Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 138Auction date: 18 May 2023
Lot number: 156

Price realized: 240,000 CHF   (Approx. 265,105 USD / 246,150 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Tauric Chersonesus, Panticapaeum.
Stater circa 340-325, AV 9.04 g. Bearded head of Pan l., wearing wreath of ivy leaves. Rev. Π – A – N Griffin standing l., head facing on stalk of barley, holding spear in its mouth. SNG BM Black Sea –. Jenkins, Ancient Greek Coins, 231. Regling, Der griechische Goldschatz von Prinkipo, ZfN XLI (1931), 174 (these dies). Gulbenkian 585 (these dies). Gillet 853 (this reverse die). Kraay-Hirmer pl. 142, 441 (these dies).
Exceedingly rare, only very few specimens known of this issue. An impressive portrait
of great beauty, work of a very talented engraver, struck in high relief.
Light reddish tone and good extremely fine

From an Exceptional Collection assembled between the early 70s and late 90s.
Panticapaeum was originally founded in the Tauric Chersonesus by Greek colonists from Miletus in c. 575 BC. The heavily fortified settlement was established as an important node for the Black Sea grain trade, upon which many Greek cities depended, and for trade with the Scythians of the steppe. The history of the city is poorly known as it is rarely mentioned by Greek and Roman authors and the epigraphic record is very fragmentary. Around c. 480 BC, Panticapaeum was ruled by the Archeanactid family of local tyrants. The Archeanactids were overthrown in c. 438/7 BC by an obscure individual named Spartocus, who may perhaps have been a rebellious mercenary commander of Thracian origin. Whatever the case, he established a new Spartocid dynasty at Pantacapaeum, which went on to provide the rulers of a larger Bosporan kingdom until 108 BC. This gold stater was struck to a local Bosporan weight standard of c. 9.1g and features the established types for the city's gold coinage. The exquisitely engraved depiction of the satyr on the obverse is thought to be the punning emblem of Satyrus I (c. 433/2-389/8 BC), the son and successor of Spartocus who was responsible for expanding the power of Panticapaeum over neighbouring cities and establishing the Bosporan kingdom. It is assumed that the satyr of Satyrus I continued to appear on the coins as a badge of the Spartocid kings. The reverse type depicts a griffon standing on a grain ear. The latter is an obvious allusion to the role of Panticapaeum in the Black Sea grain trade while the griffin is emblematic of the city's location on the borders of Scythia. Both Herodotus and Pliny the Elder report that griffins were the natural guardians of the gold deposits in the mountains of Scythia. Thus, although griffins also occur on silver and bronze coins of Panticapaeum, the mythical animal is especially appropriate on the city's gold issues. Much of the gold used to strike Panticapean staters like the present piece was probably obtained through trade with the Scythians.

Estimate: 150000 CHF