Akragas is a city that was founded In the 688 B.C. by the Geloans in Sican territory in southern Sicily. It was a typically Greek city on the Dorian part of the island. They started minting coins in 520’s B.C. Akragas started minting coins 20 years later than the Ionian cities in the north of Sicily.
Akragas appears to have followed the Corinthian weight standard based on the earliest staters (8.2 gram). Notable is that at the same time coins from Akragas corresponded to the Athenian didrachm. In later times the Attic standard became dominant all over Sicily.
In 510 Akragas started to mint on the Attic standard first based on the didrachm, as mentioned before, and later based on the (Sicilian) tetradrachm. There is, however, a gap between these two phases were no coins were struck. The first coins based on the Sicilian tetradrachm were minted around 460 B.C. The reason for this gap is unclear.
Material: Silver Weight: 17.20 g
AR tetradrachm- 17,2 gram, minted 471-430BC – Scarce and Beautiful!
obv: AKTAC-ANTOS, eagle with closed wings standing left on dotted base line
Two iconographic features, Eagle and Crab
There are two iconographic features on the coins from Akragas that are very characteristic for this type: an eagle on the obverse of the coin and a crab on the reverse. The eagle refers to Zeus to whom the city’s main cult was dedicated. The crab on the reserve refers probably to the river with the same name: Akragas.
The iconography must have been very recognizable for most of the citizens from Akragas, Sicily and maybe beyond Sicily. It must be noted however that the coins from Akragas are rarely found beyond Sicily.
A new coin tradition
The bronze coins from Akragas are part of completely new coin tradition. On Sicily they started minting small denominations in bronze, whose value was based solely on a fixed exchange rate in silver coins, so not on their material value. Their value was thus based on trust, the trust that they could change their bronze coins for silver coins. Akragas had a leading function in these developments. It can therefore be concluded that the later start with minting coins didn’t lead to lack of innovation capacities on coins. They created very recognizable types of coins and were part of the start of a new coin tradition.
Catalog: Rizzo pl. III, 7
Material: Silver Weight: 1.04 g
Obv: eagle to the left, holding snake in talons; behind its back AKPA.
Rev: crab, between its scissors A; below fish to the right.
Written by Joël van Dam, Owner of Joëlnumismatics.
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