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ACHAIA, Achaian League. Lakedaimon (Sparta). Circa 85 BC. AR Triobol – Hemidrachm (14mm, 2.17 g, 9h). Laureate head of Zeus right / Achaian League monogram; monogram above, piloi of the Dioskouroi flanking, ω below; all within wreath. Benner 16; BCD Peloponnesos 862; HGC 5, 643. VF, toned, slightly ragged flan.

Ex J. Cohen Collection (Classical Numismatic Group Electronic Auction 392, 1 March 2017), lot 221.

Sparta issued no coinage during its heyday in the classical era, circa 500-340 BC, viewing coined money as an avenue to weakness and decadence. According to Plutarch, the legendary Spartan statesman Lykourgos commanded that all transactions within Sparta be made using iron ingots instead of coins. This prohibition lasted until 309 BC, when the Spartan king Areus issued silver coins modeled on those of Alexander the Great. In the first century BC, Sparta’s legendary military prowess had waned to the point where it was forced to join the Achaian League, a federation of about 40 cities and towns on the Peloponnese, for common defense. As part of the league, Sparta issued silver hemidrachms like the present example to pay the League’s soldiers.