Tetradrachm - Hannibal Barca


Country Qart Hadasht (Punic Iberia)
Type Standard circulation coin
Year 220 BC
Currency Hispania - Drachm
Composition Silver
Weight 14.7 g
Shape Round
Demonetized Yes
Number N# 193890
Numista (https://numista.com)


Laureate, bearded head left of Herakles-Melqart(?), the strongly Semitic features suggesting Hamilcar Barca (father of Hannibal), with heavy, knotted club over far shoulder.


Mahout wearing long cloak and cap(?), holding goad in right hand, and riding African elephant right.


De Navasques 463; CNH 13; Robinson, Essays Mattingly, 6(a); Villaronga-Benages 553; Gulbenkian 389.

Rome's success in the First Punic War (241 BC) and the subsequent uprising of the former Punic allies in North Africa (the Libyan Revolt) forced the Carthaginians to reassess their formerly dominant position in the western Mediterranean region. Hamilcar Barca, a member of a noted aristocratic family of Carthage, made his eldest son Hannibal swear a sacred oath to "never be a friend of Rome." The family then moved to Spain "to call a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old." Here Hamilcar began preparations for an attack on the Roman Republic, but he was not destined to live to see the fulfillment of his plans. His son-in-law and successor Hasdrubal (228-221 BC), the founder of Carthago Nova, continued the work, and in 218/217 BC Hannibal was ready to launch the invasion into Italy. Rome was totally unprepared for a wintertime attack from the north, and, thus, the epic story of Hannibal's crossing of the Alps with a contingent of elephants has become the stuff of legend. In the ensuing fifteen-year war, Hannibal ultimately failed to bring about the destruction of the Roman Republic, but of all Rome's opponents he came closest to overthrowing the state that was to dominate the Mediterranean region over the following six hundred years. This silver double shekel is one of the rarest and most remarkable types of the Barcid coinage. The bearded head of Melkart was interpreted by Robinson as a portrait of Hamilcar, father of Hannibal and founder of the dynasty in Spain. (source: ILG Auction 72 Catalog)

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