Author Topic: Calabria, Tarentum: AR Nomos. c. 281-272 BC, Gy-, Sostratos, and Poly-, mag.  (Read 365 times)

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Offline Overlord

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Calabria, Tarentum: AR Nomos. c. 281-272 BC, Gy-, Sostratos, and Poly-, magistrates; Vlasto 716, HN Italy 1001, SNG ANS 1037 (6.44 g, 22 mm)

Obverse: Nude, helmeted warrior on horseback right, preparing to cast spear downward with right hand, holding shield and two spears in left hand; ΓΥ behind, ΣΩΣΤΡAΤΟΣ below
Reverse: Taras astride dolphin left, holding Nike and cornucopiae; thunderbolt behind, ΠΟΛΥ before, TAPAΣ below.



Online Figleaf

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Very nice coin indeed! TFS.

I think the horseman is a hunter. He has three throwing spears. A warrior with throwing spears would be on foot. A warrior with a horse would have a single spear for holding on to. In addition, a warrior would throw a spear up for more distance. A hunter would throw down, because the horse would carry him above most animals. Compare the traditional image of St. George and the dragon on Russian and British coins. Perhaps the shield confused those who described the coin. However, a shield is useful if a large animal, like a male deer or even a wild boar attacks a mounted hunter.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Overlord

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Coming form my vast experience in ancient and medieval warfare, playing Mount & Blade and Mordhau on the computer  :D, a spear would be virtually impossible to retrieve on horseback if contact was made. Also, a couched lance/spear can break upon impact with, say heavy armour. Hence the need for backup weapons.

Online Figleaf

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True, all that. AFAIK only the Scythians had mounted spear throwers, because all their warriors, male and female rode a horse and their back-up was a light sword. The Greek and Roman army used pedestrian spear throwers as skirmishers. The Roman spear tips were collapsible, so they couldn't be thrown back. Later in time and until Waterloo, spears would be used as long-range (i.e. longer than a cavalry sword) stabbing weapons, with a cavalry sword back-up in medieval tournaments.

The carré formation known to the Romans and used with great efficiency by the British army against the Napoleonic troops made hussars a relic of the past, as no horse will run into a spear. And that story of Polish horsemen fighting Hitler's tanks is largely myth.

Also, unless the horseman on your coin was fighting pygmees, he was aiming at an animal.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Overlord

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My take: The representation on the coin is more artistic than realistic. I only possess a superficial knowledge of hunting in ancient Greece, but going at it naked on horseback with spears doesn’t seem the most efficient way to me.

Also, on the battlefield, a spear could be angled downwards to strike a kneeling or downed enemy, as depicted on some later Roman coins.