Biblical Archaeology Review 30:4, July/August 2004

Strata: Brother, Can You Spare a Tetradrachm?

The world’s most valuable coin, the Aitna Tetradrachm, is currently on view at the Israel Museum. Billed as the Mona Lisa of numismatics, the fifth-century B.C. Greek coin has been in the collection of the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels, Belgium, since 1899, yet it has never before been made available to the public. It will be on display in Jerusalem until October 16.

The coin was minted in ancient Aitna, at the foot of Mt. Etna in Sicily. Made of silver and weighing 0.3 ounces, the coin depicts Zeus on a throne on one side; the other features the head of Silenos, a mythological creature of the forests and mountains. The coin is displayed with others in the collection of the Bibliothèque Royale attributed to the same engraver, and with related coins from the Israel Museum’s own collection.

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