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Ancient Greek Coins

Updated on June 6, 2012

Coins of the ancient Greek world

This lens is dedicated to ancient Greece, but it is not about the mythology, the philosophers, democracy or ancient wars. It's all about the ancient greek coins. Through an item ancient Greeks used in their every day lives, I hope to inform you about the life in ancient Greece. Below you will find photos of ancient coins and explanations of the depictions.

As ancient Greece was divided in different cities and regions, it was often than its one of them has its own currency.

Also the long history of ancient Greece creates a division of three periods (Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic), which also characterises the ancient Greek coinage.

The photo depicts the Tetradrachm of Athens coin. On its one side the owl of Athens, with an olive sprig was carved. On the reverse side of this ancient coin there is a portrait of the goddess Athena, patron of ancient Athens, in helmet.

ancient greece silver coins
ancient greece silver coins

Ancient Greek Periods & coins

the Archaic period (750 BC - 480 BC)

This period followed the Greek Dark Ages and ends with the invasion of Xerxes in Greece.

the Classical period (510 BC - 323 BC)

This is the period when culture, philosophy, architecture and politics were highly advanced, influencing the Roman and modern world

the Hellenistic period (323 BC - 146 BC)

This era begins from the death of Alexander the Great and ending with the final conquest of Greece by Romans.

Photo: This is a Silver Tetradrachm from Rhodes island. It depicts the head of Helios (Sun) and is dated after 350 BC

The Ancient Greek Drachma

ancient greek coin owl athena
ancient greek coin owl athena

The name drachma is derived from the Greek verb δρασσoμαι (drassomai / "to grasp"). Initially one drachma was "a grasp" of six oboloi (meaning metal sticks) which was used as currency back in 1100 BC. Still in the period of drachma the term obol was used to describe a coin that had 1/6 of the value of a drachma.

The most famous and characteristic ancient Drachma is the one depicted in the photo above, the Athenian tetradrachmon ("four drachma") coin. This coin was widely used not only in Athens, but also all over the ancient Greece prior to the time of Alexander the Great.

On its one side the coins features the patron goddess of Athens, Athena wearing a helmet. On the reverse side the coin depicts an owl, symbol of wisdom, Athena and the city of Athens. Next to the owl there is an olive sprig. The olive tree, according to the myth, was the gift goddess Athena offered to the city before becoming its patron. Lastly there is an inscription next to the owl, "AθE" are the first three letters of the word "AθENAION", which means "of the Athenians".

[Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_drachma#Ancient_drachma ]

greek coins pictures
greek coins pictures

An ancient coin in the modern World?

Do you feel like you have seen the Athenian tetradrachmon before, while you are neither a collector nor you are familiar with ancient Greek history?

Well, this might be because the one side of the Athenian tetradrachmon coin with the owl, is depicted on the Greek 1 Euro coin. This was first issued in 2002 and you may find it today in Greece and other countries of Europe.

Ancient Coins - Map

coins in ancient greece
coins in ancient greece

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Books on Ancient Greek and Roman Coins

Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins: An Official Whitman Guidebook
Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins: An Official Whitman Guidebook

The Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins combines the two main references that collectors have depended on for nearly forty years in the study of ancient Greek and Roman coins. The book touches upon every aspect of ancient coinage, from how the pieces were made to what their symbolism meant to the people who used them. It contains all the information needed to properly identify and attribute coins to that era. Beginning and advanced collectors alike will benefit from data, charts, and more than 1000 full-size photographs that depict the actual coins and show how to interpret dates and inscriptions. The book contains important information on:

--Reading Greek and Roman coin inscriptions

--Identifying emperors and dates on Roman coins

--Symbols, city names, and historical and mythological characters

 

Ancient Greek Coins for sale

Enhance your coin collection with ancient Greek coins

Thank you for dropping by and reading this lens.

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    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

      I like ancient coins, but have to be careful since I am not skilled at spotting counterfeit ancients. The difficulty is the simple and crude may they were produced.

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      nobodyinparticular 2 years ago

      I need a chart on the different coins of ancient Athens and their value. I thought this would help but now I'm confused.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      i loved the owl

    • TriciaLymeMom profile image

      TriciaLymeMom 4 years ago

      Fascinating. I love ancient Greece...thanks! :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Mental note: Buy a metal detector!

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      zoren-de-legazpi 5 years ago

      ancient coins are interesting coins it carries with it the history of the past, the story of the god and goddess. I really want to have one of those.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

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      ErHawkns7100 5 years ago

      Wow, these coins are awesome. I would to hold one of the real ones. Imagine the energetic imprint, imagine who held that coin.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love old coins and your site rocks! If you like coin, stamp and 1800's gold backed bonds take a second to visit my Squidoo Page CLICK HERE

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love old coins and your site rocks! If you like coin, stamp and 1800's gold backed bonds take a second to visit my Squidoo Page CLICK HERE

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 6 years ago

      Your lens was very well written. I have collected coins in the past. Ancient Greek coins are some of the more fascinating pieces to collect.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Interesting lens. Thank you.