Ancient Coins (27 September 2011)

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Date of Auction: 27th September 2011

Sold for £330,000

Estimate: £20,000 - £30,000

Greek coinage, Kyrenaica, Kyrenaica, Barke, Tetradrachm, magistrate Akesios, c. 360, B - A / P - K / A - 1, Silphium plant, rev. AKE - ΣIOΣ, head of Zeus-Ammon facing with curly hair, pupil and iris of eyes clearly shown; all within dotted border between two linear circles, 12.70g/6h (BMC 32, pl. 36, 8 [same obverse die] and BMC clxxvii 32 c, pl. 47, 8 [same reverse die]; Ashburnham collection, Sotheby sale 1895, 246 [same dies]; Jameson III 2137; Traité III 270; ACGC 1076). Minor obverse scratches, otherwise extremely fine and lightly toned £20,000-30,000


Provenance: Leu 22, 1979, 180 (cover coin); Hoberman pp. 82-83

The earliest reference to Barke as a
polis is by Herodotos (Histories 4.202.2 and 4.160.1) as having been founded by the brothers of Arkesilas II of Kyrene in about 560 BC. It enjoyed a period of prosperity from the 5th century, as shown by its abundant coinage which developed on the same lines as that of Kyrene. The coinage went through three main periods: 525-480, c. 180-435 and c. 435-308, by which time it was issuing coins on an ‘Asiatic’ standard.

The most common coin types employed by Barke and Kyrene are the silphium plant and the image of Zeus Ammon. The now-extinct silphium plant was used in classical antiquity as a rich seasoning, medicine and as an aphrodisiac, one of the region’s most valuable products. The remarkable facing image of Zeus-Ammon is a Hellenized version of the Egyptian Amu
n-Ra. According to Herodotos (2.55.3), who was told by the Theban priests, two priestesses were carried off from the Temple of Amun-Ra by the Phoenicians, one to Libya and the other to Greece where they both founded oracles. The temple and oracle of Ammon in the Libyan Desert at the oasis of Siwa dates to the reign of Ahmose II of Egypt, 570-526 BC and was known throughout the classical world and widely consulted.