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Herakles' First Labor - Nemean Lion

Herakles wrestling the Nemean lion on Tarentine diobol

The first and most famous of the Twelve Labors, this is also the one whose results are readily visible, as the iconography of Herakles typically includes the skin, often as a head-dress, of the vanquished beast. It is rather curious that the "king of the jungle" - today associated only with sub-Saharan Africa - was chosen as the lead foe of the legendary Mediterranean hero; -More-

Roman Ladies

Faustina on denariusFrom sinners to saints, mistresses to matriarchs - the gallery of Roman Imperial women is both rich and revealing. To be sure, we know much more about the lives of a relative handful of powerful individuals, as opposed to the vast and obscure body of anonymous Romans of both sexes. -More-

Crabs in the Ancient Mediterranean

Crab on a Kos drachm diobol

In addition to dolphins, crabs also figured prominently with the ancients, who identified a star constellation (Cancer) in its shape along the sun's annual sky path, or ecliptic. Of the eventual 88 constellations these 12 had a special significance, being considered the "twelve monthly residences of Apollo", and as signs of the Zodiac were to further propel astrology. -More-

Early Russia

Rich and vast, the Russian coin series spans many centuries, and with a little background, can prove quite fascinating for more than just the regional specialist. Kargopolj painting Its original appearance dates way back to ca. 1000 AD, when the newly converted Russian state produced some marvelous issues after the Byzantine model. Yet, even before the crippling Tatar invasion, monetary issues disappear for almost 350 years, reemerging in the feudal principalities shaking off foreign yoke. Uninterrupted since to date, this newer series can be generally split into two parts: the first period of about 300 years, dominated by small hammered coinage ("wire money"), and the second, starting in the early reign of Peter the Great (end of 17th. c.), with the predominance of more modern milled issues. Our focus here is mainly on the first period. -More-

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