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Stater (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Kore

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.


330-300 BCE


Greek, minted in Metapontum, Italy

About this artwork

The front (obverse) of this coin depicts the head of the goddess Kore, crowned with grain, and facing to the right. On the back (reverse), an ear of grain is shown.

The use of coins as a form of money was invented in western Asia Minor in the early 7th century BCE. At the time this coin was struck, Greece was made up of separate city-states that issued their own currency. Made of gold, silver, bronze, and electrum (a gold-silver alloy), coins were literally worth their weight, but their value varied according to the percentage of their precious metal content. Occasionally a city needed more money than it had in reserves. By reducing the amount of precious metal and substituting a base metal, a coin could be
produced of the same weight but no longer of the same value. Some currency was only honored within its own city walls, but trustworthy money encouraged trade. Athens had the biggest economy, and its coin became the standard in the Greek world.

The population was largely illiterate, but it could identify the place of origin of a coin by its imagery. Many of these images referred to myths that were associated with the history of the community and thus were well known to the populace from religious ceremonies and theatrical entertainment. The story of a city’s founding, a local hero, the city’s guardian deity, and even the reason for the city’s wealth were subjects for a coin’s insignia.

Cities that excelled in a particular field often chose a symbol to illustrate the source of their power and wealth. Metapontum became wealthy through farming rather than trade. By illustrating the ear of grain on its coins, the city-state reminded its trading partners of its agricultural abundance.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Stater (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Kore


Metaponto (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.

330 BCE–300 BCE




Reverse: ΜΕΤΑ ΛΥ


Diam.: 2.1 cm (7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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