Certain Coins in the Classical Collection

Originally Published in 1930

View PDF

IN the John Thompson Morris Collection of gold and silver coins, on exhibition in the Sharpe Gallery, are many examples from Greek and Roman mints.

According to tradition the invention of coinage may be attributed to the Lydians, probably in the eighth century B.C. We know that Croesus (568-554 B.C.) issued the first gold and silver coins of Lydia and we are fortunate in having an example dating from his period [Plate XI, B].

Obverse and reverse of three coins
Plate XI — Classical Coins
A – Thrace: Lysimachus; B – Lydia: Coin of Croesus; C – Syracuse: Dekadrachm

Museum Object Numbers: 29-126-379 / 29-126-499 / 29-126-41

A century and a half later come the beautiful Syracuse coins. On the obverse of our dekadrachm [Plate XI, C], is the splendid head of Persephone surrounded by the graceful forms of four dolphins, symbols of Syracuse’s position on the sea. The Assinaria, games commemorating the defeat of the Athenians by the Syracusans in 413 B.C. on the banks of the Assinaros, were probably the occasions for the minting of this type of coin. The chariot race was the chief event, and on the reverse we have a victorious quadriga, the driver of which is being crowned by Nike. In the exergue is a trophy of arms.

An interesting feature of the Lysimachan coin from Thrace [Plate XI, A], is the Alexandrine head with the horn of Ammon. The cult of this Egyptian deity was strong among the Greeks, as is illustrated by Alexander’s visit to an oracle of Ammon established in the oases of Siwa, Libya, where he was acknowledged the son of the god.

On the cover of the Bulletin is a line drawing of a Syrian coin from the same collection, hearing the head of Demetrios I (162-150 B.C.), within a laurel border.

Cite This Article

"Certain Coins in the Classical Collection." Museum Bulletin I, no. 4 (April, 1930): 27-30. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/467/

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

Report problems and issues to digitalmedia@pennmuseum.org.