Lesbos, Mytilene. c. 521-478 BC

Lesbos, Mytilene. c. 521-478 BC


EL Hekte, 2.54g (10mm, 12h). Roaring lion right / Incuse of bull right.

References:  Bodenstedt Em. 13; HGC 6, 938

Grade:  Sharp strike and great centering. EF  (gk1161)

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The earliest known coins in the Greek world were struck in electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Coinage is believed to have been created first in the area of Ionia, on the west coast of present day Turkey. The earliest coins were simply blank, with no discernable image. The reverses were rude incuses. Perhaps a little more than 100 years later coinage started to move across the Aegean to Greece proper where the superpower Athens began to strike coinage with the ubiquitous image of Athena and the owl. This coin was struck on the Island of Lesbos, a little further north of the Ionian region. Aside being the home of the poet Sappho, Aristotle also lived there for a few years after teaching the young Alexander the Great. The large output of electrum coins from Mytilene suggests that it was an immensely important trading port at the time.