- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Explore Our Website And Find Joy In The History, Numismatics, Art, Mythology, And Geography Of Coins!!! NumisWiki Is An Enormous Unique Resource Including Hundreds Of Books And Thousands Of Articles Online!!! The Column On The Left Includes Our "Best of NumisWiki" Menu If You Are New To Collecting - Start With Ancient Coin Collecting 101 NumisWiki Includes The Encyclopedia of Roman Coins and Historia Nummorum If You Have Written A Numismatic Article - Please Add It To NumisWiki All Blue Text On The Website Is Linked - Keep Clicking To ENDLESSLY EXPLORE!!! Please Visit Our Shop And Find A Coin You Love Today!!!

× Resources Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
How to
Index Of All Titles


Aes Formatum
Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Pottery
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Armenian Numismatics Page
Augustus - Facing Portrait
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Holy Land Antiquities
Horse Harnesses
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Julius Caesar - The Funeral Speech
Kushan Coins
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Malloy Weapons
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew Script Styles
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Locks
Roman Militaria
Roman Military Belts
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Serdi Celts
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite

   View Menu


Map_Ancient_Greece_1900pix.jpg  Map_Ancient_Peloponnesos_1900.jpg  Map_Ancient_City_of_Athens.jpg  Plan_of_the_Acropolis_of_Athens.jpg  Map_Plan_of_the_Antiquities_of_Athens_2400pix.jpg  1024px-Map_of_Attica_and_Megaris.jpg

Coins from Attica for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins shop

Babelon, J. Catalogue de la collection de Luynes: monnaies greques. (Paris, 1924-1936).
Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. (Paris, 1901-1932).
Bingen, J. "Le trésor de tétradrachmes attiques de style Pi" in MIGRA I (Gent, 1975), pp. 161 - 170.
Bingen, J. "Le trésor monétaire Thorikos 1969" in Thorikos VI. (Brussels, 1973), pp. 7-59.
Beulé, E. Monnaies d 'Athènes. (Paris, 1858).
Boehringer, C. Zur Chronologie mittelhellenistischer Münzserien 220-160 v. Chr. (Berlin, 1972).
de Callataÿ, F. L 'histoire des guerres mithridatiques vue par les monnaies. Numismatica Lovaniensia 18, (Louvain-la-Neuve, 1997).
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).
Forrer, L. Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Greek Coins formed by Sir Hermann Weber, Vol. II: Macedon, Thrace, Thessaly, North western, central and southern Greece. (London, 1924).
Fox, E. "Some Athenian problems" in NC 1905, p. 1. 
Grotefend, C. Chronologische Anordnung d. athenischen Silbermünzen. (Hanover, 1872).
Habicht, C. "Zu den Münzmagistraten der Silberprägung des Neuen Stils" in Chiron 21 (1991), pp. 1-23.
Head, B. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Attica - Megaris - Aegina. (London, 1888).
Head, B. & H. Howorth. "The Initial Coinage of Athens" in NC 13 (New York, 1893).
Kraay, C. Archaic and Classical Greek Coinage. (London, 1976), pp. 54-77.
Kraay, C. "The archaic owls of Athens: classification and chronology." NC 166 (1956), pp. 34-68.
Kraay, C. Coins of Ancient Athens. Minerva Numismatic Handbooks N. 2. (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1968).
Kroll, J. "Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the First Half of the Fourth Century B.C." in RBN 157 (Brussel, 2011).
Kroll, J. The Athenian Agora. The Greek Coins, Vol. 26. (Princeton, 1993).
Kroll, J. "From Wappenmünzen to Gorgoneia to Owls" in ANSMN 26 (1981), pp. 1-32.
Kroll, J. The Greek Coins. The Athenian Agora, vol. XXVI. (Princeton, 1993).
Kroll, J. "The Reminting of Athenian Silver Coinage, 353 B.C." in Hesperia 80 (2011).
Lewis, D. " 'The Chronology of the Athenian New Style Coinage" in NC 11 (1962), pp. 275-300.
Macdonald, G. "Amphora letters on coins of Athens" in NC 19 (1899), pp. 288 - 321.
Macdonald, G. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, University of Glascow, Vol II: Greece and Asia Minor. (Glasgow, 1901).
Mildenberg, L. & S. Hurter, eds. The Dewing Collection of Greek Coins. ACNAC 6. (New York, 1985).
Mørkholm, O. "The Chronology of the New Style Coinage of Athens" in ANSMN 29 (1984), pp. 29-42.
Nicolet-Pierre, H. & J. Kroll. "Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the Third Century BC" in AJN 2 (1990), pp. 1-35.
Puglisi, M. "La monetazione bronzea di nuovo stile ateniese" in Rivista Italiana di Numismatica 97 (1996), pp. 43-82.
Robinson, E. & G. Jenkins. A Catalogue of the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection of Greek Coins, Vol. II: Greece to East. (Lisboa, 89).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Seltman, C. Athens, its History and Coinage. (Chicago, 1974).
Starr, C. Athenian Coinage 480-449 BC. (Oxford, 1971).
Sundwall, J. "Ueber eine neue attische Serie" in ZfN 26 (1908), pp. 273 - 274.
Sundwall, J. Untersuchungen über die attischen Münzen des neueren Stiles. (Helsingfors, 1907).
Sverdrup, Harald U. The history and catalogue of the tetradrachms of Athens. (Stockholm, 2010).
Svoronos, J. Les monnaies d 'Athenes. (Munich, 1923-26).
Svoronos, J. Monnaies inédites d 'Athènes (Rivista Italiana di Num., 1908).
Svoronos, J. Νεα προσκτηματα, etc. (Journ. int. d 'arch. num., 1900, 169, and 1898, 367).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection, Danish National Museum, Vol. 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).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection, Part 3: Macedonia - Aegina (gold and silver). (London, 1942).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Sweden: Sammlung Eric von Post. (Stockholm, 1995).
Thompson, M. The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens, ANSNS 10. (New York, 1961).
Thompson, W. "The Golden Nikai and the Coinage of Athens" in NC 107 (1970), pp. 1-6.
Waggoner, N. Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen. ANS ACNAC 5. (New York, 1983).

Athens. The fortunate recovery in 1891 of Aristotle 's lost book, Αθηναιων πολιτεια, which represents Solon 's reform of the coinage in terms which seem irreconcilable with the statements of other ancient authorities, has led, since the publication of the Historia Numorum in 1887, to a vast amount of discussion on the early coinage of Athens, and has incidentally stimulated numerous scholars, who are not specialists in numismatics, to a more or less careful study of the Athenian coinage, each approaching it from his own standpoint,—history, economics, metrology, epigraphy, etc. It can hardly be said that complete unanimity of opinion has been, so far, attained with regard to the exact dating of either the oldest or the more recent issues of the Athenian mint; but, at any rate, considerable progress towards a final agreement has been made. In the following pages it will be seen that my original classification of the coins of Athens has been to some extent modified in the light of all that has been written on the subject since the appearance of the first edition of the present work, and of my BMC Attica, etc., 1887.

There can be no doubt that coins of some sort were current in Attica when Solon thought it necessary to reform the standards of weights, measures, and coinage, and it seems equally evident that any such coins must have been of Aeginetic and not Euboic weight.

The tradition handed down by Plutarch (Thes. 25) that Theseus struck coins with the figure of an ox upon them is worthless; but when Philochorus (Schol. in Arist. Av. 1106; cf. Pollux ix. 60), who was ιεροσκοπος B.C. 306, and therefore not unlikely to have seen old coins among the Temple treasures, says that the earlier Athenian coins were didrachms of the Bull type, his assertion cannot be equally negligible. There exist in fact coins of Euboic weight (BMC Central Greece, Pl. XXII. 5, 6; XXIII. 7) with a bull 's head upon them, which I have attributed to Eretria, and these may have been accepted by Philochorus, as they have been by Beulé and other modern numismatists, as the earliest coins of Athens. But even so it is hardly conceivable that they can be earlier than Solon 's time.

In point of fact, although the Euboic standard, either in its heavy (double) or light form, had been imported into and domesticated in Euboea and her colonies long before the invention of coined money, there are no extant European coins of this standard which can be confidently designated as pre-Solonian. But Solon, as a widely traveled merchant, no less than as a statesman, may well have perceived that, in the interests of Athenian commerce, it would be very advantageous if the Athenian standards of weights, measures, and his new coinage could be brought into uniformity with those which prevailed in the countries with which the merchants of Athens had the largest dealings. These lands were more especially Euboea and the numerous Euboean colonies, both in Chalcidice and in the West. It would seem therefore that he decided to abolish the old Pheidonian standards and to substitute for the foreign Aeginetan coins, hitherto in use, new denominations of Euboic weight.

In these early days the Euboic drachm in its heavy form (commonly known as the didrachm) weighed about 133 grs. That the earliest coins of this weight should be reckoned as drachms rather than as didrachms is probable from the fact that some of the specimens with the Gorgoneion and Lion 's head types (BMC Central Greece, Pl. XXII. 10, and Babelon, Traité, Pl. XXXI. 14-17), weighing 268.5 grs., bear the mark of value of a didrachm (••). It must have been therefore at a later period than the issue of these coins that the Euboic denominations were reduced by one half.

The drachm of the old Pheidonian or Aeginetic standard hitherto current in Peloponnesus and in Attica (?) weighed, on the other hand, about 93.1 grs. These two drachms (of 92 and 133 grs.) and their corresponding minae, each containing 100 drachms of their respective standards, stood therefore in relation to one another as follows :—

Pheidonian = Aeginetic Dr. 93.1; Mina, 9310 grs. = 70 Euboïc Drs.
Euboïc Dr. 133; Mina, 13300 grs. = 100 Euboïc Drs.

Aristotle (Αθ. πολ. c. 10) records this augmentation by Solon of the weight of the Mina from 70 to 100 Euboïc drachms in the following passage, which concludes with the necessary explanatory statement that the old Euboïc drachm, χαρακτηρ, or coin (i.e. monetary unit of Solon 's time) was identical with the didrachm (sc. of Aristotle 's own time, viz. 133 grs),1 Εν [μεν ουν τ]οις νομοις ταυτα δοκει θειναι δημοτικα, προ δε της νομοθεσιας ποιησαι την τον χ[ρ]εω[ν απο]κοπην, και μετα ταυτα την τε των μετρων και σταθμων και την του νομισματος αυξησιν. Επ εκεινου γαρ εγενετο και τα μετρα μειζω των Φειδωνειων, και η μνα προτερον [αγο]υσα [σ]τα[θμ]ον εβδομηκοντα δραχμας ανεπληρωθη ταις εκατον. Ην δ ο αρχαιος χαρακτηρ διδραχμον.

Androtion (Plut. Sol. 15), circ. B.C. 346, alludes also to Solon 's change in the weight of the mina. His figures are 73:100, while Aristotle 's are 70:100 :— εκατον γαρ εποιησε δραχμων την μναν προτερον εβδομηκοντα και τριων ουσαν—but this slight discrepancy is of no great importance, and would be easily explicable if we could suppose that the average weights of the Aeginetic and of the Euboïc drachms were reckoned by Androtion at about 92 and 134 grs. respectively, instead of 93.1 and 133 grs. The rest of the above passage seems, however, to prove that Androtion was oblivious of the fact that the drachm in Solon 's time had been double the

The old mina, formerly weighing 70 drachms, of Aristotle 's time (66.5 x 70 = 4655 grs.), was raised by Solon to 100 ( = 6650 grs.). Of course both minas contained 100 drachms, the old drachm weighing 46.5 grs., and the Solonian drachm 66.5 grs. The adoption of the latter in place of the former was the αυξησις του νομισματος. The old χαρακτηρ or didrachm of 93 grs. was replaced at the same time by the heavier coin of 133 grs.

It is worthy of note that at Corinth the coin of 45 grs. was called the drachm, and Aristotle may have regarded it in the same light. weight of what it afterwards became, for he continues—ωστ αριτμω μεν ισον, δυναμει δ ελαττον αποδιδοντων, ωφελεισθαι μεν τους εκτινοντας μεγαλα, μηδεν δε βλαπτεσθαι τους κομιζομενους. Androtion, if Aristotle is to be credited, has confused two successive decrees of Solon, (1) the Cancelling of debts, and (2) the Reform of the coinage: η των χρεων αποκοπη being first carried out, and, therefore (και μετα ταυτα), the augmentation (αυξησις) of the measures, weights, and coinage.

1 If it be objected that this is not what was intended by ην δ ο αρχαιος χαρακτηρ διδραcμον, and that the didrachm referred to must have been the Aeginetic didrachm current before Solon changed the standard, then we must fall back upon the hypothesis that the coin in Aristotle 's mind cannot have been that which is usually called the Aeginetic didrachm, viz. 186 grs., but must have been its half, viz. 93 grs. There would then be no difficulty in the passage, taken by itself, and without reference to the serious difficulties raised, (1st) by the coins of 268 grs. (BMC Central Greece, Pl. XXII. 10, and Babelon, Traité, Pl. XXXI. 14-17), marked (••) as a Didrachm, and (2nd) by the account of Hippias 's subsequent alteration of the χαρακτηρ of the Athenian coins (i.e. from didrachms to tetradrachms of identical weight). Were it not for these objections, Aristotle 's words might be easily interpreted as follows :—

The change of standard by Solon from the Aeginetic to the Euboïc can hardly have failed to influence various other cities, already using the Euboïc silver standard, to follow his example by issuing for the first time coined money of Euboïc weight, and greatly to promote the circulation of such coins in Attica itself, side by side with the Solonian issues. This sufficiently accounts for the fact that the so-called ‘Wappenmünzen ' of various types have usually been found in Attica.

Solon too, whose travels in Asia Minor had made him familiar with the electrum currency of Lydia and Ionia, may perhaps be credited with an attempt to introduce, side by side with his silver money, an electrum coinage similar to that which was in use across the sea. To his time, at any rate, I would assign the small electrum pieces of Athens, Chalcis, and Eretria (?), which have been occasionally found in Greece.1


Time of Solon, B.C. 594 and later.
Owl to left. [BMC Attica, Pl. I. 1.] Incuse square containing triangle.
El. Hemihecton, 21 grs.
Owl, l., in linear circle. [BMC Attica, Pl. XXIV. 18.] Incuse square diagonally quartered.
AR Drachm, 124 grs.
Similar. [BMC Attica, Fig. 19.] Similar.
AR ½ Obol, 11.2 grs.

Post-Solonian and Pisistratid Periods, circ. B.C. 566-514.

FIG. 207.

The next series of Athenian coins consists mainly of rude silver bullets of 270 grs. (max.), which, as we have seen, must have been originally called didrachms2, though after the exchange, at Athens, of the heavy Euboïc mina for the light mina, exactly half its weight, they became tetradrachms.

These pieces bear on the obverse a head of Athena of very archaic style in an unadorned crested helmet,3 and on the reverse an Owl with the inscr. or occasionally (but not on the earliest specimens) , and an olive-spray in the corner of the incuse square. It is noticeable that on the latter specimens the incuse square is sharper and deeper than on the earlier ones, and their fabric suggests the probability of their having been struck at Eretria. (see Earle Fox, in Corolla Num., p. 44) In style the coins of the early Athenian issues range from the most primitive to the most refined archaic. Among them are the oldest and rudest examples of a human head on any ancient coins (with the possible exception of some small electrum coins of Ionia, see Archaïc Artemisia of Ephesus, p. 92, Pl. II. 75), and I take these to be quite the earliest Greek coins which were struck with both obv. and rev. types, The issues are very numerous, and there is reason to suppose that they extended over a long series of years, probably from the earlier half of the sixth century at least down to the time of Hippias, those of finer execution belonging to the later times of the Pisistratidae, when their money-chests were frequently replenished from their recently developed mining works at Laurium, and in their newly acquired possessions in the Strymon district. Cf. Herod. i. 64 πειθομενων δε των Αθηναιων ουτω δη Πεισιστρατος το τριτον σχων Αθηνας εππιζωσε την τυραννιδα (B.C. 533), επικουποισι τε πολλοισι, και χρηματων συνοδοισι, των μεν αυτοθεν, των δε απο Στρυμονος ποταμου συνιοντων.

1 Beulé, p. 64, 1; Köhler, Münzfunde auf Euboea (Ath. Mitth., ix. 359).

2 See Didrachm of 268.5 grs (p. 367), (BMC Central Greece, Pl. XXII. 10).

3 One specimen in B. M. has on the helmet the three olive-leaves, and on the rev. ...

A highly probable date for the inauguration of the Athena-head rev. Owl series is the occasion of the first celebration on a grand scale of the great Festival of the Panathenaic Games, in the summer of B.C. 566, which was attended by a vast concourse of strangers from all parts of the Hellenic world. Then, and at every subsequent quadrennial celebration of the Panathenaea, a large supply of current coin would naturally be in request.

The smaller denominations of the above period resemble the larger coins1 (BMC Attica, Nos. 27-39).

Time of Hippias,2 B.C. 514-511, and down to circ. B.C. 407.

We have seen that in Solon 's time the drachm, according to Aristotle,3 probably weighed about 133 grs. We also learn that the nominal value of the current coins must have been doubled at an early date in Athenian history, for the chief denomination (χαραγμα or χαρακτηρ, circ. 270 grs.) is subsequently always designated as a tetradrachmη γλαυξ επι χαραγματος ην τετραδραχμου, ως Φιλοξορος. εκληθη δε το νομισμα το τετραδραχμου τοτε [η] γλαυξ. η γαρ γλαυξ επισημου και προσωπου Αθηνασg (Schol. on Ar. Av. 1106).

The probable date of the demonetization of the older and extremely archaic money, and of a fresh issue of coins of the same weight but, legally and nominally, of different current value (presumably double the old value), is fixed by Pseudo-Aristotle (Oecon. ii. 4), who says of Hippias (B.C. 514-511) that το τε νομισμα το ον Αθηναιοις αδοκιμον εποιησεν. ταξας δε τιμην εκελευσε προς αυτον ανακομιζειν. συνελθοντων δε επι τω κοψαι ετερον

... the small moon behind the owl. These additions to the original type were not formally adopted until Hippias called in and reissued the coins about 514 B.C. (see pp. 370 and 391). On other rare specimens the snakes of Athena 's aegis are seen at the neck of the goddess.

1 With the exception of Nos. 28 and 29. (See Six, N. C., Ser. III, vol. xv, 172 sqq.)

2 For an obol struck by Hippias in exile see infra, p. 377, and for a tetradrachm said to read on obv. and on rev., see Seltman, Num. Chron., 1908, p. 278 sq.

3 His evidence is confirmed by the coin of 268.5 grs., with mark of value indicating 2 drachms. (See above, p. 367.)

χαρακτηρα εξεδωκε το αυτο αργυριον. Hippias thus appears to have cried down and demonetized the existing coinage, and to have called it in at a fixed valuation, and when the coins had been collected to be restruck as pieces of a different 'χαρακτηρ‘ (i.e. denomination), he reissued the same coins (το αυτο αργυριον).1 This apparently means that he called in, for the purpose of restriking, the old coins of 266-270 grs., hitherto reckoned as didrachms, and then reissued them at double their original current value as tetradrachms. In future all silver coins of 270 grs. were to be accepted as tetradrachms, the weight of the drachm being reduced by one-half. In this substitution of the light for the heavy Euboïc standard, Hippias probably followed the example of other states using that standard, while at the same time he succeeded, within his own dominions, in doubling, nominally if not actually, his own resources.

The unmistakably archaic and unaffected style of the head of Athena on the earliest specimens of the following series (BMC Attica, Pl. III. 5), as exemplified by the almond-shaped eye and the so-called 'archaic smile, ' differentiates them from the slightly modified and conventionalized continuations which follow them (ibid., Pls. III. 6 and IV. 1-3). Towards the close of the fifth century the work becomes steadily coarser and more careless, but even these later coins are distinguishable from those of the next period (after circa. 393), on all of which the eye of Athena is shown in profile (ibid., Pl. V).

On the reverse side of the tetradrachms, as reissued by Hippias (?), the addition of a small waning (not crescent) moon behind the owl may perhaps serve to synchronize the issue of Hippias ' new coinage with the Panathenaic festival of July-August, B.C. 514, on which occasion a large issue of Athenian coins would naturally be required. The connection of Athenian coin-types with the Panathenaea is well known, and becomes more evident at a much later date on the coins of the 'new style ', where the owl is seen standing on a Panathenaic prize amphora.2 The decrescent moon on the earlier series is a less conspicuous symbol possibly referring to the same festival. The whole-night vigil, παννυχις, preceding the culminating Feast-day of the Great Panathenaea, was passed in carol-singing and in the choral dances of young men and maidens. The waning moon, a reversed crescent, did not rise until after midnight, when the torch-races and dances were all over, and her appearance above the eastern horizon in the early hours of the τριτη φθινοντος (the twenty-eighth day of the month) was signalized by hymns and ολολυγματα, the rising moon being greeted as the precursor of the dawn of the great festival day of the national goddess.3 It was during this very night, εν προτερη νυκτι των Παναθηναιων (Herod. v. 56), that Hipparchos was warned in a vision of the fate which awaited him in the early morning.

The reformed silver coinage of Athens, as reissued by Hippias (?), consisted of the following denominations :—

Dekadrachm, 675 grs. (max.). Coins of this large size seem to have been, in early times, chiefly issued on special occasions or for the personal gratification of Tyrants or Kings, and not for common currency.

1 Hippias can hardly have contemplated making any considerable change in the time-honored coin-types, as such a course would have been detrimental to the credit of the Athenian currency. Hence χαρακτηρ is, in all probability, to be here understood not as a παρασημον, or special type, but as the chief denomination of the Athenian coinage. See additional Note on p. 391.

2 Cf. C. Smith, B. S. A., iii. 188.

3 A. Mommsen, Feste d. Stadt Athen, 1898, p. 106.

Fig. 208.

Head of Athena of archaic style, her helmet adorned in front with three olive-leaves erect, and at the back with a floral scroll; her hair in bands across her temples, and indicated by dots under the neck-piece of the helmet (Fig. 208). Incuse square, within which, owl to front with open wings; in l. corner of square, olive-spray. [BMC Attica, Pl. III. 1; Babelon, Traité, Pl. XXXV. 8, 11.]

Tetradrachm, 270 grs. (max.). This was the denomination (the χαρακτηρ or χαραγμα of Athens) which for nearly two centuries enjoyed a world-wide currency, until it was at last superseded by the still more popular tetradrachm of Alexander the Great.

FIG. 209.

Head of Athena as on the dekadrachm (Fig. 209). [BMC Attica, Pl. III. 2-5; Babelon, Traité, Pl. XXXV. 13-16.]. Incuse square, within which, Owl, r., head facing, wings closed; behind, olive-spray and small decrescent moon.

A very rare variety has on the reverse an owl facing with closed wings and other differences in detail. (Z. f. N. xxi. Pl. IV. 7.) In my opinion it was not struck at Athens. (Cf. imitations of Athenian coins struck at Gaza in Judaea.)

Didrachm, 135 grs. (max.). This denomination was only issued in small quantities, probably for local use, early in the fifth century.

FIG. 210.

Head of Athena as above (Fig. 210). [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 4; Babelon, Traité, Pl. XXXV. 12.]. Similar to tetradrachms, but the incuse square confined within a circular incuse, and no moon behind owl.

Drachm, 67.5 grs. (max.). The hundredth part of the light Euboïc silver mina, and the unit of account.

FIG. 211.

Head of Athena as above (Fig. 211). [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 5, 6.] Similar, but without the circular incuse; no moon.

Triobol or ½ Drachm, 33.75 grs. (max.), commonly struck for local use.

FIG. 212.

Similar (Fig. 212). [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 7, 8.] Incuse circle. Owl to front, wings closed, between olive-branches.

Trihemiobol, 16.87 grs. (max.), struck for local use.

Similar [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 9.] Incuse square. Two owls face to face, with olive-spray between them.
Similar [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 10.] Incuse circle. Owl facing, wings open: above, olive-spray.

Obolos, 11.25 grs. (max.) (cf. R. N., 1887, p. 210), struck for local use.

Similar. [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 11.] Incuse square, within which, owl, r.; behind, olive-leaf.

Hemiobol, 5.62 grs. (max.) (Xen. Anab. i, 5, 6; Arist. Ran. 554), struck for local use.

Similar. [BMC Attica, Pl. IV. 12, 13.] Similar.

For pentobols, tetrobols, diobols, and some small denominations, see next periods.

First issue of Gold coins, B.C. 407-406, and Bronze money of necessity till B.C. 393.

The silver money of Athens, during the period of her power and prosperity which followed the Persian wars, had gradually become almost an international currency, and was accepted by both Greeks and Barbarians in preference to all other coins (Arist. Ran. 721 sqq.). But there were times of depression, after her unfortunate expedition to Sicily, when Athens was driven to her reserve fund, and compelled to melt down and coin into money the gold ornaments which had been dedicated, with wise foresight, to her protecting goddess.

The first of these occasions was in the year B.C. 407-406, towards the close of the Peloponnesian war, when, after her great naval disasters, Athens had hastily to equip and man an entirely new fleet. To meet such an exceptional outlay the gold statues of Nike in the Parthenon were sent to the mint, and the following gold pieces were issued :—

Head of Athena as on silver coins above described. [Z. f. N., xxi. Pl. I. 1, 2.] Incuse square. Owl r., on olive-branch; behind, olive-spray.
(Paris.) AV ½ Stater, 66.5 grs.
Id. [Ibid., Pl. I. 3-4; NC, 1893, Pl. I. 9.] Incuse circle. Owl to front, wings closed, in olive-wreath.
(B. M.) AV ¼ Stater, 33 grs.
Id. [Z. f. N., xxi. Pl. I. 5, 6.] Incuse square. Two owls face to face; between them, olive-branch.
AV Hekte, 22.5 grs.
Id. [Ibid., Pl. I. 7.] Incuse square. Owl r., on olive-branch.
AV hemihekton 11 grs.

The financial straits in which Athens found herself in B.C. 406 were so severe that no silver money could be obtained, and bronze had to take its place as money of necessity. The new gold issue was, of course, all swallowed up for war expenses, and, in any case, it would not have been suitable for the small daily wants of the citizens. These were the conditions which Aristophanes (B.C. 405) laments (Ran. 725), viz. the disappearance of the far-famed old coins, τ αρχαιον νομισμα, and even of the new gold money, το καινον χρυσιον, and the substitution for them of base and hastily struck bronze pieces, τουτοις τοις πονηροις χαλκιοις, χθες, τε και πρωην κοπεισι τω κακιστω κομματι. One of these bronze tetradrachms, originally plated, is in the British Museum. Few survive nowadays, for, as we shall see, they were only current in Athens during the hard times which followed the Athenian collapse, viz. from B.C. 406-393.

During these thirteen years the Athenian mint seems to have been practically dormant, issuing only, for ordinary use, plated bronze tetradrachms and perhaps minute subdivisions in silver and in bronze. This state of things lasted until Conon 's brilliant victory in 394 inaugurated a fresh period of prosperity, destined to last until the Macedonian conquest. In 393 the wretched bronze money of necessity was cried down, the Town Crier being sent round to proclaim that silver was once more to be the only legal tender :—

ανεκραγ ο κηρυξ. Μη δεχεσθαι μηδενα
χαλκον το λοιπον. αργυρω γαρ χρωμεθα.
ARIST. Eccl. 819.
Circ. B.C. 393-339.

(α) Silver coinage.

The tetradrachms of the fourth century are roughly engraved and carelessly struck. They are, in fact, only imitations of the older coins. The semblance of the archaism is, however, delusive, as is evident from the manner in which the eye of the goddess is shown in profile. The die-engraver seems to have been trammeled by the condition imposed upon him of adhering to the old familiar types. He does not deliberately revert to archaism on aesthetic principles; on the contrary, he is consciously trying to emancipate himself from the fixed hieratic type which he was set to copy, and he modernizes, as far as possible, the head of Athena, without venturing to depart from the general outlines of the older type. His small innovations in the features of the goddess are compensated for, perhaps intentionally, by his rude treatment of the owl on the reverse (cf. the expressive and life-like owls on Pls. I-IV, BMC Attica, with the huge-headed and frightful caricatures of the bird on Pl. V. 3-6).

The smaller silver coins, which seem for the most part to belong to the earlier portion of the fourth century, though some of the minute divisions may be still older, are the following :—

Drachm. (Ibid., Pl. V. 7.) Similar to the tetradrachm.

Triobol. (Ibid., Pl. V. 13, 14.) Obv. Similar. Rev. Owl to front between olive-branches, but of later style than the earlier triobols (cf. Pl. IV. 7, 8).

Diobol. (Ibid., Pl. V. 17.) Obv. Similar. Rev. Four crescents, back to back, in incuse square. Cf. obol of earlier date with owl on rev. (Pl. IV. 11). In Rev. Num., 1887, 210, it is argued that these two pieces are fractions of the obol, pentachalkon and heptachalkon.

Tritartemorion, ¾ obol, 8.45 grs. Obv. Similar. Rev. Three crescents. (Ibid., Pl. V. 18; Pollux ix. 65.)

Hemiobol, ½ obol, 5.62 grs. Obv. Similar. Rev. Owl facing, wings closed, between two crescents. (Ibid., Pl. V. 19.)

Trihemitartemorion, 3/8 obol, 4.2 grs. Obv. Similar. Rev. Kalathos. (Ibid., Pl. V. 20.)

Tetartemorion, ¼ obol, 2.8 grs. Obv. Similar. Rev. Crescent. (Ibid., Pl. V. 21; Pollux ix. 65.)

Hemitartemorion, 1/8 obol, 1.4 grs. Obv. Similar. Rev. Owl facing, wings closed; on either side, olive-branch. (Ibid., Pl. V. 22.) This inconveniently small coin was superseded by its equivalent in bronze, the Chalkous, when that metal came into general use, probably after the middle of the fourth century.

(β) Gold Coinage, second issue.

FIG. 213.

At what precise date Athens was again compelled to have recourse to an issue of gold coin is doubtful. One point is, however, quite clear, and that is that the gold coins of the second issue are identical in style and fabric with the tetradrachms issued from 393 onwards. Köhler (Z. f. N., xxi. 14) has pointed out how much later in date they are than the gold coins of the first issue in 407-406, and he suggests 339 B.C. as the most probable year for an issue of gold and for another melting down of the gold ornaments of the Parthenon. The denominations struck on this occasion, and perhaps for a few years afterwards, were the following1 :—

Head of Athena with eye in profile, as on the tetradrachms struck after 393 (Fig. 213). [BMC Attica, Pl. V. 1, 2.]2
Owl r., behind, olive-spray and waning moon; in front, kalathos; the whole in incuse square3.
AV Stater, 133 grs.
Id. [Z. f. N., xxi. Pl. I. 16.] Owl to front with spread wings; beneath, kalathos; incuse square?
AV ¼ Stater, 33 grs.
Id. [Ibid., Pl. I. 17, 18.] Owl r.; behind, olive-leaf and berry, in front, kalathos; incuse square.
AV 1/6 Stater, 22.5 grs.

There are two smaller coins described by Köhler (l. c.), but they are of doubtful origin.

Id. [Ibid., Pl. I. 7.] Incuse square. Owl r., on olive-branch.
AV Hemihekton 11 grs.

Circ. B.C. 339-322.

Silver coinage.

The silver coinage of this period is far from plentiful. The tetradrachm and drachm preserve the old type of head with olive-leaves on the helmet, but the various issues are differentiated by the addition of a changing symbol on the reverse :— e.g. Gorgoneion, Bucranium, Prow, Trophy, Rudder, Cornucopiae. Wreath, Corinthian helmet, Trident, Stern of galley, etc. (Köhler, Sitzungsber. d. Berl. Akad. d. Wiss., 1896, Pl. XI. 7. 7; BMC Attica, Pl. VII. 12).

The other denominations below the drachm are :—

Pentobolon,4 56.25 grs. (max.).

1 Svoronos (Journ. int. d 'arch. num., 1898, 107) attributes these gold coins to circ. B.C. 255 (when Antigonus Gonatas conferred freedom upon Athens), chiefly, it would seem, because they bear the same adjunct symbol, the Athenian kalathos, which occurs also, as an Athenian mint-mark, on certain rare tetradrachms of Antigonus (Τετραχμα Αντιγονεια, Babelon, Traité, i. 485).

This characteristic Athenian symbol is, however, not confined to one special period, for it is to be seen on some of the minute silver coins of the early fourth century B.C. (BMC Attica, Pl. V. 20). Both in style and in fabric (e.g. traces of incuse square) the Athenian gold staters (like the tetradrachms of the same style) belong, in my opinion, to the middle or the latter half of the fourth century at the latest. The specimen figured by Svoronos (op. cit., Pl. VI. 18) in support of his theory is, I am convinced, a modern fabrication. (Cf. the minute details (especially the misunderstood ear-ring and string of meaningless dots beneath the ear and behind the cheek) with the same parts of the genuine coins figured in BMC Attica, Pl. V. 1, 2.)

2 The specimen figured, Z. f. N., xxi. Pl. I. 14, is a modern forgery, as well as the one in Journ. int. d 'arch., 1898, Pl. VI. 18 (see preceding note).

3 As with the AR coins, the incuse square is not always on the flan. But it is distinct on a specimen in B. M.

4 This denomination is mentioned by Arist. Eq. 798 (B.C. 424). Cf. also I. G., i. 170, 173, No. 324 a, 45 (B.C. 408). But no pentobols of so early a period are known to exist.

Head of Athena in Corinthian helmet, as on AV coins of Alexander. [BMC Attica, Pl. V. 11.] Owl r., with open wings. Symbol, amphora, or amphora and decrescent moon.

Tetrobol, 45 grs. (max.).

Head of Athena in plain Attic helmet, without the olive-leaves. [Ibid., Pl. V. 12.] Two owls face to face.

Triobol, 33.75 grs. (max.).

Id. [Ibid., Pl. V. 15.] Owl to front between olive-branches.


Circ. B.C. 339-322 or later.

The earliest bronze coins of Athens, with the exception of the bronze money of necessity current only between 406 and 393 (see above, p. 373, and E. Fox in N. C., 1905, p. 1), are probably contemporary with the silver coins above described. Their issue, like that of the gold staters, may have been partly occasioned by a scarcity of silver, circ. B.C. 339. This perhaps accounts for the fact that the types of many of these bronze coins bear a remarkable resemblance to those of the rare silver pieces—Drachms, Pentobols, Tetrobols, Triobols—and to the somewhat earlier Diobols (BMC Attica, Pl. VI. 1-7 and 12, 13).

The frequent occurrence on bronze coins of this period of the Athenian kalathos and the Eleusinian 'kerchnos ' as adjunct symbols is remarkable (cf. the kalathos on the gold staters). There are, in addition to the above, several other small bronze coins which may be given either to this period or to the next. These have the head of Athena in a Corinthian helmet on the obverse, and an owl; usually within a wreath of corn or olive, on the reverse (BMC Attica, Pl. VI. 8-11). It is also doubtful whether the exceptional coins with Eleusinian types, obv. Triptolemos, rev. Pig on Eleusinian βακχος with the 'kerchnos ' in the exergue (BMC Attica, Pl. VI. 14-15), belong to this period, or whether they were struck under Macedonian rule. They were probably issued about 232, and stand first among a number of coins with types referring to the Eleusinian festivals (BMC Attica, Pl. XV. 11-18).

BRONZE COINAGE. Circ. B.C. 322-229.

Head of Zeus. [BMC Attica, Pl. XV. 2.] Athena hurling fulmen.
Æ .65
Head of Athena. [Ibid., Pl. XIV. 4.] Zeus hurling fulmen.
Æ .75
Id. [Ibid., Pl. XIV. 7.] Zeus holding fulmen in lowered hand.
Æ .75

The first of these is certainly contemporary with Macedonian coins of Demetrius. The specimens of the second type, Zeus hurling fulmen, are less uniform in fabric, and from the occurrence, on some of them, of the star between two crescents, as on coins of Mithridates, it seems possible that their issue may have survived into the next period.

Athenian Theatre Tickets (εισιτηρια). Circ. B.C. 342-229.

In addition to the current coins above described, there are a number of bronze monetiform tokens with a head of Athena, or more rarely of a lion, on the obverse, and on the reverse a large letter of the alphabet, single, Α, Β, Γ, Δ, etc.; double, ΑΑ, ΒΒ, ΓΓ, ΔΔ, etc.; triple, ΑΑΑ, etc.; or even quadruple; or sometimes reversed, ΓΓΓ, ΒΒ, Β, etc., the use of which Svoronos has explained in his treatise Περι των εισιτηριων των αρχαιων (Journ. int. d 'arch. num., 1898) as numbered admission tickets to assemblies in the Theatre of Dionysos. The majority of these tickets clearly belong to the fourth century, before the Macedonian conquest. Some of them, figured by Svoronos on Pl. XV of his treatise, with the Athenian kalathos or the Eleusinian κερχνος as adjunct symbols, are undoubtedly contemporary with certain of the gold and bronze coins issued after B.C. 339.

Imitations of Athenian Coins

Alram, M. Iranisches Personennamenbuch: Nomina Propria Iranica In Nummis. Österreichischen Akademie Der Wissenschaften. (Wien, 1986).
Gitler, H. & O. Tal. The Coinage of Philistia of the Fifth and Fourth Centuries BC: A Study of the Earliest Coins of Palestine. (Milan & New York, 2006).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Kroll, John H. "The Reminting of Athenian Silver Coinage, 353 B.C." in Hesperia Vol. 80 (2011).
Meshorer, Y. A Treasury of Jewish Coins from the Persian Period to Bar Kokhba. (Jerusalem, 2001).
Mitchiner, M. Indo-Greek and Indo-Scythian Coinage, Vol. 1: The Early Indo-Greeks and Their Antecedents: Alexander the Great, the satraps of Egypt, Babylon...c. 330 to 150 BC. (London, 1975-1976).
Munro-Hay, S.C. "Coins of ancient South Arabia" in NC 154 (London, 1994). pp. 191 - 203, pl. 22 - 27.
Munro-Hay, S.C. "Coins of Ancient South Arabia, II" in NC 156 (London, 1996), pp. 33 - 47.
Qedar, S. Tissaphernes at Dor? in INJ 14 (2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, USA, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 6: Palestine - South Arabia. (New York, 1981).
van Alfen, P.G. "A New Athenian "Owl" and Bullion Hoard from the Near East" in AJN 16 - 17 (2004-05). pp. 47-61, pl. 6-17.

Imitations of Athenian Coins of the 'Old Style '.

Among the earliest of the numerous imitations of the Athenian coins of the old style the most remarkable is the recently published obol attributed by Babelon (Corolla Numismatica, 1906, p. 1) to Hippias, who may have issued money in his own name, perhaps in one of the towns of the Thracian Chersonese during his exile from Athens.1

Head of Athena in unadorned crested helmet. Owl with closed wings; behind, ear of corn; the whole in incuse square.
AR Obol, 10.1 grs.

For the most part, however, the Asiatic and other imitations of the Athenian money are due to the fact that the source of supply, from the Athenian mint, of these widely circulating coins was no longer sufficient for the demand after B.C. 406; and probably failed altogether after the Macedonian conquest. Hence copies, more or less faithful in general aspect to their originals, began to be fabricated in various countries—Syria, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, Indian, etc. A few only of these imitations admit of definite attribution. It is even doubtful where those of the Satrap Mazaeus, bearing his name מזדי (N. C., 1884, Pl. VI. 9, 10), were minted. Other tetradrachms reading סויך come from Egypt, though Six (N. C., 1895, 209) would assign them to Cyrrhestica, and some obols have been recently published (N. C., 1908, p. 198) bearing symbols on the rev. apparently resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The specimens bearing Himyaritic characters are undoubtedly Arabian, while others on which the owl on the reverse is converted into an eagle with reverted head are probably Indian (N. C., 1906, 10).

1 For a tetradrachm said to bear the letters on the obv. as well as on the rev. see Seltman in N. C., 1908, p. 278 sq.NON-ATHENIAN SERIES.

(i) In field of rev . Symbol. Naked figure to front brandishing a sword (Harmodius (?), N. C., 1902, Pl. XV. 14). This remarkable issue (of which four specimens only are at present known) is characterized by a very barbarous copy of the head of Athena on the obv., while on the other hand the rev. is carefully engraved in the style of the first half of the second century B.C., which is clearly its approximate date of issue. The very rude execution of the obv. die makes it, however, impossible, in my opinion, to assign it to Athens. I would therefore propose to attribute it to the Delian mint, and to regard it as the first issue of the Athenian Kleruchy in that island, when, in B.C. 166, it was presented to Athens by the Romans. From this time the administration of Delos was conducted in the name of ο δημος ο Αθηναιων των εν Δηλω κατοικουντων. It is quite possible that the well-executed rev. die may have been supplied to the first επιμελητης Δηλου on his appointment to that office by the Areopagus (?) (Sundwall, p. 71) from the mint at Athens, and that the obv. die may have been cut by a less skilful workman at Delos itself. It is practically certain that the Athenians opened a mint there when they came into possession of the island, for it is hardly likely that the large numbers of small bronze coins reading which have been found in Delos can all have been imported from Athens (Köhler, Ath. Mitth., vi. 238; Svoronos, Journ. Int., 1900, 51.)

(ii) Head of Athena resembling in style the coins of c. B.C. 150. Rev. Without . Owl on rounded-bellied amphora, on which A, or no numeral; in a field two monograms, and ; no letters beneath (BMC Attica, Pl. XIII. 7, 8). Of this series there are tetradrachms, drachms, and bronze coins. Stylistically there is no place for them either in the monogram series of Class I (B.C. 229-197) or in Sulla 's time (c. B.C. 86). Although they are without , the numeral A on the amphora indicates conformity with the Athenian mint regulations. I venture, therefore, to attribute this series also to the mint of the Athenian Kleruchy in Delos, and to date the issue about the middle of the second century B.C.

(iii) Head of Athena resembling in style the coins of c. B.C. 86 of later. Rev. Without . Owl of thick and ungainly form on amphora; no numeral or mint-letters; in field, on either side, a trophy (Z. f. N., xii. 381). The identity of these two trophies with those of Sulla 's aureus and denarius struck in B.C. 82 is unmistakable. They are the two trophies erected by the Dictator in commemoration of his two victories over Archelaus, the general of Mithradates, at Chaeronea in B.C. 86 and at Orchomenus in B.C. 85 (Plut. Sul. xix). The absence of and the contrast in style between this tetradrachm and the Athenian issues of about the same date suggest the probability that, like the aureus and the denarius above mentioned, it was struck at some other mint than Athens for Sulla 's war requirements, and that the choice of the Athenian types was a purely utilitarian one (of which examples are not wanting in all ages). Possibly these were the coins which Lucullus struck for Sulla during the Mithradatic war. (Plut. Luc. iv.; cf. Plut. Sul. xxv), but there is nothing to indicate the place of mintage.

Transitional Pi-Style Athenian Coinage, 353 - 297 B.C.

Click for the Pi-Style Athenian Coinage NumisWiki Page

New Style Athenian Coinage, 164 - 42 B.C.

Click for the New Style Athenian Coinage NumisWiki Page


Pre-Imperial Times.

The bronze coinage of Athens is probably intermittent from its commencement, circ. B.C. 339, down to the time of Augustus, but it is almost impossible to classify exactly the numerous issues in chronological periods. I have already mentioned some of the types which seem to belong to the period before the reform of the silver coinage circ. B.C. 229 (p. 376 supra). Nor is there any difficulty in assigning to the period after 229 all coins with the head of Athena Parthenos with ornate helmet as on the silver coins of the new style. some coins also bear types identical with the adjunct symbols on the tetradrachms, and one remarkable


specimen has the same two monograms as the silver coins (see supra, p. 388). This coin, like the silver, is without , and may have been struck at Delos. Even the presence of is not always a sure indication that a coin was actually struck at Athens, for many coins reading have been found in Delos, and as they mostly bear types appropriate to that island there can hardly be any doubt that they were issued there by the Athenians of Delos after B.C 166, when the island was handed over to Athens by the Romans (Köhler, Ath. Mitth., vi. 238; Svoronos, Journ. Int. d ' Arch. Num. 1900, 51). The bronze coins reading , found in Delos, would seem therefore to be contemporary with the remarkable tetradrachm reading , which I propose also to attribute to the Athenian Kleruchy settled there (ο δημος ο Αθηναιων των εν Δηλω κατοικουντων, see supra, p. 388). The bronze coins of Athens before Imperial times fall into four categories: (i) those with Eleusinian types; and (iv) those with Delian types. The material for study at present available is insufficient to warrant us in arranging these numerous issues in chronological order, or in discriminating between those which were struck at Athens and those which may have been struck by the Athenians in Delos or in connexion with the Eleusinian Festivals. For descriptions of the coins see BMC Attica.

Imperial Times.

From about the time of Augustus there is no absolute proof that any coins, even of bronze, were struck at Athens until Hadrian 's reign at the earliest. In any case there must have been a long interval between the cessation of the autonomous coinage and the commencement of the quasi-autonomous bronze issues in Imperial times. When the privilege of coining bronze money was restored to the Athenians, they seem to have been also exempted from the obligation of placing the head of the reigning emperor upon the obverses of any of their coins, a special favour which apparently only a few Greek cities could boast of. From a historical point of view this is to be regretted, as it makes it much more difficult to define with precision the higher and lower limits of the local bronze currency of Imperial times. Comparing, however, the Athenian quasi-autonomous bronze coins in style and fabric with the Imperial coins of Corinth, we see clearly that they fall into the century, of thereabouts, between the reign of Hadrian, A.D. 117-138, and that of Gordian III, A.D. 238-244, and, moreover, that there is a distinct break between the earlier and the later issues (Journ. Int., vii. 110). The earlier issues are distinguishable from the later by their somewhat larger module, by a darker tint in the metal, and by their finer style and execution. The obverse type is (except on a few small coins) a head or bust of Athena in a crested Corinthian helmet with the occasional addition of her aegis. The verse bears the inscription or, more rarely, . The types are very numerous and interesting on account of the number of statues and groups which they represent. some of these seem to be copies of works of art mentioned by Pausanias (who visited Athens in the reign of M. Aurelius), among which are the following:— Athena Promachos (Paus. i. 28. 2); Athena Parthenos (Paus. i. 24. 7); Athena Polias (?) (Paus. i. 26. 7); Athena ιππια (?) in quadriga (Paus. i. 30. 4); Contest of Athena with Poseidon (Paus. i. 24. 3, 5); Apollo Alexikakos of Kalamis (J. H. S., xxiv. 205); Apollo Lykeios (Lucian, Anacharsis 7); Zeus Olympios (Paus. i. 18. 6); The Zeus of Leochares (Paus. i. 24. 4); The Dionysos of Alkamenes (Paus. i. 20. 3); Theseus standing (Paus. i. 8. 5); Theseus raising the rock (Paus. i. 27. 8); Theseus contending with Minotaur (Paus. i. 24. 1); Theseus (?) driving Marathonian bull1 (Paus. i. 27. 10); Themistokles standing on galley (Paus. i. 36. 1); Monument of Miltiades and trophy at Marathon (Paus. i. 32. 4); Statue of Asklepios (Paus. i. 21. 4); Eirene and infant Ploutos (Paus. i. 8. 2; cf. ix. 16. 2); View of the Akropolis (Lange, Arch. Zeit., N. F., xiv. 199); Theatre of Dionysos (BMC Attica, Pl. XIX. 8). See also Imhoof and Gardner, Num. Com. on Pausanias.

In addition to the above there are also some agonistic types among the later issues which can hardly be earlier than the time of Gordian III. The most interesting is an agonistic table on which is a bust of Athena between an owl and a wreath. The top of the table is variously inscribed, ΑΔΡΙΑΝΕΙΑ, ΠΑΝΕΛΛΗΝΙΑ, or ΠΑΝΑΘΗΝΕΑ, clearly indicating that even in imperial times coins were specially issued to meet the requirements of the great public festivals. We have already seen that from the earliest ages the Athenian coin-types were intimately connected with the Panathenaea. The Hadrianeia and the Panhellenia were festivals founded by Hadrian, the latter on the completion of the Panhellenion, or temple of the Panhellenic Zeus, which Hadrian erected at Athens, (Αδριανος) αγωνα επ αυτω (επι τω Πανελληνιω) κατεστησατο (Dio Cass. 69. 16). It is probable that many other coins, less distinctly agonistic in character, were also struck for the public festivals, e.g. those with the seated figure of Zeus Olympios in connexion with the Olympia, an ancient festival dating from the time of the Pisistratidae, who began to build on the banks of the Ilissos the great temple of the Olympian Zeus, which remained incomplete until Hadrian 's time. The old festival of the Olympia, long neglected, was revived by Hadrian; and the coins which bear the figure of the colossal statue of Zeus Olympios of ivory and gold set up by Hadrian in the Olympieion may well have been issued on the occasion of the re-established games. On one day also during the Panathenaic festival a Regatta, αμιλλα νεων, was held in full view of the tomb of Themistokles, in the Piraeus, hence doubtless the coin-type which shows Themistokles stepping upon the prow of a galley.

The above are a few of the principal coin-types which illustrate the various festivals of the Athenian calendar (cf. A. Mommsen, Feste der Stadt Athen).


With regard to the denominations of the Athenian bronze coins we have little definite information. Pollux (ix. 65) says that the obol contained eight χαλκοι, and it is probable that the χαλκους consisted of four κολλυβοι (Hultsch, p. 228, note 2). We hear also of a division of the χαλκους into seven λεπτα, but, as there is considerable divergency in both

1 This type may, however, refer to the Athenian Festivals of the Διπολια, on which occasions a bull was sacrificed to Zeus Polieus (A. Mommsen, Feste d. Stadt Athen, 512 sqq.) the weight and the size of bronze coins of one and the same type, it is quite impossible to give names to the various sizes. It seems certain, however, that as the χαλκους was the eighth part of the obol all the bronze coins of autonomous times, except the very small ones, are multiples of the calkous, e.g. διχαλκον, equivalent to the 2/8 obol or τεταρτημοριον; the τριχαλκον = 3/8 obol, τριημιταρτημοριον; the τετραχαλκον = 4/8 obol (ημιωβολιον), etc. In Imperial times the commonest bronze coin was probably the Graeco-Roman 'Assarion ', the 1/12 (or perhaps the 1/16) part of the Denarius, corresponding in value either to the older τετραχαλκον, = ½ obol, = 1/12 drachm, or to the τριχαλκον, = 3/8 obol, = 1/16 drachm or denarius.


(see p. 370, note 1.)

If the world χαρακτηρ in the above-cited passage (Pseudo-Aristot. Oecon. ii. 4) is to be understood in its original sense as the special type or παρασημον of the city, and not, in its secondary sense, as the chief and characteristic coin or denomination, then we must suppose that Hippias did not restrike the coins which he had called in for that special purpose, but that he simply reissued the identical coins with no alteration in the types. There can be little doubt, however, that he changed the denominations and reissued, as tetradrachms, the coins of 270 grs. formerly reckoned as didrachms.

If, on this occasion, he made no modification whatever in the coin-types, the addition of the olive-leaves on the helmet and of the moon behind the owl must have been made at a later date, and, most probably, as Six and Babelon (Traité, pp. 762 sqq.) have suggested immediately after the battle of Marathon, B.C. 490.


Eleusis was the only Attic deme which was allowed by Athens (perhaps on account of its sacred character) to coin bronze money for the requirements of the Eleusinian Festivals. This privilege it possessed, however, only during a limited period, apparently from about B.C. 339 to 322. Cf. contemporary bronze coins of Athens :—





Triptolemos seated or standing in winged car drawn by serpents, the lower part of his body draped, the upper part bare (Paus. i. 38, 6). [BMC Attica, Pl. XX. 1-4.]

ΕΛΕΥΣΙ Boar standing on Eleusinian βακχος, on the earlier specimens encircled with a wreath of corn. The more recent coins have an adjunct symbol in the exergue or field.

Æ .7-.55

Head of Demeter or Persephone. [Num. Chron., 1881, Pl. IV. 5.]

ΕΛΕΥΣ Eleusinian 'kerchnos ' standing on two Athenian kalathoi.

Æ .5

Triptolemos was the great hero of the Eleusinian mysteries; his temple at Eleusis is mentioned by Pausanias (i. 38). He is here represented passing over the lands in his dragon-chariot making man acquainted with the blessings of agriculture. On some few specimens the figure has been taken for Demeter, but on the majority it is undoubtedly male. For other varieties see Rev. Num., 1890, 63 and 1908, 311; Journ. Int. d 'arch. num., 1901, 513; and Ath. Mitth., IV. 250.

Oropus stood on the northern coast of Attica, exactly opposite Eretria in Euboea. The port of Oropus was the sacred harbour of Delphinium

(Strab. ix. 403). It may have obtained autonomy when Flamininus proclaimed the freedom of Greece, B.C. 196; or the coins may be later, and perhaps struck for the requirements of the quinquennial festivals of the Amphiaraea, which after Sulla 's time rose in importance and were celebrated with greater splendour.

Circ. B.C. 196-146, or later.
Head of Apollo [Z. f. N., xxi. Pl. IV. 10] or of Amphiaraos. [BMC Attica, Pl. XX. 5.] ΩΡΩΠΙΩΝ Dolphin coiled round a trident.
Æ .75
Bearded head (Amphiaraos?) laureate. [Cadalvene, Recueil, 168. ΩΡΩΠΙΩΝ Serpent coiled round a staff.
Æ .8

With the reverse type of the first of these coins cf. the name of the harbour, Delphinium. That of the second, if it is not identical with the first, and wrongly engraved by Cadalvene, may refer to the worship of Amphiaraos, who at Oropus possessed a famous oracle and a statue mentioned by Pausanias (i. 34). On an Imperial coin of Gallienus, if indeed that coin be of the same Oropus, Amphiaraos is seen seated with a serpent beside him (BMC Attica, Pl. XX. 6) (cf. Paus. i. 34. 2). The cultus of this seer bore a close resemblance to that of Asklepios (Newton, Travels in the Levant, i. 30).

Salamis. From the first half of the sixth century Salamis formed part of the dominions of Athens until B.C. 318, when it fell into the hands of the Macedonians. It was again recovered by Athens, B.C. 232. It appears to have possessed the right of coining in bronze between circ. B.C. 339 and 318 (Köhler, Ath. Mitth., iv. 250).

Female head wearing stephane (Salamis?), or corn-wreath (Persephone?). [BMC Attica, Pl. XX. 7-9.] ΣΑΛΑ Shield with side-openings, as on coins of Boeotia. On it or beside it, sword in sheath with strap; other varieties have a triskeles, a gorgon-head, or an eagle, on the shield.
Æ .65-.45

The shield and sword are those of Ajax, the son of Telamon, to whom there was a temple in the island (Paus. i. 35. 3), and in whose honour the festivals called Αιαντεια were celebrated. The above-mentioned coins were doubtless issued on these occasions.

See also Imperial (Wellenheim, 3965, perhaps, however, misread) of Caracalla Rx Demeter standing with torch and ears of corn.


All coins are guaranteed for eternity