Macedon, Ennea-Hodoi - The Nine Roads

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The obverse of this coin presents us with a rare georgic scene of a cow suckling its calf; though such scenes relating to rural life are relatively rare in Greek coinage, the motif of the cow with its calf is one that does appear to have captured the imagination of ancient peoples across the Mediterranean, occurring in such diverse places as Ashdod in the Levant, Karia, Mysia, Cyprus, Macedon, Euboia, Epeiros and Illyria. Perhaps the only other design to have won such favour among unrelated ancient peoples is the lion attacking a bull scene, that appears to have spread from Mesopotamia across much of Asia Minor and Europe.

The extraordinary prevalence of this type therefore causes inevitable problems in attributing the type to a city or people where no legend is present. What is certain is that the coins originate from the Chalkidian region, within which several possibilities have been proposed, namely Ennea-Hodoi, the Bottiaei, Aineia and Neapolis.

The attribution of the present type by Svoronos to the Bottiaei tribe, which others have subsequently copied, should be seen as spurious - his identifying these coins as belonging to the Bottiaei was based solely on the fact that he had not yet assigned any other coins to them. Equally suspect is the assignment of these coins to Aineia, whose early tetrobols and later tetradrachms are distinct both in type (a bull with head reverted) and fabric. The most plausible attribution based on the available evidence is that made by E. S. G. Robinson to Ennea-Hodoi, based on the coins of similar design (though clearly issued some decades later) that bear the abbreviated ethnic EN.

This city Ennea-Hodoi, or 'Nine Roads', controlled the valley of the Strymon, a strategically important crossing from Macedonia to Thrace that was also rich in dense forests essential for naval construction, and close in proximity to the gold and silver mines of Mount Pangeion. By virtue of this value, a colonisation of Ennea-Hodoi was attempted by Athens in 465 BC which resulted in failure and the loss of the colony, and again in 437 BC under Hagnon, son of Nicias - this new settlement took the name Amphipolis.

Macedon, Ennea-Hodoi (?) AR Stater. Circa 500-480 BC. Cow standing right, head left towards calf suckling left below; pellet above / Quadripartite incuse square divided diagonally. HPM p. 139, 2; AMNG III/2, p. 134, 7 (Uncertain mint); Traité I 1290 (Korkyra); SNG ANS 924-5; BMC -; cf. Rosen 158; Asyut -. Good VF, lightly toned, slightly granular surfaces. 9.78g, 19mm.

Good Very Fine. Very Rare.