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Akragas Magna Graecia


Akragas, located midway along Sicily 's southern coast, was once one of the leading Greek cities on the island in antiquity.  It was settled by colonists of Gela circa 580 BC on a rich plateau surrounded by ridges that provided the colonists with natural fortifications.  This excellent position allowed the fledgling colony to grow rapidly into one of the richest of Magna Graecia.


Akragas, like most Greek cities of the time, experienced despots and tyrants, this came to an end in the fifth century BC when the tyrant Thrasydaeus was over thrown and a form of democratic government implemented.  The democratic government was to last throughout the Peloponnesian War, during which the city remained neutral, ending in 406 BC when the city was sacked by Himilco a Carthaginian General.


At the time of its sack Akragas had an estimated population of 200,000 and was perhaps the richest city on the island.  As a result of the sack the wealth of the city was carried off to Carthage, many of its inhabitants were slaughtered and its democracy ended.  Akragas though eventually recovering never fully regained its preeminence on the island.  Consequently it frequently found itself within the area of dispute between Carthage and the new power on the island, Rome.  In 261 BC Akragas was captured by the Romans and its population sold into slavery, it was recaptured by the Carthaginians in 255 BC.  Akragas was to continue to suffer throughout the Punic Wars and in 210 BC was captured by the Romans for a second time.  This time Akragas was renamed Agrigentum and found itself incorporated into the Roman world.  In 44 BC Julius Caesar granted the city 's inhabitants full Roman citizenship.


Akragas it probably best known to the numismatist for its stunning fifth century gold silver and bronze coins featuring Eagles and Crabs.


The following coins are from Forums collection.



SH35526. Silver didrachm, SNG ANS 943, gVF, Akragas mint, weight 8.810g, maximum diameter 20.6mm, die axis 255o, c. 495 - 482 B.C.; obverse AKRAG/AS, eagle standing left; reverse crab in incuse convex round



GB83406. Bronze BMC Sicily p. 15, 86; SNG Cop 72, aVF, Akragas mint, obverse AKRAGANTINON, eagle standing right, head right looking upward, fish in talons; reverse crab holding eel in claws, surrounded by six pellets, murex and sepia below



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