Sunday, March 30, 2008

And something from my collection of Greek coins...

Aeolis, Temnus. AE14 (2.24 gm), struck 3rd century BC.

Athena in crested Corinthian helmet right / Warrior standing, wearing crested helmet and cuirass, javelin in right hand, shield on left arm; A in upper left field, Θ in upper right field, T in lower left field and A in lower right field. SNG Cop 4, 259.

Temnus was a little town in Aeolis, near the River Hermus. In early times, the Aeolians’ twelve most important cities were independent and formed a league, including: Temnus, Cyme, Larissae, Neonteichos, Cilla, Notium, Aegirosessa, Pitane, Aegae, Myrina, Gryneia and Smyrna.

Temnus was already in decline under Augustus and was destroyed by an earthquake during the reign of Tiberius. Tacitus’ Annals, ii.47 (AD 16-19) recounts, “That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in such a disaster, by rushing out into the open country, for there people were swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said, collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and fires blazed out amid the ruin.” By this time, the coin you see above was nearly 300 years old.

This tiny little coin was beautiful enough to be noticed first amongst many other, larger coins by someone with very poor eyesight (me). It immediately caught my eye because of its detail and color. The portrait of Athena is spectacular and rich in detail... and the reverse isn't so bad either! The brown-green patina with rubbed brass highlights are a personal favorite.

The level of skill and craftsmanship necessary to produce such a lovely work of art… from the engraving of the dies to the striking of such a small planchet… is remarkable to me! And with this coin I own an example of these extraordinary labors.

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