TYRE, Caracalla, 198-217 AD, silver tetradrachm


PHOENICIA, TYRE, Caracalla, 198-217 AD, tetradrachm, Obverse: laureate head R, AUT KAI ANTWNEINOS SE, Reverse: eagle standing on club, DIMARC EX UPATOS TO D, silver, 25mm, 13.93g, SGI2679, bit of pitting in reverse fields, VF+

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TYRE, Caracalla, 198-217 AD, silver tetradrachm

Phoenicia was the ancient Mediterranean coastline and coastal plain of the Mediterranean Levant from Lebanon to southern Syria. The Phoenicians were Semitic people, early users of an alphabet for record keeping, fond of maritime commerce, temple prostitution, and ritual child sacrifice. Tyre, a major Phoenician port city, is the modern Lebanese city of Sur. Caracalla (a type of Gallic cloak he liked to wear) was a nickname given to one of the sons of Severus Alexander, the other was Geta. On his coins he was styled Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Caracalla was apparently violently obsessed with hatred of his brother, killed thousands of his own subjects in the course of his campaign against him, to the detriment of governance, then went off to war for the rest of his reign, falling to assassination on his way to a projected war against Persia. He did, however, grant Roman citizenship to all of the inhabitants of the Empire.

The Romans, as they were building their empire, preferred to let the local coinage arrangements remain in place. As they developed their political system into the Cult of Personality that was the Empire, they started putting imperial portraits on the local coins. Later, as the Empire began to shrink, they preferred to centralize their coinage operations, eliminating local control. There were also allied and client states, some of which, at times, issued coins celebrating the alliance or subservience. The main catalog reference for these coins on this web site is Greek Imperial Coins and their Values, by David Sear.

“Ancient Coins” includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.