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Into the ancient lion’s den

45 collectible items

On the hunt (or being hunted), mouth wide open or closed, from the front or in profile, alone or accompanied, fighting or resting, realistic or stylized, whole, head, or protome, but certainly with its mane flowing in the wind, with flashes of bronze, gold, or silver: lions have appeared on coins since the beginning of time.

A targeted selection of the royal and hieratic feline, solemn and engraved, before the reign of Rome.

Symbol of strength, of power, guardian of the gates of cities, bas-reliefs, sculptures... Antiquity, from East to West and back again, never stopped celebrating it, including on its coins.

From mythical Babylon to Asia Minor via the inevitable Lesbos, the Kingdom of Lydia, and even Macedonia, stylized and mysterious portraits from Lycia to the merciless slaughter of the Nemean Lion in Calabria via the orientally influenced style of Caria: a journey through the ancient regions and the long time before our era.

Each of these coins (often very small in size) represents in itself a true work of art carefully chiseled and created between the 6th and 3rd century BC. Portrait gallery of coins featuring these royal felines.

Fancy a little more? If you haven’t already read it, you will likely find this article on the representation of animals on ancient coins very interesting.

Illustration : "Panneau de briques : lion passant - Époque néo-babylonienne, règne de Nabuchodonosor II (between circa 604 and circa 562 BC) - Babylone (Iraq) (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Coin Asia Minor

Hemiobol, 5th-4th centuries BC, Uncertain Mint, EF(40-45)

Coin Babylonia

Tetradrachm, 322-312 BC, Babylon, AU(50-53), Silver

Coin Calabria

Tarentum, Diobol, 280-228 BC, VF(30-35), Silver, SNG ANS:1476

Coin Caria

Drachm, ca. 449-411 BC, Knidos, AU(55-58), Silver

Coin Caria

Uncertain, 1/6 Stater or Diobol, 520-490 BC, EF(40-45), Silver

Coin Ionia

Hekte, ca. 625/0-522 BC, Phokaia, AU(50-53), Electrum

Coin Ionia

Hemihekte - 1/12 Stater, ca. 600-550 BC, Uncertain Mint, AU(50-53)

Coin Leontini

Tetradrachm, 455-430 BC, Leontini, Pedigree, VF(30-35), Silver

Coin Lesbos

Hekte, 478-455 BC, Mytilene, VF(30-35), Electrum, Bodenstedt:34

Coin Lesbos

Hekte, 521-478 BC, Mytilene, AU(50-53), Electrum, Bodenstedt:12

Coin Lesbos

Hekte, 521-478 BC, Mytilene, AU(50-53), Electrum, Bodenstedt:15

Coin Lesbos

Hekte, 521-478 BC, Mytilene, EF(40-45), Electrum, Bodenstedt:13

Selection published on 24/03/2023