LUCANIA. Poseidonia. Circa 420-410 BC.
Stater (Silver, 20 mm, 7.81 g, 9 h). [ΠΟΣEIΔA] Poseidon striding to right, his left arm outstretched, brandishing trident with his right hand and with chlamys draped over his shoulders; in field to left, Θ. Rev. ΠΟΜΕΣΔΑΝ
Bull standing left. De Luynes 531 (same dies
). Gillet 212 (same dies
). HN Italy 1127. Jameson 335 = Noe 23f (this coin
). SNG ANS 679 (same dies
). Weber 817 (same dies
). A beautifully toned and impressive piece of fine Classical style, with an excellent pedigree. Slightly rough and with very faint cleaning scratches on the reverse, otherwise,
nearly extremely fine.
Ex Sternberg VI, 25 November 1976, 9 and Münzen & Medaillen AG VII, 3-4 December 1948, 383, and from the collections of R. Jameson (1861-1942) and Sir A. J. Evans (1851-1941).
Poseidonia was founded in the late 7th century by Sybaris on the southern shore of the Golfo di Salerno, on an alluvial plain bounded by the Silarus (Sele) river in the north, the Cilento mountains in the east and south, and the sea in the west. The region was famous for its abundance of flowers, but it also held significant strategic importance, guarding the slopes of the wild and untamed Cilento mountain range (derived from Latin Cis Alentum = 'on this side of the Alentum [river]'), where Lucanian tribes dwelled. In circa 410/0 BC, Poseidonia apparently fell to these tribal warriors and was renamed to Paistos, before being turned into a Latin colony by the Romans in 273 BC. The silting of the harbor and repeated floods led to the decline of the city in the Roman imperial period, and the plain was eventually abandoned in the early Middle Ages. Today, Poseidonia is best known by its Latin name Paestum, and famous both for its exceptionally well-preserved Doric temples, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage, and for its magnificent coins such as this wonderful stater, struck shortly before the fall of the city to the Lucanians.