Studies in Athenian silver coinage: analysis of archaic 'owl' tetradrachms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Archaic owl tetradrachms form an important subset of our research into Early Attic coinage. This paper analyses their physical characteristics and silver content based on measurements of 424 owl tetradrachms and 81 owl obols for comparison with fractional coinage. The paper proposes that the tetradrachms were deliberately minted at their ideal standard weight and with a consistently high purity of silver to make them acceptable as an export coinage. This stood in contrast to the preceding ‘Wappenmünzen’ and contemporary fractional coinage both of which were minted primarily for use in the domestic market place. Test-cutting in antiquity appears to have been carried out as a matter of routine checking primarily by overseas end-users, rather than on suspicion of individual coins.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetallurgy in Numismatics 6
Subtitle of host publicationMines, Metals and Money: Ancient World Studies in Science, Archaeology and History
EditorsKenneth A. Sheedy, Gillan Davis
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherThe Royal Numismatic Society
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)090140537X
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameRoyal Numismatic Society Special Publications
PublisherRoyal Numismatic Society


  • Owl tetradrachm
  • Numismatics
  • Attic coinage
  • Owl obol
  • Attic standard
  • Test cutting


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