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Greek Islands Ancient Coins

"Naxos Coin-Silver Stater"

Naxos, where Dionysos met Ariadne, according to the legend, after she had been abandoned by Theseus on his way home from Crete, is the largest and richest of the Cycladic islands. It is renowned for its famous Naxian marble, which was used to make the temples that adorned the major important sanctuaries of the Archaic period, such as the sanctuaries of Apollo at Delphi and on Delos. After the middle of the 8th c. BC, the island took part in the colonisation movement and in 735/4 BC, in collaboration with Chalkis on Euboea, founded the Greek colony named Naxos in Sicily, in the foothills of Mount Etna. The island achieved the height of its power and health during the time of the tyrant Lydgamis in the second half of the 6th c. BC. It was then that construction began of the Archaic Ionic temple of Apollo, a rival to the large dipteral Ionic temples built at the same period by Peisistratos in Athens and Polycrates on Samos. Although the island was devastated by the Persians in 490 BC and never recovered its former glory, the Naxians took part in the battle of Salamis, contributing four ships, and also in the battle of Plataea. Their membership of the Delian Confederacy brought them under Athenian rule. During the period of Alexander's Successors Naxos was part of the Island League, a confederation that came successively under Egyptian, Macedonian, and Rhodian influence. The types on the Archaic staters of Naxos, which depict a kantharos bordered by an ivy wreath, from the two handles of which hangs a bunch of grapes, are associated with the cult of Dionysos.

The output of the Archaic mint came to an end in 490 BC, when the Athenians settled five hundred cleruchs on the island. The minting of coins, on the Rhodian standard, was resumed in the 4th c. BC. The surface of the silver and bronze coins was engraved with a depiction of the head of Dionysos and the kantharos.

ancient greek coins - silver stater
Silver stater late 6th cencury-c. 490 BC.

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