Tetradrachm circa 366-365, AR 14.21 g. Laureate head of Apollo, facing three-quarters r., hair flowing at sides of face. Rev. AMΦ – ΙΠΟ – ΛΙΤ – ΕΩΝ around raised square frame within which racing torch; in lower l. field, cicada. All within partially incuse square. De Sartiges 185 (this coin). Baldwin AJN 1909, pl. III, 9 (this coin illustrated). Regling, Phygela, Klazomenai, Amphipolis, ZfN XXXIII, 1922, p. 59, 52, pl. II, 14 (this coin). Gulbenkian 405. SNG Manchester 608 (these dies). Lorber 13c and pl. III, 9 (this coin illustrated).
Very rare and among the finest tetradrachms of Amphipolis to be known.
An impressive portrait of excellent style struck in high relief on a very
broad flan and with a superb old cabinet tone. About extremely fine
Ex Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge 23-25 May 1894, R. Carfrae, 101; Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge 3-11 February 1909, F. Sherman Benson, 411; M&M XIX, 1959, 371; M&M 68, 1986, 223 and New York XXVII, 2012, Prospero, 271 sales. From the de Sartiges collection. According to Catharine Lorber this coin also comes from the Charles Gillet collection, but the picture of it is not present in the photo file of the collection in our possession.
The facing head of the Pythian Apollo and a lit race torch within a raised square inscribed with an ethnic are characteristic of Amphipolitan tetradrachms, one of the most admired series of all Greek coins. Apollo was the patron deity of Amphipolis, and it would seem that the race torch alludes to games, perhaps those held there in honour of its oecist, or perhaps in honour of Apollo, though the evidence for the latter games exists only for a later period. The name of the city, which loosely translates to ‘the surrounded city,’ is derived from its peculiar geography, for it was hemmed in by Mount Pangaeus and the lower Strymon and its estuary. The advantageous site had long been occupied, but it was not until 437 B.C. that Greeks – principally Athenians – under the leadership of Hagnon, founded a colony, by which they hoped to exploit the gold and silver mines of the adjacent mountain. Because of its strategic location at an ideal crossing of the Strymon, and its proximity to extraordinarily productive mines, the city was a bone of contention for various external powers in the Greek world: Persians, Athenians, Spartans and Macedonians, and finally the Romans, who assumed control in 146 B.C.Amphipolis (literally “the Surrounded City”) was so named for its strategic location on the lower Strymon River where it was defended on three sides by the river and on the fourth by Mount Pangaeus. The city was located at a junction of nine important roads into Thrace and Macedonia, including a major river crossing, and had been known originally as Ennea Hodoi (“Nine Ways”). This Thracian settlement gained notoriety in 480 BC, when the Persian Great King Xerxes I reportedly sacrificed nine boys and nine girls at the site to gain divine protection for his campaign against the Greeks.As Athenian economic interests in Thrace grew over the course of the fifth century BC, the importance of Ennea Hodoi became obvious. At last, in 437 BC, the site was claimed by Athenian colonists under the leadership of the oecist Hagnon and refounded as Amphipolis. The city prospered from the exploitation of the gold and silver mines of Mount Pangaeus and trade with the peoples of the Thracian and Macedonian interior.The economic and strategic importance of the city made it a frequent bone of contention between states with interests in Thrace. In 424 BC, early in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), Amphipolis was captured by the celebrated Spartan general Brasidas despite the presence of an Athenian naval squadron led by Thucydides, the man who later became the historian of the great Greek conflict. In 421 BC, Athenians mounted a counterattack under the leadership of the demagogue Kleon. This was defeated, but both Brasidas and Kleon were killed in the fighting. The terms of the temporary Peace of Nikias made later the same year required the return of Amphipolis to Athens, but the subsequent events of the war prevented the Athenians from reclaiming the city.For much of the fourth century BC, the Amphipolitans were largely consumed with forming alliances with regional powers like the Chalkidian League and the Macedonian kings to prevent their city from returning to Athenian domination. Even the great Athenian generals of the age, Iphikrates and Timotheos were unable to retake the city despite frequent attempts. At last, in 357 BC, the Macedonian king Philip II besieged and captured Amphipolis out of concern that the independent city would constantly draw Athenian military attention and as a steppingstone to his conquest of Thrace. The city remained an important center of the Macedonian kingdom until 167 BC, when the monarchy was abolished and Amphipolis was established as the administrative capital of an autonomous district (meris) under Roman control.The facing head of the Pythian Apollo and a lit race torch within a raised square inscribed with an ethnic are characteristic of Amphipolitan tetradrachms, one of the most admired series of all Greek coins. Apollo was the patron deity of Amphipolis, and it would seem that the race torch alludes to games, perhaps those held there in honour of its oecist, or perhaps in honor of Apollo, though the evidence for the latter games exists only for a later period. ssumed control in 146 B.C.