Numismatic Museum of Athens

The Numismatic Museum in Athens (Greek: Νομισματικό Μουσείο) is one of the most important museums of Greece and houses one of the greatest collections of coins, ancient and modern, in the world. The museum itself is housed in the mansion of the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, formally known as Iliou Melathron (Greek: Ιλίου Μέλαθρον, "Palace of Ilion").

Numismatic Museum, Athens
Ιλίου Μέλαθρον 6649
Numismatic Museum of Athens is located in Athens
Numismatic Museum of Athens
Location within Athens
LocationPanepistimiou Street, Athens, Greece
TypeNumismatic museum
DirectorDr. Georgios Kakavas
Public transit accessLogo of the Athens Metro Operating Company (AMEL).svg Athens Metro Line 2.svgAthens Metro Line 3.svgSyntagma station
Logo of the Athens Metro Operating Company (AMEL).svg Athens Metro Line 2.svg Panepistimio station


Numismatic Museum of Athens 3
Façade close-up.

The first tries of coin collecting by the state began shortly after the independence of Greece in Aegina. The collection was enriched after excavations, purchases and donations. The museum was founded in 1838, around the same era with the National Archaeological Museum but it was not until many years after and several decrees that became an independent organization. Initially, the collection was a part of the National Library of Greece and was housed at the main building of the University of Athens and later at the building of the Academy of Athens where the collection was first exhibited. In 1946, the collection was moved at the National Archaeological Museum. The organization of the museum became twice independent, in 1893 and 1965.[1]

The Iliou Melathron was granted in order to house the collection in 1984 and after a major renovation it finally opened in 1998.[2]

The Iliou Melathron

Schliemann mansion 1900
The building in 1910

The Numismatic Museum is housed at the Iliou Melathron, a three-storey building on Panepistimiou Street. It was built between 1878-1880 for Heinrich Schliemann and the architect was the then famous Ernst Ziller. At the time of its completion, it was considered to be the most magnificent private residence of Athens. Its design was inspired by the Renaissance Revival movement as well as Neoclassicism, while the interior is influenced by the architecture of Pompeii. As a result, the rooms are decorated with mosaics and murals depicting either themes from the Trojan War or Greek mottos.[3] In 1927, the widow of Heinrich Schliemann, Sophia, sold the building to the Greek State and it was subsequently used as the seat of the Council of State and later the Court of Cassation.[2]

Numismatics Museum in Athens
View of the interior of the museum.

The use of the building as a courthouse caused much damage. After the building was chosen to house the Numismatic Museum, it underwent a major renovation under which the floor mosaics and the murals were restored. Finally, the numismatic collection was inaugurated in the partly restored building in 1998 while the whole collection became viewable in 2007.[4]


The collection of the museum contains 600,000 objects, mainly coins but also medals, standard masses, dies, stamps and others, from the 14th century BC until modern times.[5] The collection is arranged in such a way so as to follow the history of coinage. The museum holds a very important collection of coins from the 6th century BC until the 5th century CE like those from the Greek Poleis and the Hellenistic and Roman periods. There also major Byzantine and Medieval collections from Western Europe, the East and the Ottoman Empire.

A large portion of the collection is constituted by coins that were found in hoards while the rest comes from the initial collection of Aegina, recent excavations in mainland Greece and donations.

The museum houses a library of 12,000 books specialized in the study of coinage. There is also a perfectly equipped conservation laboratory.

Location and visitors information

The Numismatic Museum is on 12 Panepistimiou Street near Syntagma Square. It is served by the Syntagma metro station. There is a museum shop and a coffeehouse in the garden.


Oxhide ingots at the Numismatic Museum, Athens

Copper ingots from Crete and Mycenae.


Iron oboloi in the form of spit, uncovered at Heraion of Argos.

Silver Dekadrachm cropped

Athens, 467-465 BC. Silver Dekadrachm. Head of Athena right

Athens tetradrachm

Silver Drachma of Athens. Helmeted head of Athena right / ΑΘΕ (ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ - of Athenians), Owl standing right.

Arethusa decadrachm

Silver decadrachm from Syracuse, Sicily. Head of Arethusa left, four dolphins around.

Peloponnesian treasures

Hoard of gold coins from Epidaurus, 3rd Century BC.

Hoard from Ancient Corinth

Hoard of gold coins from Ancient Corinth

Collection of J. Demetriou Συλλογή Ι. Δημητρίου (3542716639)

Gold and silver coins of Ptolemies.

The Mints of the Byzantine Empire (3543621234)

Gold coins of the Byzantine Empire.

The Mints of the Byzantine Empire (3543619332)

Mints of the Byzantine Empire.

See also


  1. ^ Papyros Larousse Britannica, Athens, 2006
  2. ^ a b "THE ILIOU MELATHRON". Numismatic Museum, Athens. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Ιλίου Μέλαθρον". ΑΡΧΕΙΟ ΝΕΟΤΕΡΩΝ ΜΝΗΜΕΙΩΝ. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Ιστορικό". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  5. ^ Touratsoglou, I. "Numismatic Museum of Athens, Archaeology and Arts, March 1999" (PDF) (in Greek). Retrieved 17 April 2016.

External links

Coordinates: 37°58′40.08″N 23°44′07.44″E / 37.9778000°N 23.7354000°E

Ancient Greek coinage

The history of ancient Greek coinage can be divided (along with most other Greek art forms) into four periods, the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world during the 7th century BC until the Persian Wars in about 480 BC. The Classical period then began, and lasted until the conquests of Alexander the Great in about 330 BC, which began the Hellenistic period, extending until the Roman absorption of the Greek world in the 1st century BC. The Greek cities continued to produce their own coins for several more centuries under Roman rule. The coins produced during this period are called Roman provincial coins or Greek Imperial Coins.

Anna Apostolaki

Anna Apostolaki (Greek: Άννα Αποστολάκη, 1880–1958) was a Greek archaeologist and museum curator. She was the first woman to work in the field of archaeology in Greece and served as curator and later the director of the National Museum of Decorative Arts. One of the first women to graduate with a doctoral degree, she was also the first woman member of the Archaeological Society of Athens and an early member of the Christian Archaeological Society. She was an expert in ancient textiles and saw preservation of ancient patterns and Greek weaving traditions as a means to not only validate women's works, but bolster Greek nationalism in the interwar period of Greek history.

Byzantine mints

The East Roman or Byzantine Empire established and operated several mints throughout its history (330–1453). Aside from the main metropolitan mint in the capital, Constantinople, a varying number of provincial mints were also established in other urban centres, especially during the 6th century. Most provincial mints except for Syracuse were closed or lost to invasions by the mid-7th century. After the loss of Syracuse in 878, Constantinople became the sole mint for gold and silver coinage until the late 11th century, when major provincial mints began to re-appear. Many mints, both imperial and, as the Byzantine world fragmented, belonging to autonomous local rulers, were operated in the 12th to 14th centuries. Constantinople and Trebizond, the seat of the independent Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461), survived until their conquest by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-15th century.

Ernst Ziller

Ernst Moritz Theodor Ziller (Greek: Ερνέστος Τσίλλερ, Ernestos Tsiller; 22 June 1837, Serkowitz (now part of Radebeul-Oberlößnitz) – 4 November 1923, Athens) was a Saxon architect who later became a Greek national. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was a major designer of royal and municipal buildings in Athens, Patras, and other Greek cities.

Georgios Gennadios

Georgios Gennadios (Greek: Γεώργιος Γεννάδιος, 1784–1854) was a Greek man of letters who was instrumental in the founding of some of the first educational establishments of modern Greece, considered among the most important personalities of the Greek Enlightenment (Diafotismos), often referred to as the "Teacher of the Nation" (Διδάσκαλος του Γένους).

Government of Macedonia (ancient kingdom)

The earliest government of Macedonia was established by the Argead dynasty of Macedonian kings some time during the period of Archaic Greece (8th–5th centuries BC). Due to shortcomings in the historical record, very little is known about the origins of Macedonian governmental institutions before the reign of Philip II of Macedon (r. 359–336 BC), during the final phase of Classical Greece (480–336 BC). These institutions continued to evolve under his successor Alexander the Great and the subsequent Antipatrid and Antigonid dynasties of Hellenistic Greece (336–146 BC). Following the Roman victory in the Third Macedonian War and house arrest of Perseus of Macedon in 168 BC, the Macedonian monarchy was abolished and replaced by four client state republics. However, the monarchy was briefly revived by the pretender to the throne Andriscus in 150–148 BC, followed by the Roman victory in the Fourth Macedonian War and establishment of the Roman province of Macedonia.It is unclear if there was a formally established constitution dictating the laws, organization, and divisions of power in ancient Macedonia's government, although some tangential evidence suggests this. The king (basileus) served as the head of state and was assisted by his noble companions and royal pages. Kings served as the chief judges of the kingdom, although little is known about Macedonia's judiciary. The kings were also expected to serve as high priests of the nation, using their wealth to sponsor various religious cults. The Macedonian kings had command over certain natural resources such as gold from mining and timber from logging. The right to mint gold, silver, and bronze coins was shared by the central and local governments.

The Macedonian kings served as the commanders-in-chief of Macedonia's armed forces, while it was common for them to personally lead troops into battle. Surviving textual evidence suggests that the ancient Macedonian army exercised its authority in matters such as the royal succession when there was no clear heir apparent to rule the kingdom. The army upheld some of the functions of a popular assembly, a democratic institution which otherwise existed in only a handful of municipal governments within the Macedonian commonwealth: the Koinon of Macedonians. With their mining and tax revenues, the kings were responsible for funding the military, which included a navy that was established by Philip II and expanded during the Antigonid period.

Greek art

Greek art began in the Cycladic and Minoan civilization, and gave birth to Western classical art in the subsequent Geometric, Archaic and Classical periods (with further developments during the Hellenistic Period). It absorbed influences of Eastern civilizations, of Roman art and its patrons, and the new religion of Orthodox Christianity in the Byzantine era and absorbed Italian and European ideas during the period of Romanticism (with the invigoration of the Greek Revolution), until the Modernist and Postmodernist.

Greek art is mainly five forms: architecture, sculpture, painting, pottery and jewelry making.

Greek drachma

Drachma (Greek: δραχμή Modern Greek: [ðraxˈmi], Ancient Greek: [drakʰmέː]; pl. drachmae or drachmas) was the currency used in Greece during several periods in its history:

An ancient Greek currency unit issued by many Greek city states during a period of ten centuries, from the Archaic period throughout the Classical period, the Hellenistic period up to the Roman period under Greek Imperial Coinage.

Three modern Greek currencies, the first introduced in 1832 and the last replaced by the euro in 2001 (at the rate of 340.75 drachma to the euro). The euro did not begin circulating until 2002 but the exchange rate was fixed on 19 June 2000, with legal introduction of the euro taking place in January 2002.It was also a small unit of weight.

Heinrich Schliemann

Heinrich Schliemann (German: [ˈʃliːman]; 6 January 1822 – 26 December 1890) was a German businessman and a pioneer in the field of archaeology. He was an advocate of the historicity of places mentioned in the works of Homer and an archaeological excavator of Hisarlik, now presumed to be the site of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. His work lent weight to the idea that Homer's Iliad reflects historical events. Schliemann's excavation of nine levels of archaeological remains with dynamite has been criticized as destructive of significant historical artifacts, including the level that is believed to be the historical Troy.Along with Arthur Evans, Schliemann was a pioneer in the study of Aegean civilization in the Bronze Age. The two men knew of each other, Evans having visited Schliemann's sites. Schliemann had planned to excavate at Knossos but died before fulfilling that dream. Evans bought the site and stepped in to take charge of the project, which was then still in its infancy.

Heraion of Argos

The Heraion of Argos (Greek: Ἡραῖον Ἄργους) is an ancient temple in Argos, Greece. It was part of the greatest sanctuary in the Argolid, dedicated to Hera, whose epithet "Argive Hera" (Ἥρη Ἀργείη Here Argeie) appears in Homer's works. Hera herself claims to be the protector of Argos in Iliad IV, 50–52): "The three towns I love best are Argos, Sparta and Mycenae of the broad streets". The memory was preserved at Argos of an archaic, aniconic pillar representation of the Great Goddess. The site, which might mark the introduction of the cult of Hera in mainland Greece, lies northeast of Argos between the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Midea, two important Mycenaean cities. The traveller Pausanias, visiting the site in the 2nd century CE, referred to the area as Prosymna (Προσύμνη).

Ioannis Dimitriou

Ioannis Dimitriou (Greek: Ιωάννης Δημητρίου, 1826–c. 1900) was a cotton and industrial merchant that worked in Egypt and was a major donator of ancient Egyptian artifacts which he gave to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. He also worked in his home island of Lemnos.

Ioannis Svoronos

Ioannis N. Svoronos (Greek: Ιωάννης Ν. Σβορώνος; Mykonos, 15 / 27 April 1863 – Athens, 25 August / 7 September 1922) was a Greek archaeologist and numismatist.

List of museums in Greece

This is a list of museums in Greece by regional unit.

List of numismatic collections

Many history and cultural museums have large numismatic collections (coins, money, and tokens). Some museums are specifically dedicated to the history of money or coins, while others have major collections amongst other material. Many small museums often have important collections of coins from their local area or important archaeological sites.

Macedonia (ancient kingdom)

Macedonia ( (listen)) or Macedon (; Greek: Μακεδονία, Makedonía), was an ancient kingdom on the periphery of Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. The kingdom was founded and initially ruled by the royal Argead dynasty, which was followed by the Antipatrid and Antigonid dynasties. Home to the ancient Macedonians, the earliest kingdom was centered on the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, and bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south.

Before the 4th century BC, Macedonia was a small kingdom outside of the area dominated by the great city-states of Athens, Sparta, and Thebes, and briefly subordinate to Achaemenid Persia. During the reign of the Argead king Philip II (359–336 BC), Macedonia subdued mainland Greece and Thrace through conquest and diplomacy. With a reformed army containing phalanxes wielding the sarissa pike, Philip II defeated the old powers of Athens and Thebes in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. Philip II's son Alexander the Great, leading a federation of Greek states, accomplished his father's objective of commanding the whole of Greece when he destroyed Thebes after the city revolted. During Alexander's subsequent campaign of conquest, he overthrew the Achaemenid Empire and conquered territory that stretched as far as the Indus River. For a brief period, his empire was the most powerful in the world – the definitive Hellenistic state, inaugurating the transition to a new period of Ancient Greek civilization. Greek arts and literature flourished in the new conquered lands and advances in philosophy, engineering, and science spread throughout much of the ancient world. Of particular importance were the contributions of Aristotle, tutor to Alexander, whose writings became a keystone of Western philosophy.

After Alexander's death in 323 BC, the ensuing wars of the Diadochi, and the partitioning of Alexander's short-lived empire, Macedonia remained a Greek cultural and political center in the Mediterranean region along with Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, and the Kingdom of Pergamon. Important cities such as Pella, Pydna, and Amphipolis were involved in power struggles for control of the territory. New cities were founded, such as Thessalonica by the usurper Cassander (named after his wife Thessalonike of Macedon). Macedonia's decline began with the Macedonian Wars and the rise of Rome as the leading Mediterranean power. At the end of the Third Macedonian War in 168 BC, the Macedonian monarchy was abolished and replaced by Roman client states. A short-lived revival of the monarchy during the Fourth Macedonian War in 150–148 BC ended with the establishment of the Roman province of Macedonia.

The Macedonian kings, who wielded absolute power and commanded state resources such as gold and silver, facilitated mining operations to mint currency, finance their armies and, by the reign of Philip II, a Macedonian navy. Unlike the other diadochi successor states, the imperial cult fostered by Alexander was never adopted in Macedonia, yet Macedonian rulers nevertheless assumed roles as high priests of the kingdom and leading patrons of domestic and international cults of the Hellenistic religion. The authority of Macedonian kings was theoretically limited by the institution of the army, while a few municipalities within the Macedonian commonwealth enjoyed a high degree of autonomy and even had democratic governments with popular assemblies.


Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money and related objects. While numismatists are often characterised as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods. Early money used by people is referred to as "Odd and Curious", but the use of other goods in barter exchange is excluded, even where used as a circulating currency (e.g., cigarettes in prison). The Kyrgyz people used horses as the principal currency unit and gave small change in lambskins; the lambskins may be suitable for numismatic study, but the horses are not. Many objects have been used for centuries, such as cowry shells, precious metals, cocoa beans, large stones and gems.

Today, most transactions take place by a form of payment with either inherent, standardized, or credit value. Numismatic value is the value in excess of the monetary value conferred by law, which is known as the collector value.Economic and historical studies of money's use and development are an integral part of the numismatists' study of money's physical embodiment.

Obol (coin)

The obol (Greek: ὀβολός, obolos, also ὀβελός (obelós), ὀβελλός (obellós), ὀδελός (odelós). lit. "nail, metal spit"; Latin: obolus) was a form of ancient Greek currency and weight.

Oxhide ingot

Oxhide ingots are metal slabs, usually of copper but sometimes of tin, produced and widely distributed during the Mediterranean Late Bronze Age (LBA). Their shape resembles the hide of an ox with a protruding handle in each of the ingot’s four corners. Early thought was that each ingot was equivalent to the value of one ox. However, the similarity in shape is simply a coincidence. The ingots’ producers probably designed these protrusions to make the ingots easily transportable overland on the backs of pack animals. Complete or partial oxhide ingots have been discovered in Sardinia, Crete, Peloponnese, Cyprus, Cannatello in Sicily, Boğazköy in Turkey (ancient Hattusa, the Hittite capital), Qantir in Egypt (ancient Pi-Ramesses), and Sozopol in Bulgaria. Archaeologists have recovered many oxhide ingots from two shipwrecks off the coast of Turkey (one off Uluburun and one in Cape Gelidonya).


Philippeioi (Greek: Φιλίππειοι, Philíppeioi), later called Alexanders (Ἀλέξανδροι, Aléxandroi), were the gold coins used in the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia. First issued at some point between 355 and 347 BCE, the coins featured a portrait of the Greek deity Apollo on the obverse, and on the reverse, an illustration of a biga, a Greek chariot drawn by two horses. They had the value of one gold stater each. In the first issuing, Apollo was depicted with long hair, but after that the design was altered permanently to one in which Apollo's hair was shorter. The coins were intended primarily for large purchases outside of Macedonia. As a result, they spread quickly, first to the Balkans and continental Greece, and eventually throughout the Western world of the time; stashes of philippeioi have been uncovered in Italy, Constantinople, Southern Russia, Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt. The vast majority of these were actually struck by Philip's successor, Alexander the Great. The philippeioi issued by Alexander after Philip's death continued to use that name officially, though they were often called "alexanders" by Alexander's supporters.

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