Denomination: AR Tetradrachm
Weight: 16.99 grams (30mm)
Date: Circa 297 - 282 BCE
Description: KINGS OF THRACE. Lysimachos, Lampsakos,
Obverse: Diademed head of Alexander the Great to right with horn of Ammon over his ear. Test cut on the obverse and with numerous scratches and graffiti, otherwise, nearly very fine.
Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ - ΛΥΣΙΜΑΧΟ[Y] Athena seated left, holding Nike, crowning the king's name, in her right hand and leaning with her left arm on shield decorated with lion's head; in inner left field, monogram; to outer left, herm to left. Meydancikkale -. Müller -, cf. 90 (slightly differing monogram). Thompson -, cf. 58 (slightly differing monogram).
History: Lysimachos was a member of the bodyguard of Alexander the Great. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death, he was entrusted with Thrace and adjoining territory in the Euxine, and in the Battle of Ipsos in 301 B.C. he acquired northwestern Asia Minor. He first issued coins with the types used by Alexander featuring Heracles and Zeus, but in 297 B.C. he created new types, among them the obverse of this coin, one of the most influential images in Hellenistic coinage.
Up until this point, no human face had been represented on Greek coinage. The reason why the coin shows Alexander with a ram’s horn is because Alexander was known to be obsessed with the quality of the temple of Amun. (Amun was later merged with Zeus during the Ptolemy dynasty.) The ram’s horn was used as a symbol to connect the Gods with the heavens, so by featuring it on the coin, Lysimachos deified Alexander, identifying him as the son of Zeus-Ammon. The coins continued to be issued after the death of Lysimachos.
The reverse refers more specifically to Lysimachos. In her right hand, a seated Athena extends her Nike, who crowns the first letter of Lysimachos' name. The gesture is a probable reference to his victory at Ipsos. The lion's head on Athena's shield may also refer to Lysimachos; the forepart of a lion was his personal device. He participated in lion hunts with Alexander and supposedly once killed a lion with his bare hands.