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    Description

    Marvelous Gela Tetradrachm

    SICILY. Gela. Ca. 480-475 BC. AR tetradrachm (25mm, 17.21 gm, 5h).  Charioteer driving walking quadriga to right on double exergual line; above, Nike flying right, crowning horses with wreath / C-E-Λ-A-Σ, Forepart of man-faced bull (river god Gelas) in kneeling-running stance right, with long, pointed beard. Jenkins, Gela 104, 15 (same dies). SNG ANS 22 (same dies). Randazzo 19 (same dies). Reverse fields above bull a tad smoothed, otherwise a choice example with a bold river god! NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 3/5, light smoothing.

    From The California Collection. Ex Comery Collection (ROMA Numismatics 6, 29 September 2013), lot 369.

    Gela was located on the southern coast of Sicily and took its name from the nearby River Gelas, whose river god appears (as a rather benevolent-looking man-faced bull) on the city's coinage from the early fifth century BC. It was founded in 688 BC by Dorian Greeks from islands of Crete and Rhodes, and by the mid sixth century BC had grown so populous that it sent out colonists to found the city of Acragas.  From about 498 BC Gela was run by a succession of strong men or "tyrants" (the word did not have the same negative connotation as it has today), including Gelon I, who also seized control of Syracuse in 485 BC and established the Deinomenid Tyranny. For several decades, the same family ruled both cities until the tyrants were ejected circa 466 BC and the citizens established independent democracies. Like Acragas, Gela was besieged and sacked by the Carthaginians in 405 BC and never quite recovered its former prominence. 


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    January, 2015
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