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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Denominations| ▸ |Cistophori||View Options:  |  |  | 

Cistophori

The cistophorus was introduced at Pergamon sometime between 200 and 160 B.C. to provide the Attalid kingdom with a substitute for Seleucid coins and the tetradrachms of Philetairos. The denomination was also struck by other cities under Attalid control. The denomination owes its name to cista mystica, the sacred chest of Dionysus, on the obverse. It was valued at four drachms but weighed only 12.75 grams, as much as three Attic drachms (the most important weight standard of the time). Hoard evidence suggests that they did not travel outside the area which Pergamon controlled, indicating they were valued higher within that area. Cistophori continued to be minted and circulated down to the time of Hadrian, long after the kingdom was bequeathed to Rome in 133 B.C. The portrait of Augustus and later emperors replaced the cista on the obverse.

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.

Pergamon, Mysia, c. 88 - 85 B.C.

|Pergamon|, |Pergamon,| |Mysia,| |c.| |88| |-| |85| |B.C.|, |cistophoric| |tetradrachm|
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.
GS94496. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, Kleiner Pergamum pl. 13, 25; SNG BnF 1726; SNGvA 1369; SNG Cop 425; BMC Mysia p. 124, 97; Pinder 122, VF, light toning, weight 12.255 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 45o, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, c. 88 - 85 B.C.; obverse Cista mystica with half-open lid, from which a snake emerges, all within wreath of ivy with berries; reverse bow-case ornamented with apluster, strung bow emerging upper left, snake with head erect one each side, AΠ (control) over Prytaneis monogram and star above between snakes, case straps draped over snakes below, (Pergamon monogram) to left, snake entwined thyrsus right; from an Israeli collection; $250.00 SALE |PRICE| $225.00
 


Pergamon, Mysia, c. 123 - 104 B.C.

|Pergamon|, |Pergamon,| |Mysia,| |c.| |123| |-| |104| |B.C.|, |cistophoric| |tetradrachm|
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.
GS91522. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, Kleiner Pergamum p. 80, 8; Pinder -; SNG BnF -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Mysia -, VF, well centered, old collection toning, bumps and marks, die wear, weight 12.250 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 45o, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, c. 123 - 104 B.C.; obverse cista mystica with half open lid, from which a snake emerges left, all within wreath of ivy leaves and berries; reverse bow-case ornamented with an apluster, strung bow emerging upper left, flanked on each side by a snake with head erect, WPA monogram (control) between heads of snakes, straps from case draped over snakes below, (Pergamon monogram) to left, snake entwined thyrsos to right; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $130.00 SALE |PRICE| $117.00
 


Perinthos, Thrace, c. 138 - 192 A.D.

|Perinthus|, |Perinthos,| |Thrace,| |c.| |138| |-| |192| |A.D.|, |AE| |18|
Perinthos an ancient Ionian colony from Samos, was situated between Bisanthe and Selymbria, on the northern shore of the Propontis. Herakles was revered at Perinthos as oekist or founder. Perinthos is famous chiefly for its stubborn and successful resistance to Philip II of Macedon in 340 B.C.; at that time it seems to have been more important than Byzantium itself. In Roman times it was called Heraclea Thraciae (or Heraclea Perinthus). Today it is Marmara Ereglisi in the European part of Turkey.
MA95444. Bronze AE 18, RPC Online IV.1 T3894 (20 spec.), Schönert-Geiss Perinthos 169 - 179, SNG Cop 727; BMC Thrace p. 147, 4, F, green patina, tight flan, porous, weight 3.555 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 0o, Heraclea Perinthos (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, c. 138 - 192 A.D.; obverse veiled and draped bust of Demeter right, grain or poppies before her; reverse ΠEPINΘION, snake emerging from cista mystica with half-open top; ; $22.00 (€20.24) ON RESERVE







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REFERENCES|

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