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156313. Sold For $225

SARMATIA. The Sindi. Circa 400 BC. AR Hemiobol (8mm, 0.27 gm, 7h). Young head of Herakles (or Skythes) right, wearing lion skin headdress / SINDWN, horsehead right, all in incuse square. MacDonald 81; SNG BM Black Sea 1009; SNG Stancomb -; Anokhin 52. VF, porosity.

The Sindi were a Scythian tribe that settled on the east coast of the Black Sea sometime in the mid-1st millenium BC. Their main port, also called Sindi, was on the coast to the south-east of Pantikapion, and was active in the trade with the Thracian cities on the opposite side of the Black Sea. Sindi later became the Greek city of Gorgippia. According to Herodotus, the Sindi and other Scythian tribes regarded Herakles as their forebearer, and from Giel (1886) onwards the experts have described the kneeling figure as this hero. A closer reading of the relevent text (Herodotus 4:9-10) suggests an alternate identification. Herakles was passing through the empty lands of Colchis when his horses were spirited away. Searching for them, he came upon a half-serpent, half-woman monster, who promised to return his horses if he would lie with her. The result of this union was three sons. When the she-monster asked what the fate of the children should be, Herakles gave her a bow and a belt, and declared that the first child who could buckle the belt and string the bow should be ruler of the land. That child was Skythes, the first of the Skythians. A votive gold bow case from Melitopol features a allegorical scene of the death of a Scythian noble, part of which shows Herakles handing a bow to a child, undoubedly Scythes.This coin represents not Herakles, but his son, the eponymous founder of the Scythian nation. This myth has interesting echos in the story of Jason and Medea.