Blundered Mintmark


The following coins of Arados were struck between 115-113 B.C (era date 145-146) and belong to série 7, 8 & 10. For those of you acquainted with the Phoenician alphabet and in particularly that of Arados, the letters highlighted in the image below will appear extremely unusual (No.1-4).  Coins struck two years prior and after show no signs of irregularities, as a reference i have added two samples of these coins to the image below (No.5-6) [1] If we begin with the highlighted letters on coins 1 to 4, at first glance they seem to resemble beth & nun but mirror imaged. I suppose one could possibly categorise these letters has being blundered, but perhaps there is a more logical explanation for this oddity [2]. After checking reference books and the coins in my collection for similar formed letters, no coins struck before or after the aforementioned dates were found. I then began to think along the lines of travelling engraver, someone specifically brought in to produce dies for the three series mentioned above [3]. This idea prompted me to look further afield and so i started comparing the Sidonian and Tyrian alphabets. 

Highlighted letter right, nun ?

After many hours of studying the numerous varieties of lettering, i found one version of the Sidonian letter nun which was almost identical but written with the usual rotation. The second was the Tyrian letter sadhe, also extremely similar with a rotation closely matching that of coins 1-4. 

Highlighted letter left, beth [4] ?

Towards the end of G.Hills introduction to BMC Phoenicia are the alphabets of all the major Phoenician cities, listed under the city of Tyre is a mirror imaged letter resh [5]

On certain bronze issues of Sidon there is a version of samekh that should also be considered as a possibility.


On page 69 of Duyrat 2005 (Arados Hellénistique), the author of the book understandably questioned both of these disputed letters but could not decipher their meaning [6].

Series 7,8 & 10 in Duyrat 2005 are numbered as follows;

série 7 – No.2447-2455 / série 8 – No.2542-2543 / série 10 – No.4383-4386.

In my opinion the chances of blundered lettering occurring on all three series over a period of two years is highly unlikely, unless it was intentional and included as part of a makers/engravers mark. 

I feel these coins will inevitably remain a mystery but hopefully in the not too distant future, i will have the opportunity to study the BNF coins in hand at the Paris Museum. 

For the purposes of attribution, i have opted for the following combination of letters, mem, yodh, taw & sadhe. I made this decision purely on gut feeling and for want of a better solution.


[1]  No other issues spanning the Persian or Hellenistic period of Arados have similar letters on them.

[2]  If the letters were blundered, why didn´t the city leaders stop the production of coins after era date 145 coins were issued ?

[3]  Possibly someone from the Aradian dependences or elsewhere in Phoenicia.

[4]  We can almost certainly discount a blundered or mirror imaged beth, below the era date on coin 3 is a perfectly formed letter beth in combination with the disputed letter.

[5]  I feel this option needs to be overlooked, see tail of disputed letter on coins 1-4.

[6]  The letters reference in Duyrat 2005; M, Y, N?, S[ts]? or mem, yodh, nun & sadhe.

QX 4.jpg

I would like to thank BNF for allowing me the use of their images for coins 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6.

Listed below are the 10 known samples of série 7 with disputed letters.

Arados 115-113 B.C (145/146), dans le champ droit : B ; à l’exergue : M, Y, T ?, TS ?
115-114 B.C

1.  2447 D82-R154, collection A. Ronde, Paris. 18,1 mm. 

2.  2448 D82-R155, Berlin. 3,47 g, 18,6 mm. 

3.  2449 D82-R156, New York, ANS 1944 100 70661 Newell. 4,30 g, 18,0 mm. 

4.  2450 D82-R156, collection W. Moore, New York. 

114-113 B.C

5.             D82-R156, Stockholm, collection Martin Rowe No.QX. 5.16 g, 16,99 mm. (Coin No.4 in image above & below)

6.  2451 D82-R157?, Elsen J., Bruxelles, liste 29, fév. 1981, n 13. 7,29 g. 

7.  2452 D83-R?, SNG Copenhague, Phoenicia, no 67. 4,36 g. 

8.  2453 D84-R158, Londres, BM, 1930 2 6 13 E. Rogers. 3,20 g, 16,8 mm. 

9.  2454 D85-R159, New York, ANS 1944 100 70662 Newell. 4,32 g, 17,1 mm. 

10.  2455 D?-R?, SNG Fitzwilliam, Cambridge, no 6015. 5,06 g.

QX 7.jpg

QX 2.jpg

Please follow provided link for coins attribution;

By Coins Of The Southern Levant Posted in Arados

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