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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.


400-350 BCE


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.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Hecta (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Demeter


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 400 BCE–350 BCE




Diam.: 1.1 cm (7/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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