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Mysia, Cyzicus, Hemihecte

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Mysia, Cyzicus, Hemihecte (obverse) Mysia, Cyzicus, Hemihecte (reverse)

Tuna fish live in shoals and always follow the same itineraries on their annual migrations. Their run leads from the Black Sea through the Sea of Marmara into the Aegean. The town of Cyzicus on the Marmara Sea was thus in an ideal location for tuna fishing and trading. It therefore hardly comes as a surprise that the tuna fish was the emblem of Cyzicus which the city honored by depicting it on her coins.

However, abundance and shortage were close together in Antiquity. The figure that has caught a tuna on this coin is a harpy, a creature from Greek mythology. Harpies were ugly demons, hybrids between women and birds. They were storm goddesses and embodied hunger, snatching away all life (the literal meaning of 'harpyia' was 'that with snatches'). Hence, the image on this coin symbolizes both hunger as well as its release.

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