THESSALY, Larissa Kremaste
AE Chalkous. 2.87g, 13.8mm
MINTED: THESSALY, Thessalian League, circa 170 BC
REF: Warren, “Two Notes on Thessalian Coins,” NC 1961, pl. I, 11; Rogers 4 var. (arrangement of ethnic); BCD Thessaly II 24.2; HGC 4, 236
OBVERSE: Macedonian shield with star in center.
REVERSE: ΘEΣΣA-ΛΩN, Kestrosphendone (κεστροσφενδóνη) : dart–sling with dart inside.
Almost Very Fine. Somewhat rough surfaces, but clear devices.
This scarce and interesting type depicts a κεστροσφενδóνη, or dart-sling, on the reverse. Jennifer Warren proposes that the issue was struck in the name of the League by King Perseus of Macedon, during the Third Macedonian War (171-168 BC), when he briefly seized control of several Thessalian towns from the Romans. The dart-sling was used to deadly effect against the Romans and caused a large number of casualties. The Greek historian Polybius describes it in detail :
“The form of the dart was as follows. It was two palms long, the tube being of the same length as the point. Into the former was fitted a wooden shaft a span in length a finger’s breadth in thickness. Into the middle of this were wedged three quite short wooden wings. The two thongs of the sling were unequal in length, and the missile was so fitted into the center of the sling that it was easily freed. While the thongs were whirled round and taut, it remained fixed there, but when at the moment of the discharge one of the thongs was released, it left the loop and was shot like a leaden bullet from the sling.”
Ex BCD Collection, with his tag noting, "V. Thess., Sept. 85, 4500 drs"
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.
Thessaly in central Greece was a region of fertile, grassy plains ringed by mountains, with Mount Olympus serving as a backdrop. Unlike other Greek regions which tended to cultivate primarily olives and grapes, Thessaly was best known for its magnificent horses, cattle, agriculture, and sports such as bull-wrestling.
The Thessalian League was a federation of cities, supposedly first organized in the late 6th century BC by Aleuas the Red, the legendary King of Larissa and founder of the Aluad dynasty. It possessed a formidable cavalry and reached the height of its power in the early 4th century BC, under Lykophron I, tyrant of Pherai, and after that his son Jason, who made himself de facto ruler of all Thessaly. The League strongly supported Alexander the Great of Macedon, but after his death in 323 BC, unsuccessfully revolted against the regent Antipater. The League was eventually revived again in 196 BC under Roman rule.
THESSALY, Thessalian League . Circa 170 BC . AE14 . Macedonian Dart-Sling *Rare*
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