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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Greece
Title: Greek Coin
Date: ca. 440 B.C.
Medium: Silver
Dimensions: 1 1/16 x 1 1/16 inches (2.7 x 2.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Jerry Theodorou, Class of 1979
Object Number: 97.018
Label Text: Before the advent of coinage, gold and silver rings, iron rods, electrum (an alloy of gold and silver), and gold were traded for needed goods and services. Coinage first appeared around the 7th century B.C. in the Mediterranean world. The first use of state-issued coins seems to have been about a century later, and a coin's origin can usually be identified by the symbols it carries. Athena is depicted on the coins from Athens, for example, and the sea turtle is found on the coins produced on the island of Aegina. The coin presented here has the head of the god Apollo wearing a laurel, a symbol of victory, on the obverse and a lion's head on the reverse. The inscription on the reverse, "VE ON TI NION," refers to "Leontinoi," a city in Sicily and part of the wide-reaching Greek civilization. The representation of Apollo's head in profile was also adopted by various rulers, not only for coinage but also in other art forms as well. This tradition was continued through the Roman and subsequent civilizations to the present day where it can still be found, for instance, in the profile of Lincoln's head on the American penny. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.