ITALY. Lucania. Metapontum. Stater struck circa 510-470 B.C. The obverse features an ear of barley with seven grains and META. The reverse features the a nearly complete incuse of the obverse. Wonderfully struck with old cabinet steely blue-gray toning. The Strike is a 5/5; the surface is 3/5. Ex. Stacks, November 1946 auction sale of the Charles H. Deetz collection.
Metapontum traced its founding to the 7th century BC, when an Achaean adventurer named Leucippus and his followers put down roots on a fertile plain on the instep of the Italian boot. The city so flourished that its people were said to have dedicated a “golden harvest,” probably a golden sheaf of barley, at the great temple of Delphi. Demeter, goddess of the grain harvest, was patroness of the city and her image and symbology figure prominently on the city’s coinage. Virtually all of Metapontum’s coins bear the symbol of Demeter, a barley ear with the grains arranged in six or seven rows. The earliest issues of the city, ca. 525 BC, feature the grain ear on both sides of the coin, in relief on one side and in incuse on the other.