Elis, Olympia. 134th-143rd Olympiad, c. 244-208 BC

Elis, Olympia. 134th-143rd Olympiad, c. 244-208 BC


AR Drachm, 4.68g (19mm, 1h). Eagle flying right, tearing at hare held in talons / Thunderbolt with double volutes above and wings below.

Pedigree: From the RAJ Collection. Ex Lewis Egnew Collection (Superior, 30 May 1995), lot 7466

References:  Elis Hoard Group II, 6 (same dies); BCD Olympia 235 (same dies); HGC 5, 508 (same dies as illustration)

Grade:  VF, toned and nice full detail on the hare.  (gk1152)

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Elis, located in the Peloponnesus, is likely best known for the foundation of the Olympic games in c. 776 BC. The ancient Olympic games were held until 393 BC when the Christian emperor Theodosius outlawed them on the basis of the games being pagan in nature. The original games were intended as a festival honoring Zeus. One had to be Greek and prove their Greek heritage in order to attend. Warring groups that attended held truces with each other during the games. There were some sports events involved in the early games but the focus was on the celebration in honor of the god Zeus first and foremost. Political alliances were announced and sacrifices were performed. This inspired the first modern Olympic games in Greece in 1896.

The coinage of Elis all share attributes pertaining to the god Zeus such as an eagle and thunderbolt which is reflected on this coin. These coins represent a small piece of history that even today over 2200 years later continue to be relevant.