Mysia, Lampsakos - A New Demeter Type

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The present coin represents a remarkable and important addition to the corpus of Lampsakene gold staters. Baldwin identified three types struck at Lampsakos which bore the image of Demeter: one displays a grain-wreathed head to right (Baldwin 9), another a veiled head with a wreath of lotus (Baldwin 16), and the other a half-length cthonic figure rising from the earth holding grain (Baldwin 25); of the first two types, Baldwin was able to find only two known examples each. The present specimen should therefore be viewed as most closely related to Baldwin 9 and 16, though inferring a direct relationship between the types or viewing them as necessarily contemporaneous is to be avoided given the paucity of information we possess concerning the dating of the issues, which are thought to have been struck over a period of some fifty to sixty years.

Baldwin does however comment that the frequency of Demeter's depiction on the Lampsakene coinage (now four times) 'seems to warrant the conclusion that her cult was prominent at Lampsakos'. Unfortunately little information survives or can be gleaned from the site today concerning the religious practices of the Lampsakenes or of the sanctuaries present in their city. Yet history does furnish us with with the knowledge that the wine produced at Lampsakos was both excellent and famous (indeed the city was granted to the exiled Athenian general Themistokles by Artaxerxes specifically for this reason). That being the case, it is not surprising that we should also find Dionysos featured on the staters of the city, being celebrated as the patron god of winemaking. It is plausible therefore to see the repeated use of Demeter types as either an invocation or honouring of the goddess responsible for the fertility of the earth and growth of the vines that so contributed to the wealth and fame of the city.

Mysia, Lampsakos AV Stater. Circa 370-360 BC. Head of Demeter left, wearing wreath of grain ears in caught up and back swept hair, crescent-shaped earring with quadruple pendant and pearl necklace / Forepart of Pegasos to right with curved wing. Unpublished in the standard references; the closest parallels for this obverse type are the Demeter to right and veiled Demeter types, cf. A. Baldwin, Lampsakos: The Gold Staters, AJN 1924, 9, pl. 1, 15, and 16, pl. I, 30-1. 8.49g, 18mm, 12h.

Good Very Fine, very slight double strike on obverse. Lustrous and superb surfaces. Unique and unpublished.