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Hecta (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Demeter

A work made of electrum.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of electrum.

Date:

400-350 BCE

Artist:

Greek, minted in Lesbos, probably Mytilene

About this artwork

The front (obverse) of this coin depicts the head of goddess Demeter facing right, veiled and crowned with grain; her hair is rolled at the brow and she wears a circular earring. The back (reverse) of the coin depicts a tripod lebes, with 3-ring handles from 2 of which hang knotted taenia.

The island of Lesbos was famous for its writers, including the poets Alcaeus and Sappho, and for its cult of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Visitors could bring their questions to Demeter’s temple, where an oracle answered them by reading cobwebs. In an unusual show of cooperation, the two rival cities of Mytilene and Phocaea agreed to share a mint, which produced this beautiful coin showing the island’s patron goddess crowned with a wreath of grain.

Status

On View, Gallery 151

Department

Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Hecta (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Demeter

Origin

Greece

Date

Struck 400 BCE–350 BCE

Medium

Electrum

Dimensions

Diam. 1.1 cm; 2.54 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number

1922.4926

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.

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/5770/manifest.json

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.

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