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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ Athletics & GamesView Options:  |  |  | 

Atheletics and Games on Ancient Coins

Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

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During Philip's reign the 1000th anniversary of Rome (248 A.D.) was celebrated, and magnificent games were held. This coin was issued as part of that celebration and the reverse undoubted depicts one of the animal types displayed and hunted in the Colosseum during the games.
RB87835. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 160a; Cohen V 183, Hunter III 107, SRCV III 9012, VF, nice portrait, well centered, some bumps and scratches, a little rough and porous, edge cracks, traces of shellac(?), weight 16.917 g, maximum diameter 28.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 248 A.D.; obverse IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, laureate, draped (and cuirassed?) bust right, from behind; reverse SAECVLARES AVGG (Secular games [provided by] the Emperors), stag standing right, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $200.00 (170.00)

Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 450 - 400 B.C.

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During religious games, the young men of Thessaly participated in bull jumping and bull wrestling. In bull wrestling, participants would jump from a horse, naked save a chlamys (cloak) and petasos (hat), to bring a bull down to the ground. The obverse shows a wrestler bringing down a bull and the reverse shows the horse running free after the leap was made. The game may have originated in Asia Minor and then traveled to Crete, where it is known the people of Thessaly learned the sport.
GS73425. Silver drachm, Lorber Thessalian 50, SNG Cop 110, BCD Thessaly I 1128, BCD Thessaly II 175, HGC 4 420 (S), F, well centered, die wear, obverse rough, weight 5.760 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 45o, Larissa mint, c. 450 - 400 B.C.; obverse hero Thessalos restraining bull, both left, holding band around its head, nude but for billowing chlamys tied around his neck, petasos tied around neck flying behind; reverse bridled horse running right, trailing rein, ΛAPI/ΣAIA in two lines above and below, all within shallow incuse square; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "Ex Spink's Auction 36, 30/31 May 84, lot 11 (part), the lot for 130.-"; scarce; $140.00 (119.00)

Roman Republic, L. Calpurnius Piso L.f. Frugi, 90 B.C.

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In 90 B.C., Rome barely managed to stave off total defeat in the Social War. The Italians were denied citizenship and, despite making up over half the Roman army, were denied a fair share of the booty and lands. They rebelled and raised an army of 100,000 battle-hardened soldiers. After Roman victories and citizenship concessions, the war was nearly over by 88 B.C.
RR88359. Silver denarius, BMCRR I Rome 2023 var. (also hammer and flute, but R on obverse, V on reverse); Sydenham 669a; Crawford 340/1; RSC I Calpurnia 11; SRCV I 235, gF, toned, light marks, small edge splits, weight 3.751 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 90 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, hair falling in long ringlets, hammer (control symbol) behind, S (control letter) below chin, dot border; reverse naked horseman galloping right, holding palm frond, head bare, flute (control symbol) above, L PISO FRVGI over P (control letter) below; $125.00 (106.25)

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 140 - 90 B.C.

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The Panathenaic Games were held every four years in Athens from 566 B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. These games incorporated religious festival, ceremony, athletic competitions, and cultural events hosted within a stadium. Ritual observances consisted of numerous sacrifices to Athena, as well as Poseidon and others. The competitions were the most prestigious games for the citizens of Athens, but not as important as the Olympic Games or the other Panhellenic Games. Award ceremonies included the giving of Panathenaic amphorae which were the large ceramic vessels that contained the oil given as prizes. The winner of the chariot race received as a prize one-hundred and forty Panathenaic amphorae full of olive oil.
GB88151. Bronze AE 12, Agora XXVI 105; Svoronos pl. 107, 36-41, VF, reverse rough, weight 1.920 g, maximum diameter 12.1 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 140 - 90 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse A-Θ/E, panathenaic amphora; rare; $120.00 (102.00)

Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

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Elephants are represented on coins as an emblem of Eternity, because the ancients believed elephants lived two or even three hundred years. In April 248, Philip combined the celebration of Rome's 1000th anniversary with the Ludi Saeculares. Festivities included spectacular games and theatrical presentations. In the Colosseum, more than 1,000 gladiators were killed along with hundreds of exotic animals including hippos, leopards, lions, giraffes, and one rhinoceros. At the same time, Philip elevated his son to the rank of co-Augustus. Undoubtedly the festivities included elephants, as advertised by this coin.
RS87526. Silver antoninianus, RSC IV 17, RIC IV 58, Hunter III 31, SRCV III 8921, VF, full-circle centering on a broad flan, attractive golden toning, some die wear, weight 3.950 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 248 A.D.; obverse IMP PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse AETERNITAS AVGG, elephant walking left, ridden by mahout guiding it with rod and goad; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50 ON RESERVE

Aspendos, Pamphylia, c. 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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After Alexander took Perga peacefully, Aspendos sent envoys to offer surrender if he would not take the taxes and horses formerly paid as tribute to the Persian king. Agreeing, Alexander went on to Side, leaving a garrison behind. When he learned they had failed to ratify the agreement their own envoys had proposed, Alexander marched to the city. The Aspendians retreated to their acropolis and again sent envoys to sue for peace. This time, however, they had to agree to harsh terms - they would host a Macedonian garrison and pay 100 gold talents and 4,000 horses annually.
GB79600. Bronze AE 19, SNG Cop 264 var. (star and crescent), SNGvA 4583 var. (crescent vice star); SNG BnF 148 var. (no star), BMC Lycia p. 103, 74 (same), aVF, green patina, weight 3.565 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 0o, Aspendos mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse free horse galloping right, star above; reverse slinger standing right, throwing bullet, A − Σ flanking across center; ex Gerhard Rohde Ancient Coins; very rare; $85.00 (72.25)

Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Laodicea ad Mare, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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Laodicea ad Mare prospered thanks to the excellent wine produced in the nearby hills and was also famous for its textiles, both of which were exported to all the empire. A sizable Jewish population lived in Laodicea during the first century. Under Septimius Severus the city was fortified and was made for a few years the capital of Roman Syria: in this period Laodicea grew to be a city of nearly 40,000 inhabitants and had even an hippodrome. Christianity was the main religion in the city after Constantine I and many bishops of Laodicea participated in ecumenical councils, mainly during Byzantine times. The heretic Apollinarius was bishop of Laodicea in the 4th century, when the city was fully Christian but with a few remaining Jews. An earthquake damaged the city in 494 A.D. Justinian I made Laodicea the capital of the Byzantine province of "Theodorias" in the early sixth century. Laodicea remained its capital for more than a century until the Arab conquest.
RP86245. Bronze AE 19, SNG Mnchen 944; SNG Hunterian 3226, SNG Cop 372 var. (bust); BMC Galatia p. 262, 105 var. (no clubs), VF, porous, reverse off center, weight 5.941 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 225o, Laodicea ad Mare (Latakia, Syria) mint, 16 May 218 - 11 Mar 222 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVP - ANTONINVS - AVG, radiate bust right, bare shoulders seen from behind; reverse LAVDICEON, two naked wrestlers, standing confronted and grappling, wrestler on the left has his hand on his antagonist shoulder, clubs left and right, one behind each wrestler, ∆E exergue; scarce; $80.00 (68.00)

Volusian, c. November 251 - July or August 253 A.D., Damascus, Syria

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Hadrian promoted Damascus to the Metropolis of Coele-Syria about 125 A.D. Septimius Severus upgraded it to a colonia in 222 A.D. Damascus was an important caravan city with trade routes from southern Arabia, Palmyra, Petra, and silk routes from China all converging on it delivering eastern luxuries to Rome. The inscription on the prize urn names the sacred Olympia Sebasmia games, celebrated at Damascus as part of the local imperial cult.
RY86710. Bronze AE 25, RPC Online IX 1964 (same dies, 4 spec.); BMC Galatia p. 288, 32; Rosenberger 58; De Saulcy 6; SNG Hunter 3462 var. (bust); SNG Mn -; SNG Cop -, aF, porous, light earthen deposits, weight 7.860 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus mint, c. Nov 251 - Jul/Aug 253 A.D.; obverse IMP GALLO VOLOSSIANO AVG, laureate head right, traces of drapery; reverse COL ∆AMAS METRO, agonistic urn containing cypress, inscribed OΛYMΠIA / CEBACMIA, ram's head right between I E (IEPA - sanctuary) below; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; very rare; $80.00 (68.00)

Coins and Games - Nomismata kai agones, Chrysanthos Valassiadis

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Coins and games, coins depicting Olympic Games on the coins.
BL20321. Coins and Games - Nomismata kai agones by Chrysanthos Valassiadis, in Greek and English, hardcover, 37 pages, full page illustrations, international shipping at actual cost of shipping; $10.00 (8.50)



Klose, D. & G. Stumpf. Sport, Spiel, Sieg. (Munich, 1996).

Catalog current as of Monday, March 18, 2019.
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Atheletics and Games