An exceptional civic tetradrachm from Tripolis
Lot 150
PHOENICIA. Tripolis. Late 2nd to early 1st century BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 26 mm, 15.01 g, 12 h), Aradian standard, CY 32. Jugate laureate and draped busts of the Dioskouroi to right, stars above. Rev. ΤΡΙΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ / ΤΗΣ ΙΕΡΑΣ KΑΙ - ΑΥΤΟΝΟΜΟΥ / ΘE // BΛ Tyche, turreted and draped, standing front, head to left, holding tiller in her right hand and cornucopiae in her left; all within laurel wreath. BMC 7 (same obverse die). Callataÿ, Tripolis, D8/R1, c (this coin). Extremely rare and in exceptional condition for this impressive issue. A beautifully toned piece with a wonderful rendering of the Dioskouroi and certainly among the finest known civic tetradrachms from Tripolis. Light die wear and a few faint scratches on the obverse, otherwise, extremely fine.

Ex R. Hecht FPL 1 (undated, but in the 1960s) and Hesperia Art Bulletin 11, 1959.

The city of Tripolis was located in northern Phoenicia at the site of today's Lebanese city of Tripoli. Its name does not derive, as indicated by Greek authors, from a sympoliteia of settlers from Arados, Sidon, and Tyre (= 'three cities'); rather, it is a Greek folk etymological reinterpretation of the Phoenician name tarpol, meaning 'new city'. At an unknown point between 105/4 and 96/5 BC, Tripolis was granted autonomy by Antiochus IX and began minting very rare civic tetradrachms and drachms. These coins were dated according to an era marking the city's newfound freedom, the precise year of which, unfortunately, remains unknown. The iconography of the coins with the double portrait on the obverse and the deity in a laurel wreath with a three-line inscription is inspired by Seleukid models, with the royal portraits and the deity replaced and reinterpreted by local motifs, namely the Dioskouroi on the obverse and Tyche on the reverse.

Our piece was minted in the year 32 of the new era, thus at some point between 73/2 and 64/3 BC. This is the last dated autonomous coinage of the Tripolitanians before the arrival of the Romans, as they fell under the rule of a local tyrant named Dionysios in the 60s BC. This Dionysios, whom the Latin sources know as Bacchus, was executed in 64/3 BC as part of the reorganization of the East by Pompey. The great Roman general then restored Tripoli's independence, after which the city, like so many communities in the Levant, introduced a Pompeian era.
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