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Denomination: Drachma Date: 2rd Century BC
Description: Arabia, Sabaeans and Himyarites. Cir 2rd Century BC. AR Drachm (5.14 gm). Obverse: Helmeted head of Athena; "N" on cheek Reverse: Owl standing right, head facing; olive-spray and inverted crescent above.
This type of coin is believed to be minted in Saba by people known as Sabeans of South Arabia, and is an ancient imitative of the famous Athena and Owl which was a hard currency traded all across the Mediterranean.
Saba is better known, from the Old Testament, as Sheba, which today is part of Yemen. Sheba is the English equivalent of Sh'va which is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for Saba. The story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba appears not only in the Bible but is also cited by various ancient Assyrian, Greek, and Roman writers. Hearing of the great Jewish king's wisdom, the Queen of Saba traveled north, probably around 950-930 BC, to test the king with "hard questions." The meeting was a success, and the two nations began trading heavily with one another. The Sabeans also traded heavily with the Greeks, hence their copying the famous Athenian Owl tetradrachms some 700 years later. Earlier, perhaps around 4000 BC, Yemen is thought to be where the Semitic people originated, and much earlier, around 110,000 years ago, the locale that mankind reached first when migrating out of Africa.