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HOME : Numismatics : Archive : Tetradrachm Minted Under the Satrap Hidrieus
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Tetradrachm Minted Under the Satrap Hidrieus - C.2221a
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 353 BC to 334 BC

Collection: Numismatics
Medium: Silver

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Obverse: Laureate Head of Apollo

Reverse: Zeus Labraundos Standing Holding a Labrys and a Spear

The Achaemenid kings, ruling a land empire too vast to be governed from Persepolis, divided their territory into twenty districts, to be administered by satraps. These governors were responsible for all military and fiscal affairs within their provinces, and many quickly followed the route to wealth and power. Using their autonomy to its fullest, the satraps governing the eastern Greek states gained control of the wealth of Asia Minor, represented by the region's productive mines and the profitable trade routes between east and west. These factors played a role in the development of the earliest coinage from Asia Minor. The satraps of Caria, starting with Hyssaldomos, would rule as a virtually independent dynasty for almost a century, strengthening their own position against that of their ostensible overlord, the Persian king in far Persepolis. Hekatomnos struck the first coins for the Carian satrapy, copying the lion types of Miletos. His later issues introduced the type that would become the emblem of the dynasty, the figure of Zeus Labraundos, whose temple was near Mylasa, the birthplace of Hekatomnos. Hekatomnos died in 377 BC, to be followed in succession by each of his three sons, Maussollos, Hidrieus and Pixodaros. Maussollos expanded his territory at the expense of his neighboring satraps and in defiance of the Persian king. He moved the capital from Mylasa to Halikarnassos, at which point the facing head of Apollo/Helios becomes the standard obverse type for the Carian tetradrachm. Although condemned by the Greek authors for his avarice and thirst for power, the satrap was acknowledged as a man of culture, embellishing his capital with remarkable architecture (his Mausoleum being one of the Wonders of the Ancient World), and encouraging the study of science and art. Hidrieus continued in his brother's footsteps and added the islands of Chios, Kos and Rhodes to his domain, three important centers of commerce which had until then managed to fend off the growing Carian Empire (which by now it was in all but name).

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 stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This coin is more than an artifact; it is a memorial in precious metals to the wonders of an ancient empire passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.
- (C.2221a)


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