The J. Paul Getty Museum

Tetradrachm

Object Details

Title:

Tetradrachm

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Greek

Place:

Athens, Greece (Place Created)

Date:

182–181 B.C.

Medium:

Silver

Object Number:

80.NH.151.6

Dimensions:

4.4 cm (1 3/4 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Morton Scribner, M.D.

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Object Description

This four-drachma coin (also known as a tetradrachm) features the helmeted head of the Greek goddess Athena on one side and her symbolic bird, the owl, on the other. Beginning from about 520-510 B.C., Athena and her owl were depicted on Athenian coins because she was the patron goddess of the city. As a result, these coins have been nicknamed "owls." The olive wreath surrounding the owl and the small sideways amphora (storage vessel) on which the bird stands identify this coin as belonging to a series that began to be minted in 196‑195 B.C. The olive wreath and the amphora are emblems of the principal agricultural products of Athens, olives and olive oil. 

Two Greek words appear on the back. "Athe," which stands for Athens, is on the same level as the owl's eyes. Written below that is the name of an Athenian magistrate, "Ammodio," whose service in government dates to 182‑181 B.C. A tiny image of a container appears to the owl's left; its precise significance is unknown.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1980

Morton Scribner, M.D. (Arcadia, California), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen (November 13, 2001 to February 3, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 13, 2001 to February 3, 2002
Bibliography
Bibliography

Edwards, Nina. Darkness: a Cultural History. (London: Reaktion Books, 2018), p. 253, ill.

Edwards, Nina. Darkness: A Cultural History (London: Reaktion Books, 2018), p. 253, ill.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Creating Coins: Figures and Symbols

Students will analyze a modern-day coin and compare it to three coins from antiquity, then create their own coin using historical figures.

Visual Arts; History–Social Science

6-8; 9-12

Three/Five-Part Lesson