Printed Auction 42 Lot 76

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Printed Auction 42 Lot 76

ARABIA. Southern. Saba' Late 4th–mid 2nd centuries B.C. AR unit. 5.07 gm. 15 mm. Imitating Athens. Helmeted head of Athena right; N (in retrograde South Arabian; mark of value) on cheek / Owl standing right, head facing; olive spray and crescent to left, crescent to right ('r' in South Arabian). Munro-Hay 1.1ai. Huth 170-174. Good Very Fine; well centered and nicely toned; good style; a few minor deposits.

In ancient times, the Athenian tetradrachm was widely accepted as a trade coin around the Mediterranean and frontier regions to the East, due to its high mintages and the reliable fineness of its silver. Its recurring motif of the head of Athena and the owl were widely imitated by various local authorities. In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, these included Persia, Bactria, Phoenicia, Judaea, Samaria, Egypt, and Arabia, peaking in the 4th century BC. when official production of owls declined after the Peloponnesian War ended in 404 BC. The arrival of Alexander the Great and the spread of his tetradrachms replaced the owls, with the exception of South Arabia, where the obverse evolved from the female form of Athena to the male.

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