ART FROM ANCIENT LANDS

Chalkidian League Silver Tetradrachm - C.2075
Origin: City of Olynthos
Circa: 432 BC to 348 BC

Collection: Numismatics
Style: Chalkidian
Medium: Silver


Obverse: Apollo Crowned with a Laurel Wreath
Reverse: A Lyre Encircled by Inscriptions


Ancient Olynthos was the most important political center of the three-fingered peninsula in southern Macedonia that became known as the Chalkidike. The city occupied two hills: on the South Hill lied the city founded by the Bottiaeans in the 7th century B.C., which was destroyed by the Persians in 479 B.C. and on the North Hill lied the Classical city, built in the Hippodameian system, with vertically crossing wide and narrow streets, forming regular architectural blocks. In the early years of the Peloponnesian War, several of the cities in the Chalkidike formed the Chalikidian League, which was based in Olynthos and which issued its own federal coinage, such as this stellar example. The coinage of the League began c. 432 B.C., but it was only c. 420 B.C. that its most celebrated coins, the tetradrachms, appeared. On the obverse was the patron deity of the League, Apollo, the major deity of its mother city, Chalkis, and on the reverse one of his major attributes, the lyre. These tetradrachms continued as an important regular series until the coinage of the League ended with the rise of Philip II of Macedon, who completely destroyed Olynthos and dissolved the League in 348 B.C. Philip, however, acknowledged the importance of these coins for the area when he adopted the League's main coin type, the head of Apollo, for his own gold coins
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This magnificent coin is a memorial to the ancient glories of a forgotten city passed down from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation. - (C.2075)

 

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