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Two imitative owls, after Athens, from Nablus, West Bank, Palestine


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Today I took some pics of two imitative owls acquired from an Israeli seller, one from 2021 and the other much more recently, 2023.

Now, the term "from Nablus" needs some qualification.  The coins, according to the seller, were obtained in Nablus, an area in the north central part of the West Bank.  Were they actually found in Nablus?  Possibly, but as with many coins coming from this region, it is an arguable point. Clearly the coins were locally produced, possibly at two locations in that area, but we will really never know for sure.

Certainly the styles between these two examples are quite different.  The first owl is of the "pharaonic" style, possibly a type B.  The second owl is quite different from the pharaonic types that I have seen.  It is based on a classical owl prototype, that is certain.  

The weights of both coins are quite close.  The first coin weigh 14.75 grams, while the second weighs 14.71 grams.  Could they be fourrées? Again, possibly, but then they could be coins that were struck to a lower weight standard, possibly a local shekel standard.  Both coins are quite encrusted.  No attempt on my part was undertaken to clean them any further than the condition they were in when then arrived (crudely cleaned).  The deposits for both coins are quite similar - thick with copper oxides and plain old mud, with some azurite on the first owl, obverse. The accumulated deposits, as with all buried ancient coins, were likely caused by neighboring coins/objects and/or soil/moisture conditions.

My guess is that they are silver, struck to a lower local standard.  The pharaonic could very well be an imitation of an imitation, as its style, from what can been seen, is quite crude compared to even an original pharaonic owl.      

So, with all this babble on my part in mind, here are the coins:

Eastern imitation or pharaonic owl, circa 4th century BC.  From the  Nablus area of the West Bank, Palestine.

14.75 grams

(I apologize for the blurry photo - this was a tough one to "get right")



Eastern imitation owl. circa 4th century BC.  From the Nablus area of the West Bank, Palestine.

14.71 grams



Edit:  Here's one more owl "from the Nablus area, West Bank". acquired in 2021.  This coin is an Athenian intermediate owl, Pi Style III.  It is known, from documented hoards, that Athenian and locally produced owls circulated contemporaneously, as did the classical and intermediate styles, both of Athenian and local origins.  This poses interesting questions.  Were different weight standards accepted locally from town to town?  Was there an economic incentive to accept attic weight owls and reissue imitations at a lower weight standard?  It seems to me that would be quite a profitable operation, whether done by a local authority or an enterprising individual.

Athens, intermediate owl, Pi style III, 353-340 BC.  From the Nablus area of the West Bank, Palestine.

17.02 grams



Edited by robinjojo
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