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HOME : Greek Coins : Numismatic Masterpieces : Attalid Silver Tetradrachm Minted Under King Attalos I
Attalid Silver Tetradrachm Minted Under King Attalos I - C.554
Origin: Minted in Pergamon
Circa: 241 BC to 197 BC

Collection: Numismatics
Medium: Silver

Additional Information: Found in Haifa, Israel
Location: United States
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Obverse: Laureate Bust of Philetairos Facing Right

Reverse: Athena Seated Left, Resting her Arm on a Sheild, Bow to the Right, Crowning the Inscription, “Philetairos”

Attalos I Soter, King of the Attalid Dynasty, founded by Philetairos, came to power in 241 B.C. and ruled the city/state of Pergamon until 197. He quickly led his troops to victory against the rival Gallic forces that inhabited the regions outside of Pergamon. After subdoing this threat, he turned his attention to the lands of the Seleucid Kingdom. After defeating his enemies to the east, with the assistance of his allies Rome, and expanding the territory of his kingdom, Attalos sought to solidify his rightful rule through the use of propagandistic art, much like Alexander the Great had done a century before. Victory monuments decorated the city of Pergamon as well as the major cities in the newly conquered territories. As well, monuments were erected in cities throughout the Mediterranean world, such as Delphi and Athens, solidifying his place as a triumphant king in the eyes of his citizens and across the Hellenic world. These monuments were unique in the way they depicted in the fallen enemy, dying in agony, alone. Nowhere were the forces of Attalos depicted. Up to this point, traditional victory monuments had represented the victorious force overcoming the weaker opposition. Instead, the Attalid monuments treated the dying enemy with dignity and respect while simultaneous forcing the viewers to put themselves in the shoes of the victorious army. Thus, all his subjects became victors and Attalos’ conquest were not just for his own glory, but for all of Pergamon, a city/state that under his authority would become one of the great centers of the Hellenic age.

How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether currency in the age we live or an artifact of a long forgotten empire. This ancient coin is more than an artifact; it is a memorial to a lost kingdom passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.
- (C.554)


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