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MACEDON, Chalkidian League. Circa 350 BC. AR Tetradrachm (24mm, 14.32 g, 11h). Olynthos mint; Aristonos, magistrate. Head of Apollo right, wearing laurel wreath / Kithara; X-A-Λ-KIΔ-EΩN above and at sides, EΠI APIΣΩNOΣ in tiny letters below. Robinson & Clement Group V, 130 (A80/P111); AMNG III/2, 8; HGC 3, 500; SNG ANS 496; BMC 10; Boston MFA 582; Pozzi 753. EF, toned.

Ex René Baron Collection (Tradart, 18 December 2014), lot 82, purchased from Crédit de la Bourse, Paris, March 1990.

Taking advantage of the loosening of Athenian control over the Chalkidike due to the Peloponnesian War, in 432/1 BC the cities of the region formed themselves into a defensive coalition called the Chalkidian League, with its capital at Olynthos. The failure of Athens to break up this coalition - one of the terms of the Peace of Nikias in 421 BC - as well as a general strategic disinterest in the region, helped to solidify the League's power and position. As a result of this situation, the League began striking silver coinage in its own name. Adopting the local "Phoenician" standard already in use by Olynthos, only tetrobols were minted in any quantity at first, but after about 420 BC, tetradrachms were regularly struck. The very rare issues of gold staters, struck on the Attic standard, are certainly tied to the tumultuous events in the second quarter of the 4th century BC.

The political situation in which the League found itself at that time was influenced by the competing interests of Athens, which had historic ties to the region, Sparta, which constantly sought to check any advance of Athenian power, and the Macedonian Kingdom, which sought to expand its influence over its neighbor to the south. Sparta's defeat at Leuktra in 371 BC, and the subsequent peace, provided Athens with the opportunity to reconstitute the Second Athenian Empire, beginning with the Chalkidike. In 365 BC, the Athenian general Timotheos began to conquer territory in the northern Aegean on behalf of Athens. He quickly subdued the island of Samos and gained a foothold in the Thracian Chersonese, from where he could direct his attention to the Chalkidike. With the help of Perdikkas III of Macedon, Timotheos attacked the League and its capital, Olynthos. Although unable to take the capital, Timotheos was successful in quickly capturing a large part of the League's territory. His campaign was so successful that he used the opportunity to attack his erstwhile ally, Macedon, as well. In 363 BC, in addition to seizing the city of Potidaia, an important Chalkidikan port near the League capital of Olynthos, Timotheos also captured the Macedonian ports of Methone, Terone, and Pydna, located in the Thermian Gulf. For all of his initial success against the Chalkidian League, however, Timotheos was unable to conquer Amphipolis, or solidify his hold over the areas he seized, and eventually abandoned his northern Aegean enterprise in 360 BC. In the years immediately following, it would be Amyntas' youngest son, Philip II, who would achieve what both the Chalkidian League and Timotheos were unable to do - bring the entire region and all of its cities and tribes under one authority. In 348 BC, Philip dissolved the League.