Pentonkion: coin of Messina (Sicily, Ancient Greece)


Pentonkion, 3th century BC: Messina (Sicily, Ancient Greece)

Pentonkion, 3th century BC: Messina (Sicily, Ancient Greece)

The Mamertines (Latin "Mamertini") were mercenaries of Italian origin who had been hired by Agathocles (Tyrant of Syracuse and self-proclaimed King of Sicily). When Agathocles died in 289 BC he left many of his mercenaries unemployed in Sicily. They seized power in the city. After some time, Greek rule was replaced by the arrival of Roman power in Sicily.

ΜΑΜΕΡΤΙΝΩΝ: Mamertinon (the period of Mamertines rule in Messina).

Π: designation of the denomination of the coin.

A naked warrior in a helmet with a spear and a shield.

Zeus (the god of thunder and lightning in ancient Greek mythology; the chief of the gods).

  • Bronze: 26 mm - 8.32 g
  • Reference price: 15$

COIN PENTONKION — WHERE & WHEN (coins catalog: by names & emitents)
  1. ANCIENT GREECE in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea — SICILY, CALABRIA... (5th-2th centuries BC): pentonkion = 5 onkia = 5/12 litra
PENTONKION as coin name.
Pentonkion — historical first small silver and later large copper/bronze coin of a number of ancient Greek colonies located mainly in Sicily and neighboring lands on the Apennine Peninsula. Pentonkions of the V-II centuries BC are known among numismatists. A rather rare denomination.
What role did pentonkions play in the monetary system of Greek Sicily at the time? — In the mentioned period, the litra was used as the main coin there. A coin of 1/2 liter was called hemilitron, 1/3 — trias, 1/4 — tetras, 1/6 — hexas, 1/12 — onkia (from "ounce"). It was precisely the coin of 5 onkia that had the name pentonkion (that is, pentonkion — 5/12 litra).
By the way, the Romans used a similar fractional system. However, instead of a litra, there was an as: 1/2 of as was called a semis, 1/3 — a triens, 1/4 — a quadrans, 1/6 — a sextans, 1/12 — an uncia. A 5-ounce coin (an analogue of the Greek pentonkion) is a quincunx (equivalent to 5/12 of as).
The oldest known pentonkion date back to the 5th century BC. This was a small silver coin, the characteristic feature of which is 5 large dots on one side: equal to 5 onkia.
Most often, the so-called "pentonkions of the Mamertines" of the city of Messina of the 3th century BC are found in numismatic collections (the so called "Mamertini pentonkion; Messana, Sicily"). It was a large (8 to 12 grams) copper/bronze coin with images of the head of Zeus and a naked helmeted warrior with a spear and shield. The period of the rule of the Mamertines (mercenaries from Southern Italy of the Syracusan tyrant Agathocles) is a transitional stage from Greek to Roman rule in Sicily.
The name of the coin pentonkion in Greek means "five onkia".