Greek Athenian Silver Tetradrachm

£ 750.00

An ancient Greek, Athenian silver tetradrachm coin. The coin’s obverse depicts the profile head of Athena, facing right, wearing a crested Attic helmet ornamented with three laurel leaves and vine scroll. The reverse displays an owl standing and facing right with his body and face frontal. To the right of the owl is an inscription in Ancient Greek letters, ΑΘΕ. An olive spring and crescent moon are situated behind, to the left. The motif and inscription are all set within an incuse square.

Date: Circa 5th century BC
Condition: Very fine. Some slight flaws to the flan but detailing is clear on obverse and reverse.
Product Code: GS-107-A
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The Greek drachma (Eλληνική δραχμή) was the name given to the currency of Ancient Greece. It takes its name from the drachma, the ancient unit of measurement used in many Greek city-states and in many Middle Eastern kingdoms of the Hellenistic period.

The inscription in Ancient Greek letters ΑΘΕ is an abbreviation of the word ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ (ATHINAION), which can be translated as “of the Athenians”. In everyday use, this type of coin was called glaukes, γλαῦκες, meaning owls. This silver coin was first issued in 479 BC in Athens, after the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the battle of Plataea, putting an end to the Second Persian Invasion. Scholars still debate about the origin of the association of the owl with the goddess Athena, and therefore the city. Some say it might be because some characteristics of owls—such as their ability to see in the dark, could be interpreted as a symbol of wisdom, hence linking them to the goddess. Others say that it’s simply because the region where Athens was founded had a significant number of little owls. In any case, the city adopted the owl as proof of allegiance to its patron goddess.

Weight 17.2 g
Dimensions W 2.6 cm
Greek Mythology

Athena

Metal

Silver

Region

Southern Europe

Reference: For similar shape: The British Museum, London, item 1947,0406.254

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