Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 110   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 27

Estimate: 10'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 8'000 CHF Price realized: 22'000 CHF
The Carthaginians in Italy, Sicily and North Africa. Tetradrachm, Thermae Himerensis circa 350, AR 16.95 g. Fast quadriga driven l. by charioteer, holding reins and kentron; above, Nike flying r. to crown him. Below horses, signature KLE; in exergue, ΘERMITAN – altar. Rev. Head of Tanit (Kore-Persephone) r., wearing barley wreath, earring and necklace; hair caught up behind in saccos. Around, three dolphins. ZfN 1935, pl. IX, 1 (this coin). Jenkins Punic Sicily I, Thermai 6 and pl. 22, 6 (this coin illustrated).
Of the highest rarity, only four specimens known of this intriguing and important
issue. Wonderful old cabinet tone and about extremely fine.
Ex Sambon 19 January 1907, De Ciccio, 178; M&M 77, 1992, 23 and NAC 29, 2005, 139 sales.
Thermae Himerensis was the name given to the hot springs (thermae) near the Greek city of Himera in north-eastern Sicily. In 409 B.C., a great Punic expeditionary force dispatched to aid the Elymians of Segesta against their Greek enemies besieged and destroyed the latter. The survivors of the siege escaped to Thermae Himerensis where they were permitted to settle with the provision that the new city remain unwalled. Under the terms of the Peace of Himilco (405 B.C.) that settled the conflict between Carthage and the Greek cities of Sicily, Thermae Himerensis fell within the sphere of Punic influence on the island and was required to pay an annual tribute. The city continued under the domination of Carthage well into the third century B.C., with only brief interludes when it was captured by Syracusan tyrants (c. 395 and 307 B.C.) and Pyrrhus of Epirus (277-275 B.C.). This extremely rare tetradrachm was struck at Himera in the mid-fourth century B.C. It is especially remarkable because the coin clearly names the Himerans as the issuing authority in Greek, but its types, which imitate the quadriga and Arethusa issues of Syracuse in the late fifth and early fourth century B.C. have been considered to link it to the imitative coinages struck by Punic forces in Sicily. Thus, it is somewhat unclear whether the coin should be properly considered a Siculo-Punic issue or a civic issue of Himera. However, the presence of the city ethnic and a Greek artist’s signature (KLE) that does not copy a signature known from the official dies of Syracuse make it seem somewhat better to classify the tetradrachms of Himera as civic issues produced by a Greek engraver of moderate skill who took the types of the celebrated Syracusan decadrachms signed by Kimon and tetradrachms signed by Parmenides as his models. It is important to note that although the tetradrachms of Himera may be civic issues in the strictest sense, the series was almost certainly struck in support of Punic interests in Sicily. As the coinage is normally dated to the mid-fourth century B.C., it might be tempting to associate it with Carthaginian preparations to support Hiketas, the tyrant of Leontini, against the Corinthian general, Timoleon. In 344 B.C., the Carthaginian general, Mago, led a vast (and no doubt costly) force of 50,000 mercenaries and 150 triremes against Timoleon in Syracuse, but was unable to take the city. Fearful that his failure might lead to mutiny among his forces and betrayal by Hiketas, Mago withdrew to Carthage when Timoleon advanced against him. This display of cowardice stirred up a wave of outrage at Carthage and Mago committed suicide to avoid punishment. However, his death did not mollify the anger of the Carthaginians, who vented their rage by crucifying his lifeless body.

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