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    Description

    Lovely Early Syracuse

    SICILY. Syracuse. Ca. 500-485 BC. AR tetradrachm (26mm, 17.37 gm, 9h). SVRA above and before charioteer, dressed in long chiton, driving walking quadriga right / Head of Arethusa left in archaic style, hair curving back from forehead in dotted parallel lines, within circle sunk at center of a swastika-patterned incuse. Boehringer 30 (V22/R14). Rizzo pl. XXXIV, 6. Very rare! A lovely example of one of the earliest Syracuse tetradrachms, struck from dies of fine style and beautifully toned. NGC XF 3/5 - 5/5, Fine Style.

    Syracuse, the largest and most populous Sicilian city-state, commenced coinage in about 510 B.C. From the beginning, Syracusan coins featured a basic design that persisted for the next two centuries (with evolutions in form): an obverse depicting a charioteer driving a quadriga (four-horse chariot) representing the many victories won by Syracusan horse teams in the Olympic games, and a female head on the reverse representing Arethusa, nymph of a popular island spring. On the first Syracusan tetradrachms, the female head is tiny and placed in a circle at the center of a radiating incuse pattern forming a swastika, as seen here. As time went on, Arethusa acquired a retinue of four dolphins swimming in a circle around her head, likely a symbolic representation of the Sicily itself as an island surrounded by ocean. 


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    11th Thursday
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