Aegina is a Greek island located in the Saronic Gulf; the area located in between the peninsula that houses Argos and Sparta and the landmass housing Athens.


According to Greek mythology Aegina was once called Oenone until Zeus seduced the daughter of the river god Asopus; a nymph named Aegina. Zeus took her to the island of Oenone and renamed it after her. It was there that she gave birth to Aecus, the grandfather of the mythical hero Achilles and first king of the island of Aegina.


Archeological findingsin the area of Aegina known as Kolona (and other areas) indicate that the first inhabitants appeared in the latter half of the fourth millenium b.c. (about 3500-3000 b.c.) and it is believed that these inhabitants came from the peninsula that houses Sparta known as the Peloponnese. As time passed and the population of Aegina grew the inhabitants that settled in the areas known as Lofo and Kolona made their living by shipping. The inhabitants that settled at Mesagro and areas in the mainland of Aegina made their living by farming. Early in the Copper Age (2500-2000 b.c.) more colonization of Aegina occurred and by the second century b.c. Aegina’s economic power grew due to trade and the carrying of local products to places like mainland Greece and the island of Crete. Aegina is a civilization of interest because, “The standard of weights and measures developed by Aegina became the standard all over Greece, they were the first mint coins, and their fleet of ships carried on trade throughout the Mediterranean and the Aegean all the way to Egypt and the Persian Levant” (Mark).


Types of Aeginetic Coinage

Aegina was the first Greek nation to mint coins.The earliest Aeginetic coins are dated in the seventh century b.c. Strabo’s “Geographica” quotes Ephorus as crediting Pheidon, the king of Argos, as striking or minting the first coins on the island of Aegina. It is believed that Pheidon chose Aegina, rather than Argos, as the place to mint the first coins because of its prestige in the area of commerce and trade. Aeginetic coins were made from silver and the standard on which they were based was based on the relative value of gold and silver in Aegina during the time in which they were issued. The most famous type of Aeginetic coins are the “silver turtle coins,” named so after the sea turtle featured on them.




Temple of Aphaia at Aegina


Remains of the temple of Aphaia at Aegina

The temple of Apollo on the island of Aegina is located north of the town of Aegina. This temple is known as Kolona which means “column”; this name comes from the fact that there is only one column remaining from its original structure. Kolona was built in the Doric style. The Temple of Ellanios Zeus is named as such because it is located on Mount Ellanion; the highest mountain on the island. Around 1400-1300 b.c. the Mirmidones inhabited Oros on Aegina;it was the Mirmidones that built the temple of Ellanios Zeus. The temple of Aphaia was built after the Aeginetic fleet fought against Persian forces at the battle of Salamisand it is dedicated to Athena.






Joshua J. Mark. “Aegina,” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified April 28, 2011. /Aegina/.

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