Classical Ancient Greek Coins - Like most other art forms, the history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided into four periods, the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. Coins produced during the Classical period were minted from 480 to 323 BC and during this time, the technical and aesthetic quality increased as there was a conscious attempt to depict animals and humans more realistically. The most popular and recognizable ancient coin in the world came into wider circulation at this time: the Athens Tetradrachm Owl, also known as the Athenian Owl. This was one of the first coins that was widely used internationally and have even been found as far away as the Middle East and India.
Design of the Athenian Owl
The obverse features Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war and is the guardian of Athens, where she is said to have received her name. It features her likeness in a crested Attic helmet ornamented with the olive leaves above the visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl and wearing a round earring with central boss. The reverse features the letters "ATE", which is the abbreviation for Athens, the iconic owl, an olive sprig and a crescent moon all within a incuse square. The owl is a symbol of Athena herself, as well as a symbol of wisdom. This coin was so popular that President Theodore Roosevelt carried an Athenian Owl coin in his pocket and because of its high relief design, it inspired him to commission August Saint-Guadens to design the 1907 Gold Double Eagle.
Other Classical Greek Coins
Larger cities began minting Gold and Silver coins and usually featured the city's patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on the obverse and a symbol of the city on the reverse. The use of inscriptions of coins also began, usually the name of the issuing city. Coins such as the Syracusan tetradracm, regarded as the finest acient coin ever produced, were produced during this time. Coins were also minted during Alexander the Great's rule during this time, including the Macedonian Silver Tetradrachm Alexander III.
To view available Classical Ancient Greek Coins, click on the image representing the Greek coins of your interest: