Mysia, Cyzicus, Electrum Stater (16.03g), struck circa 500-450 BC. Obverse: Forepart of Winged Lioness stalking left, right foreleg outstretched forward, Tunny fish behind oriented upwards. Reverse: Quadripartite mill-sail incuse punched square. Greenwell-117; Von-Fritze-96; SNG-France-237. Despite the crack on the lower aspect of the flan, this example is rich with eye appeal with its well centred striking, capturing the entire design, most certainly a great type example for early Anatolia. Good Very Fine or better.
Cyzicus was an ancient town in the region of Mysia in Ancient Anatolia, purportedly the first Milesian colony, was located on the southwest shore of the Propontis next to the river Aisepos. Due to its geographical position, Cyzicus saw economic prosperity with its two harbours, which made the city a convenient stopping point for merchant ships trading between the Aegean and Black Seas. Further to this, their economic success was augmented by its principal export the tunny fish, of which its waters had abundant stock. The tunny fish became the visual symbol of the city and featured on all of its coinage, as seen on this electrum Stater.
The prevalence of winged beasts portrayed on Cyzicus’ coinage is a reflection of the archaic mythological convention that assigned wings to most divine or sacred entities as an immediately visible and understandable symbol of their nature, and in the case of gods, of their power to move at will across great distances. In the case of the specific winged animals frequently portrayed on their coinage much isn’t known and speculation is required – they are likely to be attributes of or animals sacred to a particular Olympian god.