Dating ancient greek coins. Greek coinage.



Dating ancient greek coins

Dating ancient greek coins

Horse head, rough incuse Electrum coin from Ephesus , BC. The first known coins were issued in either Lydia or Ionia in Asia Minor at some time before BC, either by the non-Greek Lydians for their own use or perhaps because Greek mercenaries wanted to be paid in precious metal at the conclusion of their time of service, and wanted to have their payments marked in a way that would authenticate them.

These coins were made of electrum , an alloy of gold and silver that was highly prized and abundant in that area. By the middle of the 6th century BC, technology had advanced, making the production of pure gold and silver coins simpler.

Accordingly, King Croesus introduced a double metal standard that allowed for coins of pure gold and pure silver to be struck and traded in the marketplace.

Sea turtle with large pellets down center. Silver drachma of Aegina, BC. The Greek world was divided into more than two thousand self-governing city-states in Greek , poleis , and more than half of them issued their own coins. Some coins circulated widely beyond their polis, indicating that they were being used in inter-city trade; the first example appears to have been the silver stater or didrachm of Aegina that regularly turns up in hoards in Egypt and the Levant , places which were deficient in silver supply.

As such coins circulated more widely, other cities began to mint coins to this "Aeginetan" weight standard of 6. Athenian coins, however, were struck on the "Attic" standard, with a drachm equaling 4.

Over time, Athens' plentiful supply of silver from the mines at Laurion and its increasing dominance in trade made this the pre-eminent standard. These coins, known as "owls" because of their central design feature, were also minted to an extremely tight standard of purity and weight. This contributed to their success as the premier trade coin of their era. Tetradrachms on this weight standard continued to be a widely used coin often the most widely used through the classical period.

By the time of Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors , this large denomination was being regularly used to make large payments, or was often saved for hoarding. A Syracusan tetradrachm c. Tetradrachm of Athens, 5th century BC Obverse: Larger cities now produced a range of fine silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side, and a symbol of the city on the other. Some coins employed a visual pun: The use of inscriptions on coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city.

The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins. The large silver decadrachm drachm coin from Syracuse is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever. Syracusan issues were rather standard in their imprints, one side bearing the head of the nymph Arethusa and the other usually a victorious quadriga. The tyrants of Syracuse were fabulously rich, and part of their public relations policy was to fund quadrigas for the Olympic chariot race , a very expensive undertaking.

As they were often able to finance more than one quadriga at a time, they were frequent victors in this highly prestigious event. Syracuse was one of the epicenters of numismatic art during the classical period. Led by the engravers Kimon and Euainetos, Syracuse produced some of the finest coin designs of antiquity. These ancient cities started producing coins from BC to BC. Drachma of Alexandria , AD. The Hellenistic period was characterized by the spread of Greek culture across a large part of the known world.

Greek-speaking kingdoms were established in Egypt and Syria , and for a time also in Iran and as far east as what is now Afghanistan and northwestern India. Greek traders spread Greek coins across this vast area, and the new kingdoms soon began to produce their own coins. Because these kingdoms were much larger and wealthier than the Greek city states of the classical period, their coins tended to be more mass-produced, as well as larger, and more frequently in gold.

They often lacked the aesthetic delicacy of coins of the earlier period. Posthumous Alexander the Great tetradrachm from Temnos, Aeolis. Alexander the Great as Herakles facing right wearing the nemean lionskin. Still, some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors in India, the Indo-Greeks , are considered the finest examples of Greek numismatic art with "a nice blend of realism and idealization", including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: The portraits "show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West" Roger Ling, "Greece and the Hellenistic World".

The most striking new feature of Hellenistic coins was the use of portraits of living people, namely of the kings themselves. This practice had begun in Sicily, but was disapproved of by other Greeks as showing hubris arrogance. But the kings of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria had no such scruples: The names of the kings were frequently inscribed on the coin as well.

This established a pattern for coins which has persisted ever since: Hammered coinage All Greek coins were handmade , rather than machined as modern coins are. The design for the obverse was carved in incuso into a block of bronze or possibly iron, called a die. The design of the reverse was carved into a similar punch. A blank disk of gold, silver, or electrum was cast in a mold and then, placed between these two and the punch struck hard with a hammer, raising the design on both sides of the coin.

Corinthian stater for example depicted pegasus the mythological winged stallion, tamed by their hero Bellerophon. Coins of Ephesus depicted the bee sacred to Artemis. Drachmas of Athens depicted the owl of Athena. Drachmas of Aegina depicted a chelone. Coins of Heraclea depicted Heracles.

Coins of Gela depicted a man-headed bull, the personification of the river Gela. Coins of Knossos depicted the labyrinth or the mythical creature minotaur , a symbol of the Minoan Crete. Coins of Thebes depicted a Boeotian shield. Corinthian stater with pegasus.

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Dating ancient greek coins

Horse head, rough incuse Electrum coin from Ephesus , BC. The first known coins were issued in either Lydia or Ionia in Asia Minor at some time before BC, either by the non-Greek Lydians for their own use or perhaps because Greek mercenaries wanted to be paid in precious metal at the conclusion of their time of service, and wanted to have their payments marked in a way that would authenticate them.

These coins were made of electrum , an alloy of gold and silver that was highly prized and abundant in that area. By the middle of the 6th century BC, technology had advanced, making the production of pure gold and silver coins simpler. Accordingly, King Croesus introduced a double metal standard that allowed for coins of pure gold and pure silver to be struck and traded in the marketplace.

Sea turtle with large pellets down center. Silver drachma of Aegina, BC. The Greek world was divided into more than two thousand self-governing city-states in Greek , poleis , and more than half of them issued their own coins.

Some coins circulated widely beyond their polis, indicating that they were being used in inter-city trade; the first example appears to have been the silver stater or didrachm of Aegina that regularly turns up in hoards in Egypt and the Levant , places which were deficient in silver supply. As such coins circulated more widely, other cities began to mint coins to this "Aeginetan" weight standard of 6.

Athenian coins, however, were struck on the "Attic" standard, with a drachm equaling 4. Over time, Athens' plentiful supply of silver from the mines at Laurion and its increasing dominance in trade made this the pre-eminent standard. These coins, known as "owls" because of their central design feature, were also minted to an extremely tight standard of purity and weight.

This contributed to their success as the premier trade coin of their era. Tetradrachms on this weight standard continued to be a widely used coin often the most widely used through the classical period. By the time of Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors , this large denomination was being regularly used to make large payments, or was often saved for hoarding.

A Syracusan tetradrachm c. Tetradrachm of Athens, 5th century BC Obverse: Larger cities now produced a range of fine silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side, and a symbol of the city on the other.

Some coins employed a visual pun: The use of inscriptions on coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city. The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins.

The large silver decadrachm drachm coin from Syracuse is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever. Syracusan issues were rather standard in their imprints, one side bearing the head of the nymph Arethusa and the other usually a victorious quadriga. The tyrants of Syracuse were fabulously rich, and part of their public relations policy was to fund quadrigas for the Olympic chariot race , a very expensive undertaking.

As they were often able to finance more than one quadriga at a time, they were frequent victors in this highly prestigious event. Syracuse was one of the epicenters of numismatic art during the classical period. Led by the engravers Kimon and Euainetos, Syracuse produced some of the finest coin designs of antiquity. These ancient cities started producing coins from BC to BC.

Drachma of Alexandria , AD. The Hellenistic period was characterized by the spread of Greek culture across a large part of the known world. Greek-speaking kingdoms were established in Egypt and Syria , and for a time also in Iran and as far east as what is now Afghanistan and northwestern India. Greek traders spread Greek coins across this vast area, and the new kingdoms soon began to produce their own coins.

Because these kingdoms were much larger and wealthier than the Greek city states of the classical period, their coins tended to be more mass-produced, as well as larger, and more frequently in gold. They often lacked the aesthetic delicacy of coins of the earlier period. Posthumous Alexander the Great tetradrachm from Temnos, Aeolis.

Alexander the Great as Herakles facing right wearing the nemean lionskin. Still, some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors in India, the Indo-Greeks , are considered the finest examples of Greek numismatic art with "a nice blend of realism and idealization", including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: The portraits "show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West" Roger Ling, "Greece and the Hellenistic World".

The most striking new feature of Hellenistic coins was the use of portraits of living people, namely of the kings themselves. This practice had begun in Sicily, but was disapproved of by other Greeks as showing hubris arrogance.

But the kings of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria had no such scruples: The names of the kings were frequently inscribed on the coin as well. This established a pattern for coins which has persisted ever since: Hammered coinage All Greek coins were handmade , rather than machined as modern coins are. The design for the obverse was carved in incuso into a block of bronze or possibly iron, called a die. The design of the reverse was carved into a similar punch. A blank disk of gold, silver, or electrum was cast in a mold and then, placed between these two and the punch struck hard with a hammer, raising the design on both sides of the coin.

Corinthian stater for example depicted pegasus the mythological winged stallion, tamed by their hero Bellerophon.

Coins of Ephesus depicted the bee sacred to Artemis. Drachmas of Athens depicted the owl of Athena. Drachmas of Aegina depicted a chelone. Coins of Heraclea depicted Heracles. Coins of Gela depicted a man-headed bull, the personification of the river Gela.

Coins of Knossos depicted the labyrinth or the mythical creature minotaur , a symbol of the Minoan Crete. Coins of Thebes depicted a Boeotian shield. Corinthian stater with pegasus.

Dating ancient greek coins

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