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Bertolami Fine Arts
Auction 44  20 Apr 2018
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Lot 46

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Starting Price: 15 000 GBP
Price realized: 22 000 GBP

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Lucania, Sybaris, Stater, ca. 550-510 BC; AR (g ; mm ; h 12); Bull standing l., looking backwards; in ex. MVBAPITAM (retrograde), Rv. Same type incuse; above, MY (retrograde). HNItaly 1731; Spagnoli 111a = Berlin 1879/163 (same dies); M. Guarducci, Arch.Class 15, 1963, p. 242, n. 14.
Of the highest rarity, apparently only the second specimen known of this variety. An issue of considerable epigraphic and historical importance and a magnificent representation in the style of the period; struck on a sound metal with a lovely light tone; extremely fine.

From a Monegasque private collection.

Sybaris was founded by Achaeans late in the 8th Century BC at an ideal location on a fertile plain on the Gulf of Taranto. The city apparently had a population nearly equal to Athens, had a defensive wall six miles in length, and Strabo says that as many as 25 cities and four native peoples had come under its authority. The coinage of Sybaris, which began sometime between about 550 and 530 BC, supports the tales of this city's wealth – so great that its name became synonymous with opulence. Not only is there an extensive series of coins from Sybaris, but incuse issues with the Sybarite bull (symbolising fertility, or the river god Crathis?) are known from Sirinos and Pyxoes in alliance, and from unspecified cities using the inscriptions 'SO' and 'AMI'. Wealth at Sybaris seems to have been concentrated in the hands of the few, which caused an uprising to expel the ruling class. Some took up exile in nearby Croton, and after some poorly handled exchanges, the two states resorted to war; despite the larger forces mustered by Sybaris, Croton was victorious, and in 510 utterly destroyed the city after a siege. Many of the siege survivors fled to nearby Laus, a colony of Sybaris, and while there struck a coinage that also employed the bull design. About the same time, Sybaris was re-founded under the dominion of Croton, and not long after it gained autonomy early in the 5th Century, it was destroyed again by Croton in about 475 or 470. The city had yet three more incarnations. In about 453 it rose from the ashes, perhaps by some initiative of Poseidonia, only to be destroyed by Croton roughly five years later. Then, in 446 it was re-founded with help from Athens, which two years later drew colonists from throughout the Greek mainland; however, the Sybarites were soon expelled by the new settlers. At some point in this latter re-founding the name of the city was changed to Thurium, under which name it began a significant coinage of its own with Athena gracing the obverse.


(20000 GBP)
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