Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 165

Estimate: 12'500 CHF   |   Starting price: 10'000 CHF Price realized: 60'000 CHF
Sicily, Agrigentum. Drachm circa 420, AR 3.91 g. Two eagles perched l. on carcass of hare; further eagle, wings half open, leaning forward to peck; the nearer, with closed wings, throwing back head to screech. Rev. AKP – AΓAN Crab seen from above, the carapace turned into human face; beneath, crayfish. On l. and r., barley grain and locust. Rizzo pl. I, 21 (this reverse die). Evans, NC 1923, 23 and pl. 11, 23 (these dies). SNG Lloyd 724 (these dies). Kraay-Hirmer 183 (this reverse die).
Extremely rare, only very few specimens known. A fascinating issue of superb style with
a delightful iridescent tone. Minor flan crack at eleven o’clock on obverse,
otherwise about extremely fine

Ex Leu 28, 1981, 22 and DNW A10, 2011, 1002 sales.
Akragas (Latin: Agrigentum) in southern Sicily was founded by Dorian Greek colonists from Gela in 582-580 B.C. The city rapidly grew in importance and wealth over the course of the sixth century B.C., eventually becoming a thorn in the side of the Punic settlements of western Sicily. In 480 B.C., the Akragantine tyrant, Theron, together with Dionysios I of Syracuse, defeated a major Punic invasion, but in the decades that followed, the relationship between Akragas and Syracuse soured. At last, in 461 B.C., open war broke out between the two and Akragas was defeated. Bitterness stemming from this defeat later prevented the Akragantines from sending aid to Syracuse when it was besieged by the Athenians in 414-413 B.C. When neighbouring Silenous was defeated by the Carthaginians in 410 B.C., Akragas did nothing. When Silenous was sacked the following year, Akragas again did nothing beyond accept refugees from the ruined city. The Carthaginians returned in 406 B.C. and besieged Akragas. The city held out for eight months before it fell. The inhabitants tried to flee to Gela and Leontini, but many were captured and put to the sword by the victorious Punic army. The Carthaginians remained at Akragas over the winter of 406/5 B.C. and then destroyed the city before returning home to Africa. This drachm was struck in the context of the fall of Silenous in 410-409 B.C., perhaps to fund the strengthening of Akragas’ defences or to deal with expenses related to the Selinuntine refugees. The types are iconic for the city. The obverse depicting two eagles over the carcass of their prey is a brilliant study of nature executed with great artistic skill. One can almost hear the ululating cry of the eagle in the foreground as it throws its head back in triumph, while the eagle in the background is more practical, leaning forward and eager to relish its dinner. The reverse type is also remarkable in its own right. The crab and crayfish depicted there are executed in great detail, as if examples of these sea creatures were at hand while the dies were engraved. However, the crab has been embellished with a human face on its shell, apparently to represent an unknown marine deity.

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