This blog connects two of my favorite things: 65-245 million year ammonite fossils with 3rd-2nd century BC Greeks coins minted under Lysimochos, a successor of Alexander the Great.
Lysimochos was one of Alexander the Great’s lifelong companions and top generals, and since since Alexander designated no heirs his empire was divided into principalities and kingdoms amongst his 12 generals. Lysimochos received Thrace, rich in gold and silver. (Thrace on a modern map is now parts of Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece).
Lysimochos’ coinage depict Alexander the Great as the deified son of Ammon, the Egyptian god equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology, and who Alexander believed he was related to after a visit to the desert oracle at Ammonium (Siwah) in the Libyan desert.
Photo: Tetradrachm. On the obverse, the features of Alexander on this coin follow the descriptions of his biographers: slightly bulging brow ridges, upward staring eyes, luxuriant curly hair, long straight nose, and full lips. The reverse of the coin depicts Athena in her Corinthian helmet, holding a winged Nike. The Gorgonian shield is to Athena’s side.
Ammon in which ammonite gets its name is represented in the form of a ram or as a human with the head of a ram. Similarly shaped, ammonites are fossilized ancient squid in the same spiral, and often ribbed progression as ram horns. The fossils range in diameter from the size of a monster truck tire to half an inch.
Most of the ammonites I collect are iridescent. Over millions of years the outer organic shell layer is replaced with layers of aragonite, the same mineral that give pearls their luster. Gem quality ammonite is called ammolite and found mostly in Canada. Ammonites are otherwise most notably found in the Rocky Mountains and Madagascar.
Photo: Some ammonites from my collection. Cleonicarus Fire Opal Ammonite (Madagascar). The rays of red flash are the thickest areas of nacre. The white almost chalky ammonite is Procheloniceras sp. aff. Albrechtiaustriaes. A client found this in his oil field in Texas and sent it to me. The dark spiny ammonite to the left is Hoploscaphites Nodosus. Love the teensy ammonites too!
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