Article

The Coinage of Athens, Sixth to First Century B.C.

Peter G. Van Alfen

in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195305746
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195305746.013.0006

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Coinage of Athens, Sixth to First Century B.C.

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When the Athenians began to strike coins in the sixth century BC, they produced one of the earliest coinages in the Greek mainland, appearing within a generation or two of the first coins in Lydia. The trickle of silver coinage produced by the Athenians in the sixth century became, by the end of the fifth, a colossal flood, which was fed both by their indigenous “fountain of silver,” the mines at Laurion, and the flow of harbor revenues and imperial tribute. This deluge of Athenian silver effectively inundated economies in the Aegean and parts of the Near East, where the Athenians' primary coin type, the large denomination tetradrachm sporting their patron deity, Athena, on the obverse and her owl on the reverse, became one of the most influential, long-lasting, and widespread coinages in the ancient world.

Keywords: Athenians; coinage; Greek mainland; Athenian silver; coin

Article.  6713 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History ; Historical Archaeology

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