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The Tyrian shekels held a prominant position among the best known coins of the ancient world. The weights of the autonomous coinage did not change from that of the preceeding Seleucid coinage; even its design did not differ much. One may conclude from various historical sources [Pliny, HN 5.17.76. The KP Monogram The two Greek letters KP which appear on both series have never been explained before.
Both because of the decline of the Seleucid Empire and the rise of Tyrian economic and commercial power, the mint of Tyre stoppped striking Seleucid coins (the latest being issues of Demetrius II)[BMCSeleucids Kings 76.], and began to strike autonomous silver shekels as a continuation of the Seleucid tetradrachms. 269], although judging from the few known examples, Tyre's production of bronze coins during the same period was very low. The point is fundamental to the question of the attribution of the second group.
The first issue was struck in Tyre from 126/5 BC until 19/18 BC and the second issue was struck in or near Jerusalem, from 18/17 BC until 79/60 AD.
Instead of the king's name, the inscription now reads XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX . Despite this change, however, vast quantities of Tyrian shekels continued to be struck, seemingly anachronistically, from 18 B. It is possible that word KAPTEPOXX, meaning strong, potent, fixed, all referring to the value of the coin, may be implied by this monogram; it may also mean KAPTOXX (or KPATOXX), referring to the power of the regime. that bear the letters KP, or these letters in monogram form.
The Tyrian issues evidently dominated the financial markets of the area. The Mishna is very clear about the nature of this tribute, stipulating that it had to be made with pure silver: significantly, the example given is "Mane Zori - Tyrian currency. XVII.322.], is also relevant to our discussion of Herodian silver coinage.
Such other silver coins which circulated contemporaneously included later Seleucid issues of various cities, including the mints of Phoenicia, [BMCSeleucid Kings 77-103, those of Demetrius II, Alexander II Zabinas, Antiochus X, Antiochus XI, Demetrius III and Tigranes II of Armenia.], and autonomous shekels of Sidon, [BMCPhoenicia 158-161.], Ascalon, [BMCPalestine 107-108.], and didrachms of Nabataea. Meshorer, "Nabataean Coins," QEDEM 3 (1975): coins of Aretas III (no. The phrase may refer to coinage struck in imitation of another issue, rather than to an autonomous series, and may in fact hint at an irregular issuance of Tyrian shekels in Jerusalem, the term "coined" being comparable to the Hebrew teba' of Mishna Sheqalim 2.4.
The reverse inscription, in Greek, contains the date, and proclaims, “[money of] Tyre, the Holy and Inviolable.” (photo courtesy cngcoins.com)coins accepted as payment of the annual tribute to the Jerusalem Temple of one half shekel per Jewish adult male.
Ya’akov Meshorer theorizes that there were two basic issues of Tyrian silver coins.
The right field of the reverse carries a monogram, the left field a date, beginning LA, or year one of the era of Tyre, equivalent to 126/5 B. Below the date the mintmark of Tyre, a club, is shown, and between the legs of the eagle, either the Phoenician letter XX (') or XX (B). According to the use of the KP monogram, the Tyrian shekels and fractions can be divided into two different groups. The second group comprises issues struck from 18 B. Collateral Issues of Other Cities In view of the crucial nature of the year 18 B. in the striking history of the Tyrian shekels, a review of the production of other mints in the area is in order. A general pattern emerges from the above: major cities which had issued silver coins both during and immediately after the Seleucid period stopped striking autonomous silver issues no later than the reign of Augustus. Sutherland, Coinage in Roman Imperial Policy (London 1950) 201].