Magna Graecia is the name the Romans gave to the ancient Greek seaport colonies in Sicily and southern Italy existing between the 8th to the 4th century B.C. These colonies ended after the Pyrrhic War in 275 B.C. The Greek diaspora brought trade, wealth, politics, literature, and art to the Italian and Sicilian colonies.
This historical set reviews two art styles in the Greek coinage of southern Italy and Sicily.
The Archaic Style - 700 BC to 480 B.C.
The Archaic Style depicts figures in stiff and linear fashion, faces with lifeless blank eyes, featureless smiles, and lacking realism.
1. Sybaris Silver Stater 530 B.C to 510 B.C. Founded in 720 B.C., Sybaris was the most important Greek colony in Italy until its destruction by Kroton in 520 B.C. The coin obverse shows a stylized bull facing left looking over its right shoulder. The coin reverse shows the inverse of the bull figure
shown on the obverse (Sear 245)
2. Syracuse Silver Tetradrachm. 510 B.C. to 490 B.C. Founded by Corinthian colonists around 733 B.C. Syracuse became the dominant Greek state in Sicily. The coin obverse shows a stylized slow quadriga driven by a male charioteer and four horses. The reverse shows an Archaic female head with
circular incuse in center. (Sear 735)
The Severe Style - 480 B.C. to 450 B.C.
The Severe Style is a transitional period between the Archaic and Classical Styles. The Archaic styles features a move toward a new artistic realism in ancient coinage. The Classical art style is fully discussed in the Dunston Mint historical replica set #344 Magna Graecia.
3. Rhegion Silver Tetradrachm. 466 B.C. to 415 B.C. Rhegion was a Greek colony seaport located in the toe of the Italian peninsula across from Sicily. The city was one of the most important cities in Magna Graecia, reaching great economic and political power during the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. The coin obverse shows a lion¹s scalp. The reverse shows Iokastos, the traditional city founder naked to the waist seated left. (Sear 498)
4. Gela Silver Tetradrachm: 465 B.C. to 450 B.C. Gela was an important Greek Sicilian city. In 405 B.C. the city was destroyed by the Carthaginians. The coin obverse shows the forepart of man-headed bull with beard. The reverse shows an archaic charioteer driving a quadriga leaning forward with an Ionic column in background. (Sear 789)
5. Syracuse Silver Demaretion Deckadrachm. ca. 479 B.C. In 480 B.C. the Greeks defeated Carthage in Sicily. Historians and numismatists believe this coin celebrates Heiron¹s victory in the Pythian games at Delphi in 470 B.C. or the Olympic Games of 468 B.C. This coin synthesizes the best elements of both the Archaic and Classical styles of 5th century Greek art. The coin obverse shows the Archaic head of Arethusa-Artemis facing right. The reverse displays a realistic, slow quadriga driven by a charioteer, and Nike crowning horses. (Sear 920)
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