ARABIA, Eastern. Oman Peninsula. Mleiha (?). Abi’el, daughter of Labash, circa early to mid 2nd century BCE. Tetradrachm (Silver, 27 mm, 16.58 g, 6 h), imitating Alexander 'the Great' (336-323 BCE). Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress. Rev. 𐡀𐡁𐡂𐡀𐡋𐡁𐡓𐡕𐡋𐡁𐡔 ('’by’l brt lbš' in Aramaic) Male figure seated left on low throne, holding long scepter in his left hand and forepart of a horse in his right; to left, palm stem; to right, dotted vertical line. CCK 121 = van Alfen 12a (this coin, O4/R12). Mørkholm, Bahrain, 218-231. Very rare, one of twenty-three known examples, only four or five of which are in private hands. Beautifully toned and of particularly vigorous style, an exceptional coin. Good very fine.
From the collection of Ambassador Martin Huth, privately acquired in the 1990s from R. Freeman.
The coins of Abi’el, daughter of Labash, were dated to circa 150 BCE in CCK, but their excellent metal, as well as stylistic similarities to the coinage of Abyatha from Hagar (see lot 2235 above. Note the distinct curls on forehead and temples, and the fully visible knotted paws of the lion’s pelt) indicate that a date closer to 200 BCE may, in fact, be preferable. It is a shame we know virtually nothing about the background of these Arabian queens, but it is clear from their beautiful coinage that they played a major role in the 'international' trade network of the time, connecting Seleukid Mesopotamia and inner Arabia with the markets of south-eastern Arabia, the Indus Valley, and beyond.