Sicilian Silver Tetradrachm of Gela

SKU C.2038

450 BC to 440 BC


1.125″ (2.7cm) high




City of Gela

Gallery Location



Obverse, forepart of a man-headed bull in right profile; reverse, Biga racing right with Nike flying above; within pellet-border. The colony of Gela was founded in 680 B.C. by colonists from Crete and Rhodes and was named for the river, which flowed to the east of the settlement. In the late sixth and early fifth centuries, the city flourished under the tyrants Hippokrates and Gelon. The man-faced bull – representing the Greek river god Acheloos – is the main coin-type of Gela during the fifth century and is likely associated with the local river god. The frontal eye in the profile head and highly patterned beard are characteristic of archaic art. Gelon seized Syracuse in early 5th century and moved part of the population there. The influence of Syracusan coinage is immediately evident on Geloan coinage. The obverse depicting the racing biga, its charioteer crowned by Nike was a standard Syracusan mint. The biga may also refer generally to Geloan aristocracy, which was known for its horse- breeding and equestrian abilities; the city was also famous for its cavalry, which the large number of coins produced in this period may have been intended to pay.

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