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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Phoenician/Egyptian 1/4 sheqel weight, about 1000BC or older

(See the whole gallery at the link above.)
This a decorated, disc-shaped Phoenician weight (3.8 grams, 14mm; a 1/4 sheqel or 1/20,000 of a Talent), not a coin exactly, but more of a "numismatic object" or a form of "exonumia." '





I'm not sure where you draw the line "coin" vs. "not coin." After all, the early electrum (EL) coinage of Greece (e.g. Lydia; Miletos; see the post(s) below also), were simply bean shaped blobs of metal, less "coin-like" than this object. We got it for, I think $0.38 in 3-kilo box of ancient coin a couple years ago (best purchase ever! almost every coin sold for several dollars, and there were about 1,000). I suppose it's worth somewhere between $38 and $3,800. I'm not an expert in this rare so I can't say for sure.

I'll certainly welcome comments and suggestions!

3 comments:

  1. I was thinking the same! This looks like a "coin" to me (however it is maybe a little bit to thick).

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    1. I sort of does, but no coins such as that have ever been found. Also I have many thicker coins than that. So, actually I don't think that it's in the shape any coin that I've ever seen before. Thank you for your comment thought! I had been thinking it looked like a proto-coin (from the same region) but that's pure speculation.

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  2. David Hendin's volume, Ancient Scale Weights and Pre-Coinage Currency of the Near East, touches on the interesting and complicated relationship between bronze age weights and the earliest precious metal coinage (issued in Phoenicia / Lydian-occupied Phoenicia). A slightly oversimplified explanation is that, rather than keep weighing out a certain standard weight of Gold [AV] (or Electrum [EL], a naturally occurring Gold-Silver [AR] alloy), one might be tempted to simply start molding/striking the precious metals into that particular standard. Interestingly, the Shekel "standard" (which varied in several cultures), preceded the Lydian/Phoenician the Phoenician Siglos/Stater denominations, issued in AV, EL, and AR. In fact, numerous Aegean and Phoenician Island and City States had different standards for the proper weight, and some conversion was necessary in trade. There is an interesting history of overlap between the weights and standard currencies of the regions; there were, for instance, bronze "drachm" scale weights (and fractionals), and even later denominational weights throughout the establishment of Roman currency and, indeed, later, as scale weights never disappeared.
    The denominational equivalents suggest that the Mediterranean trade system required various scale weights to accurately convert one locale's standard to another's.
    The scale weights were not exactly precursors or predecessors of coins, it would seem, but part of the process of creating the conditions for trade in coinage issued by authorities with different standards of weight and value for at least centuries if not a millennium or more.

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