Reproduction Macedonia, Amphipolis Tetradrachm
Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo facing slightly right, with drapery around neck.
Reverse: The inscription AMΦ – IΠO – ΛIT – EΩN within raised linear square enclosing a race torch and in lower right field the letter A. All within partially incuse square.
History: The facing head of the Pythian Apollo and a lit race torch within a raised square inscribed with an ethnic are characteristic of Amphipolitan tetradrachms, one of the most admired series of all Greek coins. Apollo was the patron deity of Amphipolis, and it would seem that the race torch refers to the night races held at Amphipolis, in honour of its oecist or perhaps Apollo.
The name of the city, which loosely translates to ‘the surrounded city,’ is derived from its peculiar geography, for it was hemmed in by Mount Pangaeus and the lower Strymon and its estuary. The advantageous site had long been occupied, but it was not until 437 B.C. that the Athenian Greeks under the leadership of the oecist Hagnon, founded a colony, by which they hoped to exploit the gold and silver mines of the adjacent mountain.
Because of its strategic location at an ideal crossing of the Strymon, and its proximity to extraordinarily productive mines, the city was a bone of contention for various external powers in the Greek world: Persians, Athenians, Spartans and Macedonians, and finally the Romans, who assumed control in 146 B.C.
Minted: Amphipolis mint, circa 366-365 BC.