Olbia, Sarmatia, Cast Æ, Gorgon & Eagle, Huge!
Cast Æ; 66mm/78.1gm - Ca. 437-410 BC
Con/ An impressive and gigantic piece, well cast, with a beautiful and untouched dark brown patina with sand fill; some loss of casting detail on the reverse, otherwise, Extremely Fine.
Obv/ Facing gorgoneion with full cheeks, triangular chin and protruding tongue
Rev/ Sea eagle flying right, wings spread, holding in its talons a dolphin right; A-P-I-X in angles formed by wings
Ref/ SNG BM Black Sea 383; Anokhin 168
Seller's Note/ The impressive cast bronzes of Olbia on the Black Sea in many ways presaged the development of the Aes Grave coinage in Italy, although the regions were separated by more than 1,000 miles. Olbia, a colony of Miletus located at the junction of the Hyspanis and Borysthenes rivers in the wilds of Scythia, grew prosperous on trade between the nomadic Scythians and the Greeks. It employed a unique form of coinage consisting of cast bronzes of various sizes and shapes. The smallest Olbian bronzes were made in the shape of dolphins; larger denominations bore a facing gorgon's head backed by a sea eagle clutching a dolphin. Like the early Romans, the Olbians apparently traded these pieces at "true," as opposed to token value, meaning the largest denominations were truly immense and heavy, as seen with this extraordinary piece.