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Phoenicia, Sidon AR Dishekel. `Abd`aštart (Straton) I, dated RY 13 = 353/2 BC. War galley under way to left over zig-zag waves; III- (date) above / King of Persia and charioteer in biga left, King of Sidon standing left behind, in Egyptian dress, holding cultic sceptre and votive vase; 'B (in Phoenician) above. E&E-S Group IV.2.1.m, 1339 (D31/R33); Betlyon 23; Rouvier -; HGC 10, 242; DCA 849. 25.55g, 27mm, 11h.

Good Extremely Fine. Exceptionally well detailed for the type.

Ex Jean Elsen list 231, 2005, no. 104.

The dishekels of Sidon are not particularly rare. They are however nearly uniformly poorly struck, or heavily worn, or both. This coin satisfies the conditions of being both comparatively very well struck on both obverse and reverse, and has evidently seen very limited circulation indeed, evidenced by the preservation of fine detail on both sides. It is therefore an extreme rarity within the series on account of its superlative condition and level of detail, unmatched by any of the examples present on CoinArchives, and far superior to the Millennia Collection example which sold for US$30,000 in 2014.

This coin dates to the final year of the reign of Abdashtart I (or Straton, as he was known to the Greeks). One of his first acts as king was to reduce the weight of the dishekel by approximately 12%, while increasing its silver content from 72 to 99 per cent, primarily to safeguard confidence in the Sidonian currency which had in his father's reign become increasingly debased.

A complex figure, caught between East and West, Abdashtart was required to honour Sidon's allegiance to the Persian Great King on the one hand, yet found himself personally drawn towards Greek culture on the other. Yet, despite increasing discontent amongst the Sidonians at Persian overlordship of Phoenicia, Abdashtart initially displayed the outward appearance of being a loyal servant of Artaxerxes II.

Early on in his reign, Abdashtart was able to obtain a guarantee of safe passage for an Athenian embassy to Artaxerxes, for which favour the Athenians honoured him with a decree set in marble on the Acropolis, next to the Parthenon. Importantly, this decree granted favourable trading rights and exemptions from taxation in Athens to the Sidonians. Thanks to this decree he obtained for himself an image as a philhellene, an image he promoted further through lavish patronage of Greek artists and musicians he invited to his court from the cities of Ionia and the Peloponnese.

Following the redating of the reigns of the Sidonian kings by J. Elayi (An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period), it is now understood that Abdashtart was responsible for leading the Sidonian revolt against Persian overlordship that occurred in 356 BC, and which was swiftly suppressed the following year. Though he was not deposed, he was forced to surrender unconditionally and all of Phoenicia was placed under the supervision of the Persian agent Mazaios, who was made satrap of Transeuphrates. Abdashtart's final years between 355 and 352 appear to have been difficult, and according to ancient sources it is likely he suffered a sudden and violent death.

Phoenicia, Sidon AR Dishekel. (rxiv277)

Price: £14,736.00

  • US $19,438.26
  • EUR €16,532.32
  • AUD $24,859.63
  • CHF 19,150.91
  • CAD $24,541.33
  • (Rates for 23/10/2017)
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