Athenian Silver Tetradrachm in the New Style

SKU C.6109

2nd Century BC


1.125″ (-1646692.2cm) high




City of Athens

Gallery Location



Obverse: head of Athena wearing Athenian helmet in right profile; pellet border, encircling
Reverse: T?/???/???/G???/?????, right; ?/??/??, left; owl standing on Amphora, centre; [Zeus/Dionysus], bottom left field; all within laurel-wreath.

The tetradrachm – a silver coin equivalent to four drachmae – first came into circulation in Athens in 510 BC, replacing the earlier “heraldic” type of currency. The tetradrachm was to become the most authoritative coinage of Classical Greece and was adopted by many other city-states. It would remain barely changed over the next three centuries. By 2nd century BCE Athens’ fortunes had waned, conquered first by Sparta and then Macedonia. Shifts in the Socio-economic and political landscape give rise to a new-style of coinage, showing Athena wearing a crested helmet on the obverse and a highly-stylized owl standing upon a prostrate amphora on the reverse. This issue, which was minted almost four hundred years after the first tetradrachms marks the changes to a very distinct iconography that would endure until the Roman conquest.

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