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View Categories Home > Catalog > |Themes & Provenance| > |Denominations| > |Cistophori| > GS91390Pergamon, Mysia, c. 85 - 76 B.C. The cista mystica was a basket used for housing sacred snakes in connection with the initiation ceremony into the cult of Bacchus (Dionysus). In the Dionysian mysteries a snake, representing the god and possibly symbolic of his phallus, was carried in a cista mystica on a bed of vine leaves. The cista in the mysteries of Isis may also have held a serpent, perhaps associated with the missing phallus of Osiris.
The thyrsus is the staff carried by Bacchus and his associates; topped by a pine cone or a bunch of ivy leaves and wreathed with tendrils of vine or ivy.
GS91390. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, Kleiner Pergamum 32, Pinder 107, SNG BnF 1734, SNG Cop 430, VF, toned, a little flatly struck, some die wear, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, weight 12.287g, maximum diameter 29.3mm, die axis 30o, c. 85 - 76 B.C.; obverse Cista mystica with half-open lid, from which a snake emerges, all within wreath of ivy with berries; reverse bow-case holding strung bow, ornamented with apluster, flanked on each side by snake with head erect, ∆I (control) over Prytaneis monogram between heads of snakes, case straps draped over snakes below, (Pergamon monogram) to left, snake entwined thyrsos to right; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; SOLD
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