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Numismatics: Hannibal Barca?

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Coins have frequently provided portraits of Ancient figures otherwise unseen by modern eyes. For example, much of our knowledge of the poorly documented "Crisis of the Third Century" in Ancient Rome comes from the study of numismatics.


I found this possible image of Hannibal Barca, Rome's infamous enemy who achieved notoriety with his relentless attack of the Roman Republic and with his use of elephants as a weapon of mass destruction.


I found this interesting coin from Heritage Auction Galleries catalog. (One must be signed in to see the images.):


post-3665-038586600 1292469241_thumb.jpg

post-3665-065055700 1292469258_thumb.jpg


Here's the background information associated with the coin:





This coin is a famous type featuring an elephant, the animal used by the great general Hannibal Barca to bring the Second Punic War over the Alps and into Rome's backyard, and a mysterious and quite distinctive laureate head. The head has been variously described in the literature as a depiction of Herakles-Melqart, a Semitic deity inherited by the Carthaginians from their Tyrian mother city, or Hannibal in the guise of the god. Modern scholarship, which tends to be suspicious of early claims to see portraits in images of gods tends to interpret the head as that of Herakles-Melqart. However, the distinct physiognomy of the nose and other facial features, as well as the sideburns, seem to suggest an attempt at portraiture. In such a case it is difficult to avoid the possibility that Hannibal is actually depicted here - remarkable considering that no other portraits of the great Carthaginian general survive from his lifetime. Estimate: $15,000 - $17,500.


(Interestingly, this coin eventually sold at auction in January 2011 for $46,000.)


For comparison, here is a marble bust thought possibly to be Hannibal:




guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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