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Austria Wins Most Historically Significant Coin Category for 2021 COTY Awards

The Austrian Mint’s 100 Euro, “Magic of Gold: The Gold of Mesopotamia,” was named the “Most Historically Significant Coin” at the 2021 Coin of the Year (COTY) Awards. The category recognizes coins commemorating events, institutions or individuals deemed highly significant in terms of the historical heritage of a people, a country or mankind. The subject or theme must have passed into historical perspective at least 100 years ago.

As described by the Austrian Mint, its Magic of Gold series traces the mysterious nature of gold in Ancient cultures. “No other metal has as much symbolic meaning as gold and no other concrete substance has been linked with so many abstract concepts, including heavenliness, immortality, purity and power,” the mint writes. Each coin in the series features the word “gold” written in the respective script of the epoch and culture represented on it.

The first coin in the series, dated 2019, depicts Mesopotamia. The civilization, located between Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, is credited with some of the most important developments in early human history. The other five coins in the series depict ancient Egypt, the Incas, the Scythians, India, and China.

The Gold of Mesopotamia coin features a portrait of the legendary ruler King Nebuchadnezzar II (circa 640-562 BC) wearing a horned crown. According to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar erected a huge golden statue and made his subjects worship it on bended knee. As in other civilizations, the ownership of gold was associated with high standing in Mesopotamia. It was reserved for the powerful, and all gold had to be handed over to the ruling class and the religious authorities. Mesopotamian gold was mainly sourced from Egypt, where it was believed that the streets were paved with the precious metal.

The obverse side of the coin shows a bull’s head from a detail found on the Golden Lyre of Ur. It was discovered in 1929 in the Royal Cemetery of Ur, located in present day Iraq. Created approximately 4,500 years ago, the lyre is considered to be one of the world’s oldest surviving stringer instruments.

The Gold of Mesopotamia coin was designed by Mag. Helmut Andexlinger and Herbert Wähner, both of the Austrian Mint. It measures 30.00 mm and weighs 15.78 grams.

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