Abdashtart I

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Sidonian octodrachm circa 354, illustrating the importance of the currency to Abdashtart's fleet

Abdashtart I (in Greek, Straton I[1]), the son of Baalshillem II, ruled the Phoenician city-state of Sidon from 365 to 352 BC,[2] having been associated in power by his father since the 380s.[3] His accession appears to have taken place in a period of economic and political difficulty, since he immediately took 'emergency measures',[4] reducing the precious metal-content of the Sidonian double shekel by two grams, [5] thereby devaluing the Sidonian currency in his first year.[6] He also expanded the currency, adding bronze coinage as well as silver, which funded the expansion of the Sidonian navy.[7] It is supposed that he gave his name to the city known in the Hellenized world as Straton's Tower, which was later renamed Caesarea by Herod the Great.[8] Joseph Patrich argues, however, that Straton's Tower may have been founded during the Ptolemaic Kingdom instead,[9] in which case the naming may have been for a Ptolemaic general of the third century BC.[10]

Abdashtart formed diplomatic alliances with Athens and Egypt. Relying on his increased fleet, by 360 or 359 he felt strong enough to revolt against the Persian Empire.[4] Although the Persians were already fighting the Egyptians (whose Pharaoh Tachos had invaded Phoenicia), and although the rebels won two military victories against the generals of Artaxerxes III in 358 and 356,[4] the revolt was suppressed in 355[2] and led to Persian occupation for the next four years, during which time the Sidonian currency was banned, minting privileges were stopped, and the Persian currency was forcibly introduced.[11] The revolt has been described as 'a grave political error' for Abdashtart; not only did the Sidonians experience financial crisis and military repression, but they also lost swathes of territory to their neighbour, Tyre.[4] The Persians left Abdashtart on the throne,[2] and he proceeded to further diplomatic ties with Athens[12] and Salamis, Cyprus, which had probably supported his revolt against Artaxerxes.[4] Historians do not know whether he was the last of his dynasty, as it remains uncertain whether his known heir and successor, Tennes, was his son or some other close relative.[6]

Abdashtart was honoured by an inscription in the Acropolis of Athens (IG II2 141).[13]


  1. ^ Markoe, Glenn (2000). Phoenicians. U of California P. pp. 58–. ISBN 9780520226142. 
  2. ^ a b c Steiner, Margreet L.; Killebrew, Ann E. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE. OUP Oxford. pp. 109, 117. ISBN 9780191662553. Retrieved 17 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Sagona, C. (ed.), Beyond the Homeland: Markers in Phoenician Chronology (Leuven, 2008), p. 105
  4. ^ a b c d e Steiner, M.L. & Killebrew, A.E., The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000-332 BCE (Oxford, 2014), p. 117
  5. ^ Elayi, J., & Jean Sapin, J., (trans. Crowley, J.E. & Elayi, J.), Beyond the River: New Perspectives on Transeuphratene (Sheffield Press, 1998), p.126
  6. ^ a b Sagona, C. (ed.), Beyond the Homeland: Markers in Phoenician Chronology (Leuven, 2008), p. 106
  7. ^ Moscati, S., The Phoenicians (Tauris, 2001), p. 524
  8. ^ Isaac, B.H., The Near East Under Roman Rule: Selected Papers (Brill, 1997), p. 15
  9. ^ Patrich, Joseph (2011). "Herodian Caesarea: The Urban Space". Studies in the Archaeology and History of Caesarea Maritima. Leiden: Brill. pp. 5–40. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004175112.i-500.6. ISBN 978-90-04-17511-2 – via Brill. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ Ameling, Walter; Cotton, Hannah M.; Eck, Werner; Isaac, Benjamin; Kushnir-Stein, Alla; Misgav, Haggai; Price, Jonathan; Yardeni, Ada, eds. (2011). "Caesarea". Caesarea and the Middle Coast 1121–2160. Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae. 2. Berlin: De Gruyter. p. 17. doi:10.1515/9783110222180.17. ISBN 978-3-11-022217-3 – via De Gruyter. (Subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ Markoe, G.E., Phoenicians: Peoples of the Past (California UP, 2000), p. 5959
  12. ^ Bromiley, G., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Eerdemans, 1998), p. 502
  13. ^ "Honours for Straton of Sidon: IG II2 141". Attic Inscriptions Online. Translated by Rhodes, P. J. Retrieved 18 March 2016.