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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Greece ▸ AthensView Options:  |  |  | 

Athens, Other Cities of Attica, and Athenian Imitatives

The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" and "girls" (but in Greek of course). "Owls" were so popular as a central currency of the ancient world that the design remained essentially unchanged and somewhat archaic long after other cities began to produce coins of a more refined artistic style. "Owls" are still very popular. For collectors they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.

Athens, Attica, Greece, New Style Tetradrachm, c. 86 - 84 B.C., Issued by Sulla

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After 1 March 86 B.C., Sulla was the master of Athens. He recovered from the Pontic king Mithradates, who had taken it by force. This issue was struck for Sulla, either at Athens or outside Athens during the siege, to pay his legions and expenses during the war against Mithradates. The silver was collected from Greeks who supported the Romans against Mithradates and requisitioned from the sacred temple treasuries at Epidaurus, Olympia and Delphi. The ancients admired these Roman-Athenian coins and called them "flats of Lucullan." The MARKOY monogram may refer to Marcus the brother of the Roman general and politician Lucullus.
SH70948. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Thompson Athens 1293; Svoronos Athens pl. 78, 11; Dewing 1653; Boehringer AMUGS V, pp. 28-31 and pl. 9, 10; Kraay-Hirmer pl. 120, 366, gVF, attractive style, well struck, nicely toned, centered on a crowded slightly irregular shape flan, weight 16.581 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 86 - 84 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above visor; reverse owl standing right on amphora on its side right, head facing, MARKOY monogram left, TAMIOY monogram right, A on amphora, all within olive wreath; ex John Jencek; rare; $2500.00 (€2175.00)

Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 449 - 413 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS73681. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31 ff., Kroll 8, SGCV I 2526, F, centered, obverse rough, test cuts, weight 16.302 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, c. 449 - 413 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; $600.00 (€522.00)

Persian Empire, Arabia, Gaza, Samaria or Judaea, c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Middle East.
JD66401. Silver obol, cf. Hendin 1011, Meshorer TJC 4 ff., SNG ANS 15 ff., VF, toned, weight 0.576 g, maximum diameter 8.1 mm, die axis 270o, obverse helmeted head of Athena right; reverse AΘE, owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, within incuse square; $200.00 (€174.00)

Attica, Athens, Summer 32 B.C.

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Kroll dates this issue to the summer of 32 B.C., when Antony and Cleopatra stayed in Athens. The head of Zeus is in the Ptolemaic style and represents Egypt, while Dionysos represents Antony.
GB69775. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 311 (same dies); Kroll 144; Svoronos Athens pl. 25, 36 ff.; BMC Attica p. 86, 604; Lindgren-Kovacs 1544, F, weight 6.291 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, summer 32 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus; reverse head of Dionysos, wearing ivy wreath, A−Θ/E flanking; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; very rare; $200.00 (€174.00)

Persian Empire, Idumaea (Edomites in Judah), 4th Century B.C.

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The Edomite Kingdom, south of Moab and Judah, was conquered by King David. The Edomites had their revenge when they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in the sack of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. They were later driven from their land by the Nabataeans and moved into southern Judah, which under the Persian Empire was formed into the Idumaea satrapy. Herod the Great was of Nabataean and Edomite descent; his ancestors converted to Judaism.

This type is imitative of Athens. After the image of Athena was completely worn, the die was intentionally recut to a blank dome.
JD73559. Silver 1/4 Shekel, GTvA 34 - 39 (prominent dome-shaped motif); Hendin 1025; HGC 10 616 (R2), aVF, struck with worn dies as always for this type, weight 3.763 g, maximum diameter 12.5 mm, Idumaean mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse dome-like blank; reverse AQE, owl standing right, head facing, olive spray left; very rare; $165.00 (€143.55)

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 264 - 267 A.D.

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Athens remained a center of learning and philosophy during its 500 years of Roman rule, patronized by emperors such as Nero and Hadrian. In 267, the city was sacked by the Heruli. All the public buildings were burned, the lower city was plundered and the Agora and Acropolis were damaged. After, the city to the north of the Acropolis was hastily refortified on a smaller scale, with the Agora left outside the walls.
GB69774. Bronze AE 20, Svoronos Athens pl. 90, 8; cf. Kroll 378; SNG Cop 368; BMC Attica p. 99, 712, Lindgren-Kovacs 1561 (cf. refs bust and ethnic variations), F, weight 4.770 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, time of Gallienus, c. 264 - 267 A.D.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, and aegis(?); reverse olive tree, between amphora on left, and owl on right, AΘH in exergue; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; rare; $150.00 (€130.50)

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 87 - 86 B.C., Mithradatic War Issue

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In 87 B.C., Mithridates moved his forces into Greece and established Aristion as a tyrant in Athens. Sulla landed in Epirus and marched through Boeotia into Attica. Most cities declared their allegiance to Rome, foremost among them Thebes. Athens, however, remained loyal to Mithridates. After a long and brutal siege, Sulla's rough battle hardened legions, veterans of the Social War, took Athens on the Kalends of March 86 B.C. They looted and burned temples and structures built in the city by various Hellenistic kings to honor themselves and gain prestige. Months later, only after they ran out of water, Aristion surrendered the Akropolis. Athens was looted and punished severely. Roman vengeance ensured Greece would remain docile during later civil wars and Mithridatic wars.
GB69776. Bronze chalkous, SNG Cop 307, BMC Attica p. 81, 554; Kroll 97; Svoronos Athens pl. 84, 45 - 48, F, flan crack, weight 7.255 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, Mithradates VI of Pontos & Aristion, 87 - 86 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Zeus advancing right, nude, hurling thunderbolt with right, left extended, A/Q-E flanking below arms, star between two crescents (one above and one below) in lower right field; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; scarce; $70.00 (€60.90)

American Numismatic Society: Museum Notes 26

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Kroll, J.H. From Wappenmünzen to Gorgoneia to owls
Thompson, M. The Cavalla hoard (IGCH 450)
Martin, T.R. A third-century B.C. hoard from Thessaly at the ANS (IGCH 168)
Mathisen, R.W. Antigonus Gonatas and the silver coinages of Macedonia circa 280-270 B.C.
Weiskopf, M. The Kuh Dasht hoard and the Parthian "Dark Age"
Mc Lean, M.D. The initial coinage of Alexander Jannaeus
Harl, K.W. Caracalla or Elagabalus? The imperial imago at the Greek mint of Magnesia ad Maeandrum
Roman and Byzantine:
Metcalf, W.E. A corrigendum to The Cistophori of Hadrian
Kaiser-Raiss, M.R. Posthumous Hadrianic medallions?
Malandra, G. Transitional style in the Siva images on Kusana gold coins
Bates, M.L. The Ottoman coinage of Tilimsa
Varriano, J.L.: Some documentary evidence on the restriking of early Papal medals
BK11652. ANS: Museum Notes 26, 223 pages, 32 plates, paperback, good condition, faded cover, bent corner; $15.00 (€13.05)



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Bingen, J. "Le trésor monétaire Thorikos 1969" in Thorikos VI. (Brussels, 1973).
de Callatay, F. "Athenian new style tetradrachms in Macedonian hoards" in AJN 3-4 (1992).
Fischer-Bossert, W. "More Athenian Decadrachms" in SNR 88 (2009).
Fischer-Bossert, W. The Athenian Decadrachm, ANSNNM 168. (New York, 2008).
Flament, C. Le monnayage en argent d?Athènes. De l?époque archaïque à l?époque hellénistique (c. 550-c. 40 av. J.-C.). (Lovain-la-Neuve, 2007).
Head, B. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Attica - Megaris - Aegina. (London, 1888).
Kroll, J.H. The Greek Coins. The Athenian Agora, vol. XXVI. (Princeton, 1993).
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Kraay, C.M. Coins of Ancient Athens. Minerva Numismatic Handbooks No. 2. (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1968).
Mørkholm, O. "The Chronology of the New Style Silver Coinage of Athens" in ANSMN 29. (1984).
Nicolet-Pierre, H & J.H. Kroll. "Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the Third Century BC", AJN 2 (1990). pp. 1-35.
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Seltman, C.T. Athens, its history and coinage before the Persian invasion. (Cambridge, 1924).
Sverdrup, H.U. The history and catalogue of the tetradrachms of Athens. (Stockholm, 2010).
Starr, C. Athenian coinage 480-449 BC. (London, 1970).
Svoronos, J. Les monnaies d?Athenes. (Munich, 1923-26).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 3: Greece: Thessaly to Aegean Islands. (New Jersey, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 14: Attika, Megaris, Ägina. (Berlin, 2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Bibliothèque National, Collection Jean et Marie Delepierre. (Paris, 1983).
Thompson, M. The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens. ANSNS 10. (1961).
van Alfen, P.G. "A New Athenian 'Owl' and Bullion Hoard from the Near East," AJN 16 - 17 (2004-05). pp. 47-61, pl. 6-17.

Catalog current as of Saturday, August 01, 2015.
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Athens Greek Coins