Denomination: Silver nomos
Circa 340-330 BC. AR Nomos (19mm, 7.76 g, 6h). Helmeted head of Leukippos right; to left, lion head right; [monogram below chin] / Barley ear with leaf to left; club above leaf, AMI below. Johnston Class B, 2; HN Italy 1575. VF, toned, some die wear.
History: Metapontum was another of the wealthy Greek colonies in Magna Graecia. Throughout the extensive series of staters that Metapontum issued, the ear of barley, to which the city-state owed its wealth, features prominently.
Ancient coins were more than just money. They carried messages that unadorned weights of metal never could, announcing the origin of the coin and the identity of the people who made it. Adopted in mainland Greece in the early sixth century BCE from the Near East, coinage spread quickly westward, where the cities of Magna Graecia, in southern Italy and Sicily, began producing their own coins sometime in the mid-sixth century BCE. This silver coin from Metapontum is one of the earliest such coins, and it has a number of unusual features, reflecting the complex identity of the city that produced it.
Leucippus was a philosopher who was the earliest Greek to develop the theory of atomism—the idea that everything is composed entirely of various imperishable, indivisible elements called atoms. Leucippus often appears as the master to his pupil Democritus, a philosopher also thought to be the originator of the atomic theory. He was a contemporary of Zeno of Elea and Empedocles. He belonged to the same Ionian School of naturalistic philosophy as Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. Around 440 or 430 BCE Leucippus founded a school at Abdera, with which his pupil, Democritus, was closely associated. There is mention that a Leucippus founded the city of Metapontum, which honored Leucippus with this coin.