Mysia, Kingdom of Pergamum, Cistophor


Mysia, Kingdom of Pergamum, Cistophor (obverse) Mysia, Kingdom of Pergamum, Cistophor (reverse)

The cistophor was a large silver coin that came into use at the beginning of the 2nd century BC in Asia Minor. It was named after the motif on the obverse, which showed the 'cista mystica' – a round basket used for housing sacred snakes on a bed of leaves. The cista mystica belonged to the cult of Dionysus (Bacchus), the Greek god of wine and ecstasy.

On the reverse, cistophors depicted snakes surrounding the bow case of Heracles; most of the coins bore mint marks from the minting town.This piece was struck in Pergamum, a city near the coast of Asia Minor. In the course of the 3rd century BC, Pergamum became the capital of a significant kingdom. Today, the city is called Bergama and belonges to Turkey.


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