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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 19. Estimate CHF7500. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF15000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Gela. Circa 490/85-480/75 BC. Didrachm (Silver, 8.48 g 1). Nude rider galloping to right, hurling spear with his raised right hand Rev. CΕΛΑ Forepart of man-headed bull to right. Basel 279. Jenkins, Gela Group 1b, 7. SNG ANS 4. SNG Lloyd 956. A superb example, attractively toned and beautifully struck. Good extremely fine.

The early coins of Gela are remarkable for their lifelike portrayal of the city’s patron river god, shown as a man-headed bull. This representation goes back to that of Acheloos, a river god from northwest Greece, and initially was only of him, but the type became extremely popular and was used for local river gods all over the Greek world. The nude and bearded horseman on the obverse may well be thought to be chasing the god: preventing him from indulging in one of his destructive rages! This is, in fact, why river gods were shown as bulls - so many rivers in Sicily, Magna Graecia and Greece itself were calm during most of the year, but they all could become dangerous, raging torrents after a flash flood or during the Spring run offs.