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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Discovery Coin

Triton XXII, Lot: 387. Estimate $20000.
Sold for $32500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PHILISTIA (PALESTINE), Askalon. Circa 425-400 BC. AR Drachm (14mm, 3.96 g, 12h). 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 Udjat eye flanked by olive leaves over the visor, and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Owl standing facing, wings spread; olive sprig and crescent to upper left, A N (in Phoenician) across upper field; all within incuse square. Unpublished, but from the same series as the tetradrachm Gitler & Tal III.1Ta (see previous lot). VF, toned, some porosity, die break on reverse. Unique.

The types of this extremely rare tetradrachm (see previous lot) and drachm 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.