Greek Athenian Silver Tetradrachm


A fine Athenian silver tetradrachm depicting the profile head of Athena on its obverse. The Greek goddess is portrayed facing right, wearing a crested Attic helmet ornamented with three laurel leaves and vine scrolls. The reverse displays a stylistically rendered owl standing within an incuse square, facing right with his body, face frontal. The Greek inscription ΑΘΕ (Athe) is written vertically to the bird’s right, whilst an olive springs from the top left corner of the coin. A small crescent fills the field above the bird’s wings.

Date: Circa 5th Century BC
Condition: Fine condition.


SKU: BL-46 Category: Tags: , , ,

The Greek drachma (Eλληνική δραχμή – Ellenike drakme) 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 (Athenaion), which can be translated as “[the coinage] of the Athenians”. In everyday use this type of coins 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 are still debating 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 17.1 g
Dimensions L 2.4 cm


Greek Mythology


Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 1886.31.76

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