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fine silver | 20 mm | 8.6 g
OBV: Naked rider on horse r. leading a second horse on his far side.
R: SVRAKOSION Diad. hd. of Artemis - Arethusa r. of archaic style three dolphins around.
The tyrant Gelon transferred his capital from Gela to Syracuse in 485 B.C. It was Gelon who introduced the familiar and influential tetradrachm types of Syracuse, a victorious quadriga and the head of the fountain-nymph Arethusa, perhaps after a lapse of several years. His addition of a Nike to the quadriga type earlier used at Syracuse has long been associated with his Olympic victory of 488. However, the coinage may have begun as late as 480/79, in which case the Nike most probably commemorates Gelon's great victory over the Carthaginians at Himera, a counterpart, in effect, to the inscribed tripod he erected at Delphi in commemoration of the battle. Gelon's new reverse type is an imaginative design symbolizing the fresh water spring Arethusa, which bubbles up off the shore of the island of Ortygia, amid the waves of the Syracusan harbor. The early examples of Gelon's Syracusan coinage were produced on a very small scale, from dies of superior quality. The hands of five major artists have been identified. The author of the reverse die represented here has been dubbed The Master of the Krobylos because he was the first to consistently portray the krobylos coiffure, with the hair tucked up behind under a beaded headband. His approach found such favour that it became the model for the voluminous coinage struck from the enormous indemnity paid by the Carthaginians after their defeat at Himera.
Syracuse was the greatest city of ancient Sicily. Founded from Corinth in 733 BC it was the only Sicilian mint to strike Tetradrachms from the beginning of its coinage in about 515 BC. The patron goddess of Syracuse Artemis-Arethusa whose fresh water spring was on the island Ortygia is surrounded by three or four dolphins of the salt sea of the twin harbors of Syracuse.