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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.

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 108 - 107 B.C., New Style Silver Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |108| |-| |107| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Silver| |Tetradrachm|, |tetradrachm|NEW
The "New Style" tetradrachms were issued by Athens as a semi-autonomous city under Roman rule. The new-style Owls are markedly different from the Owls of Periclean Athens or the "eye in profile" Athena head of the Fourth Century. They were struck on thinner, broad flans, typical of the Hellenistic period, with a portrait of Athena that reflected the heroic portraiture of the period. The owl now stands on an amphora, surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols, all within an olive wreath. The amphora is marked with a letter that may indicate the month of production. Letters below the amphora may indicate the source of the silver used in production.
GS96453. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Thompson Athens 739 - 746, gF, well centered, toned, scratches and bumps, holed and filled, weight 16.206 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 108 - 107 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, Pegasus right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above the visor; reverse A-ΘE / EYMH-ΛOΣ / KAΛ/ΛI/ΦΩN / HPA, owl standing right on amphora on its side, head turned facing, wings closed; Tyche (control symbol) on right, standing left, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; uncertain letter on amphora, uncertain letters below; all within olive wreath; $350.00 SALE |PRICE| $315.00
 


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

|Cistophori|, |Augustus,| |16| |January| |27| |B.C.| |-| |19| |August| |14| |A.D.|, |cistophoric| |tetradrachm|
The cistophorus was first struck by the Pergamene Kingdom was a tetradrachm (four-drachms coin) struck on a reduced Asian standard of about 3 grams per drachm. Its name was derived from the cista, a Dionysian cult snake basket that frequently appeared on the obverse. After the Pergamene Kingdom was bequeathed to Rome in 133 B.C., the Romans continued to strike cistophori for the Asia province, with a value equal to three denarii. The portrait of Augustus and later emperors replaced the cista on the obverse.
SH85435. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, Sutherland Group VI, RPC I 2213, RSC I 16, RIC I 477, BnF I 916, BMCRE I 696, BMCRR East 263, SRCV I -, VF, well centered, toned, light marks and scratches, weight 11.796 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 30o, Ephesus mint, c. 25 - 20 B.C.; obverse IMP CAE-SAR (counterclockwise below), bare head right, linear border; reverse capricorn right, head turned back left, cornucopia on its back, AVGVSTVS below, all within laurel wreath; SOLD


Mark Antony and Octavia, 39 B.C., Ephesos, Ionia

|Cistophori|, |Mark| |Antony| |and| |Octavia,| |39| |B.C.,| |Ephesos,| |Ionia|, |cistophoric| |tetradrachm|
Mark Antony is depicted on the obverse with the attributes of Dionysus.
SH24805. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RPC I 2201, Cohen 2 (35 Fr.), Sydenham 1197, Sear CRI 262, gVF, obverse grainy, weight 12.001 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 0o, obverse M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT, head of Antony right, wreathed in ivy, lituus below, all within wreath of ivy and grapes; reverse III VIR R P C, bust of Octavia right on cista flanked by snakes; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

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