africa, became a maritime powerhouse in the fifth century BC and challenged the Greek cities of Sicily and Southern Italy for control of the western Mediterranean. By the early third century, much of Sicily had fallen under Carthaginian control and mints were established on the island to produce coins used to pay the largely mercenary army.  The stage was now set for the collision with Rome, newly dominant in Italy. Starting in 265 BC, Carthage and Rome fought three titanic wars that produced more death and destruction than any other conflict before the 20th century. This impressive electrum piece was struck during the First Punic War with Rome (264-241 BC). Initial issues of the war were struck in relatively pure gold (see previous lot). As the costly war dragged on, the Carthaginians were forced to reduce the gold content and weight of its coinage. However, these pieces were still larger and contained more gold than any contemporary Roman or Syracusan issue, and no doubt enticed mercenary soldiers from many nations into Carthaginian service. A powerful head of the Phoenician goddess Tanit adorns the obverse, while a lithe horse, symbolizing the Carthaginian cavalry arm, occupies the reverse. An unusual feature is the solar disk flanked by cobra heads, a motif copied from Egyptian art, which point to the rising popularity of the solar cult in Carthage. 




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    January, 2018
    7th-8th Sunday-Monday
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