Drachm / Half Shekel, c. 237-220, Carthago Nova, Iberia, 4,47 gr. Price est.: € 270 Bruun Rasmussen

The find of this week is this rare Shekel coin from Carthago Nova (New Carthage), the ancient city which lies along the southern coast of Iberia. The city was captured by Hannibal‘s brother Hasdrubal Barca during the Carthaginian conquest of Spain. However, their rule lasted for only seventeen years, which makes it easy to pinpoint the time period that this coin descends from to c. 237-220 BC.

Shekel (Akkadian: šiqlu or siqlu; Hebrew: שקל‎‎, pl. shekels or sheqalim) is a type of ancient currency, which was first used in the Akkadian Empire in c. 2150 BC and then in c. 1700 BC in the Code of Hammurabi. Among many civilizations that used the shekel as currency was the Carthaginians. The example here is a half shekel with a chipped edge and weighs 4.47 gr. The pictured side of the coin depicts goddess Tanit, wife of Ba’al Hammon, chief God of Carthage. She was the mother goddess figure, the Carthaginian version of Hera (Juno). She was also associated with Phoenician moon-goddess Astarte and Ishtar, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of war, love, sex and power. Albeit disputed, some archaeologists argued in 1970s that worshippers carried infant sacrifice to please goddess Tanit.

About less than 100 years after this coin was minted, Ancient Carthage was sacked by the Roman Empire at the end of the Punic Wars. Only a small part of the Carthaginian population survived the war and they were all sold into slavery, which was the expected fate in antiquity for the inhabitants of a fallen city. Carthage was systematically burned for 17 days and left with the city walls and buildings completely razed to the ground. Afterwards, Rome annexed the remaining of Carthage and made it into a Roman province.

Bearing witness to history, this rare coin is on sale at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers until October 16 3 PM GMT+1 with an estimate of € 270.