logo UCSCquesto oro rotondo

by Mariangela Piziali

The use of coins spread quickly from Asia Minor to mainland Greece. During the archaic and classical periods silver was the metal used by most Greek mints. Gold - which was mined at Lampsacus, Cyzicus, Abydos, and in Macedonia and Thrace - was rarely coined, and for the most part only in a dire emergency, as it happened in Athens towards the end of the 5th century. In the last years of the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and its allies, the Athenians did not have access to the silver mines of Laurium because Attica was invaded. Therefore, in 406 B.C., they were forced to use their reserves of bullion to mint new coins. They also melted down the seven Nikai's statues of the Acropolis consecrated to Athena, because they were plated with gold. With this gold they struck staters worth six silver tetradrachms each, together with fractions ranging from the drachma to the hemiobol.

Similarly, the minting of gold in Sicilian cities such as Akragas and Kamarina is related to their difficulties during the war with Carthage at the end of the 5th century B.C.

The situation is different in Asia Minor, where the gold metal abounds: during the first half of the 4th century B.C. gold series on the Persian standard are regularly struck by Lampsacus, Teos and Clazomenae.

Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them

Diobolo di Akragas
Diobolo di Akragas

Statere di Atene

Diobolo di Kamarina

Statere di Lampsaco

© 2008 UCSC Milano