This tetradrachm from the Sicilian city of Syracuse is of great importance for the history of coinage. It was issued between 510 and 500 BC and is one of the earliest tetradrachms struck in Sicily. On the obverse is a quadriga, a chariot pulled by four horses, at the end of a race. The reverse shows – and this is a significant innovation – within an incuse square the bust of the nymph Arethusa. This tetradrachm thus, for the first time ever, bore a genuine design on the reverse. Over time the small head in the center of the coin became larger and larger, until it finally covered the entire surface.
The tetradrachms of Syracuse soon became the key currency for Sicily, and the city became one of the island's most important mint. The Syracuse coins are among the most beautiful and artistic throughout antiquity.