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Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Biga with Mules

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.


484-476 BCE


Greek; minted in Messana, Sicily, Italy

About this artwork

The official record of quadrennial games honoring the supreme Greek god Zeus at a sanctuary dedicated to him at Olympia began in 776 BC. With few interruptions, they took place every four years for about 1,100 years. In AD 394, the Christian emperor Theodosius I (r. 379–95) abolished them as pagan rites.
The most prestigious competition remained the footrace, but eventually it was supplanted in popularity by the horse races. Horses were symbols of socioeconomic status, since only the privileged could afford to buy, feed, and train them and transport their teams and trainers to Olympia every four years. In time, many of the victors in the horse races included kings and tyrants.
Anaxilas, tyrant of Messana and Rhegium, minted this coin to celebrate the victory of his two-mule chariot team in either 484 or 480 BC.


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Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Biga with Mules


Ancient Greece (Minted in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Struck 484 BCE–476 BCE




Diam.: 2.6 cm (1 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number


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