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Other Greek Coins From Sicily


Ever since my post on the Greek Coins from Naxos, Sicily I have been curious to look at coins minted on Sicily outside of Naxos.  Naxos provided a rich selection of wine related coins but the rest of Sicily proved more elusive.  In this post I have included a selection of coins minted throughout Sicily and not a specific town.  I have a few observations, which may prove incorrect, that I hope to research in the future.

The town of Tauromenion provided the largest source of wine related coins.  In retrospect this is not surprising as Tauromenion was founded by colonists from Naxos.  The large grape clusters bear resemblance to those on coins minted in Naxos 50-75 years prior.  These, however, do not show the delicate veining of the leaves nor the tendrils of the vines.

I also came across numerous portraits of Silenus.  The Naxion coins predominantly displayed the full body of Silenus squatting with a Kantharos.

I found the Tetradrachm from Messana particularly interesting with the beautiful grasshopper on top of a small bunch of grapes.  In my brief searches I was unable to find another coin like this.  While there are other examples of grasshoppers on coins, in at least one example, a Silver Decadrachm from Akragas, the grasshopper probably represents a mint control mark.  In this coin the grasshopper appears as a congruous element of the coin so it may be a symbol of a local, powerful family.  Or perhaps, since it is on top of grapes, it is a symbol of pestilence.

Through The Ancient Coin Search Engine, Wild Winds, and Google I have been able to find the variety of coins and descriptions for this post.   For those interested in further research I recommend the British Museum, Coins and Medals department.  Through Google Books you may read such publications as “Coins of Ancient Sicily”, By Sir George Francis Hill.

 Here are some new terms encountered in this post:

  • Biga is a two-horse chariot used for both sport and transportation.
  • Bucranium  is the skull of an ox.
  • Kentron is a goad used for urging horses and other animals.
  • Quadriga  is a four-horse chariot.

Sicily, Aetna, 470-466BC

Obverse, bald, bearded head of Silenus to right with ivy crown.  Reverse AITN, sheaf of wheat.

Sicily, Galaria, Litra, 460BC

Obverse, S-OTE-, Zeus Soter (the Savior) seated on throne left, holding eagle-tipped scepter.  Reverse, CA?-A, Dionysus standing left, holding kantharus and grape cluster.

Sicily, Messana, Tetradrachm, 420-413 BC

Obverse, MESSANA, charioteer driving biga left, holding kentron in right hand, reins in both; two dolphins in exergue. Reverse, MES-S-ANI-ON retrograde, hare springing right; grasshopper on bunch of grapes below.

Sicily, Catana, Hemidrachm, 410 BC

Obverse, facing head of bald Silenius with snub nose, beard, and goat’s ears.  Reverse, KAIANAI-N laureate head of Apollo right, hair rolled.

Sicily, Akragas, Tetradrachm 409-406 BC

Obverse, AKRAGANTI-NON, Nike driving galloping quadriga left, holding kentron in left hand, reins in both; grapevine with grapes above.  Reverse, STRATWN, two eagles standing left clutching at dead hare, the closest eagle with wings closed and head raised, the furthest eagle with spread wings and its head down; head of a young horned river-god above front eagle’s tail.

Sicily, Syracuse, 344-317 BC

Reverse, laureate head of Apollo left; grape bunch behind.  Reverse, Pegasus flying left, HP monogram below.

Sicily, Tauromenion, 339-336 BC

Obverse, laureate head of Apollo left.  Reverse, man-headed bull standing left, grape bunch underneath head.

Sicily, Tauromenion, 336 BC

Obverse, laureate head of Apollo left. Reverse, TAUR – IAN, grape bunch.

Sicily, Tauromenion, 336 BC

Obverse, APXAGETAS, laureate head of Apollo Archegetes left.  Reverse, TAUR-M ENITAN, lyre, grape bunch above.

Sicily, Tauromenion, 325-275 BC

Obverse, laureate head of Apollo Archegetes left.  Reverse, -IAN, grape bunch.

Sicily, Tauromenion, Litra, 275-219 BC

Obverse, head of bull facing.  Reverse, grape bunch.

Sicily, Alaisa, 263 BC

Obverse, head of Apollo left; border of dots.  Reverse, ALAISA ARC, bunch of grapes, bucranium below left.

Sicily, Kalacte, 241-210 BC

Obverse, head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy, thyrsos over shoulder.  Reverse, KALAKTINWN, bunch of grapes.

Sicily, Katane, 212 BC

Obverse, KATANAIWN, wreathed head of Dionysos right.  Reverse, Dionysos, holding grape cluster in right hand and scepter in left, seated left in biga being pulled to the right by two panthers; three monograms around.

Sicily, Entella, 36 BC

Obverse, head of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath.  Reverse, ENT-, grape bunch on vine.

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