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A Truly International Currency

Triton XV, Lot: 1163. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $9000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ATTICA, Athens. Circa 500/490-485/0 BC. AR Tetradrachm (21mm, 16.75 g, 11h). Head of Athena right, wearing earring and crested Attic helmet decorated with visor and spiral on the bowl / Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig to left, [A]-Θ-[E] around; all within incuse square. Seltman Group Gii (unlisted dies); Asyut group IVc; cf. SNG Copenhagen 19-20; O. Bopearachchi, “Premières frappes locales de l’Inde du Nord-Ouest: nouvelles données,” in Trésors d’Orient: Mélanges offerts à Rika Gyselen, Fig. 1 (this coin). VF, surfaces a bit rough, small edge split, struck with slightly worn obverse die.

Ex 2007 Shaikhan Dehri Hoard.

While Athenian tetradrachms and their imitations functioned as an international currency in the eastern Mediterranean and Levant as early as the 5th century BC (see M.J. Price and N. Waggoner, Archaic Greek Silver Coinage: The Asyut Hoard [London, 1975]), examples of this coinage have rarely been found in a Central Asian hoard. The most notable example is the 1933 Tchamani-i Hazouri hoard (circa 380 BC), which included 34 Athenian tetradrachms of the mid to late 4th century BC and one imitation (see D. Schlumberger, "L'argent grec dans l'empire achéménide," in Trésors monétaires d'Afghanistan [Paris, 1953]). In 2007, at the site of ancient Pushkalavati (Shaikhan Dehri) in Pakistan, a small coin hoard was discovered that contained this tetradrachm of Athens, in addition to a number of local types, some blank flans, and four cake-type cast ingots (one of which is lot 1366 below). Dated to circa 500/490-485/0 BC, this coin is the earliest known example of its type to be found so far east. For further discussion of this hoard, see the note to lot 1366 below, as well as O. Bopearachchi, "Premières frappes locales de l'Inde du Nord-Ouest: nouvelles données" in Mélanges Gyselen.