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Etruria, Vetulonia Æ Semuncia. 3rd century BC. Male head right, wearing pileus / Steering oar. EC I, 5 (O1/R1); HN Italy 199; SNG Firenze 663-70. 4.22g, 16mm, 9h.

Good Very Fine. Very Rare; only three recorded in commerce and eight in the Florence Archaeological Museum.

From the collection of a Swiss Etruscologist, and outside of Italy prior to December 1992.

Vetulonia was one of the most ancient cities of the Etruscan League, established on the heights of Poggio Colonna dominating a navigable bay, with access to the Tyrrhenian Sea, that by Roman times was a lake (Lacus Prilius), later a marsh and is now the Grosseto plain. The city is mentioned by Dionysios of Halikarnassos (Arch., 3.51), Pliny (NH, 3.51), Ptolemy (Geographia, 3.1.49) and Silius Italicus (Punica, 8.484-5) who inform us that in Roman tradition Vetulonia was famous as a city from whence Rome adopted the fasces, the sella curulis, the purple toga and the trumpet - a tradition in part confirmed by the iron fasces found in the ‘Tomba del Littore’ at Vetulonia and dated to c. 600 BC.

The discovery at Cerveteri (Caere) in 1840 of the so-called ‘throne of Claudius’ (now in the Musei Vaticani) upon which is depicted in bas-relief the figure of a young man standing on a pedestal inscribed VETVLONENSIS and holding a steering oar excited great interest. This unusual image encouraged vigorous speculation concerning the whereabouts of ancient Vetulonia, whose precise location was not then known. Thanks to the identification of numerous coins with the legend ‘Vatl’ by Isidoro Falchi at Colonna di Buriano, the now-inland site of Vetulonia was identified and the town was restored to its old name of Vetulonia by royal decree in 1887.

Etruria, Vetulonia Æ Semuncia. (rxvi83)

Price: £2,307.60

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  • (Rates for 17/10/2018)
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