This four-drachma coin (also known as a tetradrachm) features the helmeted head of the Greek goddess Athena on one side and her symbolic bird, the owl, on the other. Beginning from about 520-510 B.C., Athena and her owl were depicted on Athenian coins because she was the patron goddess of the city. As a result, these coins have been nicknamed "owls." The olive wreath surrounding the owl and the small sideways amphora (storage vessel) on which the bird stands identify this coin as belonging to a series that began to be minted in 196‑195 B.C. The olive wreath and the amphora are emblems of the principal agricultural products of Athens, olives and olive oil. 

Two Greek words appear on the back. "Athe," which stands for Athens, is on the same level as the owl's eyes. Written below that is the name of an Athenian magistrate, "Ammodio," whose service in government dates to 182‑181 B.C. A tiny image of a container appears to the owl's left; its precise significance is unknown.


  • Title: Tetradrachm (Obverse)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 182–181 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 4.4 cm (1 3/4 in.)
  • Type: Coin
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Silver
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 80.NH.151.6
  • Culture: Greek
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, Gift of Morton Scribner, M.D.
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Coins (Money)

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