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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Second and Finest Known

Triton XXII, Lot: 386. Estimate $75000.
Sold for $325000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PHILISTIA (PALESTINE), Askalon. Circa 425-400 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 17.10 g, 6h). Imitating Athens dekadrachm issue. Head of Athena right, with frontal eye, wearing circular earring, linear necklace with ball pendants, and crested Attic helmet decorated with two Udjat eyes and an olive leaf over the visor, and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Owl standing facing, wings spread; olive sprig and crescent to upper left, AN (in Phoenician) to upper right; all within incuse square. Gitler & Tal III.1Ta = Israel Museum inv. 15279 = W. Fischer-Bossert & H. Gitler, “The Ismailiya Hoard 1983” in INR 5 (2010), 11 = Meshorer & Qedar p. 40 = L. Mildenberg, “Über die Münzbildnisse in Palästina und Nordwestarabien zur Perserzeit” in C. Uehlinger, ed., Images as Media (Freiburg, 2000), pl. 56, 27 = Durr & Michel (16 November 1998), lot 489 (same dies); Hendin 1004 (illustrating the IM coin); HGC 10, 492 (same). Choice EF, lightly toned, die break on obverse. The second and finest known, in an earlier die state than the Israel Museum specimen.

The types of this extremely rare tetradrachm and drachm (see following lot) copy those of the famous dekadrachms of Athens and underscore the enormous impact that Athenian coinage had on the region. The most notable and remarkable difference in the iconography, however, is the presence of udjat (also referred to as wadjet) symbols along the visor of Athena’s helmet, two of which appear on the tetradrachm, one on the drachm. Better known as the Eye of Horus, the udjat was a symbol of protection and, as such, was a frequent amulet type in ancient Egypt. The exact significance of the Eye of Horus symbols on the current lots is uncertain. As an apotropaic device, it was perhaps included to underscore Athena’s role as protectress, or, as Gitler and Tal have suggested, it may relate to the goddess’ epithet Ophthalmitis (“the sharp-sighted”).

Fischer-Bossert and Gitler have attempted to reconstruct the 1983 Ismailiya Hoard, which is said to have contained the Israel Museum tetradrachm. Based on the coins that can confidently be assigned to this hoard, they date the Philistian issues contained in it to no later than the last quarter of the 5th century.