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Byblos, Phoenicia (hippocamp coll.)


[B]Byblos, Phoenicia (time of King Azbaal; 365-333 BC.) AR Dishekel[/B] [U]Obv[/U]: Large lion attacking bull, facing left; Azb'al M(e)l(e)k G(e)b(a)l (Azbaal, king of Gebal; aka. king Uzzibaal) in Phoencian script; dotted circular border. [U]Rev[/U]: Phoenician bireme (war galley) w/ lion's head prow ornamen, three hoplites with round shields within; zigzag row of waves below; in exergue, "NO" monogram below; hippocamp facing left; murex shell below hippocamp; dotted circular border. [u]Attribution[/u]: Betlyon 14var; BMC 26, p95,4-5var; Dewing 2662; SNG Fitz 6028 [u]Provenance[/u]: ex. David Hendin, Sale 89 (#176), 6.9.06 [u]Weight[/u]: 13.32 gm [u]Maximal Diameter[/u]: mm [u]Axis[/u]: 9 [u]Note[/u]: Byblos (Gebal), a coast-town at the foot of Mount Lebanon, between Botrys and Berytus, famous as the scene of the myth of Adonis, who was here worshipped under the name of Thammuz. Isis also was fabled to have come to Byblos, where she sought and found the chest containing the corpse of Osiris slain by Typhon. The earliest coins of Byblos are autonomous silver pieces of the kings of Byblos, Elpaal, Azbaal, Ainel or Enylus, the contemporary of Alexander the Great, B.C. 333 (Arrian, ii. 20. 1) and Adramelek, B.C. 315 (?) (Six, Num. Chron., 1877, p. 182). The bireme (a ship with two banks of oars), as featured on the obverse of this coin, was introduced by the Phoenicians in about 700 BC. These war vessels became very large, some reputedly having as many as 40 banks of oars, but smaller vessels were again common by the 1st cent. B.C. The narrow prolate hull of this Phoenician bireme of around 100 BC consisted of two floors and the upper one was again for the helmsmen and warriors. For greater stability of the ship the Phoenicians lowered the crinolines (platforms where oarsmen sat). A massive bronze covered battering ram was the main weapon of this narrow high speed bireme. The traditional removable rig was typical. A decorative poop extremity of stern was abruptly bent, similarly to a tail of a scorpion, and the balustrade of the battle platform was covered with the shields of warriors for reinforcement. Phoenicians were considered as the best seamen of the time and many ancient states frequently used them as mercenaries. The length was about 30 meters with a width of some 5 meters. GK228

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Hippocamp Collection

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I like the obverse of these and am looking for an Ainel/Enylus myself - so hard to find in excellent condition/strike (which yours is) and well-centred (which one side of yours is!). I bet you like the hippocamp to bits?



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Yeah, it's taken forever to find a nice example of a hippocamp on this issue. As you rightly mention finding these coins well-centered is a problem, but for my prerequisite (i.e., a good, full strike of the hippocamp) centering of the reverse actually worked in my disfavor. All of the well-centered pieces that I have seen generally have worn hippocamp representations due to the device being closer to the edge and more succeptible to wear.


For me...the reverse has a well-centered hippocamp! Love it!


I'll keep my eyes out for an Ainel/Enylus for you. I have "hippocamp" filters and want lists spread all around, so maybe it won't be too long of a wait. Keep you posted.



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Wow! What an interesting coin. The complexity of the design and the style

is fascinating. Congratulations!!!!


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