Thessalian League

Thessalian League (Roman Province of Macedonia), Silver Drachma, 168-100 BCE
weight: 3.9g; width: 1.88cm; die axis: 3h

Thessalian League OBVThessalian League REV

OBV.: Laureate head of Apollo right, letter H left of neck.
REV.:
Athena Itonia, advancing right with raised spear and shield. Inscription "QESSA-LWN" (Thessalon = of the Thessalians). Magistrate signature left and right of Athena's legs: "POLY". Most likely minted in Larissa.

HFMA nr. 2006.010.023. Ref.: SNG UK vol. IV 2482 (same mint mark), cf. SNG Cop 300.


The Thessalian league was a loose confederation of Thessalian city states (map). After the Second Macedonian War (200-197 BCE), the victorious Roman general T. Quinctius Flamininus declared all of Greece "free". Consequently, he reorganized the Thessalian league, creating a federal council, the synedrion, and annually changing officers, strategoi. The seat of the league was in the largest Thessalian city, Larisa, and it continued to exist even after Thessaly became part of the new Roman province of Macedonia in 146 BCE.

The Apollo head on the obverse reflects Thessaly's long-standing involvement in the Delphic Amphictyony, an association of Greek states that administered and protected the temple and oracle of Apollo at Delphi.

The reverse features the patron deity of Thessaly, Athena Itonia, whose sanctuary was located between Larisa Kremaste and Pherae. The image probably represents the cult statue of the goddess. Athena is depicted as an Athena Promachos (the Forefighter), advancing in full armor with spear and shield. The fringed object hanging down from Athena's shoulders is her aegis, originally a shaggy, tasseled goatskin that could be used like a shield by wrapping it around the left arm. In later representations, the goddess usually wears it draped around her neck, as here. A hole was drilled into the coin in antiquity so that it could be worn as an amulet on a necklace.

Literature:
Helly, Bruno. "Les émissions monétaires de la Confédératon Thessalienne (IIe-Ier s. av. J.-C.)". In: T. Hackens, G. Depeyrot and Ghislane Moucharte, edd. Rythmes de la production monétaire de l'Antiquité à nos jours. Actes du colloque organisé à la Monnaie de Paris, 10-12 janvier 1986, par le Séminaire de numismatique Marcel Hoc, la Monnaie de Paris et le CNRS (Publications d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art de l'UCL, L = Numismatica Lovaniensia, 7), Louvain-la-Neuve, 1987, pp. 39-53.

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