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New Coin from Akragas!


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The ancient city of Akragas came into being around 582 B.C., as a colony founded by Greeks from Gela, a city about 40 miles to the east. The site was well-chosen, strategically located on a high plateau near the Hypsas and Acragas rivers and controlling a vast and rich agricultural area.

By the 5th century B.C., Akragas had become the second-largest city on the island (behind Syracuse), with a population of perhaps 200,000 people, and had become a leader in the art and culture of the Classical period. Around this time, what has become known as “The Valley of the Temples” was constructed, described by Wikipedia as “a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where seven monumental Greek temples in the Doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Now excavated and partially restored, they constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself.”

But the artistic brilliance of the citizens of Akragas was not limited to temples and monuments. Their coinage, too, became showpieces of high art. Most famously, of course, are the large silver tetradrachms and decadrachms. These coins are among the most famous and well-known in the world and can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions. The decadrachm and tetradrachm rank #8 and #21 respectively in Harlan J. Berk’s book 100 Greatest Ancient Coins. According to Berk,

“Virtually all the Acragas coins struck in the quarter century after 430 B.C. are amazing works of art.” - Harlan J. Berk, 100 Greatest Ancient Coins (p. 39)

But the more humble coins - the bronzes and the small-denomination silver coins - also show the same degree of artistry, and offer an affordable option for those not blessed with a 7-figure income.

What I find so appealing about these coins is the overall composition - no gods or goddesses, just beautifully rendered images of different natural creatures (okay, the Skylla is an exception). Crabs, eagles, rabbits, mollusks, shrimp, different kinds of fish, grasshoppers - all appear on the coins in lifelike poses. It just seems that the city had a deep affinity for nature that I find charming.

In summary, here is my latest coin from Akragas, which inspired this post. While it won't get an MS70 grading, I find the well-centered, evenly worn and toned surfaces very appealing and it's without doubt one of my favorite Greek coins:


Please feel free to post up your own coins from Akragas, or any other thoughts and comments!

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Big bronzes of Akragas are also impressives

My last acquisition :


Sicily. Akragas. AE Hemilitron, c. 420-406 BC. Obv. Eagle, wings spread, standing right on, and tearing at, dead hare Rev. Crab; selinon leaf upwards between claws; six pellets in fields; below, crawfish left. HGC 2 136; CNS I 14. AE. 21.22 g. 27.00 mm.


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Some great nature coins, though they did break down and go "all biga" a little later (to keep  up with the Joneses.....of Syracuse).

Here's an earlyish one Ca. 500-470 BC.
Silver didrachm, 8.37 g, 19 mm. Obv.  eagle with folded wings standing left. Rev. Crab.
Westermark, Akragas, 163 (same dies); HGC 2, 94; SNG ANS 937 (same dies). Epichoric Doric script that my fonts can't cope with sorry!



The ruins there are extensive and as truly impressive as the coins. These are views from my hotel window not long ago. An improvement over the usual  view over Home Depot parking lots that seems to  be my US hotel destiny.



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Congrats on your silver hemidrachm.  I have only one coin from Akragas which I have posted with notes here: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/a-litra-from-akragas - this small litra:


Sicily, Akragas (Agrigentum), circa 450-440 BC, AR litra, (10 mm, 0.56g, 3h). Obv: ΑΚ - RΑ, eagle, with closed wings, standing left on Ionic column capital with large volutes, dots at center of volutes Rev: ΛΙ Crab Ref: HGC 2, 121. Westermark 455-504 (dies appear to be O21/R20)

Edited by Sulla80
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