Sicily, Siculo-Punic (c. 320-300 BC)
Obverse: Head of Tanit-Persephone facing left, surrounded by three dolphins.
Reverse: Horse’s head facing left, palm tree with two clusters of dates behind, Punic legend ‘MMHNT’ below.
Extremely Fine. Attractive cabinet tone with iridescent hues.
(Jenkins, Punic 183 (O53/R161); SNG Lloyd 1633 (same dies); Hunterian 7 (same dies)).
Ex Lanz Auction 163, 07/12/2016, lot #148
This impressive silver tetradrachm was probably struck at the Siculo-Punic mint of Entella, and bears the inscription ‘MMHNT’, translating to ‘People of the Camp’, implying these coins were issued to pay troops fighting for Carthage. These tetradrachms coincide with a period of turmoil in Sicily, stemming from the assault of Agathokles, the Tyrant of Syracuse, on Carthaginian territories in 311 BC. Carthage responded with a massive military campaign and took back almost all the island by 310 BC, eventually laying siege to Syracuse. As a last resort Agathokles launched a counteratt ack on the city of Carthage itself (a tactic the Romans would use to great effect during the Second Punic War a century later). In a foreshadowing of history, the Carthaginians were forced pull back their army to defend the homeland, but in this case, they were successful. Agathokles retreated to Sicily with a bloody nose in 307 BC, and after peace treaties, permitt ed to keep control over Syracuse.