Friday, 6 August 2021

The Athenian Owl Tetradrachm

The Athenian Owl tetradrachm was minted for over 400 years, beginning around 512 B.C. Following the city’s defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., Athens entered a period where it was the principal city of the Greek world. Athens controlled the nearby Laurium silver mines and was able to produce high-quality silver coinage in vast quantities. The Athenian Owl gained widespread use due to it's high silver content and high production.
The Athenian government minted coins at a profit, building state coffers. The Athenian Owl tetradrachm would remain the dominant currency in the ancient world until Roman coinage replaced it in the 1st century B.C. Despite many revisions, the general design remained the same. The obverse depicts the Greek goddess Athena, who represents wisdom and warfare. The ideals are portrayed in Athena’s large eyes, representing wisdom, and her crested war helmet, representing war. The Owl appears with two-leaf olive sprig, representing olives and olive oil, the primary exports of Athens.