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Demareteion Series, Syracuse (Sicily) AR Tetradrachm 480-475 BC Ancient Greek Silver Coin Arethusa on Reverse Museum Reproduction CSGT0086


Rare Silver Greek Tetradrachm (28.9mm, 17.55g.) Syracuse, Sicily, Demareteion series, struck 480-475 B.C. under Hieron I. References: Sult 389.2; Boehringer Series XIIe, 389 (V198/R269); HGC 2, 1308; SNG ANS 120; Jameson 754; Kraay & Hirmer 79–80; Randazzo 524; Rizzo pl. XXXV, 4.

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Price57,60 51,20 44,80 

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This is the so-called ‘Demareteion, dated 480-479 BC because of a presumed connection with Queen Demarete, wife of Gelon, ruler of Syracuse. Many scholars prefer to date this coin to the 460s BC. The dies of the decadrachms and the related tetradrachms, are by the artist called the Demareteion Master.

The story of the Demareteion coinage has its source in a passage in Diodorus (XI 26.3), that relates to the events following the defeat of the Carthaginians by the Syracusans after the battle of Himera in 479 BC. In the wake of their defeat, the Carthaginians expected harsh treatment by their foes, but Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse, imposed quite favorable terms upon them, supposedly at the behest of his wife, Demarete. In response, the Carthaginians are said to have presented Demarete with a crown of gold valued (or weighing) at a hundred talents, and from this gift was struck a coin, called the Demareteion, that weighed ten drachms on the Attic standard. The identification of the coin in question was one of the great mysteries of numismatics, due to the apparent contradictions in the story: the crown was said to be of gold, but the weight of the coin struck from it was given in Attic drachms, which implied a silver, not gold, coin. We know the metal of the coin must have been silver, as Syracuse apparently had no gold until many years after the event. Among the silver coinage, however, there was a suitable candidate that was known to have been struck relative to the time frame of the battle of Himera, the dekadrachms of Quadriga/Arethusa type. The appearance of these impressive coins was unprecedented at the time, and their style of such superior quality, that it is certain that they commemorated a particular, special event. Thus, these dekadrachms came to be known as the ‘Demareteion’ coinage, and their engraver labelled the ‘Demareteion Master.’ These dekadrachms were accompanied by a series of tetradrachms that featured the exact same iconography and style, and are regarded as masterpieces themselves, only on a smaller scale. Unlike the dekadrachms, which, judging from the extant examples, did not circulate, the tetradrachms appear to have had circulated widely, as most examples show wear comparable to the average Syracusan tetradrachms.
Obverse side
Slow quadriga driven right by charioteer, wearing chiton and holding reins in both hands and kentron in left; above, Nike flying right to crown the horses

Reverse side
Head of Arethusa right, wearing olive-wreath, earring and necklace, framed within a circle and surrounded by four dolphins swimming clockwise
ΣV – RA – KOΣ – (Ι)ΟN

A perfect choice for Numismatists, Historians, Military Veterans, Collectors

Weight 17,55 g
Dimensions 28,9 mm


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