Stater

Features

Country Gortyna
(Crete (ancient))
Type Standard circulation coin
Years 400 BC - 301 BC
Value 1 Stater = 3 Drachm (3)
Currency Drachm
Composition Silver
Weight 11.76 g
Diameter 26 mm
Shape Round
Demonetized Yes
References Le Rider# P.79, 67; Pl.19, 3,
Georges Le Rider; 1977. Le monnayage d’argent et d’or de Philippe II : frappé en Macédoine de 359 à 294. Self-published, Paris, France. ISBN 9782902617012.
SvoronosCr# Pl.14, 17
Iōannēs N. Svorōnos; 1890. Numismatique de la Crète ancienne. Protat frères, Paris, France.

Obverse

Europa seated half right within branches of a tree, her right hand resting on a branch below, her left arm extended before her.

Reverse

Cretan bull standing right, head facing, bee below.

Mint

Gortyn, Crete, Greece

Comments

This coin type recalls the myth of Europa and the bull, an ancient story linking the Greek and Semitic worlds.

The depiction of Europa on this type is unconventional; instead of her usual appearance as a scantily-clad young woman she wears a polo (an archaic headdress which in this period was usually only associated with deities such as Hera or Artemis), and holds a bird-tipped sceptre – both symbols of royalty. These attributes suggest that her depiction here shows Europa in her station as queen of Crete rather than the young girl who was pursued by Zeus.

The tree upon which Europa sits also echoes part of the Europa and Zeus myth: a plane tree was thought to have been the location where their three children were conceived. The plane tree was thus made sacred by the Cretans and a fragment of the beliefs concerning it still survive to this day - some people in modern Gortyna still collect leaves from this tree in the hope that they will bring fertility.

The coin in the main image (11.76g, 26mm, 6h, Extremely Fine):
◦ Auctioned by Roma Numismatics Ltd, Auction XVII, 28 March 2019, Lot 431. Sold for 14,000 GBP.
◦ Auctioned by Roma Numismatics Ltd., Auction IX, 22 March 2015, lot 264, Sold for 12,000 GBP.
◦ Ex Eckenheimer Collection.

See also

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Date VG F VF XF AU UNC
ND (400 BC - 301 BC) 

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