The Bank of Greece will issue (8th October) new collector coins minted in gold that are part of a themed series entitled “Cultural Heritage.” The focus of the 2019-dated coin is the Temple of Hera (Heraion) located on the island of Samos. Once one of the mightiest states in the Greek world during the days of Polycrates, it was also a formidable rival of Athens. In terms of the modern history of Greece, Samos was one of the first locales to take up arms against Ottoman occupation during the war of independence. On the island of Samos there was only one town existing in ancient times, that of the walled citadel with its harbour — which was the source of most of its wealth — and on the other side at the shore of the sea, was the Heraion.
It was this place that was said to be the birthplace of Hera and where her nuptials with Zeus were said to have taken place. It is one of the most important sanctuaries to the Goddess of Hera in Greece, and the cult of the Samian Hera dates as far back as the Bronze Age. The first great Temple of Hera, measuring one hundred feet in length, the hekatompedon, was erected in the eighth century B.C. and rebuilt in the seventh century B.C. A new, colossal structure replaced it with dimensions of 52.5 by 105 metres (170 by 345 feet). The new structure featured a double colonnade on all sides, a dipteral, and was built in 570-560 B.C. by famed and historic architects Rhoikos and Theodoros. This unique temple, a masterpiece of Ionic architecture, was sadly destroyed by an earthquake just years after its completion.
Under the tyrant Polycrates of Samos (reigned c.540 – 522 B.C.), construction began on a new dipteral temple of even larger dimensions of 55.16 by 108.63 metres (180 by 354 feet), which was supported by 155 columns of 20 metres (65 feet) in height. Although never completed, the Polycrates temple was admired throughout antiquity.
The first preliminary archaeological excavations in modern times of this particular site did not take place until 1890-92, which was under the direction of Panagiotis Kavvadias and Themistoklis Sofoulis, on behalf of the Greek Archaeological Society of Athens. The full extent of the third temple’s foundations was not revealed until Theodor Wiegand’s campaign of 1910-14, which was on behalf of the Royal Museum of Berlin. The site is a protected UNESCO historical location and was included as Heraion of Samos on the World Heritage List since 1992.
The Hellenic State Mint produces the Proof-quality gold coins at their facilities in Athens on behalf of the Bank of Greece and are designed by M. Antonatou. The obverse side includes an image of a stylised recreation of a drachma coin of Samos with its distinct lion’s face. The denomination of 50 ΕΥΡΩ is placed below.
The reverse side depicts the ruins of the Temple of Hera along with the text ΗΡΑΙΟ ΣΑΜΟΥ (“Heraion of Samos”) placed on both sides of the depiction of the actual temple column. The text ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΉ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΊΑ (“Hellenic Republic”) encircles the small national crest which is located to the left of the temple. The year of issue and mintmark of the Hellenic Mint are seen on the right of the column.
|One g||14 mm||Proof||
Available from the 8th to 22nd October, each coin is encapsulated and presented in a matte-polished wood custom case and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. For the purchase of one (1) coin per person after their official release date, collectors residing in Greece can visit the Bank of Greece, in Athens, in person. Those outside Greece are asked to e-mail a request using the relevant ordering form to the following mailing address: