Cabinet of Curiosities 9: coins
These silver coins come from Ancient Greece and were used over 2000 years ago.
Kings and queens, gods and goddesses, animals and characters from Greek mythology often appeared on coins.
Each city state had its own symbol:
Athens was represented by an owl
Corinth the winged horse Pegasus
Knossos the labyrinth from the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur.
Thebes had a shield,
Syracuse the nymph Arethousa with dolphins
Aegina a sea turtle
Poseidonia had Poseidon, the sea god
Naxus had Silenus, a companion of the wine god Dionysus.
Charioteers appear on coins from Sicily to Macedon. The lyre (a stringed musical instrument made from a tortoise shell) was another common emblem.
The first Ancient Greek coins were minted to pay soldiers' wages. They soon became a convenient way to buy and sell goods.
The most valuable coins were made of gold, the next most valuable from silver, and coins used to buy everyday items were made of bronze.
This photo shows the reverse sides of the coins:
The symbols you can see include gods, goddesses, mythological animals, birds and horses. There is also a charioteer, a lyre (a stringed musical instrument) and a bird, probably a chicken!
Did you know?
Ancient Greeks sometimes carried coins in their mouths to keep them safe from thieves.