Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ancient Coin Post - A Prutah of Alexander Yanneus

Obverse: Upside down Anchor in circle, Inscription Alexander the King in Greek
Reverse: Star with 8 rays in a diadem, Inscription in Hebrew King Alexander Year 25

Hendin 469

This tiny coin is a bronze prutah of King Alexander Yanneus, one of the Hasmonean Kings of Judea who ruled from 103 BCE to 76 BCE after the time of the Maccabees, and a great-nephew of Judah Maccabee. Yanneus, in addition to being king was also first and foremost the High Priest. His reign is fraught with military conflict between Judea and external enemies as he expanded the size of the kingdom to about the size it was under King David, and he was allied with Cleopatra III of Egypt. Within Judaea his reign was marked by strife between the Pharisees and Sadducees within the kingdom.

This coin is also famous for another reason as it is referred to as the "widows mite" in the Christian Bible.

This is the first ancient coin I ever purchased. I bought it during my first visit ever to Israel at a reputable dealer when I was 15. I also bought two fakes in the bazaar..note to others when you go to an Arab bazaar, are young and have no idea what you're buying they will sell you fakes.

Simply amazing to hold a piece of ancient history in your hand and I've been collecting ancient coins ever since. To think that the $15 I paid was a princely sum for me in my early teens, but to have a coin that was over two thousand years old was beyond price.

It is in terrible condition but it is a wonderfully historic coin and it first put me on the road to collecting ancient coins. Here's an example of a better condition version of the same coin.

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