Obverse, helmeted head of Athena right; reverse,
?T?, right; Owl standing on olive branch, centre;
The tetradrachm – a silver coin equivalent to four
drachmae – first came into circulation in Athens
toward the end of the sixth century BC. It became
the most authoritative coinage of Classical
and was soon adopted by many other city-states
Silver mines discovered within the Athenian state
during early fifth century BC provided the bullion.
The revenue, according to Herodotus was used to
build two-hundred war ships that would go on to
secure victory over the Achaemenid Persians and
secure mainland Greece from Persian invasion.
Athens became the leading naval power in the
This mint, a first issue, shows the head of
patron of Athens, wearing crested Athenian
The reverse features an owl, the iconographic
symbol of the Athenian polis; an olive-sprig is
customarily seen in the field. According to the
ancient sources, this type of coinage was
vernacularly known as “little owl” and would
scarce changed over the following two centuries.