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Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting a Cista with Snake

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

133-67 BCE

Artist:

Greek; minted in Pergamon, Asia Minor (now Turkey)

About this artwork

The snakes used in the initiation ceremony of the cult of Dionysos were kept in a cista mystica, or sacred container. The snake represented the god himself in his role as a fertility deity and symbol of reincarnation. This very popular coin type shows the sacred snake wriggling out of a basket encircled by a wreath made of ivy leaves. As part of the rites of Dionysos, the ancient Greeks and Romans chewed ivy leaves, a mild hallucinogen.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting a Cista with Snake

Origin

Ancient Greece

Date

133 BC–67 BC

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

DIam. 2.6 cm; 11.81 g

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number

1920.719

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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