Baalshillem II


Baalshillem II was a Phoenician King of Sidon (c. 401 – c. 366 BC), the great-grandson of King Baalshillem I, and a vassal of the Achaemenid Empire. He succeeded Baana to the throne of Sidon, and was succeeded by his son Abdashtart I (in Greek, Straton).[1][2]

Baalshillem II
Reignc.  401 BC – c.  366 BC
SuccessorAbdashtart I
Phoenician language𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤔𐤋𐤌
DynastyBaalshillem I dynasty
ReligionCanaanite polytheism
Beige marble statue of a stout young child aged about two years old lying on his left side. The child's head is shaven, his eyes gaze over the viewer's shoulder and his lower body is covered in a draping cloth that hangs limply between his flexed feet. The child supports his torso with his left hand in which he holds an unidentifiable object, he also holds a small bird in his right hand. The sculpture rests on a heavy socle inscribed with barely visible letters spanning the upper part of the socle vertically.
Baalshillem Temple Boy: a votive marble statue of a royal child, inscribed in Phoenician, from the Eshmun sanctuary, c. 400s BC


The name Baalshillem (also Baalchillem) is the Latinized form of the Phoenician 𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤔𐤋𐤌‎ (bʿlšlm), meaning "recompense of Baal".[3][4] The king was known in contemporary Greek inscriptions as Sakton[clarification needed] which can be interpreted as shipowner.[2][5] Alternative spellings of the king's name include Baalchillem.[6]


The absolute chronology of the kings of Sidon from the dynasty of Eshmunazar I onward has been much discussed in the literature; traditionally placed in the course of the fifth century, inscriptions of this dynasty have been dated back to an earlier period on the basis of numismatic, historical and archaeological evidence. The most complete work addressing the dates of the reigns of these Sidonian kings is by the French historian Josette Elayi who shifted away from the use of biblical chronology. Elayi used all the available documentation of the time and included inscribed Tyrian seals and stamps excavated by the Lebanese archaeologist Maurice Chehab in 1972 from Jal el-Bahr, a neighborhood in the north of Tyre,[7][8][9][10][11] Phoenician inscriptions discovered by the French archaeologist Maurice Dunand in Sidon in 1965,[12] and the systematic study of Sidonian coins, which were the first coins to bear minting dates representing the years of Sidonian kings' reigns.[13][14]

Baalshillem II was the first among Sidonian monarchs to mark coins with issuing dates corresponding with the years of his reign as of year 30 which corresponds to 372 BC. Elayi established that Baalshillem II's year of accession was 401 BC and that he reigned until 366 BC. The dating of Baalshillem II's coins is of considerable importance to scholars, since the subsequent reigns are dated yearly until Alexander's conquest of the Levant in 333 BC; this helped scholars to establish the chronology of Sidonian kings in retrospect.[15][16][17][18]

Historical contextEdit

Baalshillem II coin, depicting a Phoenician galley and the letter B on the obverse, and a ritual procession on the reverse.

In 539 BC, Phoenicia fell under the Achaemenid rule; it was divided into four vassal kingdoms: Sidon, Tyre, Byblos and Arwad.[19][20] Eshmunazar I, a priest of Astarte and the founder of his namesake dynasty was enthroned King of Sidon around the time of the Achaemenid conquest of the Levant.[21] During the first phase of Achaemenid rule Sidon flourished and reclaimed its former standing as Phoenicia's chief city.[21][22][23] In the mid 5th century BC, Eshmunazar's dynasty was succeeded by that of Baalshillem I; this dynastic turnover coincides with the time by which Sidon began to independently mint its own coinage bearing the images of its reigning kings.[16]

Epigraphic and numismatic sourcesEdit

According to Elayi, the Lycian sarcophagus that was unearthed in the royal necropolis of Sidon, may have been made for Baalshillem II.

The name of Baalshillem II is known from a votive statue of a "temple boy" offered to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing, by the king himself. The base of the Baalshillem temple boy statue bears a Phoenician inscription known as KAI 281;[24][25] it reads:

This (is the) statue that Baalshillem, son of King Ba'na, king of the Sidonians, son of King Abdamun, king of the Sidonians, son of King Baalshillem, king of the Sidonians, gave to his lord Eshmun at the "Ydll" Spring. May he bless him.[24]

The statue is of note because its inscription provides the names of four kings of Sidon from the Baalshillem I dynasty.[24][26] The statue also represents the young future king Abdashtart I, who may have been five or six months of age at the time of the dedication of the statue.[27]

Baalshillem II is also known from the coins he struck under his reign. The coins dating from the reign of the Baalshillem I dynasty show the abbreviated names of the respective kings, a custom of the Sidonian royalty.[27] King Baalshillem I's name is abbreviated as B, Abdamon's name is abbreviated as ʿB, Bʿ stands for Baana. Baalshillem II adopted the same abbreviation as his namesake predecessor, he modified however the iconography of the coins.[27][2] The obverse of Baalshillem II's coins depicts a Sidonian trireme, while the obverse of the coins of Baalshillem I showed a galley in front of Sidonian wall fortifications. The reverse of Baalshillem II's coins shows a ritual procession.[27] Another differentiating characteristic is the minting dates that Baalshillem II had engraved on his coins, and which correspond to the years of his reign.[2] In a later series of Baalshillem II coins, the king emphasized his son's legitimacy as heir by inscribing the first letter of the latter's name on the reverse ("ʿ" for his son Abdashtart) in addition to the abbreviation of his own name on the obverse.[2]

In a passage of the Oxyrhyncus manuscripts, relating the events of the 398 BC battle of Cnidus, the leader of the Sidonian fleet is named in the papyrus Sakton. Sakton was identified with Baalshillem II, who in 398 was in his fourth year of reign.[2][5] The Greek name Sakton is interpreted as "Shipowner".[2][5]


According to Elayi, the Lycian sarcophagus unearthed in the royal necropolis of Sidon and dated to c. 390–380 BC, may have been made for Baalshillem II.[5]


Baalshillem II was a descendant of Baalshillem I's dynasty; his heir was his son Abdashtart I.[28][29]

Baalshillem I dynasty
Baalshillem I
Baalshillem II
Abdashtart I


See alsoEdit

  • King of Sidon – A list of the ancient rulers of the city of Sidon



  1. ^ Markoe 2000, p. 58.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Elayi 2006, p. 9.
  3. ^ Ingraham 1997, p. 541.
  4. ^ Bonnet 2017, p. 59.
  5. ^ a b c d Elayi 2018a, p. 255.
  6. ^ Vanel 1967, p. 73.
  7. ^ Kaoukabani 2005, p. 4.
  8. ^ Elayi 2006, p. 2.
  9. ^ Chéhab 1983, p. 171.
  10. ^ Xella & López 2005b.
  11. ^ Greenfield 1985, pp. 129–134.
  12. ^ Dunand 1965, pp. 105–109.
  13. ^ Elayi 2006.
  14. ^ Elayi & Elayi 2004.
  15. ^ Elayi 2006, pp. 9, 22, 31.
  16. ^ a b Elayi 2006, p. 8.
  17. ^ Elayi 2007, p. 100.
  18. ^ Elayi 2010, p. 164.
  19. ^ Elayi 2006, p. 1.
  20. ^ Boardman et al. 2000, p. 156.
  21. ^ a b Zamora 2016, p. 253.
  22. ^ Elayi 2006, p. 7.
  23. ^ Pritchard & Fleming 2011, pp. 311–312.
  24. ^ a b c Elayi 2018a, p. 249.
  25. ^ Xella & López 2005a, p. 122 footnote.
  26. ^ Vance 1994, p. 12.
  27. ^ a b c d Elayi 2018a, p. 250.
  28. ^ Elayi 2006, p. 9–11.
  29. ^ a b Gibson 1982, p. 115.
  30. ^ Elayi 2006, pp. 9–10.


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Preceded by
King of Sidon
c. 401– c. 366 BC
Succeeded by