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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Non-Olympian ▸ MedusaView Options:  |  |  |   

Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins

Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GB91194. Bronze onkia, Calciati III, p. 56, 21.3 (same dies); Westermark-Jenkins, type F, 195.6; SNG Mn 410; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; McClean 2159; Weber 1255; SNG HGC 2 547, VF, well centered, green patina with red-brown areas, buff earthen deposits, weight 3.513 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 90o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), smooth neatly waved hair tied with ribbon, symmetrical locks on forehead, dimpled cheeks, protruding tongue; reverse owl standing left, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, one pellet (mark of value) in exergue, no control marks, KAMA downward on right; scarce; $220.00 (193.60)

Kings of Bosporos, Polemo I, c. 14 - 9 B.C.

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The Bosporan Kingdom (or Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus) was in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus, the present-day Strait of Kerch (it was not named after the Bosphorus beside Istanbul). The mixed population adopted Greek language and civilization. The prosperity of the kingdom was based on the export of wheat, fish and slaves. The kingdom's golden age was 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. At the end of the 2nd century A.D., King Sauromates II inflicted a critical defeat on the Scythians and expanded his state to include the entire Crimea. It was the longest surviving Roman client kingdom, lasting until it was overrun by the Huns c. 375 A.D.
GB85937. Bronze tetrachalkon, Frolova-Ireland p. 52, pl. 33/1, pl. 34/1-5, MacDonald Bosporus 229, SNG Stancomb 961, Anokhin 256, HGC 7 347 (R2), RPC I -, SNG BM -, SNG Pushkin -, nice VF, bold strike, slightly off center, attractive near black patina with buff earthen highlighting, scratches, edge cracks, countermark, weight 9.295 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Pantikapaion (Kerch, Crimea) mint, c. 14 - 9 B.C.; obverse head of gorgon Medusa (or Perseus? - most references say a gorgon) right, winged, snakes (or drapery) around neck, obscure round countermark before; reverse monogram of Polemo I; very rare; $180.00 (158.40)

Himera, Sicily, c. 430 - 420 B.C.

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In 409 B.C., Carthage attacked Himera. The city was unprepared; its fortifications weak. At first they were supported about 4000 auxiliaries from Syracuse, but their general, Diocles, seized with panic for the safety of Syracuse itself, abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. More than 3000 prisoners were put to death by General Hannibal Mago as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at the Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.
GI85845. Bronze hemilitron, cf. Calciati I, Group V, p. 35, 24; SNG ANS 180; McClean 2303; Weber 1356; HGC 2 472 (S), F, green patina, thick truncated-conic slightly irregular flan, struck with a worn obverse die, weight 15.015 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 315o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), almond eyes, protruding cheeks, nose well modeled, hair in large curls, protruding tongue, crude execution; reverse six pellets (mark of value), in two columns of three, nearly flat field; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; scarce; $150.00 (132.00)

Komana, Pontos, c. 85 - 65 B.C.

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Next to the Yesilirmak river (ancient Iris), 9 km from the town of Tokat (ancient Dazimon), A mound rising on a natural hill is believe to be the site of Komana Pontike. It is largely unexcavated and it is still uncertain if it was a city or a sanctuary.
GB89145. Bronze AE 22, cf. BMC Pontus p. 28, 2; SNG BM 1262; Rec Gen p. 79, 4; SGCV II 3657, gVF, attractive toned brassy metal, weight 7.106 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 0o, Komana mint, c. 120 - 63 B.C.; obverse Aegis with facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in center; reverse Nike advancing right holding palm across shoulder, KOMA-NΩN divided across field, monograms (controls lower left and lower right; $150.00 (132.00)

Constantine II, 22 May 337 - March or April 340 A.D.

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Constantine II was about eight years old when this coin was minted. Here he is draped and cuirassed as a powerful child Caesar with the world in his hands!
SH63721. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Trier 382 (R3) corr. (no cuirass), SRCV V 17155, Cohen VII 23, gVF, well centered on a tight flan, nice green patina, weight 2.868 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 322 - 323 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left, Victory on globe offering wreath in right hand, mappa in left, head of Medusa on cuirass; reverse BEATA TRANQVILLITAS (blessed tranquility), altar inscribed VO/TIS / XX, surmounted by globe, three stars above, STR in exergue; rare; $100.00 (88.00)

Selinous, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.

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Selinus was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GI83626. Cast bronze cast trias, Calciati I p. 233, 2; SNG Morcom 666; HGC 2 1231 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Mnchen -; SNG Tb -, aF, green patina, weight 14.308 g, maximum diameter 22.0 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion); with teeth displayed, four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; reverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), with protruding tongue; four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; ex CNG e-auction 285 (22 Aug 2012), lot 14; ex L.C. Aes Grave Collection; rare; $100.00 (88.00)

Parion, Mysia, c. 500 - 475 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgs, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GA91062. Silver drachm, SNG BnF 1347; SNG Delepierre 2526; SNGvA 1318; SNG Cop 256; BMC Mysia p. 94, 1 ff.; SGCV II 3917, VF, toned, typical tight flan, reverse double punched, porosity, scratches, weight 3.251 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, Parion (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, c. 500 - 475 B.C.; obverse gorgoneion with protruding tongue; reverse incuse square with angles in the corners forming cruciform pattern; $100.00 (88.00)

Amastris, Paphlagonia, c. 85 - 65 B.C.

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Amastris was a Persian princess, a niece of the Persian King Darius III. Her second husband was Dionysius, tyrant of Heraclea Pontica, in Bithynia. She bore him two sons, Clearchus II and Oxyathres. After the death of Dionysius, in 306 B.C., she became guardian of their children and ruler of Heraclea. Amastris married Lysimachus in 302 B.C.; however, Lysimachus soon abandoned her and married Arsinoe II. She founded the city Amastris, on the sea-coast of Paphlagonia, shortly after 300 B.C. by conquering and combining four smaller towns: Sesamus, Cromna, Cytorus and Tium. Tium later regained its autonomy, but the other three remained part of the city of Amastris' territory. She was drowned by her two sons about 284 B.C.
GB91907. Bronze AE 23, SNG BM 1316 - 1318, SNG Cop 308; cf. BMC Pontus p. 85, 9 (monogram); SNG Stancomb 736 -737 (same); SNGvA 157 (same), aVF, toned dark brown surfaces, bumps and scratches, small edge cracks, weight 7.533 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 0o, Amastris (Amasra, Turkey) mint, c. 85 - 65 B.C.; obverse aegis with facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in center; reverse Nike advancing right, holding palm in both hands over shoulders, AMAΣ-TPEΩΣ divided across field, no control monogram; $50.00 (44.00)

Amisos, Pontos, c. 85 - 65 B.C.

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Amisos was settled c. 760 - 750 B.C. by people from Miletus, who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. Amisos came under the rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire, and then the Kingdom of Pontus. The Romans took control in 47 B.C. and Amisos remained within the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome. In 1200, the city was captured by the Seljuks, to be later taken over by the Ilhanlilar. Amisos today is Samsun, a city of about half a million people on the north coast of Turkey.
GB91908. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 167 (no controls); cf. BMC Pontus p. 20, 69 ff.; SNG Stancomb 687 ff.; SNG BM 1177 ff.; Rec Gn I 44; HGC 7 242 (all cf. with controls), aVF, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 8.479 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, c. 85 - 65 B.C.; obverse aegis with facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in center; reverse Nike advancing right, holding palm frond in both hands across shoulders behind head, AMI−ΣOY divided across field at center; $50.00 (44.00)

Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.

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Struck after Alexander's death, under either Perdikkas or Antipater, regents during the joint reign of Alexander's mentally disabled half-brother, Philip III, and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule. Both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Olympias had Philip murdered to ensure the succession of her grandson. But Alexander IV would never rule. In 311 B.C., he and his mother Roxana were executed by the regent Kassander.
GB89403. Brass half unit, Price 2064, SNG Mnchen 907, SNG Cop 1129, Liampi Chronologie 193 - 217, HGC 3.1 958a, SNG Alpha Bank -, SNG Saroglos -, F, toned bare metal, scratches, porosity/corrosion, weight 4.380 g, maximum diameter 16.9 mm, die axis 0o, Miletus (Balat, Turkey) or Mylasa (Milas, Turkey) mint, c. 320 B.C.; obverse Macedonian shield with Medusa's head at center; reverse crested Macedonian helmet, flanked by B - A (BASILEWS ALEXANDROU, King Alexander), double axe lower left, K lower right; $45.00 (39.60)



Catalog current as of Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
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Medusa & Gorgoneion