Serrated Double Shekel with Head in Profile [obverse]; Horse in Profile [reverse], 149-146 BCE
Punic Republic
Tunisia, Carthage
1 1/16 × 1 × 1/8 in. (2.7 × 2.5 × 0.3 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
Gift of Madame Gadreau
CA 2401

Obverse view
Image 2: Reverse view
Ca 2401 v02 m
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Given to Dominique de Menil in 1924, this silver coin is oval in shape and has serrated edging, both unusual features. Close study of the imagery identifies it as a Punic coin from ancient Carthage, a city in modern Tunisia that was originally a Phoenician colony. The female on the obverse is Tanit, one of the main goddesses of Carthage, who frequently appears on the city’s coins. She wears a drop earring, a double wheat wreath, and either a necklace or collared gown. Part of the original dot border is visible. On the reverse, a horse without a halter faces right with its left foreleg lifted and stands on a straight ground line. The horse was a known symbol of Carthage and a common feature on the reverse of their coins. Additionally, the serrated edge is a characteristic of some Carthaginian coins, although its purpose is unknown.


Carthage fought three main wars with Rome before ultimately being conquered by the Romans in 146 BCE. Famous generals in the first two wars include Hamilcar Barca and his son, Hannibal. A debate in the Roman Senate prior to the third war is the origin of the famous phrase “Carthage must be destroyed” (“Carthago delenda est”). This particular coin was minted between 149–146 BCE during the 3rd Punic War. Coins like this one were issued primarily to pay mercenary forces. After the defeat of Carthage, the city was razed and the area became a Roman province known as Zeugitana.