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Denomination: AR Tetrobol Date: 340-330 BCE
Description: Histiaea. 340-330 B.C. AR Tetrobol. Obverse: Head of nymph Histiaea right, hair in sphendone Reverse: Nymph Histiaea seated right on stern of galley, ornamented with uncertain object, holding mast with cross-piece (trophy stand)
These beautiful little silver coins from ancient Greece depict the head of the lovely nymph Histiaia. These coins were struck in the important city of Histiaia, named after the nymph who was the favorite local goddess. Histiaia was found on the Greek island of Euboia, which was a large island off mainland Greece in the Aegean Sea. The City of Histiaia did not begin to produce coinage until the mid-4th century BCE. From its extensive silver issues in the Hellenistic age, it would appear to have been a place of considerable commercial importance.
Histiaia may imply the origins of the word ‘hysteria’, as everywhere she went, people would laugh, dance, have fun. She was one of the Maenads, a special type of nymph, who were companions of Dionysus and were celebrated for their infamous orgiastic debaucheries, ecstatic singing and dancing. The vine-wreath on this coin recalls their drunken revelry, while the reverse refers to the naval prowess of the city.