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The Past

2,000 - 200 years ago
Abi'el

















The name Abi'el, written in Aramaic letters ('by'l), appears at al-Dur and Mileiha on hundreds of coins which are modelled on those of Alexander the Great. These show, on the reverse, a debased head of Heracles, often in a very barbaric style, while on the reverse they bear a seated Zeus shown supporting an eagle or horse on his outstretched right hand. In place of the Greek name Alexander we find the Aramaic name Abi'el, occasionally with the addition of the name of his father which seems to be bgln, tym or tym'l. These variants could be defective writing of one name, or else genuinely different names. If the latter is true, then we would have to reckon with a number of kings name Abi'el who reigned in the area of southeastern Arabia. The discovery of coin moulds for the manufacture of coins bearing the name of Abi'el at Mileiha, within the confines of the small fort excavated there by the French team, suggests that there was an historical figure named Abi'el whose place of residence was most probably Mileiha. Based on the recovery of some examples of Abi'el's coinage in coin hoards on Bahrain and Failaka (Kuwait) in the later third century BC, and the likelihood that the coin moulds from Mileiha date to the first century AD, it seems certain that either there were multiple Abi'el's who reigned during the course of at least three or four centuries, or else the coinage of an original Abi'el was copied continuously for several centuries after his death. Certainly the writing of the name Abi'el shows so many variants that the copying and re-copying of the name on subsequent issues is quite likely.


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