Imperial Art, the ancient architecture coin series, is back with the Greek Acropolis starring

Back after a years hiatus, the Mint of Poland’s impressive Imperial Art art-architectural coin series has returned. Beginning in 2014, the series debuted with a look at the Mesopotamian world through views of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Ishtar Gate. The following year saw the series journey to the land of the Pharaohs, followed in 2016 with views of the Chinese Forbidden City. Having skipped 2017, Imperial Art is back with a 2018-dated look at the hugely important Greek civilisation of ancient times.

For a series that looks at ancient architectural feats, Greece is hugely important. Even today, huge public buildings are raised with strong ancient Greek influence and the capital cities of most western countries are filled with numerous examples. many look back to the amazing Parthenon, a near 2,500 year old temple built on the acropolis overlooking the city of Athens. The choice of the Parthenon to fill the reverse face of the coin is an obvious one. A perspective view of the building in its prime dominates this face, with a piece of blue agate filling a window. Detailed imagery abounds with virtually the whole face used.

The obverse features a view of the inside of the building, famed for once holding literally tons of gold in its roof. The blue agate window comes through into an amphora, next to which is a bust of Socrates. As an issue for Niue, it also carries the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, which remains relatively unobtrusive compared to many releases like this.

Sticking with the tried and tested 2oz, antique-finished, high-relief format that has become so popular in recent years, this is another excellent release in an impressive series. The coin comes boxed with a certificate of authenticity, of course, and the mintage remains at 500 pieces. The serial number is engraved on the rim. Due to ship in May, the coin is distributed by the Mint of Gdansk,but will also be available from the usual top dealers, including plenty of our sponsors (click below).

GREEK ARCHITECTURE

Greek architects provided some of the finest and most distinctive buildings in the entire Ancient World and some of their structures, such as temples, theatres, and stadia, would become staple features of towns and cities from antiquity onwards. In addition, the Greek concern with simplicity, proportion, perspective, and harmony in their buildings would go on to greatly influence architects in the Roman world and provide the foundation for the classical architectural orders which would dominate the western world from the Renaissance to the present day.

There are five orders of classical architecture – Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite – all named as such in later Roman times. Greek architects created the first three and hugely influenced the latter two which were composites rather than genuine innovations. An order, properly speaking, is a combination of a certain style of column with or without a base and an entablature (what the column supports: the architrave, frieze, and cornice).

The Greeks certainly had a preference for marble, at least for their public buildings. Initially, though, wood would have been used for not only such basic architectural elements as columns but the entire buildings themselves. Early 8th century BCE temples were so constructed and had thatch roofs. From the late 7th century BCE, temples, in particular, slowly began to be converted into more durable stone edifices; some even had a mix of the two materials. The stone of choice was either limestone protected by a layer of marble dust stucco or even better, pure white marble. Also, carved stone was often polished with chamois to provide resistance to water and give a bright finish. The best marble came from Naxos, Paros, and Mt. Pentelicon near Athens.

Cartwright, M. (2013, January 06). Greek Architecture. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Architecture/

THE PARTHENON

The ancient Greeks are rightly famous for their magnificent Doric and Ionic temples, and the example par excellence is undoubtedly the Parthenon of Athens. The magnificent temple on the Acropolis of Athens, known as the Parthenon, was built between 447 and 432 BCE in the Age of Pericles, and it was dedicated to the city’s patron deity Athena. The temple was constructed to house the new cult statue of the goddess by Pheidias and to proclaim to the world the success of Athens as leader of the coalition of Greek forces which had defeated the invading Persian armies of Darius and Xerxes. The temple would remain in use for more than a thousand years, and despite the ravages of time, explosions, looting, and pollution damage, it still dominates the modern city of Athens, a magnificent testimony to the glory and renown the city enjoyed throughout antiquity.

The acropolis itself measures some 300 by 150 metres and is 70 metres high at its maximum. The temple, which would sit on the highest part of the acropolis, was designed by the architects Iktinos and Kallikratis, and the project was overseen by the sculptor Phidias (Pheidias). Pentelic marble from the nearby Mt. Pentelicus was used for the building, and never before had so much marble (22,000 tons)  been used in a Greek temple. Pentelic marble was known for its pure white appearance and fine grain. It also contains traces of iron which over time has oxidised, giving the marble a soft honey colour, a quality particularly evident at sunrise and sunset.

The temple was unprecedented in both the quantity and quality of architectural sculpture used to decorate it. No previous Greek temple was so richly decorated. The Parthenon had 92 metopes carved in high relief (each was on average 1.2 m x 1.25 m square with relief of 25 cm in depth), a frieze running around all four sides of the building, and both pediments filled with monumental sculpture. The subjects of the sculpture reflected the turbulent times that Athens had and still faced.

Cartwright, M. (2012, October 28). Parthenon. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/parthenon/

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $2 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Mineral inset window
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
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