Croton, Bruttium (Italy)
Silver Stater, ca. 530 BCE
weight: 7.8g, width: 1.98cm
OBV.: Tripod-lebes with three handles and lion’s feet; in right field, marsh bird (heron?) facing left. Retrograde inscription in left field "KPW" (= KROTON), with archaic letter koppa; raised dotted border (quite worn).
REV.: Tripod incuse, with incuse border of radiating lines.
HFMA nr. 2006.010.010. Ref.: BMC Italy, p. 343, 15; SNG ANS 238-242, SNG Lloyd 592, and SNG Munich 1421.
Croton (Greek: Kroton) was an Achaian colony on the East coast of Bruttium in Southern Italy (map), founded around 710 BCE. The coin was minted during Croton's heydays in the late sixth and early fifth century BCE. Croton's athletes, first and foremost the famous wrestler Milon, won numerous victories at the Olympic Games, and the philosopher Pythagoras moved to Croton and opened his school there. In 510 BCE, the Crotoniates, led by Milon, destroyed an important rival, the Italiot Greek city Sybaris, which resulted in an unprecedented period of prosperity and political power for the city.
The tripod on the obverse is probably an allusion to Croton's many athletic successes since tripods served as victory prizes at the Olympic Games and other important athletic events. The heron, a marsh bird of good omen, reflects Croton's coastal location. The reverse bears an incuse image that mirrors the design on the obverse, a typical feature of Italiot Greek coins at the time. The inscription on the left is retrograde (mirror-inversed) and features an archaic letter koppa instead of the later Greek kappa.