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An unprepossessing owl with an interesting feature


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This is a coin from the 2022 Syrian group that I acquired as almost an afterthought.  It certainly is crude and in all likelihood an Eastern imitation owl, with an off center obverse and a crudely rendered owl on the reverse.

However, on examination, there seems to be a character, possibly an Aramaic zayin or Z on the owl's leg.

Eastern imitation owl, 4th century BC. From the 2022 Syrian group

16.88 grams




Could this be an Aramaic character, or just a die break or chip?  It seems quite deliberately engraved into the die, to me.  What do you think?


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That's the only potential character that I can see.  The surfaces are somewhat crystalized and rough, so if there is anything ese, it would be pretty difficult to definitively determine. 

The other imitative owl that I have has a clear Aramaic character on the obverse cheek of Athena.  This coin was a steal at $250. The NGC slab it was in didn't even mention the character!

Philistia, imitation of an Athenian owl, late 5th to mid 4th centuries BC, Aramaic nun on obverse, reverse test cuts.  Fine

17.2 grams


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Thanks. That's a possibility.

In my experience the characters, unless they are countermarks (which can occur multiple times on a coin), tend to occur individually, possibly to denote a city of origin, such as Gaza, or a mint worker marking a die for another purpose, such as showing authorization for the coin to legally circulate within a certain area, or signifying that the metal content meets an official standard, sort of like an assayer mark on a Spanish colonial or mainland cob.

These are just guesses on my part.

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