Event Title

Coinage and Tyranny in Ancient Athens

Session Number

Project ID: HIST 01

Advisor(s)

Dr. Nicholas Cross, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Discipline

History

Start Date

20-4-2022 10:05 AM

End Date

20-4-2022 10:20 AM

Abstract

Though it is generally believed that the first coins of ancient Athens, the Wappenmünzen (“heraldic coins”), were first minted in the mid-sixth century BCE, the historical context within which they emerged remains unclear. Most modern numismatists agree that they were minted under the authority of the tyrant Peisistratus. With what metal the coins were minted, by whom, and for what reason, however, are questions that pose greater difficulty. This paper aims to address them.

To begin, this paper assesses the Wappenmünzen as physical objects. The variety of images that appear on the coins, the coins’ weight, and the source of the silver with which the coins were minted are taken into account. This paper then considers the Wappenmünzen’s role in Athens. To determine the purpose for which they were minted, and by what moneyer, modern scholarship on the coins and their contemporary Athens is reviewed. Finally, this paper concludes by connecting the Wappenmünzen’s physical and functional characteristics to the Peisistratid tyranny, suggesting that the inception of Athenian coinage and tyranny were inextricably intertwined.

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Apr 20th, 10:05 AM Apr 20th, 10:20 AM

Coinage and Tyranny in Ancient Athens

Though it is generally believed that the first coins of ancient Athens, the Wappenmünzen (“heraldic coins”), were first minted in the mid-sixth century BCE, the historical context within which they emerged remains unclear. Most modern numismatists agree that they were minted under the authority of the tyrant Peisistratus. With what metal the coins were minted, by whom, and for what reason, however, are questions that pose greater difficulty. This paper aims to address them.

To begin, this paper assesses the Wappenmünzen as physical objects. The variety of images that appear on the coins, the coins’ weight, and the source of the silver with which the coins were minted are taken into account. This paper then considers the Wappenmünzen’s role in Athens. To determine the purpose for which they were minted, and by what moneyer, modern scholarship on the coins and their contemporary Athens is reviewed. Finally, this paper concludes by connecting the Wappenmünzen’s physical and functional characteristics to the Peisistratid tyranny, suggesting that the inception of Athenian coinage and tyranny were inextricably intertwined.