Home > History of Wine, Image > Greek Coins from Naxos, Sicily

Greek Coins from Naxos, Sicily


I collected coins through the end of high school.  Our recent tasting of Italian wine made me curious to look for images of coins that are wine related.  The coins pictured in today’s post were minted during a 150 year period at Naxos, Sicily.  Naxos was the first Greek colony in Sicily founded in 734 BC.  It was a successful colony in that after several years they were able to found the colonies of Leontini and Catana.  In 495 BC an altar to Apollo Archagetas was built.  Apollo was the patron under which the Chalcidians originally sailed.  Hippocrates of Gela attacked and took over Naxos around 498-491 BC.  Then in 476 BC Hieron of Syracuse removed all of the inhabitants of Naxos to the city of Leontini and brought in fresh colonists to live in Naxos.  By 461 BC the old inhabitants returned to Naxos.  In 427 BC, the three Chalcidic cities allied themselves with Athens during the Peloponnesian war.  The final blow was delivered in 403 BC when Dionysius of Syracuse turned against the Chalcidic cities.  He took over Naxos, sold all inhabitants as slaves then destroyed the city walls and all of its buildings.  Naxos never recovered.

Here are some terms found below.

  • Apollo was a Greek and Roman god, the son of Zeus and Leto, and twin brother to sister Artemis.
  • Assinos is the god of the river Assinos that flows just north of Mt Etna.
  • Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and of wine.
  • Herm is a sculpture with a head and possibly a torso on a square, lower section that was adorned with male genitals.  It was intended to ward off evil.
  • Kantharos is a type of Greek pottery used for drinking. It is characterized by high, looping handles.
  • Silenus is a companion and teacher of Dionysus who lives in the forest.  He was the oldest, wisest, and must drunk follower of Dionysus.
  • Thyrsus is a staff of giant fennel carried by followers of Dionysus.

Sicily, Naxos, Drachm, 530-510 BC

Obverse, head of Dionysos to left, with long, pointed beard, ivy wreath in his hair and a necklace of pearls bordered by two plain torcs at the truncation; around, border of dots within two linear circles. Reverse, NAXION Bunch of grapes on stalk with two leaves.  From the Calatabiano Hoard (IGCH 2061), found near Taormina before 1946.

Sicily, Naxos, Drachm, 525-510 BC

Obverse, head Dionysos, bearded and garlanded with ivy. Reverse, bunch of grapes hanging from stylized tendril between two leaves; NAXION (reversed).

Sicily, Naxos, Tetradrachm, 461 BC

Obverse, head Dionysos, bearded. Hair in knot and garlanded with ivy. Reverse, NAXION. Nude Silenus sitting with footless kantharos.

Sicily, Naxos, Drachm, 461-430 BC

Obverse, Head of Dionysos to right, wearing ivy wreath and with his hair in a bun at the back.  Reverse, Ν Α ΧΙ ΟΝ Nude and bearded Silenus squatting, facing, turned very slightly to the left, turning his head to the left towards the two-handled, stemless drinking cup he holds in his right hand, and supporting himself with his left hand propped on the ground; his animal tail curls out behind him and around to the left.

Sicily, Naxos, Litra, 430-420 BC

Obverse, NAXI. Head of Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy, dotted border.  Reverse,  grape cluster with six leaves.

Sicily, Naxos, Drachm, 430-420 BC

Obverse, bearded head of Dionysos to right, wearing a hair band ornamented with an ivy wreath, and with his relatively short hair hanging loose in curly locks.  Reverse, NAXION. Nude and bearded Silenus squatting, facing, his right knee raised, his left on the ground, and his tail coming out to left, turning his head to the left towards the two-handled, stemless drinking cup he holds in his right hand, and holding an upright thyrsos with his left; to left, ivy branch.  

Sicily, Naxos, Onkia, 425-420 BC

 Obverse, male head right, wearing tainia.  Reverse, vine leaf; N-A flanking.

Sicily, Naxos, Tetras, 420-415 BC

 Obverse, Kantharos with three pellets around.  Reverse, grape cluster with vine.

Sicily, Naxos, Tetradrachm, 420-403

 

Obverse, NAXION. Laureate head of Apollo to right, his hair rolled at the back; behind neck, laurel twig with leaf and berry. Reverse.  Nude and bearded Silenus squatting, facing, his right knee raised, his left on the ground, and his tail coming out to left, turning his head to the left towards the two-handled, stemless drinking cup he holds in his right hand, and holding an upright thyrsos with his left; to right, herm topped with an archaic head; to left, ivy branch.

Sicily, Naxos, Didrachm, 420-403 BC

Obverse, signed on the obverse by the artist Procles. NAXION, laureate head of Apollo left, laurel leaf and berry behind neck, die engraver’s initial Π under neck truncation.  Obverse, nude Silenus seated facing on ground, head turned left, right hand raising kantharus to lips, left hand holding thyrsus, ivy vine growing to left, herm standing to right.

Sicily, Naxos, Hemidrachm, 420-403 BC

Obverse, head of the youthful river-god Assinos to left, wearing wreath of parsley and with a tiny horn above his forehead.  Reverse, NAXION. Silenus kneeling partially to left, nude and with a long beard, holding kantharos in his right hand and an ivy branch in his left.

Sicily, Naxos, Litra, 410-404 BC

Obverse, NAXI. Wreathed and bearded head of Dionysos right with flowing hair. Reverse, grape cluster on vine with two leaves.

Sicily, Naxos, Litra, 410-402 BC

 Obverse, head of the river-god Assinos left, crowned with vine leaves.  Reverse, grape-vine with grape cluster.

Sicily, Naxos, Hemidrachm, 420-403 BC

Obverse, head of the river-god Assinos left, crowned with vine leaves.  Reverse, grape-vine with grape cluster.

Sicily, Naxos, Tetras, 400-390 BC

Obverse, Kantharos with three pellets around.  Reverse, NA, grape cluster on vine tendril.

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  1. August 27, 2011 at 8:01 am

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