Astarte Sacred Stone

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by 7Calbrey, Mar 17, 2021.

  1. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Struck at Sidon - Phoenicia, this coin depicts the bust of Tyche with Aphlaston behind. Reverse shows the Cart of Astarte with Baetyl ( sacred stone) within. I first thought that the Cart contained Astarte herself, standing and raising both hands ! The coin measures 20 mm. and weighs 8 g.
    The sacred stone, conceivably a meteorite, was known in the Roman Empire under Elagabalus who was of Syrian origin and mythological belief. In Greece, it had been named Omphalos often depicted with Apollo seated on it. The Phoenicians seems also to have had their own sacred stone. I wonder if other ancient peoples, prior to that , had their sacred stones. The Greeks and other peoples mentioned above had worshipped their gods, as we know. So what would that sacred stone represent ? SNG Cop 247. Date 116-117 AD.

    CarSidon O.JPG CarSidny R.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    The tradition of the sacred stone certainly has been a major theme of Near Eastern religion, from the Syrians and Phoenicians to the Arabs, the last iteration associated with the Kaa'ba of Islam.
  4. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    What about the Greeks ? Were they considered as Near Eastern.
  5. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths

    Athens New Style Tetradrachm c 84/3 BC
    Obs : Athena Parthenos right in tri-form helmet
    28 mm 16.47 gm Thompson issue 81 Thompson catalogue: Obs 1160 ? Rev: NEW
    Rev : ΑΘΕ ethnic
    Owl standing on overturned panathenaic amphora
    on which month mark B control [] below
    2 magistrates : KLEOPHANES EPITHETHES
    RF symbol : Beatyl with Fillets
    All surrounded by an olive wreath

    Which god's Beatyl is being referred to I can only guess at...probably Apollo. This coin is a post Sullan sack of Athens NewStyle issue.
    Bing, Johndakerftw and 7Calbrey like this.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Oh, yes. Forgot the Greeks.
  7. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if, prior to the Phoenicians, there were people like the Sumerians or others who had the sacred stone in their myths. Thought that this thread would trigger more replies or photos.
  8. Silverlock

    Silverlock Well-Known Member

    These Baetyls caught my interest because they are likely meteorites, another hobby of mine. I should imagine a stone falling from the sky would be as impressive then as it is today. In Bronze Age and earlier times, meteorites were the only source of native iron on earth. A pharaoh had a treasured (sacred?) dagger made from meteoritic iron in an age before iron smelting.

    Elagabalus attempted to convert the empire to Astarte worship, with himself as chief priest and eventually the god. He used to parade the temple stone around as proof of his divinity and the source of his power. The Sidon coin portrays a simplified version of the cart, there is another more elaborate quadriga version on a denarius as well. I suspect the Sidon version is an earlier portrayal.

    Another omphalos, associated with Apollo and Delphi, as depicted on a coin, signifies the navel (center) of the world. The stone Apollo is seated is on is of unknown composition, but it possibly is a meteorite.

    Meteorites aren’t all that rare. How did they decide which was worth housing in a temple? Perhaps it had to be a witnessed fall? Or a witnessed fall that resulted in damage or even death? The stories around the meteorites are unfortunately lost, but I’ll bet they were good ones. Given the significance of these “black stones” (the black probably referring to the fusion crust) to many cultures it’s disappointing how few survived through the ages.
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  9. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths

    The baetylus of Aphrodite at Palaepaphos, described by Tacitus.
    7Calbrey likes this.
  10. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths

  11. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    King tut meteor dagger
    7Calbrey likes this.
  12. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Fascinating replies and references. There's also the sacred stone of Zeus.
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