Coin, silver tetradrachm, Egypt; Early to mid Fourth Century BC; 202.06.2

Name/Title

Coin, silver tetradrachm, Egypt

About this object

This tetradrachm, worth the equivalent of four drachmas, can possibly be recognised as an Egyptian imitation of the standard Greek “owl” coin. (See, for example, JLMC 181.97 for an authentic tetradrachm owl coin). Like traditional owl coins, the reverse side shows an owl with the inscription “ATHE”, standing for “of the Athenians”, and the obverse side depicts the head of Athena, patron goddess of Athens. But slight differences in detailing around Athena’s eye and hair suggest that this might not be a genuine Athenian coin.

Athenian owl coins were accepted currency all around the ancient world. Many have been found around the Mediterranean from ancient times. However, when the Peloponnesian War – a brutal war between Athens and Sparta that lasted over 20 years – caused a shortage of Athenian coins, other major centres such as Egypt and Syria began to produce their own copies of Athenian owl coins. It appears that such copies were largely accepted around the Mediterranean and were probably circulated as far and wide as genuine owl coins.

Date Made

Early to mid Fourth Century BC

Period

Classical

Place Made

Egypt

Medium and Materials

Metal; Silver

Inscription and Marks

ΑΘΕ (ATHE) inscription appears on reverse side to left of the owl

Measurements

Weight 16.66g
Diameter ca. 25mm

Subject and Association Keywords

Animals in art

Subject and Association Keywords

Goddesses in art

Subject and Association Keywords

Inscriptions, Greek

Named Collection

The James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Credit Line

Donated by Rosemary Tredgold, in thanks to Kate and Sam Adshead, 2006

Object Type

Exchange Media

Object number

202.06.2

Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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