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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Non-Olympian ▸ MedusaView Options:  |  |  | 

Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins

Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GB91194. Bronze onkia, Calciati III, p. 56, 21.3 (same dies); Westermark-Jenkins, type F, 195.6; SNG Mn 410; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; McClean 2159; Weber 1255; SNG HGC 2 547, VF, well centered, green patina with red-brown areas, buff earthen deposits, weight 3.513 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 90o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), smooth neatly waved hair tied with ribbon, symmetrical locks on forehead, dimpled cheeks, protruding tongue; reverse owl standing left, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, one pellet (mark of value) in exergue, no control marks, KAMA downward on right; scarce; $220.00 (193.60)


Apollonia Pontika, Thrace, c. 480 - 450 B.C.

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A gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgs, 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.
GS91395. Silver drachm, Topalov Apollonia p. 586, 41; SNG BM 153; SNG Cop 454; SGCV I 1655; HGC 3.2 1323, VF, desirable early archaic type, toned, light marks, reverse die wear, typical ragged flan, weight 3.201 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 135o, Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol, Bulgaria) mint, c. 480/478 - 450 B.C.; obverse anchor flukes up, curved stock, crayfish left, A right; reverse archaic Ionian style gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), snakes for hair, large open mouth, visible teeth, long protruding tongue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $200.00 (176.00)


Kings of Bosporos, Polemo I, c. 14 - 9 B.C.

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The Bosporan Kingdom (or Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus) was in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus, the present-day Strait of Kerch (it was not named after the Bosphorus beside Istanbul). The mixed population adopted Greek language and civilization. The prosperity of the kingdom was based on the export of wheat, fish and slaves. The kingdom's golden age was 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. At the end of the 2nd century A.D., King Sauromates II inflicted a critical defeat on the Scythians and expanded his state to include the entire Crimea. It was the longest surviving Roman client kingdom, lasting until it was overrun by the Huns c. 375 A.D.
GB85937. Bronze tetrachalkon, Frolova-Ireland p. 52, pl. 33/1, pl. 34/1-5, MacDonald Bosporus 229, SNG Stancomb 961, Anokhin 256, HGC 7 347 (R2), RPC I -, SNG BM -, SNG Pushkin -, nice VF, bold strike, slightly off center, attractive near black patina with buff earthen highlighting, scratches, edge cracks, countermark, weight 9.295 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Pantikapaion (Kerch, Crimea) mint, c. 14 - 9 B.C.; obverse head of gorgon Medusa (or Perseus? - most references say a gorgon) right, winged, snakes (or drapery) around neck, obscure round countermark before; reverse monogram of Polemo I; very rare; $180.00 (158.40)


Komana, Pontos, c. 85 - 65 B.C.

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Next to the Yesilirmak river (ancient Iris), 9 km from the town of Tokat (ancient Dazimon), A mound rising on a natural hill is believe to be the site of Komana Pontike. It is largely unexcavated and it is still uncertain if it was a city or a sanctuary.
GB89145. Bronze AE 22, cf. BMC Pontus p. 28, 2; SNG BM 1262; Rec Gen p. 79, 4; SGCV II 3657, gVF, attractive toned brassy metal, weight 7.106 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 0o, Komana mint, c. 120 - 63 B.C.; obverse Aegis with facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in center; reverse Nike advancing right holding palm across shoulder, KOMA-NΩN divided across field, monograms (controls lower left and lower right; $150.00 (132.00)


Constantine II, 22 May 337 - March or April 340 A.D.

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Constantine II was about eight years old when this coin was minted. Here he is draped and cuirassed as a powerful child Caesar with the world in his hands!
SH63721. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Trier 382 (R3) corr. (no cuirass), SRCV V 17155, Cohen VII 23, gVF, well centered on a tight flan, nice green patina, weight 2.868 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 322 - 323 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left, Victory on globe offering wreath in right hand, mappa in left, head of Medusa on cuirass; reverse BEATA TRANQVILLITAS (blessed tranquility), altar inscribed VO/TIS / XX, surmounted by globe, three stars above, STR in exergue; rare; $100.00 (88.00)


Selinous, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.

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Selinus was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GI83626. Cast bronze cast trias, Calciati I p. 233, 2; SNG Morcom 666; HGC 2 1231 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Mnchen -; SNG Tb -, aF, green patina, weight 14.308 g, maximum diameter 22.0 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion); with teeth displayed, four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; reverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), with protruding tongue; four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; ex CNG e-auction 285 (22 Aug 2012), lot 14; ex L.C. Aes Grave Collection; rare; $100.00 (88.00)


Amisos, Pontos, c. 85 - 65 B.C.

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Amisos was settled c. 760 - 750 B.C. by people from Miletus, who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. Amisos came under the rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire, and then the Kingdom of Pontus. The Romans took control in 47 B.C. and Amisos remained within the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome. In 1200, the city was captured by the Seljuks, to be later taken over by the Ilhanlilar. Amisos today is Samsun, a city of about half a million people on the north coast of Turkey.
GB91908. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 167 (no controls); cf. BMC Pontus p. 20, 69 ff.; SNG Stancomb 687 ff.; SNG BM 1177 ff.; Rec Gn I 44; HGC 7 242 (all cf. with controls), aVF, highlighting earthen deposits, weight 8.479 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, c. 85 - 65 B.C.; obverse aegis with facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in center; reverse Nike advancing right, holding palm frond in both hands across shoulders behind head, AMI−ΣOY divided across field at center; $50.00 (44.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
GY89551. Bronze AE 18, Houghton-Lorber I 22, Newell WSM 927, SNG Spaer 29, SGCV II 6852, HGC 9 107c (S-R1), F, dark green patina, tight flan, weight 4.061 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 90o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, late 280s B.C.; obverse winged head of Medusa right; reverse bull butting right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) above, ΣEΛEYKOY in exergue, no controls visible; ex Agora Coins; $45.00 (39.60)







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Medusa & Gorgoneion