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Classical Numismatic Group > Electronic Auction 421Auction date: 30 May 2018
Lot number: 473

Lot description:

PHOENICIA, Tyre. Gallienus. AD 253-268. Æ (28mm, 9.47 g, 6h). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Cadmus presenting the alphabet to the Hellenes: Cadmus standing left, holding spear and handing rolled papyrus to the first of four Greeks standing right; murex shell at Cadmus' feet, ΕΛΛH/[NEC] and KA[Δ/MOC] in exergue. Rouvier –; BMC 488. Fine, earthen green surfaces. Rare.

It is generally accepted that the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet around the early 8th century BC, although Herodotus records that the Phoencian prince Cadmus introduced the alphabet to the Hellenes around 2000 BC. This rare and highly interesting issue explicitly names the figures and appears to record the legend as recorded in Herodotus 5.58:

The Phoenicians who came with Cadmus-amongst whom were the Gephyraei-introduced into Greece, after their settlement in the country, a number of accomplishments, of which the most important was writing, an art till then, I think, unknown to the Greeks. At first they used the same characters as all the other Phoenicians, but as time went on, and they changed their language, they also changed the shape of their letters. At that period most of the Greeks in the neighborhood were Ionians; they were taught these letters by the Phoenicians and adopted them, with a few alterations, for their own use, continuing to refer to them as the Phoenician characters-as was only right, as the Phoenicians had introduced them.

Estimate: 300 USD