Art Mint immortalises the Mesopotamian Sumerians, on the first of its 7 Ancient Civilisations silver coin series

Emerging in the early Bronze Age in what is now south-central Iraq (southern Mesopotamia), Sumer is one of the first civilisations in human history, certainly in the wider region. Situated in an immensely fertile region around the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rives, the Sumerians harnessed that fertility, creating an agricultural abundance that allowed them to set down permanent roots, and build something extraordinary.

The Sumerians were innovators, creating one of the first scripts, called cuneiform, the wheel, irrigation, literature (the Epic of Gilgamesh), codified law (the Code of Hammurabi), and much more. They built large structures in stone, including the famed ziggurats, as well as temples and palaces, and the civilisation was essentially a conglomeration of city states, each built around a temple dedicated to a single god. This civilisation laid much of the groundwork for what we have today. Sumer was conquered by the Akkadian Empire around 2334 BCE.

There have been numerous coins covering the ancient world from a historical perspective, often depicting scenes of life, and compositions taking various structures into a whole picture. Art Mint have taken a clever approach, mixing the most iconic architectural elements, with the script as a backdrop, expertly mixing just the right amount of colour, with an antique finish.

The focal point here is one of the stunning Lamassu, of which numerous examples exist in some of the world’s greatest museums. Lamma was a goddess in Sumer, associated with protection, and depicted winged. This deity transitioned over time, to what we see on the coin – an Assyrian guardian, human-headed, bull or lion-bodied, and sometimes winged. If you ever see one of the originals, and we recommend you do, they are mightily impressive, and you can imagine a visitor to the great cities being overwhelmed from having to walk between them to enter.

Behind the Lamassu is a blue glazed brick wall, like that of the Ishtar Gate from Babylon. The earliest examples of this, date to at least the 14th century BCE, and likely earlier. The script in the background looks to be an early form of cuneiform, and coloured to look as if carved in clay, or even stone. We absolutely love this design. Everything compliments each other element, and it’s a gorgeous design overall.

The obverse will be common to this series of seven coins, to be released one-per-annum. The coin is issued for Cameroon, so that African nation’s coat-of-arms sits in the centre, along with the issue inscriptions. Surrounding that, are seven concentric rings of script, one for each of the subjects in the series. You can see the cuneiform one closest to the centre. We know the next issue, due in Q1/2024, will be the Indus Valley culture, and their script occupies the next ring.

Now, the regular reader will know that language isn’t my forte, but I’ve had a go at the other rings anyway. The next ring is Ancient Egyptian, easy enough, but the one after that is the most difficult to guess. It’s an East Asian script, possibly an early Chinese called Oracle Bone. This was from the late Shang Dynasty, an important civilisation seated around the Yellow River valley. Could definitely be wrong on that, however. Next is a Mesoamerican script, possibly Mayan, after which is Greek, and then Roman. It looks to be a fascinating selection, mixing widely known civilisations, with less common choices. We could ask Art Mint, but where’s the fun in that?

The coin, two-ounces in weight, will come boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, and the mintage is just 300 pieces. Art Mint coins tend to sell out, and we have no hesitation in suggesting this one will follow them. I’m biased, because I have a deep love of the subject, but this really is an exceptional piece, in our view. It marks more the work of cultures that evolved from Sumer, rather than the culture itself, but that legacy is expansive, and anything that raises awareness of this extraordinary culture gets a big thumbs-up from us. Available to order now.

2,000 Francs CFA (Cameroon) 62.2 g of 0.999 silver 50.0 mm Antique 300 YES/YES