Mike Markowitz published a new article on CoinWeek about goats on ancient coins. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online.
GOATS WERE FIRST domesticated as long as 11,000 years ago, probably in the Zagros Mountains of Iran (Daly, 1). The goat (Capra hircus) became a vital and much-loved element of ancient Greek agriculture, providing milk, meat, wool, and skins. Sure-footed goats easily managed the rugged mountainous terrain of Greece, and could thrive on vegetation that other animals found unpalatable or even toxic. So it is not surprising that goats were frequently depicted on ancient Greek coins and adopted as the emblems of certain cities.
A symbol of fertility, the goat was a companion of the god Dionysus and the goddess Artemis. The constellation of Capricorn, one of the 12 signs of the zodiac, was imagined as a creature with the body of a goat and the tail of a fish. Greek mythology even imagined a race of lustful nature spirits, the satyrs, who had human bodies with the ears, tails, and hooves of goats.
Ionia, (c) 600-550 BCE. Electrum Hekte. Image: Leu Numismatik AG.
Possibly the earliest appearance of a goat on a coin is dated to c. 600 – 550 BCE, at the very dawn of coinage.
From an uncertain mint in Ionia (now the western coast of Türkiye), the coin is a very rare electrum hekte or one-sixth stater of 2.75 grams. The animal depicted is a goat – or perhaps its wild relative, the ibex (Capra aegagrus) with its legs folded beneath it and its head turned to look over its back. The abstract design perfectly fits the chunky round coin. A recent cataloguer described it as
a beautiful piece of wonderful Archaic style.
To read the complete article, see:
Oh, You Kid: Goats on Ancient Coins
Wayne Homren, Editor
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