Thasos is an island in the north Aegean Sea, off the coast of Thrace, which contained prolific gold mines during ancient times. Archilochus described Thasos as " an ass's backbone crowned with wild wood," and the description still suits the mountainous island with its forests of fir. Besides its gold mines, the wine, nuts and marble of Thasos were well known in antiquity. The island was colonized at an early date by Phoenicians, probably attracted by its mines Thasus, son of Phoenix, is said to have been the leader of the Phoenicians, and to have given his name to the island. During the 7th Century, the island became increasingly Hellenized, through contact with the Greeks who began settling along the coastal regions of Thrace. Thasos also enjoyed controlling interest in several silver mines on the Greek mainland, a testament to the enormous wealth and power of this island. In 492 BC, Thasos fell to the Persians during the Ionian revolt. After the defeat of Persia by Athens, Thasos joined the Delian League. Later, the island would come under Roman control.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine- made currencies. Today, the gold mines and marble quarries of Thasos have all been depleted. However, this silver drachm is a stunning memorial to the golden age of this ancient island. - (C.4218)