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FM19922

Calabria, Tarentum, Silver Nomos

Calabria, Tarentum, c. 302 BC, silver Nomos, magistrates ΣΑ... and KON..., ΣA youth, right arm raised to crown himself, riding horse walking to right, Ionic capital below, rev. TAPAΣ / KON, Taras, riding dolphin to left, holding serpent in his right hand and whip in his left, 7.94g (Fischer-Bossert - V373/R738; HN Italy 942; Vlasto 657). Slightly worn dies, lightly cleaned at some stage, otherwise extremely fine.

Tarentum was founded by colonists from Sparta in the 8th century BC. In this series the dolphin-rider is variously described as Taras, after whom the city was named, who was shipwrecked but saved by a dolphin which his father, the god Poseidon, sent to rescue him; or Phalanthos, the leader of the Spartan colonists, who was also shipwrecked and rescued by a dolphin; or an unnamed oikist, the term given to the lead-colonist who had authority to choose which site to colonize and direct the colony's activities in its early stages. At this point in the series the individual appears to be named and therefore we suggest interpreting him as Taras. The horse-riders are depicted at different ages, some with armour suggesting they are warriors, and others with laurel wreaths suggesting they are the winners at important celebratory games.

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