Tetradrachm

Object Details

Title:

Tetradrachm

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Greek (Macedonian)

Place(s):

Amphipolis, Thrace, Greece (Place created)

Date:

286 - 281 B.C.

Medium:

Silver

Credit Line:

Gift of Lily Tomlin

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A portrait of Alexander the Great decorates the front of this four-drachma coin, a tetradrachm. The Greek goddess Athena appears on the back. Alexander is depicted wearing the ram's horns of Ammon, the great god of Egypt. The coin was not issued by Alexander, however, but by one of his successors, Lysimachos, who ruled the territory of Thrace in northern Greece after Alexander's death in 323 B.C. On the back, Lysimachos' high status is proclaimed by the Greek inscription "Basileus Lysimachou," meaning "of king Lysimachos." Athena, the warrior goddess of Athens, is shown seated, with her spear resting on her shoulder, and holding winged Victory (in Greek, Nike) in her hand.

The name Lysimachos means "one who ends strife," and it has been suggested that this may explain the peaceful, relaxed image of the goddess. The M-like symbol below the Victory is a recognized mark of the mint at Pella in Macedonia, where coins were first issued by Lysimachos no earlier than 286-285 B.C., and where this tetradrachm probably was produced. Lysimachos died in battle in 281 B.C.

Provenance
- 1980

Lily Tomlin (Santa Monica, California), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980.

Exhibitions
Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen (November 13, 2001 to February 3, 2002) (7)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 13, 2001 to February 3, 2002
Bibliography
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