Attica, Athens - Victory at the Eurymedon

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The drachms struck by Athens during the second quarter of the 5th century, circa 467-465, are undoubtedly the finest and most attractive drachms ever produced by Athens. The heads of Athena are very close in style to the dekadrachms produced around the same time, and as on the present specimen, can be true miniature masterpieces.

This was a particularly significant few years for Athens; the Persians had begun to assemble a large fleet and army in preparation for a major offensive against Athens and its Delian League. This force gathered near the Eurymedon, its intent apparently to move up the coast of Asia Minor, capturing each city in turn, securing naval bases from which to launch further expeditions into the Aegean. Learning of the Persian preparations, the Athenian general Kimon took 200 triremes and sailed to Phaselis in Pamphylia, which eventually agreed to join the Delian League. This effectively blocked the Persian strategy at its first objective.

Kimon then moved to pre-emptively attack the Persian forces near the Eurymedon. Sailing into the mouth of the river, Kimon quickly routed the Persian fleet gathered there. Most of the Persian fleet made land-fall, and the sailors fled to the shelter of the Persian army. Kimon then landed the Greek marines and proceeded to attack the Persian army, which was also routed. The Greeks captured the Persian camp, taking many prisoners, and were able to destroy 200 beached Persian triremes. This stunning double victory seems to have greatly demoralised the Persians, and prevented any further Persian campaigning in the Aegean until at least 451 BC.

Attica, Athens AR Drachm. Circa 467-465 BC. Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet ornamented with three olive leaves above visor and spiral palmette on bowl, round earring with central boss and pearl necklace / ΑΘΕ, owl standing three-quarters right, head facing, olive sprig behind. SNG Berry 676 (these dies); Svoronos pl. VIII, cf. 34-38; Seltman pl. XXII, ωω; Starr 85 (these dies). 4.29g, 14mm, 10h.

Extremely Fine. Attractive old tone. Rare.

From the Gutekunst Collection;
Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 52, 7 October 2009, lot 131.