World of Coins

Ancient coins => Ancient Greece => Topic started by: gpimper on October 04, 2020, 10:13:05 PM

Title: Thrace drachm
Post by: gpimper on October 04, 2020, 10:13:05 PM
I wanted to share this earlier on the Zoom but got preoccupied, sorry.  Apollonian Pontika, Thrace. c 480-450 BC Silver drachm.  I like the Medusa/gorgoneion!
Title: Re: Thrace drachm
Post by: Figleaf on October 07, 2020, 08:58:12 AM
I found your picture disturbing, because my understanding is that the ancient Greeks used a big stone on a rope as an anchor. Also, Thrace is big and it was seldom united, but rather a collection of colonies from different Greek city states. Sure enough, the coins of united Thrace turned out to be different. My first guess was Lysimachios, because of the lambda at nine o'clock on the first picture. That was a dud as well.

A systematic search provided the answer to all my questions. The first picture (the reverse) is upside down. It seems to me that it's not an anchor, but a helmet. A helmet would be a far better match for Medusa than an anchor. The lambda is an alpha and the city is Apollonia Pontika (, now Sozopol ( in Bulgaria.

That raises a new question. The drachmes of Apollonia Pontika are extensively counterfeited - Bulgaria is notorious for its imitations of classical coins made for tourists and collectors. I went through a large number of pictures of Apollonia Pontika coins, fake and genuine, without finding the bad hair Medusa on your coin. I did notice that the fakes were usually in a very desirable condition, which makes sense from the point of view of the faker.

On balance, I would take your coin for genuine, with having an uncommon design as an extra attraction. Congratulations, Greg. Neat and very interesting coin.

Title: Re: Thrace drachm
Post by: gpimper on October 07, 2020, 07:29:55 PM
Peter, here is my full research on this coin...Apollonia Pontica was founded as Antheia by Greek colonists from Miletus in the 7th centuryB.C.  They changed the name to Apollonia after building a temp to Apollo.  The anchor is evidence of the importance of their maritime trade.  c 480-459 B.C.  Short version :-)
Title: Re: Thrace drachm
Post by: Figleaf on October 07, 2020, 08:28:12 PM
Yes, that's Wiki's version. You don't have to agree with it. Just about all Thracian cities depended on sea trade.

Consider that AFAIK anchors in this shape hadn't been invented yet, that the position of the A indicates the "anchor" should be seen upside down and that the shape, when turned around fits well with a skull and nose protection and a chin band, leaving the eyes and mouth free. Also, a helmet is an instrument of war and Medusa's head was popular on another instrument of war, the shield of the strategos ( and other war leaders. Greek mythology has it that if you look at the head, you turn into stone. By contrast, there is no link between Medusa and sea trade, usually represented by Poseidon.

Title: Re: Thrace drachm
Post by: Manzikert on October 07, 2020, 11:24:08 PM
Peter, I'm afraid the object is definitely an anchor (if rather stylised) not a helmet. The maritime connection is emphasized by the fact that most of the accessory animals are maritime (lobster and crayfish on my drachm and diobol)

A simple rock or large holed stone might work for a fishing boat, but I think a large merchantman would need something with more bite. See also for more examples taken from coins.

Title: Re: Thrace drachm
Post by: gpimper on October 09, 2020, 07:34:43 AM
Alan, that's a great link!  Learn and learn!