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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 278. Estimate $2500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $1600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, The Tyrrhenoi. Circa 357-336 BC. Æ Drachm (33.01 gm). TYPPH, head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet / Athena standing slighly left, holding long spear in right hand, left hand resting on shield set on the ground. SNG ANS 1167; Calciati pg. 307, 1; BMC Sicily pg. 238, 1; SNG Copenhagen -; SNG Morcom -; Laffaille -; Virzi -. Good VF, dark greenish brown patina. Overstruck on a Syracusan drachm, Athena/Two dolphins, star (Calciati II pg. 111, 62), with the star and two dolphins visible on the obverse, and the bowl of Athena's helmet visible on the reverse. Very rare and exceptional for this issue. The coin shows very little wear and has a sharp, full ethnic on the obverse. ($2500)

For centuries mystery has surrounded the Etruscans, who are distinguished by the language they spoke, which, as Basque, Hungarian and Finnish, does not belong to the Indo-European family of languages spoken from the Bronze Age from India and central Asia to the British Isles. They were described by Herodotus (Histories 1.94) as Lydians led to Italy by Tyrrhenus, and overland invaders from across the Alps by Livy, who pointed to similarities between Etruscans and the inhabitants of Rhaetia. The Greek name for the Etruscans is Tyrsenoi or Tyrrhenoi (Strabo 5.22), the Latin Etrusci or Tusci, but according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1.30.2) they were indigenous Italians whose name for themselves was Rasenna ". He quotes Hellanicus’ identification of the Etruscans with the Pelasgians, the original inhabitants of Greece who came to Italy and founded Cortona, but, rejecting this legend, states that the Etruscan race "is very ancient and has no similarities in language and customs with any other race ". [NEW PARAGRAPH] In 384 Dionysius I of Syracuse raided Pyrgi on the south coast of Etruria and took a contingent of Etruscan soldiers, which had surrendered, back to Sicily. He may have settled them near the present Alimena, close to the settlement of the Sileroi, where they struck coins naming themselves as the Tyrrhenoi. This mint ceased to overstrike Syracusean drachmae when these mercenaries were wiped out by Timoleaon in 339/8. The cessation of this coinage is confirmed by contemporary Herbessos bronze drachmae (cf. SNG Copenhagen 292) overstruck on Syracusan drachmae already overstruck by the Tyrrhenoi.