Leeds nostalgia: Ancient Greek coin still has currency

Goose and salamander coin obverse
Goose and salamander coin obverse
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Measuring just 12mm across, this tiny coin’s humble appearance belies its truly remarkable age.

Dated at around the 5th Century, the coin is of a type produced at a town called Eion in Thrace between 500 and 480 BC, making it around 2,500 years old. Known as a trihembiol the coin carries a design which depicts a goose turning its neck round so it can look at the salamander and the Greek capital letter Η (theta).

Eion was a town in western Thrace that had been established as a trading post by Persian traders in the Sixth Century BC. The town was seen as a strategically important port and soon after 476 BC. the Persians had been removed and Athenian settlers arrived.

Trihembiols are often found pierced with a hole so that they could be worn and are found, not just in the area near Eion, but across southern Thrace.

It may have been that they were carried not just as currency, but as a good luck charm or a reminder of home.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said:

“It’s absolutely incredible to think that this coin has been around for 2,500 years and that such a small object can be such a window to the past.

“Ancients artefacts like this and the history they encapsulate can be truly humbling and we are very fortunate to have such an impressive and comprehensive collection her in Leeds.”

The coin is part of the collection at the Leeds Discovery Centre, which has more than a million objects. Contact 0113 378 2100 or find them online.