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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ Bull or CowView Options:  |  |  |   

Cattle on Ancient Coins

Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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Strabo wrote, "The Romans possess Lugdunum, founded below a ridge at the confluence of the Arar and the Rhone. It is the most populous of all the other cities except Narbo; for it is a center of commerce, and the Roman emperors strike their silver and gold coinage there." (4.3.2)

SH84233. Silver denarius, RIC I 167a, BMCRE I 451, RSC I 137, BnF I 1373, SRCV I 1610, Choice EF, nearly as struck, lustrous, slight die wear, weight 3.887 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 15 - 13 B.C.; obverse AVGVSTVS DIVI•F, bare head right; reverse bull butting right, IMP•X in exergue; $1370.00 (€1219.30)
 


Eryx, Sicily, c. 344 - 339 B.C.

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Eryx was founded by Elymians on the summit of a mountain in northwest Sicily, about 10 km from Drepana (modern Trapani), and 3 km from the sea-coast, at the site of modern Erice. The Elymians maintained friendly relations and alliances with Carthage and came into frequent conflict with the Greeks. In 397 B.C., however, Eryx joined Dionysius I of Syracuse. It was speedily recovered by Himilco the following year. It again fell into the hands of Dionysius shortly before his death in 367 B.C., but was soon recovered by the Carthaginians, and probably was subject to their rule until the expedition of Pyrrhus in 278 B.C.
GS84640. Silver litra, Campana CNAI 47; Jenkins I pl. 24, 24; SNG ANS 1348; Jameson 1894; Winterthur 630; HGC 2 324 (????) corr. (male head/man-faced bull); SNG Cop -, VF, toned, tight flan, obverse slightly off center, weight 0.567 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 270o, Eryx (Erice, Sicily) mint, Punic rule, c. 344 - 339 B.C.; obverse head of nymph left, hair in a bun at the crown, wearing triple-pendant earring and necklace; reverse bull standing left, Punic "RK" above; from the Nicholas Molinari Collection; very rare; $850.00 (€756.50)
 


Persian Empire, Lydia, Cyrus - Darios I, c. 546 - 520 B.C., Kroiseid Type

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The Lydian King Croesus minted the first silver and gold coins. He was famous for his extraordinary wealth, but after his defeat by Cyrus about 546 B.C. Lydia became a Persian satrapy. The Persian conquerors of Lydia continued to strike the same Croesus' coin types. This coin is a later example issued under Persia. We can tell because under Croesus the lion and the bull were struck separately, with one punch at a time. Later examples, such as this coin, were struck with only one obverse die engraved with both animals, and only one reverse die, simulating two square punches.
GS84246. Silver siglos (half-stater), SNG Cop 456; SNGvA 2877; SNG Kayhan 1025; BMC Lydia p. 7, 45; Traité I 409; SGCV II 3424, gVF, light bumps and marks, tiny edge crack, weight 5.303 g, maximum diameter 15.1 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 546 - 520 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left, struck with a single die; reverse two incuse squares, of unequal size, side by side; $580.00 (€516.20)
 


Kephaloidion, Sicily, c. 307 - 289 B.C.

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Kephaloidoion, on Cape Cefalu, was under the influence of nearby Himera until c. 405 B.C. In 396 B.C., the town allied with General Himilco of Carthage against Dionysos of Syracuse but was defeated. Agathocles besieged and conquered the city in 307 B.C. Kephaloidion was again allied with Carthage at the beginning of the First Punic War but the citizens opened the gates when the Roman fleet appeared off the shore in 254 B.C. The city faded but survived at least into the second century A.D.
GI76952. Bronze AE 17, Calciati I, p. 371, 1; HGC 2 649 (R2); SNG ANS -; SNG Morcom -; SNG München -; SNG Tübingen -, VF, green patina, light marks, reverse off center, weight 4.367 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 135o, Kephaloidion (Cefalu, Sicily) mint, c. 344 - 336 B.C. (references vary greatly); obverse KEΦAΛOI∆I, Herakles head right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse bull butting right, club above, linear border; very rare; $500.00 (€445.00)
 


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 450 - 420 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.
GS84620. Silver drachm, Lorber Thessalian 50, SNG Cop 110, BCD Thessaly I 1128, BCD Thessaly II 173 -174, HGC 4 420 (S), gVF, attractive classical style, toned, deposits, light marks, obverse slightly off center, weight 6.175 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 225o, Larissa mint, c. 450/440 - 420 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 rearing right, trailing rein, ΛAPI/ΣAIA in two lines above and below, all within shallow incuse square; ex CNG e-auction 386 (9 Nov 2016), lot 112; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "Ex Sotheby's New York, 9 Dec. 93, part of lot 323, the lot of 6 pieces for $1500 +10%, This piece cost $350.-"; scarce; $400.00 (€356.00)
 


Gela, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Gela, named after the river Gela, was founded by colonists from Rhodos and Crete around 688 B.C. In 424 B.C., the Congress of Gela established a "Sicily for the Sicilians" platform and formed a league that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island. The city had a history of internal strife between its plebs and aristocrats. When the Carthaginians arrived in 311 BC, they easily captured the Gela with the help of its elites. In 282 B.C., Phintias of Agrigento ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever. In Roman times it was only a small settlement.
SH76948. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 17, 32/1; Jenkins Gela 516; SNG ANS 115; SNG Cop 283; SNG München 314; BMC Sicily, p. 73, 66; HGC 2 379 (S), gVF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, light marks and corrosion, weight 3.408 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 90o, Gela mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, head lowered and turned slightly facing, barley kernel over ΓEΛAΣ above, three pellets in exergue; reverse horned head of beardless young river-god Gela right, no diadem, floating hair, barley kernel behind; scarce; $320.00 (€284.80)
 


Gortyna, Crete, 4th Century B.C.

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Gortyna in the southern part of central Crete, rivaled Cnossus in wealth and importance. A Gortynian decree of the third or second century B.C. required, under a penalty, the use of "the bronze money which the city has put in circulation," and established a fine to be paid by any one who "accepts in payment silver obols."
GS77556. Silver drachm, Svoronos Crete p. 161, 32, pl. XIII, 6; McClean II 7111; SNG Cop -; BMC Crete -; Seager -; Weber -, aVF, overstruck, weight 5.102 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, Gortyna mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse head and neck of bull right, head turned slightly facing, round object to right from undertype; reverse head Persephone right, wearing wreath of grain and cross-folded taenia, rosette-shaped ear ornament and necklace, part of dotted square border from undertype, concave field; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 233 (6 Oct 2015), part of lot 3109; $320.00 (€284.80)
 


Parion, Mysia, 400 - 300 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, 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.
GS84183. Silver hemidrachm, SNGvA 1319; SNG BnF 1357; SNG Delepierre 2530; BMC Mysia p. 95, 14 - 16; SNG Cop 257 ff. var. (various control symbols), EF, mint luster, weight 2.427 g, maximum diameter 13.8 mm, die axis 0o, Parion mint, 400 - 300 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, looking right, ΠA/PI in two lines above and below bull, no control symbol; reverse Gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), surrounded by snakes; ex FORVM (2009), ex Numismatik Lanz; $280.00 (€249.20)
 


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.
SH73402. Silver drachm, Lorber Thessalian 46, BCD Thessaly II 171, HGC 4 418 (S), BCD Thessaly I -, F, etched surfaces, weight 5.260 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, Larissa mint, c. 450 - 400 B.C.; obverse hero Thessalos restraining bull, both right, holding band around its head, nude but for billowing chlamys tied around his neck, petasos flying loose in the air behind him; reverse bridled horse running right, trailing rein, ΛAP/IΣAI in two lines above and below, all within shallow incuse square; ex BCD Collection with his tag noting, "V. ex. Thess., June 2009, €45.-"; scarce; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


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

Click for a larger photo
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.
GS73404. Silver drachm, Lorber Thessalian 49, SNG Cop 107, BCD Thessaly II 171, HGC 4 418 (S), BCD Thessaly I -, F, etched surfaces, weight 5.449 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 450 - 400 B.C.; obverse hero Thessalos restraining bull, both right, holding band around its head, nude but for billowing chlamys tied around his neck, petasos flying loose in the air behind him; 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, "C.C. ex. Thess., May 92, SFr 80.-"; scarce; $225.00 (€200.25)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Molinari, N.J. & N. Sisci. Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, With Essays on Origin and Identity. (Oxford, 2016).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
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