Lucania. Metapontum. c. 290-280 BC

Lucania. Metapontum. c. 290-280 BC


AR Stater, 7.93g (21mm, 2h). Head of Demeter r. / META, Barley ear; leaf to r. on which stand two tall narrow amphoras with star above.

Pedigree: Purchased by previous owner in 1998 in Germany

References: Johnston, Class D, 4.16. SNG Oxford 791. HN III 1625

Grade: Small area of discoloration on cheek, otherwise extremely sharp strike and lustrous surfaces. Mint State (gk1258)

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The coinage of Metapontum features the goddess Demeter, who represented harvest and agriculture and was the goddess of fertility of the earth. This imagery was well suited for the coinage of Metapontum since it was well known for its agricultural superiority in growing barley so the coins always allude to this strength. Many ancient Greek coins share this in common; an allusion to the chief god/goddesses or exports from that given city state. The earliest coins from Metapontum are one-sided (reverse is an incuse of the obverse) and show a barley grain. While the style changed over time it still maintained its strong relationship with the harvest.

This coin was struck just previous to the life altering Pyrrhic War which brought the burgeoning Roman power against southern Italy. King Pyrrhus of Epirus led the southern Italians in their fight. While historical records do not speak directly of Metapontum involvement in the war, it is unquestionable that they took some part in the fight.  Shortly after the war which in fact was a Pyrrhic victory the southern Italian cities fell under Roman domination. King Pyrrhus famously said that if he won another such victory he would go back alone to Epirus.