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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ Man-Faced BullView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins Depicting a Man-Faced Bull

Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 250 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
SH86580. Silver didrachm, Sambon 523, HN Italy 586, SNG ANS 395 ff. var., SNG BnF 836 ff. var.; SNG München 250 ff. var., SNG Cop 451 ff. var. (all var., no dolphin control), VF, attractive classical style, well centered and struck, toned, bumps and marks, edge crack, weight 7.118 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples) mint, 275 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left, wearing triple-pendant earring, dolphin head down (control symbol) behind; reverse man-faced bull walking right, head turned facing, being crowned by Nike flying right above, IΣ (control or magistrate initials) below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


The Sileraioi, Sicily, c. 357 - 330 B.C.

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Sileraioi was not a city. The Sileraians were Campanian mercenaries who took their name from their proximity to the river Silaros. These rare coins have been found at the site of their settlement, Cozzo Mususino, a natural strong-hold in north central Sicily. The coins are often overstruck on coins from Syracuse minted c. 375 - 345 B.C.
SH68704. Bronze Calciati p. 301, 2; HGC 2 1243 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG München -; SNG Morcom -, VF/F, reverse rough, weight 7.521 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 90o, Sileraian mint, c. 340 - 330 B.C.; obverse ΣI−ΛEPAIΩ−N (retrograde counterclockwise from 3:00), man-faced bull forepart charging right; reverse SIL (retrograde, upward behind), warrior advancing right, spear in right hand, shield in left; rare; $215.00 (€182.75)
 


Ziz (Panormos), Punic Sicily, c. 405 - 380 B.C.

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Some authorities have identified the male head on the obverse as Apollo. Indeed, on some examples the head does resemble other depictions of the youthful sun god, but on other examples the god is horned. On this coin the head seems to better resemble traditional depictions of Herakles or Baal. The type usually has the Punic ethnic above the bull. Sometimes it is below. Most likely it should be above on this coin but is merely unstruck.
GS79961. Silver obol, cf. Jenkins Punic (SNR 50) 14; BMC Sicily p. 249, 27; SNG ANS 551; SGCV I 889 (all w/ Punic ethnic "sys" above bull), aVF, toned, reverse slightly off center, weight 0.547 g, maximum diameter 9.1 mm, die axis 45o, Ziz (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 405 - 380 B.C.; obverse male head left; reverse man-faced bull advancing left, head turned facing; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Metropolis, Thessaly, Greece Late 3rd - Early 2nd Century B.C.

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The man-faced bull on the coinage of Metropolis is probably Acheloios Pamisos since Metropolis (modern Karditza) is located near the source of the Pamisos River. -- Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, With Essays on Origin and Identity by Nicholas J. Molinari & Nicola Sisci
GB87119. Bronze trichalkon, Potamikon 497; BCD Thessaly I 1208.1; BCD Thessaly II 483.1-3; Rogers 411; Pozzi 2828; BMC Thessaly p. 36, 3; HGC 4 257 (S), VF, well centered, dark patina, part of reverse legend weak, porous, weight 8.951 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 180o, Metropolis (Karditsa, Greece) mint, Late 3rd - Early 2nd Century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse MHTPOΠOΛITΩN, forepart of river-god Acheloios Pamisos as man-faced bull left, head facing, ribbons hanging from head, Ω/Z monogram (control) below; ex BCD with his tag noting, "Herc. ex Macedon, March 1987, 3000 drs."; scarce; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 317 - 280 B.C.

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Before it was refounded as Neapolis (meaning "new city"), Naples was called Parthenope, named for the daughter of the river-god Achelous and the Muse Terpsichore. Parthenope cast herself into the sea and drowned when her songs failed to entice Odysseus. Her body washed ashore at Naples. When people from the city of Cumae settled there, they named their city Parthenope in her honor. Roman myth tells a different tale, in which a centaur called Vesuvius was enamored with Parthenope. In jealousy, Zeus turned the centaur into a volcano and Parthenope into the city of Naples. Thwarted in his desire, Vesuvius's anger is manifested in the mountain's frequent eruptions.
GB85096. Bronze AE 17, Potamikon 267, Sambon 636, Taliercio IIa 32, HN Italy 582, VF, tight flan, pitting, weight 4.325 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, c. 317/310 - 280 B.C.; obverse NEOΠOΛITΩN, laureate head of Apollo left, ∆P monogram behind; reverse Acheloios Sebethos as a man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, lightning bolt over E above; from the Molinari Collection; rare; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Cales, Campania, Italy, c. 265 - 240 B.C.

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The Romans captured Cales in 335 B.C. and established a colony in 334 with Latin rights of 2,500 citizens. It was an important base in the war against Hannibal. Before 184 B.C. more settlers were sent there. After the Social War it became a municipium. Its fertile territory and manufacture of black glazed pottery, which was even exported to Etruria, made it prosperous. Inscriptions name six gates of the town: and there are considerable remains of antiquity, especially of an amphitheater and theater, of a supposed temple, a Roman necropolis, and other edifices.
GB73620. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 309; HN Italy 436, SNG ANS 183, cf. BMC Italy p. 79, 23 (star of eight rays vice O below), F, green patina, tight flan, weight 6.161 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 225o, Cales (Calvi Risorta, Italy) mint, c. 265 - 240 B.C.; obverse CALENO, laureate head of Apollo left, star behind; reverse man-faced bull right, star of sixteen rays above, Θ (or O?) below, CALENO in exergue; $95.00 (€80.75)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, 317 - 270 B.C.

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Before it was refounded as Neapolis (meaning "new city"), Naples was called Parthenope, named for the daughter of the river-god Achelous and the Muse Terpsichore. Parthenope cast herself into the sea and drowned when her songs failed to entice Odysseus. Her body washed ashore at Naples. When people from the city of Cumae settled there, they named their city Parthenope in her honor. Roman myth tells a different tale, in which a centaur called Vesuvius was enamored with Parthenope. In jealousy, Zeus turned the centaur into a volcano and Parthenope into the city of Naples. Thwarted in his desire, Vesuvius's anger is manifested in the mountain's frequent eruptions.
GB85093. Bronze AE 12, Potamikon 295, Sambon 581, Taliercio IId 1, SNG ANS 435, aVF, dark toning, nice style, reverse off center, bumps scratches, tiny pitting, weight 1.524 g, maximum diameter 11.8 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, 317/310 - 270 B.C.; obverse NEOΠOΛITΩN, head of Apollo right; reverse forepart of Acheloios Sebethos as a man-faced bull right, dolphin swimming right above; from the Molinari Collection; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


Agyrion, Sicily, c. 344 - 336 B.C.

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Agyrion (modern Agira) was a Sicel city ruled by tyrants, one of whom, Agyris, was the most powerful ruler in the center of Sicily. In 392 B.C., he and Dionysius the Elder, together successfully resisted the Carthaginians under Magno. Agira was not colonized by the Greeks until the Corinthian general Timoleon drove out the last Sicel tyrant in 339 B.C. and settled 10,000 Greeks.
GB63889. Bronze AE 14, Calciati III p. 125, 10; SNG ANS -; SNG Morcom -, VF, nice patina, weight 4.086 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 180o, Agyrion (Agira, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 344 - 336 B.C.; obverse AΓYPINAI, young Herakles' head left, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse AΓYPINAI, forepart of a man-faced bull left, legend horizontal above; rare; $85.00 (€72.25)
 


Metropolis, Thessaly, Greece 3rd Century B.C.

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The man-faced bull on the coinage of Metropolis is probably Acheloios Pamisos since Metropolis (modern Karditza) is located near the source of the Pamisos River. -- Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, With Essays on Origin and Identity by Nicholas J. Molinari & Nicola Sisci
GB85095. Bronze trichalkon, Potamikon 497; BCD Thessaly I 1208.1; BCD Thessaly II 483.1-3; Rogers 411; Pozzi 2828; BMC Thessaly p. 36, 3; HGC 4 257 (S), Fair/Fine, rough, weight 7.229 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 135o, Metropolis (Karditsa, Greece) mint, 3rd century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse MHTPOΠOΛITΩN, forepart of river-god Acheloios Pamisos as man-faced bull left, head facing, ribbons hanging from head, Ω/Z monogram (control) below; from the Molinari Collection; scarce; $80.00 (€68.00)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 225 B.C.

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Before it was refounded as Neapolis (meaning "new city"), Naples was called Parthenope, named for the daughter of the river-god Achelous and the Muse Terpsichore. Parthenope cast herself into the sea and drowned when her songs failed to entice Odysseus. Her body washed ashore at Naples. When people from the city of Cumae settled there, they named their city Parthenope in her honor. Roman myth tells a different tale, in which a centaur called Vesuvius was enamored with Parthenope. In jealousy, Zeus turned the centaur into a volcano and Parthenope into the city of Naples. Thwarted in his desire, Vesuvius's anger is manifested in the mountain's frequent eruptions.
GI84867. Bronze AE 19, Potamikon group IIIa, HN Italy 589, aVF, green patina, slightly irregular flan shape, light corrosion, weight 3.865 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Campania mint, c. 270 - 250 B.C.; obverse NEOΠOΛITΩN, laureate head of Apollo left; reverse man-faced bull standing right, being crowned by winged nymph who flies above, uncertain letters below and in exergue; $60.00 (€51.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Calciati, R. Corpus Nummorum Siculorum. The Bronze Coinage. (Milan, 1983 - 1987).
Classical Numismatic Group. The BCD Collection of the Coinage of Thessaly. Triton XV Auction. (3 January 2012, New York).
Babelon, J. Catalogue de la collection de Luynes: monnaies greques. (Paris, 1924-1936).
Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
Gardner, P. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Thessaly to Aetolia. (London, 1883).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of Sicily (including Lipara), Civic, Royal, Siculo-Punic, and Romano-Sicilian Issues, Sixth to First Centuries BC. HGC 2. (Lancaster, PA, 2011).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of Northern and Central Greece...Sixth to First Centuries BC, The Handbook of Greek Coinage Series, Vol. 4. (Lancaster, PA, 2014).
Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Zur Münzen Akarnaniens" in NZ X (1878).
Jenkins, G. Coins of Punic Sicily. (Zürich, 1997).
Jenkins, G. The Coinage of Gela. AMUGS II. (Berlin, 1970).
Martini, R. & N. Vismara. Monetazione Provinciale Romana. Collezione Winsemann Falghera I-VI. (Milan, 1992).
Molinari, N. & 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).
Münzen & Medaillen (Deutschland). Sammlung BCD : Akarnanien und Aetolien. Auction 23 (18 October 2007, Stuttgart).
Naville Co. Monnaies grecques antiques; provenant de la collection de feu le prof. S. Pozzi. Auction 1. (4 April 1921, Geneva).
Poole, R. ed. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum: Italy. (London, 1873).
Poole, R. ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Sicily. (London, 1876).
Rogers, E. The Copper Coinage of Thessaly. (London, 1932).
Rutter, N. Campanian Coinages 475-380 BC. (Edinburgh, 1979).
Rutter, N. ed. Historia Numorum. Italy. (London, 2001).
Sambon, A. Les monnaies antiques de l'Italie. (Paris, 1903).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum. (Copenhagen, 1942-1979).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung. (Berlin, 1968-present).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothéque Nationale. (Paris, 1993 - 2001).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection. (London, 1938 - 1949).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, USA, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society. (New York, 1969 - present).
Taliercio, M. "Simboli, lettere, sigle sul bronzo di Neapolis" in Studi Breglia.

Catalog current as of Thursday, November 15, 2018.
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Man-Faced Bull