Ancient Greece - AR Tetradrachm - Thasos Dionysos - Circa 148 BC

Denomination: AR Tetradrachm                                                             

Mint: Thasos    

Date: Circa 148 BC 

Weight: 15.40 gm

Grade: Very Fine

Mount: 18K gold

Description: Thasos, Dionysus. Obverse: Head of young Dionysus. Reverse: Herakles standing, with lion-skin and club.

History: Thasos was an island inhabited from the Paleolithic period onwards, and was colonized at an early date by the Phoenicians, attracted by its gold mines. The island was also important in the wine trade and Thasian wine was quite famous in antiquity, which explains why the obverse of this type depicts the head of the wine god Dionysus. Dionysus was a mainstay of Greek mythology and the god of the grape harvest, wine, winemaking, and ritual madness & ecstasy. Dionysus’ portrait shows his intricately styled hair which has been adorned with grapes. The famous god Heracles was introduced to the island through the Phoenicians, who originally colonized the island sometime around 650 B.C.E. Once there, the Phoenicians built a temple dedicated to the worship of Melqart, the Phoenician god of the underworld. As the Greeks moved in and the island became Hellenized, Melqart was gradually referred to as the “Tyrian Heracles” in accordance with the Greek practice of identifying foreign gods and linking them with their own gods. Today the ancient temple area known as the Sanctuary of Hercules can be found on the north end of the island in an area within what is today the island’s largest city, Thasos. The reverse of this coin reflects that heritage with a depiction of Hercules wearing a lion’s skin, and an inscription that reads: “IRAKLEUS SOTIROS TASION,” which means “Hercules Savior of Thasos.”