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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

231, Lot: 74. Estimate $100.
Sold for $150. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ELIS, Olympia. Early-mid 3rd century BC. Æ Tetrachalkon (20mm, 5.60 g, 6h). Laureate head of Zeus left / Horse trotting right; [ΛY] below. BCD Olympia 339.4-6. VF, brown-green patina. Rare.

Ex BCD Collection (not in previous BCD sales).

Elis was a district located in the western Peloponnese, bordered by Achaea to the northeast, Arkadia to the east, and Messenia to the south. The local form of its name, Fάλις, in all likelihood means “the lowland,” since much of the distict’s mountains and riverheads begin in Arkadia. Though the city of Elis itself was one of the largest classical cities in the Peloponnese, Olympia was its most important site. The home of the Olympic festival, traditionally dated to 776 BC, Elis was also the home of the judges of these games, the Hellanodikai. In order to support the volume of visitors which the games attracted, mints were established specifically for the striking of a uniform coinage which could serve as the medium of exchange throughout the ceremonies. The first of these two mints was located at the Temple of Zeus, and began striking coins for the 78th Olympiad of 468 BC. This was followed by the addition of a second mint at the Temple of Hera circa 421/0 BC. As with many other Greek mints, the production of coinage gradually decreased after Roman rule began in the mid-2nd century BC. Minting did resume periodically, however, during the reigns of Hadrian and the Severans.