Moneta Gallery Coin Museum



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TanitCarthage
Carthage - Tanit & Horse Head, Sardinia

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Moneta



Registered: August 2005
Location: Arizona USA
Posts: 2,365
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Head of Astarte (Persephone) (Tanit in Phoenician - Carthage mythology), wearing wreath of barley or wheat and wearing 3 prong earrings. Rx: Horses head right in front of Phoenician letter 'I'. Probably from the mint in Sardinia. 5.18 g and ~ 25 mm. Catalog references: A.57 m - Cop.175 var. - CNP.252 ah - Müller305 variety.
The obverse type is traditionally described as the head of Tanit, a North African goddess adopted by the Carthaginians as a local form of the Phoenician deity, Astarte. She became the chief goddess of the Carthaginian pantheon as the consort of Ba'al-Hammon, the supreme male deity of Carthage. She was a goddess of fertility as well as of war, which made her an appropriate figure to appear on money struck for military purposes. The benefaction of Tanit was sometimes invoked through the terrible rite of child sacrifice. Infants were placed alive into the sloping hands of her cult statue, only to roll down into a fire pit below. This ultimate sacrifice was thought to bring great blessings upon worshippers of the goddess, but was generally condemned by Greeks, Romans, and Persians. Ironically, the depiction of the very un-Greek Tanit is strongly influenced by the representations of Persephone popular on the silver coinage of Greek Syracuse in the fourth century B.C. Over the course of the long struggle between Carthage and Syracuse for control of Sicily, the Carthaginians were exposed to Syracusan coinage and took it as a model for their own. The horse on the reverse may refer to the foundation myth of Carthage ("New City" in Phoenician). It is reported that when the Tyrian queen, Dido, set out to establish her new city, diggers initially uncovered the head of an ox. This was interpreted as a sign that a city built on that site would be wealthy but subject to others. Unsatisfied, she had her builders consider a different site. When work began on the new site, the excavators dug up the head of a horse. This omen was read as a sign that a city there would become great in war. It was therefore decided to found Carthage on the second site. Thus, the horse on Carthaginian coins can be understood to have a double usage, both as an emblem of the city and as an appropriate symbol for a military coinage. (source: Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 110 Catalog)
· Date: April 16, 2023 · Views: 727 · Filesize: 100.0kb · Dimensions: 840 x 417 ·
Keywords: Carthage Tanit Horse Head Sardinia

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