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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Exceptional Offering of the Thessalian League

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 472. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $340. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THESSALY, Thessalian League. Circa 196-27 BC. AR Stater (6.15 g, 12h). Pausani- and Arte-, magistrates. Struck circa 100-50 BC. Head of Zeus right, wearing oak wreath / Athena Itonia advancing right; ΠAY-ΣANI above spear, A/P-T/E across in inner fields. McClean -; SNG Copenhagen -; BMC -; Klose, Chronologie -; CNG 66, lot 349. EF.

From Collection C.P.A.

Beginning about 1000 BC, the two plains of Thessaly, comprising a number of cities led by aristocratic families, were untied in a federation under a single chief, or archon. The Thessalian League (or Confederacy) was created in the late sixth century BC by Aleuas the Red, who reorganized the state into a unity of four tetrads of four cities under the archon (also called tagos). Although the Thessalians were a dominant state in Greek affairs early in its life, the state became increasingly weak following the outbreak of internal rivalries in the fifth century BC. In the aftermath of the Lamian War, and further intrigues in the third century BC, Thessaly was effectively partitioned between Macedon and the Aitolian Confederacy, and was relegated to a setting for competing militaries, including the Romans. After T. Quinctius Flaminius declared Greek freedom in 196 BC, the Thessalian cities were liberated, and this occasioned the inception of the last Thessalian coinage series. This series, comprised solely of silver coinage in three denominations (stater, drachm, and hemidrachm/obol), was the first truly Thessalian League "federal" coinage. All issues bore the ethnic ΘEΣΣAΛIΩN, along with the responsible magistrates' names, and were likely minted at Larissa, the captial of the League. The types employed were few, but all are familiar types appearing on various Thessalian coinages during the previous two hundred years: Zeus, Apollo, Athena Itonia (the "Thessalian Pallas"), and the bridled horse. Unfortunately, this federal coinage also was the last Thessalian coinage to ever be minted. The terminal date of the series is tied to the end of Thessaly proper, when it was incorporated by the Romans into the new province of Macedonia.