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Carthage, Zeugitana (Second Punic War)


[B]Carthage, Zeugitana (Second Punic War; 210-205 BC.) BI Tridrachm[/B] [u]Obv[/u]: Wreathed head of Tanit, facing left; solid circular border. [u]Rev[/u]: Horse standing right in front of palm; solid circular border. [u]Attribution[/u]: SNG Cop. 191; MAA 44; Lorber (Coin Hoards IX), Group 4. [u]Provenance[/u]: ex. CNG e166(#7), 6.13.07 [u]Weight[/u]: 10.64 gm [u]Maximal Diameter[/u]: 25 mm [u]Axis[/u]: 12 [u]Note[/u]: When Hamilcar Barca's son Hannibal took the Spanish city of Saguntum (present-day Sagunto), a Roman ally, Rome declared war. This Second Punic, or Hannibalic, War, 218–201 B.C., was one of the titanic struggles of history. Rome owed its success to various factors: its stubborn will and splendid military organization; its superior economic resources; its generals, Fabius and, above all, Scipio; the failure of supply from Carthage to Hannibal's Italian army; and the mountainous character of central Italy, which rendered the Punic superiority in cavalry nearly useless. At the war's close, Carthage surrendered to Rome its Spanish province and its war fleet. -------------------------------- Tanit, chief goddess of Carthage, equivalent of Astarte. Although she seems to have had some connection with the heavens, she was also a mother goddess, and fertility symbols often accompany representations of her. She was probably the consort of Baal Hammon (or Amon), the chief god of Carthage, and was often given the attribute "face of Baal." Although Tanit did not appear at Carthage before the 5th century BC, she soon eclipsed the more established cult of Baal Hammon and, in the Carthaginian area at least, was frequently listed before him on the monuments. In the worship of Tanit and Baal Hammon, children, probably firstborn, were sacrificed. Ample evidence of the practice has been found west of Carthage in the precinct of Tanit, where a tofet (a sanctuary for the sacrifice of children) was discovered. Tanit was also worshiped on Malta, Sardinia, and in Spain. -------------------------------- After the series of Attic-weight tetradrachms ended early in the 3rd Century BC, Carthage began to produce silver coinage based on the shekel (7.6 grams) around the time of the start of the First Punic War. Dishekels and shekels minted during the second half of the war had the head of Tanit obverse with a horse standing with head turned back. The next type of dishekel used a reverse with a horse standing with a star above. Like the earlier substitution of electrum for gold, Carthage began to lower the silver content of coins towards the end of the First Punic War, eventually to billon. Probably in the period after the war, a long series of coins was started that had reverses with a horse standing in front of a palm tree. This type continued with some variation in style until the end of the Second Punic War. These coins may actually be 1½ shekels (tridrachms) because of the weight reduction to 10.5-11.5 grams and some coins similar to the earlier type with weights of 15 grams. At times, the silver content was decreased to as low as 10%. Another type introduced near the end of the Second Punic War had a reverse with a horse stepping right while looking back. During the war, it seems billon coins circulated at Carthage while silver coinage was used in Italy and Sicily. The Carthaginians' effort to maintain even a small percentage of silver in a coin of relatively standard size suggests the coins circulated locally as a fiduciary currency. After the Second Punic War, Carthage did not have the resources to maintain even a billon currency and switched to bronze coinage. Section source: "Carthage and its Coinage: A Chronological review" by John Tatman. (http://www.geocities.com/thirdpunicwar/Economy.html) JB261

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