Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Melqart, also spelled Melkart (meaning "King of the City" in Phoenician) was the tutelary or patron god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Temples to him were built not only in Tyre but in various Phoenician colonies including Carthage and Gades (Cadiz in Spain). See . The Greeks, and later the Romans, identified him with Herakles/Hercules, and he appears as such on numerous Roman provincial coins: a search for "Melqart" in RPC online yields 200 results -- many of them, but not all, issued in Tyre itself -- under every emperor from Augustus through Trajan, as well as under Gordian III and Trebonianus Gallus. (Of course, there are volumes of RPC that remain unpublished, either in print or online.)

    I recently purchased, and received, a silver tetradrachm of Trajan with Melqart on the reverse, issued in Tyre in 100 AD. Unlike some examples I've seen on which the Hercules connection is carried to the extent of showing Melqart with an enormous, bull-like head and neck, reminiscent of a comic book character, he looks almost "normal" on this coin:

    Trajan AR Tetradrachm, 100 AD, Phoenicia, Tyre. Obv. Laureate head of Trajan right; behind, ear of grain in left field; to right, club in right field; below, eagle with folded wings standing right, ΑΥΤΟΚΡ ΚΑΙϹ ΝΕΡ ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟϹ ϹΕΒ ΓΕΡΜ / Rev. Laureate bust of Melqart (as Herakles) right, lion’s skin tied at neck, ΔΗΜΑΡΧ ΕΞ ΥΠΑΤ Γ [= COS III]. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 3526 (2015); RPC Online at; Prieur 1482 [Prieur, Michel and Karin, Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms (London, 2000)]; McAlee 452 [McAlee, Richard, The Coins of Roman Antioch (2007)]. 27 mm., 14.25 g.

    Version 2 Trajan-Melqart Tyre, Phoenicia 100 AD jpg.jpg

    The dark gray toning reminds me a little of the toning on some British silver coins and medals of the 17th and 18th centuries that I have or used to have. I'm sure I could make the coin all bright and shiny, but I like it this way! I also like the fact that the legends and all the other devices are complete, which often isn't the case on coins of this and similar types.

    If anyone else has coins of Melqart they'd like to post -- Greek, Roman Provincial, or otherwise -- I'd love to see them.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Very nice coin. Mine with the big head is below.

    Trajan (98 - 117 A.D.)
    Phoenicia, Tyre
    AR Tetradrachm
    Dated COS 5, year 15 (111 AD)
    O: AVTOKP KAIC NEP TPAIANOC CEB ΓEPM ∆AK, Laureate head right set on eagle standing right; club to left.
    R: ∆HMAPX - EΞ IE YΠAT E, laureate bust of Melqart draped in lion-skin.
    Tyre Mint
    Prieur 1515; BMC Phoenicia pg. 301, 15
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  4. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    Civic issue during the time of Trajan...

    Phoenicia, Tyre, Pseudo-autonomous civic issue
    Time of Roman Emperor Trajan 112/113 A.D.

    O: Laureate head of Melqart right with lion-skin knotted around neck

    R: MH-TPO / ΠOΛ-EωΣ across fields of club surmounted by monogram TYP('Tyre); in field, date ΗΛΣ(Struck year 238 of the City Era) and Phoenician letters('of Tyre'); all in oak wreath.
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  5. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    Melkart was also known as Baal Sur (Lord of Tyre), and is thought by some to be the Baal mentioned in the Old Testament and Tanakh in passages such as I Kings 16-18. Astarte / Ashtoreth, also mentioned in several Bible passages, is associated with him.

    Tyre Shekel 14:13 BC.jpg

    Phoenicia, Tyre AR Shekel. Dated CY 113 = 14/13 BC. Laureate head of Melkart right / ΤΥPΟΥ ΙΕΡΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΑΣΥΛΟΥ, eagle standing left on prow, palm frond behind; to left, PIΓ (date) above club; to right, KP above monogram; Beth between legs. 13.29g, 25mm.

    Dora Astarte.jpg

    PHOENICIA, Dora. Pseudo-autonomous issue. Nero, AD 54-68. Æ (21mm/11.5gr). Dated CY 130 (AD 66/7). Laureate head of Doros right / Astarte standing facing, head right, holding signum and cornucopia; [L] ΛP (date) to left.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  6. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Baal was an honorific title applied to many Semitic gods besides Melqart -- and long before Melqart first appears. So the use of the term, including in the Hebrew Bible, can be very confusing. See the interesting article at .
  7. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Sidonians (I Kings 16:31). She married Ahab, the 9th century BC King of Israel (the northern kingdom after the post-Solomon split which formed it and the Kingdom of Judah), and she promoted the worship of "Baal."

    The article you referenced mentions that many scholars believe that passages in Kings regarding Jezebel and Baal refer to her efforts to introduce Baal of Tyre, Melqart. This was the chief god of the area over which her father reigned. I believe it's these connections with the Baal of Tyre and her heritage that lead some scholars to their thoughts on the subject.

    Here's another interesting article on the topic: .
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  8. Ignoramus Maximus

    Ignoramus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Nice coins everyone.
    I love this type of tetradrachm!

    Mine is the version with a bull-neck.
    I like the way these combine Roman, Greek and Phoenician elements on a single coin. Also, quite rare on Roman coins, the emperor doesn't seem to be the dominant motif. And I love the original 'stacked' presentation of all elements on the obverse. And the eagle that looks like a worried turkey and the lightly double struck Melqart who looks as if he lost his dentures...


    I believe there is an issue in the same style struck under Caracalla, where Melqart takes on the features of the emperor.
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  9. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Nice coin @DonnaML !

    Here is my example.
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  10. El Cazador

    El Cazador Active Member

    Fantastic coins Everyone

    Here are mine:

    56ADDB10-7C88-4297-BFE3-3811415E0BB9.jpeg E13629F1-A99A-4B55-A93D-55BB73C50B3E.jpeg
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  11. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    Scholars have suggested that Melqart was also associated with Beelzebub or Ba'al Zebub(meaning 'Lord of the Flies') in early Abrahamic beliefs.

    Some suspect that the term 'Beelzebub' is a play on words of the original name: Ba'al Zebul(Meaning 'Lord of the Heavens').

    The thinking that Ba'al was dung and as such, his followers were akin to the flies attracted to the dung.

    What I find interesting (as it relates to coinage) was the role of the money-changers in the temple(referenced in the bible). Their function was to exchange the coinage of the pilgrims/tourists that were visiting with the reasoning that the iconography of the common Roman and Greek coinage was considered to be not suitable for religious purposes. Yet, the Tetradrachm(shekel) minted in Tyre was acceptable for temple purposes(despite its portrayal of Melqart).

    The real reason of course had nothing to do with religious reasoning, rather the Tyrian coinage was known to be much higher in silver content than its Roman/Greek counterparts at the time, and subsequently, was the preferred currency of choice.

    Religious taboos seem to be more easily overlooked where cold hard cash is concerned.

    It is referenced that these money-changers were notorious for ripping off these tourists exchanging their money, and perhaps this (along with them taking up space meant for worship) was the reasoning behind that one guy hailing from Nazareth smashing up their tables and purging them from the temple.
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  12. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    I apologize in advance for the poor photo- it was one of my earliest attempts at photographing my coins, and the coin is now in my safe deposit box so I can't rephotograph it right now.

    I have a Roman Provincial dupondius from the city of Sabratha in Syrtica, North Africa (the ruins still exist in Libya). Issued by Augustus, it shows a bust that has been identified as Melqart:

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  13. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Not very original on my part @DonnaML I also have the Tyre/Trajan/Melqart type

    Tyre mint, c. AD 110-111
    ΑΥΤΟΚΡ ΚΑΙC ΝΕΡ ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟC CΕΒ ΓΕΡΜ ΔΑΚ, Laureate bust of Trajan right, eagle in field
    ΔΗΜΑΡΚ ΕΞ ΥΠΑTΕ, Laureate bust of Melkhart right
    15.34 gr
    Ref : Sear #1088 var, Prieur # 1495_179

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  14. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    The tetradrachmas of Tyre were know for their consistently high purity (fineness) and weight. From the images posted here, the issues of Trajan seem to have kept to the weight of the Tyrian coins but did they keep to their traditional high fineness of silver as Trajan's Rome issued denarii were already well under .90 fineness?
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  15. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Great coin Donna and nice coins all!
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  16. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    It's challenging to attribute coins to Hannibal or Melqart or just Hercules and some of it ultimately comes down to marketing. But, I think the elephant helps the attribution of this stater (6.7 grams):

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  17. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    OMG !!!

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  18. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Of the 11 coins posted in this thread, 8 were issued under Trajan -- 8 of the 9 posted coins that were issued under the Empire. And I've certainly noticed that far more Roman Provincial Melqart coins for sale on VCoins were issued under Trajan than under any other Emperor; the same seems to be true of Roman Provincial coins with Melqart that are listed on acsearch. Coincidence? The "Ancient History Encyclopedia" article on Melqart that I cited in my first post in this thread suggests that it wasn't: without citing any specific source (there's just a bibliography at the end), the article attempts to draw a connection between Trajan's birth in Spain and the "particularly renowned" Phoenician temple of Melqart in Gades (now Cadiz), stating that it was "not coincidental[]" that Melqart's cult was supposedly given imperial status under Trajan and Hadrian (who was also born in Spain). And it's true that Trajan's (and Hadrian's) birthplace was the town of Italica, very near Seville -- which is only 120 km. (about 70 miles) north of Cadiz.

    Does any of you buy that there's a connection there, and/or that Trajan himself had anything to do with the fact that so many coins depicting Melqart were issued in Phoenicia during his reign? (Note that unlike under Trajan, I don't see that any significant number of Melqart coins coins were issued under Hadrian.)
  19. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Not my area but very interesting DonnaML. Thank you be safe
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  20. bcuda

    bcuda Supporter! Supporter

    Here are some of mine that I have pics of.
    I do know for sure I have a coin with Melqart from Carissa that I do not have a picture of and a semis from Gades with no picture. So I have 9 coins with Melqart all before Trajan's time.

    1st century BC
    Obv: Head of young Herakles
    (Melqart) left, wearing lionskin
    club over left shoulder
    Rev: Punic letters, dolphin
    swimming left.
    AE Quadrans 2.05 gm. 16 mm.
    Burgos (2008) 13

    Circa 200-150 BC.
    Obv: Head of Herakles (Melqart) left,
    wearing lion skin headdress, club over
    Rev: Two tunny fish to left; aleph above,
    crescent below, Neo-Punic legend
    "MP'LSKS" within central frame.
    ACIP 819-20; SNG BM Spain 415.
    Æ Unit.13.06g, 26mm, 12h. Very Fine. Rare.
    From the Amilcare Collection.
    Roma Numismatics E-Sale auction 67,
    06-02-2020, Lot 8
    Gades (Gadir) Cadiz
    Late 2nd century BC Ancient Spain
    As 12.06 grams
    Obv: Head of Melkart-Herakles left,
    wearing lion's skin headdress; club
    on left shoulder.
    Rev: Phoenician script MP'L above and
    'GDR below. Crescent with central
    pellet, caduceus and central pellet
    between two tunny-fish
    CNH pg. 89, 57 Burgos 1343

    Gades/ Gadir
    Cadiz Spain
    2nd Century BC
    Obv: Head of Melkart-Herakle
    left, wearing lion's skin
    club left shoulder.
    Rev: Phoenician script MP'L
    above and 'GDR below.
    Crescent with central pellet,
    caduceus two tunny-fish left.
    AE AS 12.13 grams.
    CNH pg. 89, 57. Burgos 1343

    Ancient Spain 110 BC.
    Phonecian and Punic.
    Obv: Melkart head facing
    Rev: Two tunny fish right
    Libio-Phoenician legend
    ( B B L ) Semis

    Also have this one that is questionable if it is Melqart or Hannibal .

    Carthago Nova,
    Ancient Spain, 235-220 BC
    Barcids, AR 1/4 shekel
    Obv: bust of youthful Herakles (Melqart)
    or Hannibal with club left.
    Rev: Elephant walking right.
    Sear 6566; Burgos 374;
    Robinson 6c, 6d: Muller 17-18
    *Burgos 487, 1.76 grams
    Ibercoin – Online Numismatic
    Auction 29 Lot 118, year 2019
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  21. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    The whole thread here is pretty phenomenal. (...Never even saw one of these before.) Regarding your last one, Bcuda, with the example of Carthago Nova, could something be happening along the lines of lifetime issues of Alexander III? I don't recall seeing it put this way in so many words, but I always had the vibe that Alexander was being presented as a kind of personification of Hercules.
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