Hemidrachm from Parion, Mysia c. 400-300 BC

A Gorgoneion surrounded by serpents. On the reverse a bull looking backward; ΠA  inscribed above and PI below.

A gorgoneion was an amuletic symbol with the face of a gorgon and was used as a protective amulet to to ward off evil. In Greek mythology there were three gorgon sisters, of which the most famous was Medusa, who was decapited by the hero Perseus. Anyone caught in the glare of her decapitated head would turn to stone. In ancient times, the hair of the gorgon was never depicted as living snakes, that was a later invention. The snakes, if any, were shown near the head (like this coin’s depiction) or in the hair. No one really knows why Parion chose to use the gorgoneion on its coinage but it makes for an interesting piece of ancient history.

Parion (or Parium) was a Greek city in Mysia on the Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) which is a long narrow strait dividing Europe and Asia Minor.