Athens 2004 - Series A coins
In August 2004, the Olympic Games returned to the country where they were born over 2,500 years ago, and to
Athens the city of their revival in 1896. Within the framework of the Olympic Coin Program, the Greek Mint
issued a series of commemorative coins, Gold and Silver, on which Greek history and heritage were engraved.
The total collection includes 18 coins (6 Gold and 12 Silver) which were released in 6 quarterly issues, each
consisting of 1 Gold and 2 Silver coins. The themes were selected by the Minister for the National Economy and
the Governor of the Bank of Greece, from a set of proposals presented
by a national technical and artistic committee.
The first series of Official Coins of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games was issued March 3, 2003. The coins can
be purchased individually, in sets of two silver coins and a complete set including all three coins, the gold
and the two silver ones. The collection will be completed with 5 more series.
On the large island of Crete, first inhabited in the Neolithic era around 6000 B.C., a glorious culture
developed that became known as the Minoan civilization (2600-1100 B.C.). The most glorious monument of
this civilization was the Palace of Minos at Knossos, which is the subject of the first gold coin of the
2004 Olympics. It was the administrative and economic center, while at the same time it also had a sacred
character. Beyond the architectural value of the palace, it is also noteworthy for its many well preserved
interior wall paintings depicting social life in the Minoan period. The famous wall painting "Taurokatharpsia"
(bull vaulting) is preserved in the interior of the Palace and it may be considered the precursor of the
contests of the Classical and later periods. The contest of Taurokatharpsia involves executing a series
of somersaults and dangerous acrobatics on the back of a running bull
Athletics has its roots in ancient Greek history. Today Greeks still refer to Athletic events as classical
sports. Its first Olympic Games in 776 BC included a 192.2 m sprint known as the one stadium race
(equivalent to today's 200m sprint). During the first 13 Olympiads between 776 and 728 B.C. it was in fact
the only athletic event. In the composition a modern athlete figure appears in the foreground, shown in the
starting position, while in the background two ancient runners are carved in such way as to give the appearance
of a coin "worn" by time, a scene originally appearing on a black-figure vase of the 6th century B.C.
Disc throwing is one of the most "noble" sporting events, since it did not have
any direct connection with military exercises or farm work. It has remained virtually unchanged in the 28
centuries of its history, bearing therefore a significant historical tradition. In antiquity it formed part of the
pentathlon, and it required the athlete to bend his legs more, and not rotate his body as much as athletes do
today. In the composition a modern athlete in the foreground is seen in a half-turned position, while an ancient
discus thrower in the background has been captured in a lively bending motion, with the discus high above
his head, creating a vivid representation of the sport.