Skip to Content

Open today 10–11 a.m. members | 11 a.m.–6 p.m. public. Learn more.

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Biga with Mules

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • 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.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Biga with Mules


Ancient Greece


Struck 484 BCE–476 BCE




Diam. 2.6 cm; 16.37 g

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions