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- LUCANIA, Elea-Velia. Circa 535-510 BC. AR Drachm (3.87 gm). Forepart of a lion right, tearing at stag's leg / Quadripartite incuse square.
Williams 13 (O9/R6 - tingly); SNG ANS 1202-1204 (same reverse punch); Rosen 20.
Velia, situated on the Tyrrhenian coast of southern Italy south of Poseidonia (Paestum), was founded circa 540 BC by colonists from Phokaia in western Asia Minor who had fled their homeland following the Persian conquest.
Its coinage commenced soon after the city's foundation and its types (forepart of lion devouring prey/incuse square) and denomination (Phokaian silver drachm) reflect the Asian origin of the early citizenry of Velia. Later, in the 5th century, the weight standard of the Velian coinage was assimilated to that of the Achaean cities of Magna Graecia producing a didrachm-nomos of about 8 grams.
This exceptionally fine drachm belongs to the earliest phase of the Velian coinage. Although anepigraphic, the attribution of this series seems reasonably secure and is supported by hoard evidence. An alternative but less likely theory is that the coins were actually struck in Phokaia and then shipped out for use by the colonists in the west. The type of a lion attacking its prey remained popular at Velia throughout the two and a half centuries of its silver coinage, which ceased just prior to the city's alliance with Rome negotiated circa 275 BC.
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