Ancient gold coin from Bosporan Kingdom in Crimea sells for a record-breaking £4.8m

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“The rare stater depicting a satyr—a “marvel of speaking portraiture”—was once in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum but was sold to raise money for the Soviet government,” – announced The Art Newspaper today. “The gold coin was made in the 4th century BC in the ancient Greek city of Panticapaeum, near to modern-day Kerch on the east coast of Crimea. Panticapaeum was part of the Bosporan Kingdom and the satyr on the coin may be a reference to the Spartocid king Satyros I, who ruled the Greco-Scythian state from 432BC to 389BC. The griffin, meanwhile, represents the mythical guardians of gold deposits found in the mountains of Scythia.” – continued the paper. The author of this article is confident that neither the capital of the Bosporan Kingdom nor the coin were Greek. Dr. Ellis Minns described this coin in his 1913 book saying that “the finest examples are furnished by the magnificent gold staters which are the glory of the Panticapaean mint.” If the stater was minted in that city, how can people declare the coin to be “Greek”? By common logic, it should be called “Bosporan”, should it not? Was the Bosporan Kingdom “the Greco-Scythian state”? Let us have a closer look at Satyros I mentioned above. We can easily tell who Satyros I was by looking at the arguably most famous Royal Kurgan in which his son was buried. Oguz Royal Barrow in mainland Ukraine was most likely the place where his grandson was put to rest. It should be obvious that the ruling dynasty, the Spartocids, was the Royal Scythian dynasty and the Bosporan Kingdom was the Scythian Kingdom. It is a mistake to add “Greco-” to it. The coin was a masterpiece of the Scythian art. For more information about the kingdom and other amazing discoveries in the Scythian kurgans in the area, check the “Cradle of Civilizations” book. It has more insights into the iconography of the coin – there is an interesting perspective on why the arrow in the mouth of the griffin does not have “fletching”.

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