CULTURE | ATHENS
An Urban Gem
NUMISMATIC MUSEUM ATHENS
"THE NUMISMATIC COLLECTION OF GREECE HAS ITS ROOTS ON THE ARGO-SARONIC ISLAND OF AEGINA."
A priceless treasure in the heart of Athens, the Numismatic Museum pays tribute to Greece’s integral role in the intricate history of coinage, serving as a key source of information on matters of economy from antiquity and beyond.
Housing a collection of over 500,000 coins, medals, gems, weights, stamps and related artifacts from the 14th century BC to modern times, this collection constitutes one of the richest in the world, paralleled by those of the British Museum in London, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Bode Museum in Berlin, and the American Numismatic Society in New York.
Undoubtedly, the museum’s most stunning collections are those of ancient city states, the Hellenistic world, and the Roman Republic, dated from the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD. Its collection of Byzantine and Medieval coins from Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire, dated from the 6th century AD to the 15th century AD, are of equal importance and highly impressive.
The numismatic collection of Greece has its roots in 1829 on the Argo-Saronic island of Aegina, when the newly founded Greek state created conditions inviting the protection of national cultural heritage. Thus began the first organized coin collecting efforts in Greece.
Comprised of a total of 329 coins, Greece’s first national numismatic collection was instituted in 1834, along with the inaugural National Archaeological Museum. Gradually augmented by donations, confiscations, purchases, and excavations from Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and other major archeological sites, the museum’s collection topped 50,000 coins in the 1970s.
Today, the Numismatic Museum holds more than 190,000 pieces of currency sourced from some 670 ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval and Modern hoards discovered in Greece. Host to a conservation laboratory, as well as a library of some 12,500 publications dedicated to the study of coinage, the Numismatic Museum is housed in the magnificent neoclassical Iliou Melathron, originally erected in 1878 as the private residence of prominent businessman and archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann.
WORDS + PHOTOS: Portes Magazine