ISLANDS OFF IONIA, Samos. Circa 408/4-380/66 BC.
Tetradrachm (Silver, 24 mm, 15.22 g, 6 h), Hegesianax, magistrate. Facing scalp of a lion. Rev.
HΓHΣIANAΞ / ΣΑ Forepart of a bull to right, wearing ornamental collar; in field to left, olive branch; below, monogram; all within incuse square. Barron Class X, 130 (A59/P125). BMC 134. McClean 8407. SNG Copenhagen 1688. SNG Lockett 2873. A beautifully toned, perfectly centered and unusually complete example. Light deposits, otherwise,
nearly extremely fine.
From a European collection, formed before 2005.
The impressive Samian silver coinage gives testimony to the wealth of the island in Classical time. A first-rate naval power, Samos reportedly contributed no less than sixty warships to the disastrous Battle of Lade in 494 BC, making it the fourth largest contributor after Chios, Miletos, and Lesbos. In the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, the Samians fought on the side of their new Persian overlords, but they switched sides prior to the Battle of Mykale in 479 BC, placing them, for once, on the winning side of a war. By the time our coin was struck, however, the Athenian Empire lay in ruins and Samos came under Spartan influence, until it was returned to Persian control in 387 BC, only to be sacked and turned into an Athenian cleruchy after an 11-month siege of the eponymous capital of the island by the Athenian general, Timotheos, in 366/5 BC.