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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 102. Estimate CHF2000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF3000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IONIA, Erythrai. Circa 550-500 BC. Hekte (Electrum, 2.56 g). Head of Herakles to left, wearing lion’s skin headdress Rev. Quadripartite incuse square. BMC 7. BMFA 1805 ff. SNG von Aulock 1942. A bold and well-centered example. Extremely fine.

Erythrai had an extensive coinage of hektai during the second half of the 6th century. All of them have a head of Herakles on the obverse and a simple incuse square on the reverse. The series starts with early heads that can be rather rude in style paired with rather rough incuses; then more carefully done heads (like this one, which probably should be dated during the last quarter of the 6th century) paired with quadripartite incuse squares; finally, the same reverse is paired with more refined, late Archaic heads of Herakles. Erythrai was famous for its Herakleion, a sanctuary dedicated to the Tyrian Herakles and adorned with a cult statue of Egyptian type that, according to Pausanias (7.5.5-8 ), appeared off the shore of the city, carried on a wooden raft. As the story goes, both the Erythraians and the Chians (the island of Chios is off the coast, opposite Erythrai) tried to take the raft but were unable to do so. Finally an Erythraian fisherman had a dream in which he was told that only a rope made from women’s hair could be used to tow the raft in to shore. The women of Erythrai refused to cut off all their hair, but the Thracian women who lived there, both free and slaves, agreed to do so; the rope was then made and the raft and its precious cargo brought to shore (the rope was still preserved in the sanctuary in the time of Pausanias). In addition, only Thracian women were allowed to enter the sanctuary.