Punic After Punic Times? The Case of the so-called ‘Libyphoenician’ Coins of Southern Iberia
© 2014, The British School at Rome. All Rights Reserved. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Zóbel de Zangróniz identified a new type of alphabet used by a group of mints located in the hinterland of Gades (Cádiz) between the middle of the second century and the first half of the first century bce. These towns produced bilingual coins with inscriptions in Latin and in a variant of neo-Punic with both archaic and evolved traits. As was the common practice at the time, Zóbel connected these coins with a group of people mentioned by the ancient sources: in this case the ‘Libyphoenicians’. Even if the use of this label to refer to these coins is nowadays debatable, questions still remain about how they should be interpreted, and about their relationship with the Punic diaspora and local Punic culture in the Hellenistic period, and it is these problems that I shall explore in this chapter. The first so-called ‘Libyphoenician’ coins were minted in the southern Iberian Peninsula around the mid-second century bce, that is, around the time of the fall of Carthage in 146. The last coins in this group were produced in the mid-first century bce, a time when most towns in Hispania stopped issuing their own currency, in line with a series of changes connected with the last years of the Republic and the beginning of Imperial coinage. These ‘Libyphoenician’ coins are, therefore, a precious document for the study of Punic material culture after ‘Punic times’, and the collection demonstrates the significance of neo-Punic script at an official level and the use of a characteristic monetary iconography during the two last centuries bce. These images seem to be linked not with coins minted at Carthage, but instead with those from various other North African settlements, as well as from Gades. In this way ‘Libyphoenician’ coins challenge narrow centre-periphery approaches that are based on the notion of Carthage as the ultimate source of innovation and the main model for emulation.
- The Punic Mediterranean: Identities and Identification from Phoenician Settlement to Roman Rule
Start / End Page
International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)