Western currency was born in the region of Lydia (Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey) in the Greek cultural context of the late seventh century BC. This piece, minted in the city of Miletus, belongs to one of the oldest known coin issues. They were made of electrum, a naturally occurring gold and silver alloy found in Lydian territory, obtained from the mines of Mount Tmolus and especially the alluvial deposits of the River Pactolus.
The globular shape of these early coins bears a strong resemblance to ingots. The images, stamped with recessed punches, are also characteristic of these first coin series; in this case, we can make out an eastern-style lion on the obverse and three different motifs—a flower, a fox and a small stag head —on the reverse. Its weight (13.82 g) conforms to the metrological standard of the stater, which in this area was around 14 grams and which also gave the monetary unit its name (stater means “weigh” in Greek ). The stater has several fractional denominations, such as the hemistater (half stater) and tetarte (quarter stater).