Coin of the Month

December 2023: A New Tetradrachm Variety of the Koinon of Athena Ilias

The Coin of this Month is presented by Vladimir Stolba

A new tetradrachm variety of the koinon of Athena Ilias has been selected as our Coin of the Month for December 2023, offering a significant addition to the coinage of Athena Ilias by revealing a magistrate name previously unattested in this long-lasting series.

Among the late Hellenistic coinages of the Troad, the silver coins struck by the koinon of Athena Ilias are particularly intriguing, providing important insights into the religious history of the region. The koinon of Athena Ilias was a confederation of local cities that collectively administered the annual Panathenaia festival. Known solely from the koinon’s coinage and surviving epigraphic testimonies, it existed throughout the entire Hellenistic period, continuing into the early Roman times.

Despite numerous works devoted to this highly interesting coinage, notably catalogued by Alfred Bellinger in 1961 (Bellinger A. Troy: The Coins), it was not until 2016 that the first die study by Aneurin Ellis-Evans was published. Ellis-Evans argued that the fundamental purpose of the coinage was to supply the agonothetai, the magistrates responsible for organizing the festival, with cash for external payments. Additionally, it served as a status symbol for the koinon's festival. The latter author successfully cataloged 111 specimens, attesting to 47 different magistrate names.

The magistrate Eumenes, attested by the new tetradrachm sold at Leu Numismatik in December 2023 (auction 28 [10.12.2023] lot 1290), was previously unknown for this series. Nevertheless, his position in the sequence can be reliably established. The monogram on the reverse of this coin closely resembles that on the tetradrachms of Metrodoros, Eudemos, and Soterides issued around the middle of the second century BC, as indicated by evidence from coin hoards.

The obverse of this coin is struck by Elis-Evans’ die O13, linking it with the issue of Soterides, with whom the tetradrachm presented here shares the control mark, Gorgon’s head. Among the coins of Soterides struck by O13, the Berlin specimen CN 19038 demonstrates the closest similarity in terms of control marks. As noted by Ellis-Evans, more than half of the obverse dies identified in his study are "singletons", known from only one example. This led him to assume that new examples of the series will continue to emerge, including some featuring new magistrates. The specimen presented here serves as a good illustration of this.

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