Ancient Greek Coin with Sea Eagle and Dolphin

Ancient Greek Coin with Sea Eagle and Dolphin

This silver drachm was struck around 490-425 BC at the city of Sinope in Paphlagonia. It shows just the head of a sea-eagle facing left with a dolphin below. A quadripartite incuse square with an E in one of its quarters is on the reverse. Superb Extremely Fine.

Pontic Sinope (map) was founded by Milesian colonists as a center for trade on the Black Sea coast of  Minor in the seventh century BC. It served as the seaport for a caravan route that extended south to Mesopotamia and trafficked in grain, luxury goods and a red earth pigment used throughout the Greek world for painting. This hematite-rich earth was known as sinopia or “Sinopic earth” after the city that exported it, but it was actually mined in the neighboring region of Cappadocia rather than in the environs of Sinope. In the fourth century BC the civic badge of Sinope was a seabird clutching a dolphin, but on early drachms such as this only the head appears and if the dolphin is present at all it is as a small subsidiary symbol.