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Acanthus, Ca. 490-430 BC
Acanthus was a Greek city-state founded in the 7th Century BC on the peninsula of Athos (Thuc. 4.84). This Early Classical issue of the polis features an incuse square reverse, a common motif of the period. The beautiful obverse design, however, has puzzled scholars for centuries.

Markoe argues that the motif has Homeric origins, as heroes such as Agamemnon were likened to lions triumphing over their prey in the Iliad (Il. 11.113; 129). Others argue for a connection to Herakles, as there was a long history of Heraklean coin types at nearby settlements such as Abdera. These likely reference Herakles’ travels and heroic feats while in the area.

For additional information see: Markoe, G. E., 1989, “The “Lion Attack” in Archaic Greek Art: Heroic Triumph.” Classical Antiquity, 8 (1), 86–115.

Raymond. D., 1953. Macedonian Regal Coinage to 413 BC. New York: American Numismatic Society.


  • Dimensions 

    D: 24mm ; 16.90g 


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