AE17. 2.35g, 16.6mm
MINTED: MESSENIA, Messene, circa 130-80 BC
REF: HGC 5, 586 (R3)
OBVERSE: Head of Demeter left, wreathed with grain.
REVERSE: M-[E], Zeus advancing right, brandishing thunderbolt and stretching out arm, on which eagle alights.
Dark brown patina. Surface roughness.
An extremely rare issue, accorded an R3 rating in the Handbook of Greek Coinage, which indicates the authors' opinion that only one or two examples of the type exist.
Ex BCD Collection of Incerta
The BCD Collection was possibly the largest and most important private collection of Greek coinage ever assembled. Over the course of five decades, the collector, known publicly by the initials BCD, acquired over 50,000 coins representing the major cities and regions of ancient Greece. An accomplished numismatist, BCD studied not just the historical context but also the art and chronology of the coins, with some of the results of these studies eventually finding their way into the notes he provided for the catalogues of the sale of his coins. Many of these published catalogues are now used as the standard references for the regions they cover. A provenance to the BCD Collection is one of the most desirable that a Greek coin can possess.
When the region of Messenia in southwestern Peloponnesos was conquered by the the Spartans in the 8th century BC, the majority of its inhabitants were enslaved, becoming a class of helots who lived only to serve their masters. After centuries of mistreatment and subjugation, the Messenians were able to take advantage of the crushing defeat of Sparta by the Thebans at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC and, with the help of Theban general Epaminondas, liberated themselves from Spartan rule. Epaminondas then aided in the founding of Messene, built over the old city of Ithome, with fortified circuit walls that encompassed Mount Ithome as well as a sizeable amount of arable land to sustain the city in the event of a siege. When the traveller and writer Pausanias visited Messene in the mid 2nd century AD, he stood in awe of its walls, comparing them to the strongly fortified ones at Rhodes, Byzantium, and Ambrossos in Phocis, and declaring that those were "not so strong as the Messenian wall."
MESSENIA, Messene . 130-80 BC . AE17 . *Ex BCD Collection* . *Extremely Rare*
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