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Coin type

Coin type: drachma (Lejeune A6, Arslan IV)
Description: obverse: right-facing female head, reverse: right-turned owl and legend
Material (main component): silver
Average diameter: 17 mm1.7 cm <br />0.669 in <br />
Average thickness: unknown
Average weight: 3.63 g0.00363 kg <br />0.008 lb <br />
Workmanship: cast

Archaeological culture: Golasecca III A
Date: first half of 4th century BC
Date derived from: typology

Number of known pieces: 5
Area of circulation: Padanian region
Mint / Main site: unknown
Coordinates (approx.): none

Coin legend

Idealised transliteration: seχeθu 
Idealised original script: S dE8 dΧ4 dE8 dΘ2 dU11 d
Position: back, right-hand side
Orientation: 90°
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: North Italic script
Letter height: 2 mm0.2 cm <br />0.0787 in <br />
Number of letters: 6
Number of words: 1
Number of lines: 1
Inscription type: minting authority
Language: Celtic
Meaning: 'Seχeθu'

Alternative sigla: none

Sources: Morandi 2004: 507 f.



Five specimens of the coin type, commonly referred to as dramma della civetta, are known:
1. Département des monnaies, médailles et antiques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris), inv. no. 2177: unknown findplace, 3.75 g, 1.7–1.9 cm; Pautasso 1982: tav. 68,1; image in the Gallica catalogue: seχeθu
2. Département des monnaies, médailles et antiques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris), inv. no. 2178: unknown findplace, 3.459 g, 1.6–1.7 cm; Pautasso 1982: tav. 68,2; image in the Gallica catalogue: ]ẹχeθu
3. Pautasso 1982: tav. 68,3: 3.63 g, 1.6–1.8 cm; Ungarisches Nationalmuseum (Budapest), inv. no. ? (scanned photos above): seχeθu
4. Museum im Schottenstift (Wien), no inv. no.: unknown findplace, 3.8 g, 1.5–1.8 cm; Pautasso 1982: tav. 68,4; examined: S dE8 dΧ4 dE8 dΘ2 dU11 d ṣeχeθu (photos above)
5. Pautasso 1982: tav. 68,5: 3.69 g, 1.6–1.7 cm; private collection at Tresa, Switzerland: ṣẹχeθu

Images in Bompois 1879: tav. XVI.8, Sambon 1903: 67, fig. 104 (drawing of no. 5) and pl. I.104 (photo of no. 5), Pautasso 1976: tav. VII.18 and 19 (photos of no.s 1 and 2 with close-ups of the letters), Pautasso 1982: tav. 68.1–5, Morandi 1982: pl. LIII.4 and 5 (photos of no.s 1 and 2), Chiesa 2000: 30 (photos = Arslan 2000: 226 [only no.s 1 and 2]), Arslan 2001b: 335 IV b (photos of no. 5), Gorini 2000: 42 (photos of no. 3 and 5), Arslan 2000: 226 (photo of no. 3), Morandi 2004: 510, fig. 5.2 (idealised drawing of legend), Geiser et al. 2012: 95, fig. 27 (drawing of no. 1). Chiesa 2000: 32 provides drawings of the legend from numerous works 1868–1914.

Publications of the individual specimens in Pautasso 1982: 608. The coin type belongs with group A of coin legends in the Lepontic alphabet, represented by legends on silver drachmae based on a Massaliote model with primary distribution in the Padan plain (see Numismatics). With 3.63 g, the type's average weight is closer to the net weight of the Massaliote "heavy" drachma than that of any other Padan coin type, indicating a high dating (first half of the 4th century BC according to Arslan 2000: 232; see also Arslan 1990: 75) which agrees with the letter forms (see below). While the head of Artemis on the obverse is the same motif as known from the Massaliote drachma, the owl motif on the reverse is modelled on emissions of Etruscan Peithesa and Greek cities in Italy (Velia, Eraclea, Taranto, Crotone). See Pautasso 1982: 608–610 on the typology. Since the find place of all known specimens of the coin type is unknown, nothing certain can be said about the coins' mint and area of circulation. According to De Saulcy, the two Paris specimens come from collections in Bergamo and Vicenza, respectively, and the one from Vicenza was found together with heavy drachmae (or imitations); the Budapest specimen is also recorded to come from a hoard of heavy drachmae in Northern Italy (Dessewffy); see Pautasso 1982: 615–617 for details. The coin type is ascribed to the Lepontians by Pautasso 1982: 617, but this is by no means clear (see Numismatics). Lejeune 1971: 126 stresses that the legends of group A may possibly, but are not certainly linguistically Lepontic. Cf. the corresponding didrachm which bears the same legend NM·6.2.

The legend, applied horizontally on the right of the reverse image and separated from it by a vertical line, was long misread (e.g. Garrucci, Sambon 1903: 67, no. 104 eχeθ, comparing the name of an Etruscan city ἐχετία mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium) or not read at all (e.g. Bompois 1879: 71 f., Blanchet 1905: 149, PID: 616, no. 6 bis c; literature in Pautasso 1982: 607, 616); the reading seχeθu was proposed by Lejeune 1971: 127, A 6 (who based his readings on an unidentified future publication by Colbert de Beaulieu). Reading a personal name with first element seg-, whose /g/ is spelled with chi, Lejeune (p. 20 f.) wavers between interpreting theta as /d/ (suffix -ed-) or /t/ (suffix -et-), but leans toward /d/ based on the correspondence with chi for /g/ (also Gambari & Colonna 1988: 133) – he assumes that the spelling of seχeθu follows a reformed orthography in which chi and theta were lettres mortes revived to denote the mediae, but this is quite uncertain. Theta cannot be shown to represent /d/ in any known Cisalpine Celtic inscription, while it denotes /t/ in CO·48 (opposite tau for /d/) and probably also in NO·29. Cf. Marinetti & Prosdocimi 1994: 33–37, Motta 2000: 208, Motta 2001b: 316 f. /t/ is also more plausible from a linguistic perspective (see the word page). The discussion also involves CO·57/CO·58/CO·59/CO·60 sekezos, although the names must not necessarily be formed with the same suffix (sekezos features the suffix -i̯-).

In terms of letter forms, theta with a cross inside the circle is only otherwise attested in the archaic NO·29, though the cross has oblique lines there. NO·29 also has chi Χ4 s, which is rarer than Χ s, but appears sporadically in archaic as well as younger inscriptions. Epsilon with four straight bars is quite irregular in the context of the Lepontic alphabet, but it appears in the Castaneda inscription and other Camunic inscriptions (cf. also the probably pseudo-script TI·1). Upsilon is turned by 90° for no evident reason – Marinetti & Prosdocimi 1994: 35 point out that upsilon appears like this in the Este writing tablets, but also consider the possibility that it was turned to fit better on the coin. They (28 f., 33–37) argue that the alphabet variant used in the legend attests to the continued use of an archaic Lepontic alphabet variant in the 4th century BC.

seχeθu is an on-stem personal name, probably naming the authority (chief? magistrate?) under whose rule the coin was struck.

See also TLE: 790, Pautasso 1976: 479–482, Morandi 1982: 231, no. 133, Chiesa 2000: 24 f., Gorini 2000: 34 f., Geiser et al. 2012: 95.

Corinna Salomon


Arslan 1990 Ermanno A. Arslan, "Le monnayage celtique de la plaine du Pô (IVe-Ier siècle avant J.-C.)", Études Celtiques 27 (1990), 71–97.
Arslan 2000 Ermanno A. Arslan, "La monetazione con legende leponzie e la monetazione preromana dell'area leponzia e insubre", in: Raffaele C. De Marinis, Simonetta Biaggio Simona (eds), I leponti tra mito e realtà. Raccolta di saggi in occasione della mostra Locarno, Castello Visconteo - Casorella, 20 maggio - 3 dicembre 2000, Verbania: Armando Dadò Editore 2000, 223-233.
Arslan 2001b Ermanno A. Arslan, "Circolazione ed emissione della moneta nella Lombardia protostorica: status quaestionis", in: Various authors, La protostoria in Lombardia. Atti del 3o convegno archeologico regionale, Como – Villa Olmo 22–23–24 ottobre 1999, Como: 2001, 325–335.
Blanchet 1905 Adrien Blanchet, Traité des monnaies gauloises. Vol. I, Paris: 1905.
Bompois 1879 Ferdinand Bompois, "Remarques critiques sur les monnaies a revers lisse attribuées a Populonia", Revue archéologique n.s. 38 (1879), 65–79.
Chiesa 2000 F. Chiesa, "Le Monete della Prima Fase delle Emissioni Argentee con Legende Leponzie", in: Ermanno Arslan, Riccardo Carazzetti (eds), I Leponti e la moneta. Atti della Giornata di studio "I Leponti e la moneta" in occasione del X anniversario di fondazione del Circolo Numismatico Ticinese (1986–1996) Locarno, 16 novembre 1996 in onore di Franco Chiesa, Locarno: Circolo Numismatico Ticinese 2000, 23-32.
Gambari & Colonna 1988 Filippo Maria Gambari, Giovanni Colonna, "Il bicchiere con iscrizione arcaica da Castelletto Ticino e l'adozione della scrittura nell'Italia nord-occidentale", Studi Etruschi 54 (1986 [1988]), 119–164.
Geiser et al. 2012 Anne Geiser, Julia Genechesi, Nicola Scoccimarro, "Monnaie et écriture au second âge du fer autour de l'arc alpin. Une nouvelle approche des statères épigraphes attribués naguère aux Salasses", Études Celtiques 38 (2012), 77–129.
Gorini 2000 Giovanni Gorini, "Le monete dei Leponzi nel nord-est dell'Italia", in: Ermanno Arslan, Riccardo Carazzetti (eds), I Leponti e la moneta. Atti della Giornata di studio "I Leponti e la moneta" in occasione del X anniversario di fondazione del Circolo Numismatico Ticinese (1986–1996) Locarno, 16 novembre 1996 in onore di Franco Chiesa, Locarno: Circolo Numismatico Ticinese 2000, 33–45.