2nd Century BC
City of Athens
Obverse: head of Athena Parthenos wearing triple-crested Athenian helmet ornamented with Pegasos and foreparts of horses; pellet border encircling
Reverse: T?/T??/F??, right; ?/??/??, left; Owl standing on Amphora, centre; Nike in quadriga, right; ??, in exergue; 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.