Velia, Lucania (Italy)
Silver Drachm, 535-510 BCE
weight: 3.8g, width: 1.6cm
OBV.: Forepart of a lion right with frontal head seen from above, tearing at a stag’s leg.
REV.: Incuse broken square without dividing lines.
HFMA nr. 2006.010.024. Ref.: Williams 11 or 13; Rosen 20; SNG ANS 1202-1204.
Velia (Greek Hyele or Elea) on the western coast of Lucania (map) was settled by Greeks from Phocaea in Asia Minor who left when the Persians under Cyrus conquered the Ionian coast. Elea is best known as the seat of the Eleatic school of Philosophy. Its most famous representatives were Xenophanes (ca. 570-465), its founder, and Parmenides (early 5th cent. BCE).
The near-eastern lion design on the earliest coinage of Velia points to the original home of its first settlers. The lion is portrayed in a strange combination of profile and bird's eye view. The leg and shoulder are those of a lion in profile, whereas the head is shown from above, as if the lion was crouching.
Williams, Roderick T., The Silver Coinage of Velia. London: Royal Numismatic Society, 1992.