Roman Empire, Augustus - The Temple of Zeus

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This coin was issued while Augustus was traveling east across the Peloponnesos after having arrived at Patrai. The site of its production is not known - it may have been produced at Elis or even at Patrai.
The Temple of Zeus at Olympia, built between 472 and 456 BC, was an ancient temple; the very model of the fully-developed classical Greek temple of the Doric order. It stood in the most famous sanctuary of Greece, which had been dedicated to local and Pan-Hellenic deities and had probably been established towards the end of the Mycenaean period. The Altis, the enclosure with its sacred grove, open-air altars and the tumulus of Pelops, was first formed during the tenth and ninth centuries BC.
The temple housed the Statue of Zeus - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Chryselephantine statue was was made by the sculptor Phidias in his workshop on the site at Olympia, taking about twelve years to complete, and it stood approximately 13 metres (43 ft) high, occupying the whole width of the aisle in the temple built to house it. “It seems that if Zeus were to stand up,” the geographer Strabo noted early in the first century BC, “he would unroof the temple.” In his right hand he held a figure of Nike, the goddess of victory, also made from ivory and gold, and in his left hand, a sceptre made with many kinds of metal, with an eagle perched on the top. His sandals were made of gold and so was his robe. His garments were carved with animals and with lilies. The throne was decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory. This statue was the most famous work in all of Greece.
In 426 AD, Theodosius II ordered the destruction of the sanctuary, and earthquakes in 522 and 551 devastated the ruins and left the Temple of Zeus partially buried.

Augustus AR Denarius. Uncertain mint in the northern Peloponnnesos, 21 BC. AVGVSTVS, bare head of Augustus right / Hexastyle temple of Zeus at Olympia, seen from front, round shield in pediment and palmettes on roof; IOVI OLVM across fields. RIC 472; BMC 665; BN 939; C. 182. 3.33g, 19mm, 4h.


Rare. Extremely Fine.