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Leaders and rulers in Ancient Greece

The owl of Athens

Diameter: 22.000 mm
Weight: 16.640 g

CM 1906-11-3-2591

The owl of Athens

From: Athens, Greece
Date: around 480 BC

This coin was made at a time when Athens was the richest and most powerful city-state in the ancient Greek world. Athens was a democracy ruled by its citizens, so instead of putting a ruler’s head on its coins, it put on the head of Athena, the goddess who protected the city from its enemies. She wears a warrior’s helmet and big earrings.

On the other side is Athena's faithful companion, the owl. These designs were used on Athenian coins for over 300 years, and so the owls of Athens became known throughout the Greek world.