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Triskeles/Triskelion and on and and on ancient coin


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It's just been raining triskeles for me lately! So I've a bunch to share. 


Butt first...

What's a triskeles? You may ask. It is a simple ancient ass kicking device created by the Greeks, Celts or some other smelly peoples. It merely takes three severed human legs. Then attach to spinning wheel. Now, time for the fun; find one naughty young boy or girl. Stand them with ass facing the wheel... aaaaaand SPIN THE WHEEL!!!


I'm almost certain that's all it was used for and all of the religious nonsense attached to these, per usual, is just nonsense. Ass kicking machine just makes waaay more sense. On to the ass kicking machines.

I just won this early Lycian Pegasos on a shield with an early triskeles symbol!



(c. 470/440 BC). Dynasts of Lycia.

1/3 Stater, 14mm 2.86g, (Tetrobol, Silver). Approx. 470 - 440 BC Chr.

Obv: Pegasos flying left on round shield.

Rev: Triskeles in round incuse.

Müseler - (cf. IV,78 Stater); Traité 221, pl. XCV, 3; SNG by Aulock - (cf. 4089 stater).

Rare. Very nice. Purchased from Solidus Numismatik March 2023



Pampylia - Aspendos - Triskele AR Stater, 20 MM, 10.89 gr,

465-430 BC

Obv: naked warrior walking right holding sword and shield. Rev: triskele in incuse square. 10.57 grams. Fair; banker cut to reverse. [No Reserve]


Literature Cf. SNG France 3/12; Aulock 4483. purchased from All About Coins SLC, Jan 2023



Here we see a miniature triskeles hard at work kicking the slinger's ass!

2941198_1654595254.l-removebg-preview.png.2fb3aa2e961d92ceb0d2b16fb761d6ad.pngPamphylia. Aspendos

circa 420-370 BC.

Stater AR, 24 mm, 10,8 g

Two wrestlers grappling / EΣTFEΔ[IIVΣ], slinger in throwing stance right, triskeles to left; herm in right field, all within pelleted square border. Good very fine, SNG Copenhagen -; SNG France 3; SNG von Aulock 4511. Die match with Savoca Silver 133 lot 101. Purchased from Biga Numismatics July 2022


Pamphylia. Aspendos circa 465-430 BC. Obol AR (10mm, 0.90 g). Vase with two handle, E-Σ retrograde across field / Triskeles within incuse square.

Purchased from N&N London Jan 2023


PISIDIA, Selge. 2nd-1st century BC. Æ 17mm (5.0). ΠO monogram on shield / Triskeles. SNG France 2006; BMC Lycia pg. 263, 57; SNG Copenhagen


PISIDIA. Selge. Ae (19mm, 4.84 g) (2nd-1st century BC). Obv: Round shield with monogram. Rev: Triskeles.

Purchased from N&N London Jan 2023



Central Gaul. Lingones. Potin (100-30 BC).

Obv: Three horn-shaped ornaments central pellet.

Rev: Three S-shaped ornaments central pellet.

D&T 3261; LT 8329.

Condition: Very fine.

Weight: 3.34 g.

Diameter: 20 mm.

Anyone else have any triskeles on coin to share? We would love to see em!







Edited by Ryro
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Nice idea for a topic, since both of my entries are recent acquisitions. 🙂


Pamphylia, Aspendos
Circa 380-325 BCE
AR stater, 21mm, 10.78g, 12h
Obv.: Two wrestlers grappling; KI between.
Rev.: EΣTFEΔIIYΣ; Slinger in throwing stance right; triskeles to right; all within pelleted square border.
Tekin Series 4; SNG BN 104



Pamphylia, Aspendos
late 4th - 3rd century BCE
Ae 13.2mm 1.7g
Obv: Shield with monogram
Rev: Triskeles
SNG France 145

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...poor Johnny had 3 legs.....but damn that boy could run! :P...credit for that one goes to my old friend Bobby Hanger.  rest his soul......those are kool coins and i've bid on several but ain't took one home yet...great bunch Ryro! 🙂

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Dynasts of Lycia. Khinakha(?). Circa 440/30-400 BC. AR Stater (20mm, 9.86g). Uncertain mint. Obv: Pegasos flying left; pellet below; all on raised round shield. Rev: Triskeles, with central pellet, within circular incuse. Ref: SNG von Aulock 4089; Traité II 225; Müseler IV, 77 var. (symbol on obv.); Vismara, Lycia II 73. Ex Wayne Sayles, Mar 2000.



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What a cool coin and a cool topic for a thread, @Ryro! I'm afraid I don't have a single coin with a triskeles, but linguistics nerd that I am, I wanted to add a few remarks.

Oh no!!

Here It Comes Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory GIF ...


The Greek word σκέλος means "leg." Triskeles therefore simply means "three legs," but we see this root in such words as ἰσοσκελής, "having equal legs" (isosceles), like the triangle.

Animated Math Clip Art--Triangles--Isosceles Triangles 1 ...

You might think that "skeleton" comes from this word, but it doesn't. It comes from the similar sounding adjective, σκελετός (skeletos), which means "dried up/withered." A skeleton is a dried up or withered corpse.

But I'm not just a linguistics nerd. I'm a Star Trek nerd! And I bring you "The Gamesters of Triskelion," where a triskelion is the logo of the alien planet, seen on their banners and vestments!!

Star Trek" The Gamesters of Triskelion (TV Episode 1968) - IMDb

They force Captain Kirk to do battle in an arena, the floor of which is a triskelion.


I suppose that's enough nerdiness for the day.


Edited by Roman Collector
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Here is one that hasn't been posted on the thread yet:


Spain, Ildurir/Ilturir (Granada). Circa 225-125 BC, As. 16.12g
Obv: Helmeted and bearded head right.
Rev: Crude round grinning face (gorgoneion?) within triskeles, no tongue, the head (but not triskeles) within a circle of dots, [with Iberian legend below?]
Ref: L. Villaronga and J. Benages, Ancient Coinage of the Iberian Peninsula, 2286-2289
ex-Aureo & Calicó, online Auction 321, December 2018, lot 2243

Here is a question for the linguists: Is "triskeles" singular or plural?

I believe "triskeles" and "triskele" were both borrowed into English.  The Oxford English Dictionary considers the word to be "triskele", although it undermines itself because one its reference citations uses 'triskeles' in a singular context.  (Link to my 2010 blog).

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Cool thread!

I can only offer up a decrepit example:


PAMPHYLIA, Aspendos. Circa 465-430 BC. AR Stater (18mm, 10.84 g, 5h). Warrior advancing right, holding shield and spear / Triskeles; EΣ above; all within incuse square. SNG BN –; SNG von Aulock –; SNG Copenhagen 175. very fine (Savoca description)

I love Savoca, but even my bad eye can see that's not VF.  My grade: aVG.

This was purchased exclusively for the triskeles.  I believe I threw it in with my imitative owl order.

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I have an early medieval triskeles, but it appears too daunting for my rudimentary photographical skills. However, this is the same coin type on Zeno. Minted in 740 AD, Balkh (eastern Persia, a city that had been recently conquered from Buddhists by an Umayyad general).

Then there's the Lingones potin coin, of which I have a more detailed type. 18 mm, 2.23 gr. Lingones were living around what’s now Langres. LaTour 8329. 



In French this coin type was named 'Potin aux trois poissons', 'Billon with Three Fishes', but these lively triskelis doesn't contain fishes in my opinion. One side shows three organic forms like fish bladders, reaching up to the architectonic motif from Gothic times, the 'Fischblase' or 'Schneuss' in German, see this Wikipedia article. I don't know the English term. There are also three little organisms consisting of a tailed head.

The other side shows three leeches, can't think of describing these differently. Did the leech have some symbolic meaning, that a tribe was putting these on a coin? Leeches were used for medical purposes since thousands of years. (When I posted this on another forum, a Frenchman (not without a slightly scratched pride) told me that what I thought were leeches, by French numismatic literature is considered seahorses.) 


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My one triskeles coin, like many of yours, is an Aspendos stater:

Aspendos, Pamphylia, Asia Minor, AR Stater ca. 380/75-330/25 BCE (Tekin, 4th Series [see fn.]). Obv. Two standing wrestlers, naked, grappling with legs spread apart and heads touching; wrestler on left grasps his opponent’s left wrist with his right hand, and left elbow with his left hand; wrestler on right grasps his opponent’s left arm with his right hand; letters “KI” [for name of minting magistrate] in field between wrestlers, below knee level / Rev. Slinger wearing short chiton, standing with trunk in facing position, head and legs in profile facing right, legs held straight with feet apart, left arm extended forward holding sling with left thumb, right arm drawing sling back with elbow bent; triskeles in right field with legs running left; ΕΣΤϜΕΔΙΙΥΣ [adjectival form of city name Estwediius in Pamphylian dialect of Ancient Greek] upwards behind slinger; all contained within square dotted border. SNG Copenhagen 226 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Part 31, Lycia, Pamphylia (Copenhagen 1955)]; SNG Von Aulock II 4557 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 2: Caria, Lydia, Phrygia, Lycia, Pamphylia (Berlin 1962)]; BMC 19 Lycia 45-46 [both with initials “KI” on obv.] [Hill, G.F. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Lycia, Pamphylia, and Pisidia (London, 1897) at p. 99]; Sear GCV Vol. II 5397 (obv. var. -- diff. magistrate’s initials) [Sear, David, Greek Coins and their Values, Vol. II, Asia & Africa (Seaby 1979) at p. 491], 26 mm., 10.96 g. Purchased from Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 217th Buy or Bid Sale, 17 Sep. 2021, Lot 132; ex Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 7 March 2001.*


[Here's a link to the video of the coin at the HJB website; just click on the forward arrow at the bottom of the linked page: https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/item-detail/ancient-coins/97600?fromBbs=217th Buy Or Bid Sale ]

*Aspendos, near the south coast of Anatolia, ”was an ancient city in Pamphylia, Asia Minor, located about 40 km east of the modern city of Antalya, Turkey. It was situated on the Eurymedon River about 16 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspendos. It was captured by the Persians in 411 BCE (not for the first time), and remained under Persian domination until captured by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE. Id.

In the introduction to BMC 19 Lydia, supra at p. lxxii, the reverse legend in the Pamphylian dialect and the reverse iconography of the slinger on this type of Aspendian “wrestler stater” are explained as follows:


See also the Wikipedia article on Pamphylian Greek, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamphylian_Greek.

According to an important article on the Aspendian wrestler/slinger staters, this type falls into the so-called “4th Series” out of five, issued circa 380/75-330/25 BCE; it probably belongs to the later part of that period. See Tekin, Oğuz, Aspendian 'Wrestlers' : an iconographic approach, in: Mécanismes et innovations monétaires dans l’Anatolie achéménide. Numismatique et Histoire. Actes de la Table Ronde d’Istanbul, 22-23 mai 1997 (Istanbul : Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes-Georges Dumézil, 2000), pp. 159-169 at 165-167 (Varia Anatolica, 12), available at https://www.persee.fr/doc/anatv_1013-9559_2000_act_12_1_956 .

“4th SERIES (c. 380/75 - c. 330/25 B.C.)

On the obverse of the staters which we have classified under this series there are letters found between the wrestlers at knee level (pl. XXVIII, 11). These letters are shown in Table 1 below [Table omitted; the two-letter combinations used include “KI”). . . . It is understood that in the first examples of the [4th] series there was only a single letter on the obverse or reverse.. . .

These letters figuring on the obverse of the staters indicated the initials of either the name of a single magistrate or of two different magistrates. The changed order of certain letters on some staters, that is the A figuring before the Z in one example (AZ) whereas in another the Z figures before A (IA), if not a coincidence, must have been done with considerations of equity as regards the priority in magistrates' names. There exist six such examples [listed in Table 3; KI is not included among them.] . . .

The noteworthy main feature on the obverse of the staters of this series is the position of the wrestlers. One of the wrestlers holds his opponent's arm with both hands, whereas the other holds his opponent's wrist. The wrestler's match therefore is now represented in one single position [by contrast to the 16 different positions found in some of the earlier series]. As regards the slinger on the reverse, there is not much change at first. But the quadratum incusum tends to disappear in the first examples and gradually becomes totally inexistant. Therefore, in the great majority of this series there is a square dotted border instead of the quadratum incusum on the reverse, the incuse [found on the earlier coinage] has disappeared.”

Although Tekin proceeds to discuss the countermarks that are common in the 4th Series, he notes that “The last examples of the fourth series do not have countermarks.” My coin does not have any countermarks.


Edited by DonnaML
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These two triskeles are a bit alike, though there’s 400 years and 1000 miles between (as the swallow flies).


1402. (I have about 1000 coins, but they are systematically numbered between 1000 and 8016 - the first is an ancient Greek, the last a Chinese coin of the 11th century) AR obol Persis. Pakor I. 1st century AD. Obv. Bearded bust left, wearing diadem. Rev. Triskeles. 12 mm, 0.58 gr. K&M 4/29; Alram 598 (Pakor II); Tyler-Smith 179-81 (Pakor II); Sunrise 609. Lovely strike on a nice broad flan. Excellent metal. Pakor triskeles coins series.


5749. AE Ancient Khwarezm, King Sijawsparsh, anepigraphic. 5th century AD. Obv. Bearded head t.r., crowned with a crescent filled with three dots (kulah crown). Stipple border. Rev. Triskelis: "running" tamgha, counterclockwise. 13 mm, 2.56  gr. Vajnberg Б2-15. https://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=4761.

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I wrote a web site on the early triskeles symbol on coins: 


My favorite on the page is this one:


Aspendos. Stater. 21-20 mm. 10.94 grams.
Struck c. 465-430 [according to SNG France 3].
Hoplite warrior right, helmeted with spear and shield
triskeles, with lion left through it, turtle in upper right, in incuse square.
EΣ-TFEΛI above, abbreviating the city name, ΠO below.

SNG France 3, 12-13 are similar, but with fewer letters and each has a test cut on the triskeles side.
Sear Greek 5383v (It has the lion right instead of left).

Edited by Valentinian
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On 3/26/2023 at 8:48 AM, Ed Snible said:

Here is a question for the linguists: Is "triskeles" singular or plural?

I believe "triskeles" and "triskele" were both borrowed into English.  The Oxford English Dictionary considers the word to be "triskele", although it undermines itself because one its reference citations uses 'triskeles' in a singular context.  (Link to my 2010 blog).


Colin Kraay referred to it as neither, just to complicate things. But the reference is clearly  singular.

p198 of Archaic Greek Coinage for example -




This was not, however, the end of the coinage of Terina, for there are numerous drachms which are stylistically of a later date. Many of them bear as a symbol a triskelis, the personal badge of the Syracusan tyrant Agathocles, and were no doubt minted at his bidding...




And to apologize for the dryness of the comment, here's one. Agathokles' personal emblem.

SICILY, Syracuse. Agathokles. 317-289 BC. Æ (20mm, 7.26 g). Period I, circa 317-310 BC. Laureate head of Apollo left / Triskeles with central gorgoneion. CNS 121; BAR Issue 5; HGC 2, 1459. Dark green patina, roughness. Good Fine.





Edited by Deinomenid
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Estfedious (Estwediiys)
Stater of the Greek Epoche 370-333 BC; Diameter: 23mm; Weight: 10.72g; Mint: Aspendos, Pamphylia; Reference: SNG Aulock 4559, Tekin Series 4; Obverse: Two naked athletes as wrestlers grasping each other by the hands, FA between, dotted border; Reverse: Slinger advancing to right about to discharge his sling, triskeles before, behind traces of ΕΣΤFΕΔIIΥΣ (Estfedious, Estwediiys) , all within square dotted border.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's a coin with a small triskeles at the lower reverse. Just to show that you see them in other cultures, too. 




It is a copper coin of the Qarakhanid dynasty, that was of Turkic origin and reigned in Central Asia. It was issued in Bukhara, still an important city in Uzbekistan, in the year 1009 AD.

I think in this case the triskeles is a sign of the mint or the officina.

Those who are interested in Arabic lettering: do you see the curious LA-ligature at the beginning of the obverse horizontal legends? Forked at the top and with a circle piedestal at the foot. A large thin coin: 27 mm, 2.70 gr. 

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No, i know nothing for the moment. My Provincial coins ( more the 100 ) are a project for next year ( 2024 ),

a quick search resulted in 2 hits,





KAICAP AΔΠΙΑΝ : laureate, draped (and cuirassed?) bust of Hadrian right; triskeles C/M beneath chin

CЄΛ - ΓЄΩΝ : ethnic divided to left and right by bow and winged thunderbolt

Pisidia, Selge; A.D. 117-138,  AE 20, SNG France 2010-2012; Imhoof KM 22; Waddington 3949.

Edited by mc9
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