Ancient Greece - AR Tetradrachma - "Shekel of Tyre" - Circa 198 - 217 AD

Denomination: AR Tetradrachma

Date: 198-217 AD

Mint: Phoenicia, Tyre

Mount: 14K gold

Grade: NGC 6327282-005 - Choice VF

Description:  Caracalla (AD 198-217). BI tetradrachm (24mm, 12h). NGC Choice VF, flan flaw Obverse: ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ ΑΝ-ΤWΝΙΝΟC CЄ, laureate bust of Caracalla right with drapery on left shoulder, seen from the back  Reverse: / •ΔΗΜΑΡX•ЄΞ•ΥΠΑΤΟCΤΟ•Δ•, eagle standing facing on club, head left, wreath in beak, tail left, wings spread; murex shell between legs. 

History: The great Phoenician metropolis of Tyre was a place of considerable antiquity, though it is said to have originated as a colony of its rival city Sidon. In 332 BC it put up a stubborn resistance to the advance of Alexander the Great but ultimately fell to the Greek invaders.  Later, it formed part of the overseas empire of the Ptolemic kings of Egypt and, at the end of the 3rd century BC; it passed under the control of the Seleucid king of Syria. Finally, in 126 BC Tyre regained its autonomy and its subsequent coin issues are dated to this event. These include famous “shekels” which stretch in a long sequence down to Roman imperial times.  The shekels of Tyre have achieved a degree of notoriety through their identification as the most likely coinage with which Judas was paid his “thirty pieces of silver” for the betrayal of Christ. It has been suggested that some of the latest issues of the type, of the Julio-Claudian period, may have been struck in Jerusalem rather than Tyre. Melkarth, who came to be equated with the Greek Heracles, was especially revered at Tyre and appears on the Tyrian coinage from the late 5thcentury BC. The eagle was inherited from the Seleucid coinage of Tyre issued just prior to the city’s independence.