Islands off Caria, Rhodes c. 230-205 BC

Islands off Caria, Rhodes c. 230-205 BC


AR Tetradrachm, 13.43g (24mm, 12h). Three-quarter facing head of Helios with flowing hair / ΘAPΑΣTAΣ Large rose with eagle symbol to left and P-O below

Pedigree: Purchased from the stock of Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel on July 7, 1986

References: BMC 241, 126. SNG Keckman 550. Sgl. Karl 498 (Numismatik Lanz, München, Auction 131 (2006))

Grade: Small die break to left of nose, otherwise lovely cabinet toning, sharp strike and high relief. EF (gk1206)

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The obverse imagery on this coin from Rhodes is of a three-quarter facing head of Helios. In fact, Helios often is seen on the coinage. Around 50 years before this coin was struck, an enormous status of Helios, called the Colossus of Rhodes, was erected on the island. It is said to have been approximately equivalent in size to the Statue of Liberty. The statue was built by the sculptor Chares of Lindo who was born in Rhodes. Chares was the student of Lysander who was also a known respected artist. The statue was built to commemorate a victorious battle won by Rhodes over the Macedonians in 305 BC. It was one of the seven wonders of the world.

Disaster struck in c. 237/6 BC when a massive earthquake hit the prosperous city, toppling the gigantic statuary. Being that Rhodes was such an important trading city and generally well respected among the Greeks, some of the neighboring city states offered support in rebuilding the piece. This offer was always rejected by the people because of the fear of having somehow offended their patron god. Instead, the destruction lay on the ground for hundreds of years. People would come from all around the Greek world to visit the once largest statue ever known.

There have been discussions to rebuild the statue of Colossus of Rhodes however nothing has happened to this day. Most recent discussions were in 2015.