Southern Italy, Lucania, Metapontum, Obol

During the 6th century BC, the staters of Metapontum bore an ear of barley on one face and an incuse square on the other. Many collectors consider these the most beautiful of all Greek coins.

Around the middle of the 5th century BC, however, Metapontum started to mint other denominations along with the incuse staters (i.e. coins with a negative imprint of their obverse motif on the reverse). From now on, the coins bore an image on both sides, as can be seen on this obol. Just as the ear, the bull's head supposedly stood for the fruitfulness of the city's hinterland.