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THE Science of Numismatics (nomismaνο/μισμα, a coin current by custom or law) has long been recognized as a special branch of archaeology, but in many respects it comprises a wider field of research than classical archaeology in the generally accepted, though somewhat restricted, meaning of that word.

For many centuries before the invention of coined money, goods were bought and sold by barter pure and simple, and values were estimated among pastoral peoples in the produce of the land, and more particularly in oxen and sheep.

A relic of this primitive custom may yet be traced in the names which various nations have given to money, such as the Latin pecunia and the English fee, from the same root as the German Vieh, which still retains its original sense.

The next step in advance upon this primitive method of exchange was a rude attempt at simplifying commercial transactions by substituting for the ox and the sheep some more portable substance, either possessed of real or invested with an arbitrary value.

This transitional stage in the development of commerce cannot be more accurately described than in the words of Aristotle, ‘As the benefits of com- merce were more widely extended by importing commodities of which there was a deficiency and exporting those of which there was an excess, the use of a cur- rency was an indispensable device. As the necessaries of Nature were not all easily portable, people agreed, for purposes of barter, mutually to give and receive some article which, while it was itself a commodity, was practically easy to handle in the business of life; some such article as iron or silver, which was at first defined simply by size and weight, although, finally, they went further, and set a stamp upon every coin to relieve them from the trouble of weighing it, as the stamp impressed upon the coin was an indication of quantity.’ (Polit. i. 6, 14-16, Trans. Welldon.)

In Italy and Sicily in very early times copper or bronze took the place of cattle as a generally recognized measure of value, and in Peloponnesus the Spartans are said to have retained the use of iron as a standard of value long after the other Greeks had advanced beyond this point of commercial civilization.

In the East, on the other hand, from the earliest times gold and silver appear to have been used for the settlement of the transactions of daily life, either metal having its value more or less accurately defined in relation to

the other. Thus Abraham is said to have been ‘very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold’ (Gen. xiii. 2, xxiv. 35), and in the account of his purchase of the cave of Machpelah (Gen. xxiii. 16) it is stated that ‘Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver current with the merchant'.

As there are no auriferous rocks or streams in Chaldaea, we must infer that the old Chaldaean traders, of whom Isaiah says (xliii. 14) that ‘their cry was in their ships’, must have imported their gold from India by way of the Persian gulf in the ships of Ur frequently mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions.

But though gold and silver were from the earliest times used as measures of value in the East, not a single piece of coined money has come down to us from these remote ages, nor is there any mention of coined money in the Old Testament before Persian times. The gold and silver ‘current with the merchant’ were always weighed in the balance; thus we read that David gave to Ornan for his threshing-floor 600 shekels of gold by weight (1 Chron. xxi. 25).

It is nevertheless probable that the balance was not called into operation for every small transaction, but that little beads or bullets of silver and of gold of fixed weight, but without any official mark (and therefore not coins), were often counted out by tale, larger amounts being always weighed. Such small lumps of gold and silver served the purposes of a currency, and were regulated by the weight of the shekel or the mina.

This leads us briefly to examine the standards of weight used for the precious metals in the East before the invention of money.


The evidence afforded by ancient writers on the subject of weights and coinage is, in great part, untrustworthy, and would often be unintelligible were it not for the light which has been shed upon it by the gold and silver coins, and bronze, leaden, and stone weights which have been fortunately preserved down to our own times. It will be safer, therefore, to confine ourselves to the direct evidence afforded by the monuments.

The Chaldaeans and Babylonians, as is well known, excelled especially in the cognate sciences of arithmetic and astronomy. ‘On the broad and mono- tonous plains of lower Mesopotamia,’ says Prof. Rawlinson [1], ‘where the earth has little to suggest thought, or please by variety, the "variegated heaven", ever changing with the hours and the seasons, would early attract attention, while the clear sky, dry atmosphere, and level horizon, would afford facilities for observations so soon as the idea of them suggested itself to the minds of the inhabitants [2].’

When Alexander the Great took Babylon it is recorded that there were

1 Ancient Monarchies, p. 126. 2 Cicero, De Di~in. i. 2: ‘Principio Assyrii propter planitiem magnitudinemque regionum quas incolebant, cum caelum ex omni parte patens atque apertum intue- rentur, tarjectiones motusque stellarum observaverunt.’


found and sent to Aristotle a series of astronomical observations extending back as far as the year B.C. 2234. The records of these observations were inscribed in the cuneiform character on soft clay tablets, afterwards baked hard and preserved in the royal or public libraries in the chief cities of Babylonia. Large numbers of such documents are now in the British and other Museums, and investigations into their nature render it probable that upon them rests the entire structure of the metric system of the Babylonians.

The day and night were divided by the Babylonians into 24 hours, each of 60 minutes, and each minute into 60 seconds—a method of measuring time which has never been superseded, and which we have inherited from Babylon, together with the first principles of the science of astronomy. The Babylonian measures of capacity and their system of weights were based on the same principle. Thus, just as the hour consisted of 60 minutes, and the minute of 60 seconds, so the Talent contained 60 minae, and the Mina 60 shekels.

This division by sixties, or Sexagesimal system, is quite as characteristic of the Babylonian arithmetic and system of weights and measures as the Decimal system is of the modern French. And indeed it possesses one great advantage over the Decimal system, inasmuch as the number 60, upon which it is based, is a multiple of 12, which again is more divisible than 10.

About 1300 years before our era the Assyrian Empire came to surpass in importance that of the Babylonians, but the learning and science of Chaldaea were not lost, but rather transmitted through Nineveh, by means of the Assyrian conquests and commerce, to the north and west as far as the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Let us next turn to the actual monuments.

About the middle of the last century Layard discovered and brought home from the ruins of ancient Nineveh a number of bronze weights in the form of Lions of various sizes, which may now be seen in the British Museum. With them were also a number of stone weights in the form of Ducks. The bronze Lions are for the most part furnished with a handle on the back of the animal, and they are generally inscribed with a double legend, one in cuneiform characters, the other in Aramaic, the intention of the latter having clearly been to make the weight intelligible to the Syrian merchants who traded backwards and forwards between Assyria and Mesopotamia on the one hand and the Phoenician emporia on the other.

These inscriptions furnish us with the name of the king of Babylonia or of Assyria in whose reign the weights were made; and what is more to the purpose, they sometimes state the number of minae or fractions of a mina which each one originally represented. There can therefore be no manner of doubt that these Lions and Ducks were officially guaranteed standards of weight deposited from time to time in the royal palaces. Since Layard’s time additional specimens of various forms have come to light, and the cuneiform inscriptions upon them have been deciphered by Assyriologists. The following are the most important:—


Description of Weight. Date. Inscription. Weight in grammes. Resultant Mina. Theoretic normal weight of Mina.*
1. Oval stone. Before 2000 B.C. ‘1/2 Manah, &c.' 244.8 489.6 491.175 [1]
2.  „    „     „  2000 B.C. ‘Ur-nin-am' 81.87 491.2
3.  „    „   c. 2000 B.C. ‘1/3 Manah in shekels. Palace of Nabu-sumesir’, &c. 164.3 492.9
4. Conical stone. 605-561 B.C. ‘1 Manah.... facsimile of the weight fixed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon’ (605-561 B.C.), ‘son of Nabopolassar, after the pattern of the standard of Dungi’ (2000 B.C.). 978.309 (about 1.2 gr. lost). 979.5 982.35 [2]
5. Bronze Lion. ? ‘5 Manahs of the king’ in cuneiform, and ‘5 Manahs weight of the country’ in Aramaic. 5042 1008.4 1009.64
6.  „    „   850 B.C. ‘The Palace of Shalmaneser, king of the country, 2 Manahs of the king’ in cuneiform, ‘2 Manahs weight of the country’ in Aramaic. 1992 996
7. Stone Duck. 1050 B.C. ‘The Palace of Irba-Merodach, king of Babylon, 30 Manahs.' 15060.5 502 504.82
8.  „    „   ? ‘30 Manahs of Nabusuma-libur, king of Assyria.' 14589 (broken) c. 500
9.  „    „   2000 B.C. ‘10 Manahs’; and name of Dungi. 4986 (injured) 498.6+

* The weights in the last column and in the following tables are those given by Haeberlin (Metrologische Grundlagen, Z. f. N., xxvii).


Nos. 1-3 in the above list, of hard green stone, reveal the original weight of the Babylonian Mina of what is called the Common Norm in its Light form, 491.175 grammes, and No. 4 the weight of the same in its double or Heavy form, 982.35 grammes.

Nos. 5-9, Bronze Lion and Stone Ducks, were called Minae of the King or Royal Minae. These weights show an addition to the Common Norms (probably a royalty or tax) amounting to 1/36 of their weight, and bringing it up to 504.82 grs. for the Light and 1009.64 grs. for the Heavy form.

Lehmann, who was the first to identify the weight of the Common Norm,

1 = The Ptolemaikae MnaΠτολεμα`ïκη\ Μνα~.
2 = 3 Roman pounds of 327.45 grm.

has also shown that it was sometimes taxed at still higher rates, viz. by the addition to its original weight either of 1/24 or of 1/20. The Royal weight- minae thus heightened would stand at about 1023.28-1031.47 grammes for the Heavy mina and 511.64-515.73 grammes for the Light.

All the above Weight-Minae consisted of 60 shekels, the shekel having been the unit on which the entire sexagesimal scale of weights was constructed. Whether these units of about 16.37 and 8.18 grammes of the Common Norm had been handed down from primitive times, or whether they were scientifically arrived at by the Babylonian metrologists of the third millennium B.C. by weighing the amount of water contained in a certain cubic space, or by some other means, is immaterial to the numismatist. Neither do we know why the Babylonians modified their sexagesimal scale of weights for the precious metals while retaining it for other materials.


For weighing the precious metals the Babylonians and Persians used special minae based upon the 60th parts (shekels) of the Weight-Minae above de- scribed. These metal minae contained only 50 shekels instead of 60, though the largest weight of all, the Talent, still contained 60 minae.

The Common and Royal Gold Minae (50/60 of the Weight-Minae) were there- fore as follows:—

Common Gold Mina.
     HEAVY.                     |      LIGHT.
Mina 818.625 grammes. [1]       | Mina 409.31 grammes.
1/50 16.37 (= 252.6 grs.).      | 1/50 8.18(= 126.3 grs.).

Royal Gold Minae.

Raised by 1

1/36  / Mina 841 grammes.       | / Mina 420 grammes.
      \ 1/50 16.83 (=260 grs.). | \ 1/50 8.41 (= 130 grs. [2]).

1/24  / Mina 852 grammes.       | / Mina 426 grammes.
      \ 1/50 17.00 (=263 grs.). | \ 1/50 8.52 (= 131.5 grs.).

1/20  / Mina 859.56 grammes.    | / Mina 429.78 grammes.
      \ 1/50 17.19 (=266 grs.). | \ 1/50 8 59 (= 133 grs.).

1/12  / Mina 886.84 grammes.    | / Mina 443.42 grammes.
      \ 1/50 17.73 (=274 grs.). | \ 1/50 8.86 (= 137 grs. [3]).


In the case of silver a still further modification of the standard, though not of the scale, was required on account of the exchange values of gold and silver, which in the East stood at the figure of 13 1/3 to 1 (Mommsen-Blacas, Monn. rom. i. p. 407). Such a proportion made it inconvenient to weigh the two metals by one and the same standard, as in that case a given weight of gold would not have been exchangeable for a round number of bars or lumps of

1 = a Old Roman or Osean pounds of 272.875 grm.
2 = The Persian Daric.
3 = Euboïc EL. Stater.

silver of like weight, but for 131 of such pieces. Hence, in order to facilitate the exchange of the two metals, the weight of the silver shekel and mina was raised above or lowered beneath that of the gold shekel and mina.

Thus the gold unit (1/50 of the Common Gold Mina, of the light form) 8.186 grammes, at the ratio of 13.3 to 1, was worth 109.15 grammes of silver, or 10 silver units of 10.91 grammes (=168.3 grs.). On this basis the Babylonian Ten-shekel silver standards were constructed as follows:—

Ten-shekel Standard.

Common Silver Mina.
            HEAVY.               |           LIGHT.
Talent 65490 grammes.            | Talent 32745 grammes. [1]
Mina (1/60) 1091 grammes.        | Mina (1/60) 545.75 grammes. [2]
Shekel (1/50) 21.8 (= 336 grs.). | Shekel (1/50) 10.91 (= 168.3 grs.).

Royal Silver Minae.
Raised by
1/36  / Mina 1122 grammes.       | / Mina 561 grammes.
      \ 1/50 22.43 (= 346 grs.). | \ 1/50 11.22(= 173 grs.). [3]

1/24  / Mina 1137 grammes.       | / Mina 568 grammes.
      \ 1/50 22.74 (= 350 grs.). | \ 1/50 11.37 (= 175 grs.). [4]

2/30  / Mina 1146 grammes.       | / Mina 573 grammes.
      \ 1/50 22.92(= 354 grs.).  | \ 1/50 11.46 (= 177 grs.).

Another method of dividing the silver equivalent (109.15 grammes) of the gold unit, into 15 silver units instead of 10, produced the Fifteen-shekel silver standards as follows :—

Fifteen-shekel Standard.

Common Silver Mina.
     HEAVY.                     |	  LIGHT.
Mina 727.67 grammes.            | Mina 363.83 grammes.
1/50 14.55 (= 224 grs.).        | 1/50 7.27 (= 112 grs.).

Royal Silver Minae.
Raised by
1/36 / Mina 747.88 grammes.     | / Mina 373.94 grammes.
     \ 1/50 14.96 (= 230 grs.). | \ 1/50 7.48 (= 115 grs.).

1/24 / Mina 758 grammes.        | / Mina 379 grammes.
     \ 1/50 15.16 (= 234 grs.). | \ 1/50 7.58 (= 117 grs.).

1/20 / Mina 764 grammes.        | / Mina 382 grammes.
     \ 1/50 15.28 (= 236 grs.). | \ 1/50 7.64 (= 118 grs.).

1/12 / Mina 788.30 grammes.     | / Mina 394.15 grammes.
     \ 1/50 15.76 (= 242 grs.). | \ 1/50  7.88 (= 121 grs.). [5]

1 = 100 Roman pounds of 327.45 grm. or 75 Attic minae of 436.6 grm.
2 = 2 Oscan pounds of 272.875 grm. or 6 Egyptian uten of 90.958 grm.
3 = The Persian silver stater or 2 sigloi of 5.61 grm.
4 = 10 Roman scripula of 1.137 grm.
5 = The stater of the ‘Phocaïc' standard of the early coins of Velia, &c.


That some of these ancient Babylonian weights as thus hypothetically re- constructed had been transmitted westwards into the Lydian empire, and others into Syria and thence by means of the Phoenician trading ships to the coasts and islands of the Aegean Sea and beyond it to Greece, Italy, and Sicily, before the invention of coined money is the theory according to which the German scientific metrologists have endeavoured to account for all, or nearly all, the different standards of the Greek coins.

This attractive and ingenious scheme, as ably expounded by Dr. Haeberlin (Metrologische Grundlagen, in Zeit. f. Num. Bd. xxvii), cannot, however, be accepted in all its details as entirely convincing, except in so far as the origin of the Lydian and Persian bimetallic coinage is concerned. The endless modifications of the original Babylonian and Phoenician silver standards, as exemplified in the issues of many autonomous states, can be sometimes more naturally accounted for on the theory propounded by Prof. Ridgeway (Origin of Metallic Currency and Weight-Standards, p. 338), viz. that from first to last the Greek communities were engaged in an endless quest after bimetallism.

It is even open to question whether, granting the Babylonian origin of the various weight-systems, the channel by which they reached the shores and islands of the Aegean Sea may not have been through Egypt, Cyprus, and Crete, during the long period of the ‘Minoan’ civilization, rather than directly through Phoenician commerce or by the overland routes across Asia Minor; for the recent remarkable discoveries, both in Cyprus and in Crete, have revealed the fact that as early as the twelfth century B.C. monetiform lumps of the precious metals were probably used as money. They seem to have been made, like the earliest electrum coins, by having been dropped, while in a molten condition, upon a rough striated surface. The weights of three gold lumps from the Cypro-Mycenaean Cemetery at Old Salamis are 132.9 grs., 72.9 grs., and 72.2 grs., and of a silver lump from the Palace of Cnossus, 56.4 grs. See A. J. Evans, ‘Minoan Weights and Currency,’ in Corolla Numismatica, pp. 335-67, and, especially, Regling’s article ‘Geld’, in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie.

It is unfortunate that no convenient names which are not apt to be mis- leading have been found to distinguish the various coin-standards. Thus, for instance, when coins of Abdera are described as of the Rhodian, Phoenician, Aeginetic, or Persic standards, the student must be on his guard against inferring that Abdera had received these standards either directly or indirectly from the countries after which they are named. For want, however, of any other intelligible means of distinguishing weights the accepted nomenclature has been retained in the present volume, but it may be hoped that, when the time comes for another edition, the whole subject of numismatic metrology, with all that it involves, may have been more thoroughly investigated.


The following Asiatic coin weights (staters, &c.), are approximately identical either with one or other of the above-mentioned ‘Babylonic’ gold shekels, or with 10ths or 15ths of their silver equivalents.

The electrum staters are of two tints, dark and pale. The dark-tinted coins (almost the colour of gold) usually follow the gold standard, and they

were probably tariffed at a higher ratio than those of the pale variety. The pale electrum staters seem to have been current at the rate of 4 EL. to 3 AV and of 1 EL. to 10 AR, and to have been weighed usually according to the silver standards.

I. Lydian and Greek Electrum Staters, &c.
EL. (pale) 168 grs. ‘Babylonic’ silver standard.
Divisions, none known in electrum, but see infra under ‘gold staters'.
EL. (pale) 220-215 grs. ‘Phoenician’ silver standard.
Divisions, 1/2, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12, 1/24, 1/48, 1/96.
EL. (mixed) 270 grs. (heavy form), 135 grs. (light form) Samian and ‘Euboïc’ standard (used also for gold and silver).
Divisions, 1/2, 1/4, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12, 1/24, [1/48], 1/96.
EL. (dark) 256-246 grs., ‘Phocaïc’ and Cyzicene standard.
Divisions, 1/3, 1/6.

II. Lydian Gold Staters, &c. Time of Croesus.
AV 168 grs. ‘Babylonic’ silver standard.
Divisions, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12.
AV 126 grs. ‘Babylonic’ gold standard, Common Norm.
Divisions, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12.

III. Lydian Silver Stater, &c. Time of Croesus.
AR 168 grs. ‘Babylonic’ silver standard.
Divisions, 1/2, 1/3, 1/12.

IV. Persian Royal bimetallic coinage.
AV 130 grs. ‘Daric’ (20 sigloi = 1 Daric).
AR 86.45 grs. ‘Siglos'

V. ‘Persic’ Ten-stater Silver Standard.
AR staters 172-177 grs.
(10 staters of about 173 grs. = 1 Daric.)

VI. ‘Phoenician’ Fifteen-stater Silver Standard.
AR staters heavy form 224-242 grs.
  „    „   light   „   112-121 grs.
(15 heavy staters of about 230 grs. = 2 Darics.
15 light staters of about 115 grs. = 1 Daric.)

The above weights, quite irrespective of their Babylonic derivation, point clearly to a recognized system of interchangeable values in the different metals, and moreover to the fact that a Babylonian gold unit ranging in weight from about 126-135 grs. is the root norm which, at the ratio of 13 1/3 to 1, accounts for all of them.

The persistent maintenance of this ratio from first to last in the Royal Persian coinage is probably due in part to a comparatively steady balance in the East between the supplies of gold and silver, and in part to the legal

establishment throughout the dominions, at first of the Lydian monarchs and, later, of the Great King, of a bimetallic system of currency framed in accor- dance with that rate of exchange. [1]

In the case of autonomous or semi-autonomous cities in Asia Minor, where the daric or its equivalent in electrum may not have circulated freely, there would naturally be a tendency towards an appreciation of the gold unit, and consequently towards an augmentation of the weight of the local silver issues. This would be a sufficient explanation of the various deviations from the official Persic Ten-stater standard (86.45 grs. for the siglos and 173 grs. for the stater), and from the corresponding Phoenician Fifteen-stater standards (115 or 230 grs.) which local autonomous coinages in silver often betray. The same phenomenon, or, inversely, a diminution in the weight of the silver stater, might also be caused by a local super-abundance in the one case, or scarcity in the other, of silver.


Turning now to European Greece, we are confronted with problems of considerable difficulty, which are too complicated to be satisfactorily dealt with in this Introduction.

We have seen that the two principal Asiatic silver standards, known respec- tively as the Babylonic or Persic 10-stater standard and as the Phoenician 15-stater standard, were originally constructed in accordance with the ancient relative values of gold and silver in the East; 13 1/3 to 1, a ratio which remained stereotyped in the bimetallic currency of the Persian empire down to the time of the Macedonian conquest and the reorganization by Alexander of the royal coinage on the basis of the altered relation of gold to silver, no longer 13 1/3 to 1, but, since Philip’s reign, 10 to 1.

Along the northern coasts of the Aegean from Byzantium in the east to Thraco- Macedon in the west, especially among the semi-barbarous mining tribes of the metalliferous highlands of the Pangean district and in Thasos, two similar standards are met with in the silver coinage, both before and after the Persian wars, and, in fact, down to the reorganization of the currency by Philip after his exploitation of the prolific mines at Crenides.

1 An additional confirmation of the fact that 13 1/3 was the legally established ratio between gold and silver in the time of the Achaemenidae, and that separate weights were used for the two metals, has been recently discovered by F. H. Weissbach (Bull. de l'Acad. des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, 1910, p. 481 sqq.; cf. also Lehmann in Klio, 1910, pp. 243 sqq.). He finds by comparing the only two known ancient Persian weights, one in the British Museum and the other in St. Petersburg,—the latter inscribed in cuneiform with the name of Darius Hystaspis in three languages, Persian, Elamic, and Babylonic,—that in weight they stand to one another in the exact relation of 40 : 3 (= 13 1/3 : 1). The London weight (166.724 grm.) is that of 20 gold darics of 8.886 grm. (= 129 grs.), and the St. Petersburg weight (2222.425 grm.) is that of 400 silver sigloi of 5.556 grm. ( = 86 grs.). The mina (500.172 grammes), of which the lighter weight is the third part, is apparently the same as that which is revealed by the Babylonian Duck-weights, nos. 7, 8, 9 in the table (supra, p. xxxvi). The heavier weight is equiva- lent to 4 silver minae of 655.6 grm. Both weights are below the normal standards, which are 504.82 and 661 grammes respectively.


The Thraco-Macedonian stater of the so-called ‘Babylonic’ standard is indeed, at its heaviest, much lighter than that which is usually met with else- where, viz. only about 158 grs. as against the Lydian 168 grs., or the Persic of normal weight, 173 grs. Its system of division by 3 and 6 is confessedly suggestive of a Babylonic origin, and Lehmann has even gone so far as to identify it as the fiftieth part of the ‘Light Babylonic Weight-Mina of the Royal Norm heightened by 1/24' (511.64 grm. =7900 grs., Haeberlin, Grundlagen, p. 12, Tab. 3, Form B). The fact, however, that the weight of this stater fluc- tuates between 158 and 130 grs. or less, makes it, in my opinion, more than doubtful whether 158 grs. can be regarded as a normal weight.

The large octadrachms, &c., and the tetradrachms of the ‘Phoenician’ standard occurring side by side with these ‘Babylonic’ staters are also extremely variable in weight. Here, therefore, it seems probable that the weights of the staters of neither standard were ever definitely fixed, but that they were dependent upon a variable rate of exchange between Thracian gold and silver, due to intermittent workings of the mines, and consequently to fre- quent variations in the amounts of the output of the two metals, which could never have been constant or steady before Philip’s time.

Let us suppose that the relative values of Thracian gold and silver between about B.C. 500 and 356 ranged from 15: 1 to 10: 1. This might account for the changeable weights of the silver coins, which would be affected by a rising or falling exchange value of the gold unit of about 130 grs., even though that commercial unit was not always actually stamped as current coin.

It would only be in countries like Persia, where a strictly bimetallic currency was established, or like Athens, where (down to B.C. 408) a monometallic silver standard had been adopted, that the weight of the silver stater would not be subject to alteration from time to time. Even in Asia Minor, where the Daric of 130 grs. was the universally accepted gold unit, we find that, in the autono- mous cities, the weights of their silver staters were not definitely fixed, as was that of the Siglos, although they do not vary to the same extent as the silver coins of Thrace and Macedon, owing to the steadying influence of the gold daric officially tariffed at 20 silver sigloi.

But perhaps the most remarkable instance of instability in the weight of the silver stater is afforded by the series of coins of the important city of Abdera. Here, between the Persian wars and the time of Philip, when its autonomous coinage to an end, the tetradrachm or stater falls in weight successively from 240-224 grs., then from 198-190 grs., and lastly from 176-160 grs. or less. It is hard to account for these reductions, usually regarded as inexplicable changes of standard, from Rhodian to Phoenician, from Phoenician to Aeginetic, and from Aeginetic to Persic, except on the theory that the rapid fall in the silver value of gold, which we know took place in Europe between B.C. 500 and 356, influenced the silver coinage. In other words, Abdera, though it is not known to have struck gold, seems to have been striving after a bimetallic system of exchange. Other cities, however, on this coast, did occasionally issue gold coins before Philip’s reign, and from their weights, compared with their own contemporary silver coins, it would appear that between circ. B.C. 411? and 356 the value of gold fell from 15: 1 to 10: 1.

It would also seem that the gold unit stood at from 128-130 grs. These coins are as follows:—
Thasos, B.C. 411 ?, AV. 64 grs. at 15:1 = 4 contemporary AR grs.
Aenus, c. B.C. 411 ?, AV 32.6 grs. at 15-14½: 1 = 2 contemporary AR 240-232 grs.
Amphipolis, c. 408 7, AV 64 grs. at 14:1 = 4 contemporary AR 224 grs.
Maroneia, c. 400-356, AV 64 grs. at 11:1 = 4 contemporary AR 176 grs.
  „    „   AV 48 grs. at 11: 1 = 3 contemporary AR 176 grs.

If we may infer that the weights of the coins of Abdera were a]so dependent upon the same gold unit, the apparent changes of standard might be thus accounted for. The gold unit from first to last would be equivalent to 8 silver staters, the weight of which, as time went on, would be reduced as follows :—

128 grs. of Gold at 15:114½:114:113:112:111:110:1
= 8 AR staters of 240 grs.232 grs.224 grs.208 grs.192 grs.176 grs.160 grs.

Reinach (L'Histoire par les monnaies, p. 73) has shown that in B.C. 438 gold stood to silver at Athens at 14 to 1, and that in B.C. 408-7, when Athens first struck gold coins, the rate there was 12: 1, and that the ratio of 10:1 was not reached before the opening of the gold mines at Philippi in B.C. 356.

This helps us to fix approximately (for the ratio in Thrace may not have been quite the same as at Athens) the dates of the successive reductions of the coins of Abdera, Aenus, &c. The specimens ranging from 240-200 grs., ‘Phoenician' standard, correspond with gold at from 15 to 13:1 before B.C. 408. Those of the so-called ‘Aeginetic' standard, 195-192 grs., represent gold at about 12: 1, B.C. 408-400. Those of the so-called ‘Persic' standard, 176-160 grs., belong to the period B.C. 400-356, while gold was at 11: 1, the weight 160 grs. not being reached until gold had fallen to 10: 1, circ. B.C. 356.

It would be rash, however, to infer from the above figures that the weights of silver coins were everywhere controlled by the price of gold, or that denomi- nations in silver must always have been exchangeable in round numbers with contemporary units of gold, coined or uncoined, though this must certainly have been the case whenever small gold coins were issued, as at Athens ill B.C. 408, side by side with large silver pieces of the same city. That distinct and well-known silver standards (though for the most part based originally upon gold units) sometimes continued to maintain their existence, quite without regard to changed relations between the metals, cannot be denied, and it is more than probable that an important city like Abdera, when; from time to time, she found it necessary to bring her silver coins more into harmony with the current gold rate, would not lose sight of the advantage of selecting for her new issues a weight as nearly as possible identical with some widely prevalent foreign stan- dard of which coins in considerable numbers might be present on the tables of the money-changers. The choice of such a standard would have the addi- tional advantage of facilitating the exchange of silver as against silver, as well as against gold, i. e. of Abderite silver coins for foreign silver pieces of about the same weight, for in ordinary small transactions slight divergencies could be disregarded. There can be then no great harm in retaining such convenient

names as ‘Phoenician’, ‘Rhodian’, ‘Aeginetic’, or ‘Persic’, provided that we bear in mind that these names do not necessarily, or even probably, imply the existence of any political or monetary alliances between Abdera and other states.

Passing southwards into Greece proper, we enter the regions dominated by the two ancient international standards, concerning the origin of which so much has been written and so little definitely proved, viz. the Aeginetic or Pheidonian, and the Euboïc (later Attic Solonian and Corinthian).

About the date of Pheidon, King of Argos, there has been very considerable divergence of opinion, some placing it as early as the beginning of the ninth cen- tury and others bringing it down to about B.C. 580. M. Th. Reinach (L'Hist. par les monnaies, p. 35), who has collected and weighed the statements of the various Greek writers, gives his decision in favour of the middle of the eighth century, accepting the text of Pausanias (vi. 22. 2), who says that Pheidon, in concert with the Pisatans, celebrated the 8th Olympiad (B.C. 748). If this be true, we must reject as erroneous the statements of Ephorus, Aristotle, and later authors, that Pheidon was the first to coin money, and that he did this in Aegina. Now as all numismatists are agreed that none of the Lydian electrum coins, properly so called, can be assigned to an earlier date than the reign of Gyges, B.C. 687-652, and at the same time that they are anterior to any of the silver coins of Aegina, it follows that Pheidon cannot be credited with the latter, but it does not by any means follow that these silver staters were not struck according to a standard which Pheidon may have established in Peloponnesus. It is quite conceivable that Pheidon may have constructed a scale of weights in accordance with a fixed number of those iron obeliskoi`)oβελι/σκοι which were the medium of exchange in his time, and that the later obolos`)oβολο/ς and drachmaeδραχμη/ may be the equivalents in silver, the obolos`)oβολο/ς of one and the drachmaeδραχμη/ of six, or a handful of obeliskoi`)oβελι/σκοι. Pheidon’s dedication of a number of these iron spits in the Heraeum at Argos may, as M. Reinach suggests, have been made with the practical object of preserving an official record of his standard of weight rather than with that of exhibiting them as curiosities or of offering them to the goddess ex-voto. [1]

If we abandon the Pheidonian tradition, we may turn towards Egypt, where at Naucratis the Aeginetan merchants possessed a factory and a temple of their own, as not improbably the source whence Aegina may have derived her coin-standard. In Petrie’s Excavations at Naucratis (3rd Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1886, p. 78) is a list of thirty-seven weights found there, consisting of multiples and divisions of a unit ranging from 99.7 to 87.5 grs., practically identical with the Aeginetic drachm. These weights, says Prof. Petrie, ‘bear Strongly on the possible derivation of the Aeginetan standard from an Egyptian and Oriental unit of 200 grs: [1] (cf. Arch. Journ. xl, p. 420).

1 During recent excavations in the Heraeum of Argos a bundle of these iron spits has actually been discovered, see Svoronos (Journ. Int. ix, 1906). Cf. also Regling (Pauly's Real-Encyclop. s. v ‘Geld’), who accepts the statements as to the obeliskoi`)oβελι/σκοι having been dedicated ex-voto, but supposes that Pheidon introduced in their stead not coins but raw metal as a medium of exchange, weighed according to the standard then first established by him.


Other hypotheses concerning the origin of this standard are mentioned in the text, infra, p. 395.

The weight of the stater of the Aeginetic standard, judging from the coins which have come down to us, seems to have been at first over 200 grs. and later about 194 grs. The Aeginetic standard obtained in early times a wide extension not only throughout Peloponnesus, but in most of the island states, such as Ceos, Naxos, Siphnos, and Crete. We find it also at all the towns which coined money in Central Greece (Thessaly, Phocis, and Boeotia), but not at Corinth nor Athens, nor, in early times, in Euboea, although at Athens Aeginetan money appears to have been current until the time of Solon (B.C. 590). This standard is also met with sporadically in Asia Minor, at Cyme (?), Teos (?), Cnidus, Camirus, but none of the coins of these towns are of full Aeginetic weight. The Aeginetic standard was for the most part superseded by the Attic after the age of Alexander, but this was by no means the case universally. In some places it continued to be used in a lighter form even down to the time of the Roman conquest.

Among the most important trading cities of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. were Chalcis and Eretria, in the island of Euboea. These two towns were in these remote times more influential than either Corinth or Athens in spreading Greek culture and Greek ideas over the civilized world. They were the great rivals of Miletus across the sea, and they were the ports from which the ships set sail which bore to their new homes the colonists bound for the shores of Italy and Sicily in the West, and of Thrace and Macedon in the North. Here in the North the peninsula of Chalcidice, with its numerous hospitable bays, attracted in early times a great number of colonists from Chalcis, who founded cities in every promising spot, and named the whole district after their mother-city, Chalcidice.

The colonies of Eretria, the rival sister of Chalcis, were hardly less nu- merous, and were for the most part situate on the promontory of Pallene and round the foot of Mount Athos.

These two Euboean towns, Chalcis and Eretria, were the most enterprising Ionic cities in European Greece, and were perhaps scarcely inferior in this respect to Samos and Miletus in Asia. Their ships covered the seas and carried the native copper ore of Euboea, for which Chalcis was so famous, and from which its name was derived, to the coasts of Asia Minor, Thrace, Italy, and Sicily, bringing back in exchange the products of every land,-the gold of the East, the electrum of Lydia, and especially silver from the highlands of Chal- cidice, in which district no fewer than thirty-two towns had been founded from Chalcis alone, not to mention those of which Eretria was the mother- city.

Towards the close of the eighth century a war broke out between Chalcis and Eretria, nominally for the possession of the fields of Lelantum, which lay between the two rival cities. The war, which goes by the name of the Lelantian war, was in reality a contest for maritime supremacy, in which the commercial interests of both towns were at stake. The evidence of this is the universal character which it assumed. Nearly all the important states of Greece took one side or the other, and the whole Aegean Sea became one vast theatre on which the quarrel was to be fought out. Corinth took the side

of Chalcis, Corcyra that of Eretria. In Asia Minor Samos and Miletus also took opposite sides.

Such a cleavage of all Greece into two hostile camps we must suppose to have been occasioned by the clashing commercial interests of neighbouring states, the advantages of some being more closely bound up with one party, those of others with the other.

The Lelantian commercial war shows what frequent intercourse there must have been in the eighth century between Euboea and the opposite coasts of Asia.

From what Asiatic port the Euboeans received their standard of weight, unless it originated in their own island, is open to discussion, but there is much reason to think that it was Samos. Samos was in the eighth century, and for some time afterwards, one of the chief sea powers in the Aegean. Its situation no doubt contributed much to its importance as a maritime trading state, and made it one of the natural outlets through which the products of the interior of Asia and of the coast-lands of Ionia made their way across to the opposite continent, and even into the remote lands of the West; for it was a Samian ship which first passed the pillars of Herakles and made the Greeks familiar with the phenomenon of the tides.

The theory that Samos was the port whence the Euboeans derived the standard subsequently used by them for silver rests upon the weights and types of some very early electrum coins which have been found chiefly in the island of Samos.

These electrum coins are of the Euboïc standard of the heavy form, consisting of the stater of 270 grs. together with its 1/2, 1/4, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12, 1/24, and 1/96 parts. They are of primitive style with, for the most part, unintelligible types. Among them, however, are a few with Euboean types, e. g. Gorgoneion (Eretria), Eagle devouring prey (Chalcis), Wheel (Chalcis), Cow’s head (Eretria), Forepart of horse (Cyme ?); cf. Babelon, Traité, Pl. IX, and B. M. C., Ionia, Pl. II.

The Samian origin of the Euboïc standard is not, however, generally accepted by metrologists; cf. Lehmann’s theory (Hermes, 1892, p. 549, note [2]; Hill, Handbook, p. 37) and Haeberlin’s hypothesis (Grundlagen, p. 25), together with Lehmann’s note on the latter (Z. f. N., 1909, p. 119).

As the metrologists are at variance, I may be excused if I adhere to my original opinion (N. C., 1875, p. 272) with regard to the Samian derivation of the Euboïc electrum and silver standard. In the East gold was weighed on this standard (Herod. III, 95), and, if we must trace it up to Babylon, why should it not be the Gold Mina of 818 (409) grammes raised by 1/12 which would yield a stater of 273.6 (136.8) grains?

Between Peloponnesus and Euboea lay the two great cities of Corinth and Athens. Now Corinth and Euboea, as E. Curtius has pointed out,[1] were closely connected in early times. Wherever we find Corinthian colonies, whether in Aetolia, in Corcyra, in Thrace, or in Illyricum, we find also a Euboean element mingled with the Corinthian; and this is perhaps the reason why the earliest Corinthian coins follow the Euboïc standard and not the Aeginetic,

1 Hermes, x, p. 217.

which we might rather have expected from the proximity of Corinth to Pelo- ponnesus.

The unrivalled excellence of the site of Corinth, with her two fine harbours, one in direct communication with the East and the other with the West, enabled her enterprising population to extend their commerce in all directions, and pari passu with the Corinthian trade the beautiful Corinthian silver money, struck on the Euboïc standard, obtained a wide popularity to the north of the Corinthian gulf and across the sea as far as the island of Sicily.

On the obverse of these Corinthian staters is a Pegasos and a koppa (Q), the initial letter of the name of the city, and on the reverse an incuse pattern, which gradually assumes the form of a swastica, replaced at an early period by the head of Athena Chalinitis. These coins, on account of the Pegasos, were sometimes called poloiπω~λοι, while the Aeginetan staters went by the name of chelonaiχελω~ναι. [1]

Unlike the early coins of Euboea, the Corinthian stater was not divided into 2 drachms, but into 3. The reason for this division of the unit by 3 instead of by 2 may have been to accommodate the Corinthian currency to the Aeginetic coins of the neighbouring Peloponnesian states, for a Corinthian drachm of 45 grains, the third part of a Corinthian stater, would pass current as an Aeginetic hemidrachm or the fourth part of an Aeginetic stater of light weight.

The Corinthian system of dividing the stater by three prevailed also in the Chalcidice during the period in which the Euboïc standard was there in use, but with this difference, that while at Corinth we get tridrachms of 135 grs. and drachms of 45 grs., in the Chalcidian towns we have staters of 270 grs. and sixths of 45 grs.

Dr. Imhoof-Blumer [2] would also apply the Corinthian system of division by 3 and 6 to the coinage of the Chalcidian colonies in Sicily and Italy (Rhegium, Himera, Zancle, Naxus), where the earliest coinage consists of pieces of about 90 grs. and 15 grs. which he would consequently call Thirds and Eighteenths of the Euboïc-Attic stater of 210 grs. But in this case they may also be called reduced Aeginetic drachms and obols,[3] or, possibly drachms, and obols of the Corcyrean standard (see infra).

Next comes Athens, and here we must be cautions not to accept without evidence the ancient traditions respecting the origin of the Athenian coinage, such as that recorded by Plutarch, which ascribed to Theseus the issue of coins with a Bull upon them. [4]

The safest guide here, as indeed everywhere, is the coinage itself, which neither in style of art nor in fabric has the appearance of being more ancient than the time of Solon. Before the age of Solon, Aeginetan didrachms would seem to have been the only money current in Attica as in Peloponnesus; but there are no extant Athenian coins of Aeginetic weight, and there is conse- quently no proof whatever that there were any coins minted at Athens before Solon’s time. There is only the doubtful evidence of tradition.

1 Poll. ix. 74, 75. 2 Imhoof-Blumer, Annuaire de Numismatique, 1882, p. 94. 3 Cf. J. Friedlander, Zeit. f. Num., 1881, p. 99 ff., and A. J. Evans, Num. Chron. 1898, p. 321. 4 Plut. Thes. 25; Schol. ad Aristoph. Aves, 1106.

For some time after the first introduction into European Greece of coined money its actual issue appears to have been confined to the four maritime states, Aegina, Euboea, Corinth, and Corcyra.

Athens, it will be remembered, had no fleet, and was by no means a wealthy trading state before Solon’s reforms; on the contrary, the lands were burdened with debt and every farm in the country was heavily mortgaged.

The adoption by Solon of the Euboïc standard in its heavy form, Didrachm 270 grs. and Drachm 135 grs., and the substitution of the light form by doubling the denominations, as I think, by Hippias (Tetradrachm 270 grs., Didrachm 135 grs., and Drachm 67.5 grs.), are discussed in the text.

Solon’s new Athenian coinage was distinguished by extreme purity of metal and by accuracy of weight, the full Euboïc weight of 270 grs. to the stater being more nearly maintained at Athens than anywhere else, excepting Sicily, where the Euboïc standard also prevailed. The result of this was that the Athenian money was everywhere taken with preference. Thus Hellas, after the time of Solon, was divided, quite irrespectively of ‘Political alliances, between the Aeginetic and Euboïc-Attic standards, the Attic gradually tending to supersede the Aeginetic.

The marvellous resurrection of Athens after the Persian wars and the rapid extension of her Empire naturally gave to the Athenian coinage an almost universal prestige and currency.

After the fall of Aegina, about the middle of the fifth century, Athens and Corinth were the two chief silver-coining states of European Greece. The Athenian ‘Owls' penetrated into the farthest East, while the Corinthian ‘Colts' made their way to Italy and Sicily, where they are at present found in larger numbers than in Greece itself.

We have seen that the very earliest coins of the Euboïc standard are the primitive electrum pieces (represented on Pl. IX of Babelon’s Traité, Part III) discovered in Samos, and that it was probably from that island that it passed, as a silver standard, to Euboea and thence to Corinth, Athens, and the Euboean colonies in Chalcidice. The early silver coins of Peparethus, though somewhat later in date, are also of Euboïc weight. From Samos, and not, it would seem, from Euboea, the Euboïc standard spread also southwards to Cyrenaïca, which, under the dynasty of the Battiadae, was in frequent relations with the island of Samos. Whether Cyrene actually struck money of electrum is uncertain, but the incuse reverses of the earliest Cyrenaïc silver coins resemble so closely those of the Euboïc electrum pieces of Samos that there can be little doubt whence Cyrene derived her coinage.

Next in importance after Euboea and Corinth, as a maritime power, stands the western colony and rival of the latter city, Corcyra, whose earliest issues are only a little later than those of Corinth, for they may be dated from the time when, after the death of the tyrant Periander, B.C. 585, Corcyra became independent of her mother-city.

Neither in fabric nor in weight do the staters of Corcyra bear any resem- blance to those of Corinth or of any other European city. In particular, the form of the incuse reverse, 8 double oblong, is strongly suggestive, as in the case of the coins of Cyrene mentioned above, of a derivation from Samos (cf. Babelon, Traité, Pl. III, Pl. XI. 15, with Pl. IX. 2 and 14). This peculiar

incuse is also met with on the early silver staters of Poseidium in Carpathos, and of Camirus and Lindus in Rhodes, as well as at Cyrene (Babelon, op. cit., Pls. XIX, XX, and LXIII. 20).

In the text (p. 326) I have suggested that the Corcyrean standard, with its staters of 180-160 grs. and halves of 90-82 grs., may also have been imported from Asia Minor. It is usually held to be a light form of the Aeginetic standard, but so great a reduction in weight at so early a date is highly improbable.

On the whole, I am now inclined to think that this standard is, in reality, a form of the Euboïc-Corinthian, with a different scale of divisions, the Corcy- rean stater of 180 grs. being, in point of fact, equivalent to 4 Corinthian drachms of 45 grs. At a later period, when the Corinthian drachm had fallen in weight, the Corcyrean standard became more closely assimilated to the Corinthian, the issue of the stater being discontinued, and its half, originally the drachm, being now distinguished (by doubling the stellate square on the reverse) as a didrachm of Corinthian weight.


Thus far we have scarcely wandered beyond the basin of the Aegean sea. It now remains for us to cast our eyes westwards and to follow the track of the early Greek trader to the coasts of Italy and Sicily, Gaul and Spain.

The first Greek settlers in Italy are said to have been Euboeans, mostly from Chalcis, and by far the oldest colony in the western seas was the ancient city of Cumae, which took its name from Cyme in Euboea. This city stood on a height to the north of the bay of Naples. For a long time Cumae remained a solitary outpost of Hellenic enterprise in the then unknown and dreaded western seas. The colony continued, however, to maintain some relations with the mother country, and when, towards the close of the eighth century, the Chalcidians began again to turn their attention to the West, they were welcomed by their kinsmen of Cumae, who were probably not unwilling to aid them in planting colonies at all such points as were most favourable to the development of their carrying-trade between the Aegean and the Etruscan seas.

For this purpose it was essential for them to secure for Chalcidian ships a free passage through the Sicilian straits, and it was perhaps with this object that they founded the sister cities of Zancle and Rhegium, the one on the Sicilian, the other on the Italian shore. These twin arsenals were to be to all vessels other than Chalcidian as a Scylla and a Charybdis, not to be passed with impunity. Naxus, Catana, and Leontini, near the foot of Mount Aetna, and Himera on the northern coast of Sicily, complete the circle of the western colonies, in the foundation of which the enterprising mariners of Chalcis took a leading part.

It is somewhat remarkable that the earliest coins of Cumae, Rhegium, Naxus, Zancle, and Himera (of Catana and Leontini there are no coins of the earliest period) all follow a standard which is usually called the Aeginetic, though Imhoof-Blumer, as I have already mentioned (p. xlvii), has pointed out

that these pieces of about 90 grs. are more probably Euboïc octobols or thirds of the Euboïc tetradrachm of 270 grs.; Monatsbericht d. K. Akad. d. Wissensch. Berlin, 1881.

If, on the other hand, these coins are really Aeginetic drachms, the fact may perhaps be owing to the circumstance that the earliest colonies from Chalcis in Italy and Sicily were in great part (and perhaps in the main) not Chalcidian at all. Chalcis was, it is true, the starting-point and the city under whose auspices the colonies in question were organized and planted out, but the actual colonists may have been drawn from the mainland and islands of Greece, where the Aeginetic standard was predominant.

Moreover, the reasons, whatever they may have been, which induced the Euboeans in their own island and in their Thracian settlements to adopt the stater of 270 grs. may not have applied to their western colonists.

There is, however, another possible explanation. It must not be forgotten that the ordinary line of communication between Greece and the West was always via Corcyra which was the final port of embarkation, and that the silver which emigrants took with them was doubtless procured there, where silver was abundant, owing to the intercourse between Corcyra and the Illyrian silver-mining tribes, by means of her colonies on the mainland. I would suggest, therefore, that the Chalcidian colonies in Italy and Sicily may have issued their first coins according to the standard by which silver had been sold them by the merchants of Corcyra, especially as the Corcyrean drachm of 90 grs. was a very convenient denomination, as it was not only ½ of the Corcyrean stater of 180 grs. but also 1/3 of the Euboïc stater of 270 grs. and 2/3 of the Corinthian stater of 135 grs. The contemporary Aeginetic drachm of full weight 97 grs. would not have fulfilled these conditions. Moreover, these earliest coins of the Chalcidian colonies are essentially different in fabric from the contemporary money of Aegina, being flat and circular, not globular or bullet-shaped. In this they resemble the contemporary money of Corinth and of the Achaean colonies of Magna Graecia. The coinage of this group of cities is that which we must next examine.

The most famous of the cities which owed their origin to the Achaeans were Sybaris, founded B.C. 720, and Croton, B.C. 710.

Both these towns stood on the shores of that great gulf which took its name from the Dorian city of Tarentum,—Sybaris in the low country at the con- fluence of the two rivers, Sybaris and Crathis, Croton about fifty miles south, on a height facing the Lacinian promontory, on which, in the midst of a forest of dark pine-trees, stood the far-famed temple of Hera Lakinia, the scene of the great annual gathering of all the Italian Greeks.

Sybaris during the century and a half in which she flourished attained to a height of power, wealth, and magnificence truly surprising. Her population, not including the slaves, is said to have amounted to more than 300,000, and the number of mounted knights, all belonging to the wealthier classes, which she was able to equip was no less than 5,000. The luxury and the effeminacy in which this vast population habitually lived have made the very name of ‘Sybarite’ a by-word through all the ages.

Now whence came all this wealth, and why did it all flow to this one

particular spot? M. Lenormant, with his usual insight, divined the true answer to this question. [1] Sybaris, like Corinth, held the isthmus between two seas, the Ionian on the east and the Etruscan on the west. Etruria was, between the eighth and sixth century B.C., the great market for Oriental and Graeco-Asiatic articles of luxury, such as rich stuffs and precious vases both of metal and fine pottery. In return for these she exported chiefly the products of her mines of copper and iron.

The territory of Sybaris, which extended across the narrow part of Southern Italy, from sea to sea, was the land on which both the buyer and the seller dis- embarked their goods. The Samian or Milesian trader on the one hand un- loaded his ship in the port of Sybaris, while the Etruscan merchant on the other sailed into the harbour of Laüs, a dependency of Sybaris on the western side. The Sybarites on their part had merely to carry the goods in safety across their own territory from one port to another, reaping, it may be assumed, no small profit for themselves out of the transaction.

The insecurity of the Etruscan sea, infested as it was with Carthaginian and other pirates, combined with the fact, above alluded to, that the Chalcidians held a firm grip on the Sicilian straits, had given to Sybaris a practical monopoly of the carriage of goods by land across her territory, and it was this carrying-trade which was the source of that vast wealth which by its too rapid and too easy acquisition demoralized in less than one hundred years the whole population of the largest city of the ancient world.

Croton, the rival Achaean settlement in these regions, was for more than a century second in importance to Sybaris, and was gradually sinking into the same condition of luxury and effeminacy, when it became the scene of that great political and religious revival which was due to the personal influence of Pythagoras the Samian.

About the middle of the sixth century B.C., under the rule (for such it practically was) of the Pythagorean brotherhood, Croton suddenly assumed a leading position among the Greek cities of Southern Italy.

Then followed the famous war between Croton and Sybaris, and the utter destruction of the latter by the Crotoniates, about B.C. 510.

From the rarity of the coins of Sybaris as compared with the contemporary coins of Croton, we can only infer that during at least the first century of her history Sybaris carried on her extensive commerce without the aid of coined money.

The coinage of Magna Graecia appears simultaneously in all the Achaean cities of Southern Italy, during the period of the supremacy of Croton, but still some time before the destruction of Sybaris.

It is characterized by a distinctive and uniform peculiarity of fabric. The flans on which the types are struck are thin circular disks. On the obverse is the leading type of the city where the coin was issued, in relief, and on the reverse usually the same type repeated, or another type, sometimes that of a neighbouring city, incuse. This local fashion suggested to Lenormant [2] the theory that the cities of Magna Graecia formed a sort of Federal union. Such

1 La Grande Grèce, i, p. 262 sqq. 2 Op. cit. ii, p. 75 sq.

a hypothesis is conceivable, though hardly probable when we bear in mind that the uniformity in the coinage is more superficial than real, being limited to style and fabric, for neither in weight nor in type do the issues of all the participating cities agree. [1] Moreover, the coinage of this so-called Achaean Union is not confined to the group of Achaean cities, for precisely similar issues took place at the Dorian Tarentum and at the Chalcidian Rhegium and Zancle on either side of the Sicilian straits. The remarkable conformity in fabric of the earliest issues of all these cities may therefore be simply due to the fact that the moneyers at the various mints copied one another’s methods, employing the same mechanical contrivances for casting their thin circular disks, engraving their dies, and striking their coins, and that the die-engravers were all trained in one and the same workshop, either at Croton or at Sybaris.

The standard and divisional system of the coinage of all the Achaean mints (that of Poseidonia excepted) is that of the coins of Corinth somewhat reduced, the stater in good preservation weighing about 129 grs. (max.), and the Third, or drachm, about 42 grs.

The fact that the Achaean colonies in Italy, in beginning to coin money of their own, took the Corinthian coins as their models, is an indication that the course of trade between these cities and Asia mainly flowed through the Corinthian gulf, and across the isthmus of Corinth, and not in a direct line to Sybaris from Samos or Miletus. Thus the dangers of an open sea voyage were avoided, and the Achaean mariner never felt himself in strange waters, for by this route land is hardly ever lost sight of. This early trade with Italy and Sicily must have been chiefly in the hands of the Corinthians. From Corinth it was that the Achaean towns received the idea of coining money, and the early Corinthian coins naturally served as models for those of Southern Italy. From Corinth too they borrowed the idea of placing an incuse device upon the reverse of the coin, for this practice is a mere development of the Corinthian custom of placing an incuse swastica pattern on the reverse of their money, which, in its turn, was only a development of the original mill-sail incuse.

Of the cities which took part in the currency known as the incuse coinage of Magna Graecia the following may be mentioned:—

In the north the Dorian Tarentum, but only incidentally, the bulk of the coinage of this great city belonging to a different category.

Next, Metapontum, then Siris, in alliance either with Sybaris, or with Pyxus on the Tyrrhenian sea, the latter alliance proving that Siris held com- mercial relations by way of her river valley with the western coast.

Next, Sybaris, either alone or in alliance with Siris on the north or Croton on the south.

Then Croton, sometimes in alliance with Sybaris and sometimes with Pan- dosia, which stood inland among the mountains on the little river Acheron, an affluent of the Crathis; sometimes with Caulonia, and sometimes again with Temesa on the western or Tyrrhenian sea; probably also with Zancle in Sicily (p. 95).

1 Macdonald, Coin Types, p. 12.


Next comes Caulonia, and last of all Rhegium and Zancle, the farthest to the south. The towns on the Tyrrhenian sea, Temesa, Laüs, and Pyxus, which participated in this coinage appear to have been dependencies of Croton, Sybaris, and Siris. Concerning these alliances see infra, § xiv, Alliance Coins.

Poseidonia (afterwards Paestum), bordering on Campania, had a coinage of a mixed character, the earliest coins with incuse reverses resembling in fabric those of the other Achaean cities, but belonging to the weight-system prevalent in the Campanian towns (stater 118 grs.), while its somewhat later, but also archaic, coins, follow on the other hand the Italic-Achaean standard and system of division by three, but do not belong in fabric to the incuse class.

Tarentum, like Poseidonia, seems to have received her first impulse in the direction of coining money from the Achaean cities, some of her earliest staters belonging to the incuse class.

The coinage of Tarentum was, however, but slightly affected by that of the Achaean cities, and as the Tarentine stater or ‘nomos’ was divided by two and not by three, it must be distinguished as Italic-Tarentine.

Of the Epizephyrian Locrians, who shared with the Rhegians the southern extremity of the Italian peninsula, the earliest coins which have come down to us are Corinthian staters (circ. 350 BC.) of the Pegasos type, but with the inscription ΛΟΚ or ΛΟΚΡΩΝ (135 grs.). All the other Locrian coins follow either the Italic or the Campanian standard.

In the extreme south Rhegium began to coin at an early date, though probably not before B.C. 530, on the 90 grain standard. About the year B.C. 500 Rhegium, simultaneously with Zancle, from this time forward called Messana, on the Sicilian shore, and the two other Chalcidian towns Himera and Naxus, exchanged this standard for the Euboïc, thus bringing their coinage into harmony with that of Syracuse and all the other Sicilian cities.

We have now to consider the coinage of the Campanian coast from Velia and Poseidonia in the south to Neapolis and Cumae in the north. The Cam- panian standard appears to have been derived directly from Asia Minor.

The town of Velia was founded by fugitive Phocaeans in B.C. 540, and there can be little doubt that they brought with them the Phocaean drachm of 59 grs. of which the standard is distinctly Asiatic, as is also the type, a lion devouring his prey.

From Velia this standard spread to the neighbouring town of Poseidonia, which, while adopting the Campanian standard and striking drachms of 59 and didrachms of 118 grs., sought nevertheless to bring her money into harmony with that of the Achaean towns by imitating the flat fabric with incuse reverse-type common to the money of the Achaean cities.

About the beginning of the fifth century we find both these cities abandoning the Campanian standard, Velia in favour of the standard of Tarentum (stater about 126 grs. divided into two drachms), and Poseidonia in favour of the Achaean standard-stater about 126 grs. divided into three drachms.

This change of standard on the part of Velia and Poseidonia did not, however, take place until the Phocaean or Campanian standard had had time to take firm root at the Chalcidian Cumae and its colony Neapolis. The money of these two latter cities and of the other Campanian towns issued on

this standard is very plentiful. It consists, in the main, of didrachms weighing from 118-115 grs., which are on the average about 6 grs. lighter than the Achaean and the Tarentine coins, the two latter being almost identical in weight and differing only in the divisional system, which in the Achaean is by 3 and in the Tarentine by 2. Towards the close of the fourth century the Campanian didrachm fell in weight to 105 grs. (6 Roman scruples, see p. 33).

Passing still farther northwards into Etruria, we again find two standards in use for weighing silver in the fifth century B.C., the larger denominations of these two standards weighing respectively 354, 177, and 88 grs. for the one, and 260, 130, and 65 grs. for the other. This last is clearly the Euboïc standard, which found its way into Etruria probably from Syracuse, as the marks of value on the coins prove that the unit on which it was based was the Sicilian litra of 13.5 grs.

The coins of the heavier standard bear marks of value showing that the unit on which it was based was identical in weight with the Roman scruple of 17.5 grs.

Both these units were doubtless also the silver equivalents of two Etruscan pound weights of bronze in use contemporaneously in different parts of the country.

Bronze was in fact originally the only medium of exchange, not only in Italy, but in Sicily. In Italy it was probably related to silver in the pro- portion of about 120: 1, while in Sicily it seems to have been tariffed at 125: 1.

The equivalent in silver of the native Sicilian bronze litra of the light form, 1687.5 grs., at the ratio of 125:1 was a weight of 13.5 grs., or exactly 1/10 of the Attic didrachm and of the Corinthian stater, which latter in Sicily went by the name of the dekalitros stataerδεκα/λιτρος στατη/ρ. [1] Thus the Euboïc-Attic standard was grafted upon the native Sicilian system of the litra of bronze; the Dekadrachm being equivalent to 50 litrae and going by the name of Pentekontalitron, the Tetradrachm to 20 litrae, the Didrachm to 10, and the Drachm to 5.

On the introduction of the Euboïc standard into Sicily the pieces of c. 90 grains previously struck at Naxus, Himera, Zancle, and Rhegium ceased to be issued, probably because they did not exactly represent a round number of bronze litrae.

From the weights of the later Syracusan denominations in silver it is evident that the real standard of value in Sicily remained, from first to last, the bronze litra, which was, however, really a litra of account, for it was never actually coined in bronze except in the form of token money. Thus, after the time of Agathocles (B.C. 317-310) we meet with many multiples of the litra in silver which are foreign to the Attic system, such as pieces of 32, 24, 18, 16, 15, 12, 8, 6, and 4, litrae, &c., though before his time, with the exception of the litra of 13.5 grs., none but coins of Attic weight occur.[2] The bronze litra, like the Roman libra, was divided into 12 ounces. Thus the Hemilitron has six pellets, the Pentonkion five, the Tetras four, the Trias three, the Hexas two, and the Uncia one.

Proceeding from Populonia in a north-westerly direction along the Ligurian

1 Pollux, ix. 80. 2 Num. Chron., 1874, p. 80.

coast we reach the shores of Gaul without coming upon a single town which, in the most ancient period (of which alone we are now speaking), was acquainted with the use of money, or perhaps we should say which struck coins of its own, until we reach the Phocaean colony of Massalia.

In the neighbourhood of this town there was found at Auriol in 1867 a hoard consisting of 2130 small Greek silver coins of archaic style, comprising in all about twenty-five different types. Smaller finds of similar coins have subsequently come to light at Volterra in Tuscany and on the eastern coast of Spain.

These finds consisted almost entirely of archaic obols of the early part of the fifth century. Phocaea and Mytilene, Miletus, Clazomenae, and Lampsacus in Asia Minor, and Velia in Lucania were the cities whose small silver coins were the first to penetrate into the western basin of the Mediterranean. Their coins formed the prototypes of numbers of imitations more or less roughly executed by the colonists during nearly the whole of the fifth century, and they seem to have sufficed them for ordinary purposes, though for larger transactions bullion silver must have been required. The weight standard is apparently Phocaïc or Phoenician. For descriptions and illustrations see Babelon, Traité, II. i. 1571 sqq.

The coast of Catalonia appears to be the limit towards the West beyond which the use of coins did not penetrate until a much later period than that with which we are at present concerned.


In the Introduction to the first edition of the present work (1887) I summed up the arguments in favour of what was then held to be the orthodox doctrine concerning the origin and signification of Greek coin-types.

This so-called ‘Religious theory’, as first formulated by Burgon in the Numismatic Journal (1837), was ‘that from first to last religion was the sole motive of the types on coins, and the invariable principle to guide our search in endeavouring to explain them’. This idea was subsequently still further elaborated by Curtius (Monatsbericht of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, 1869), whose opinion it was that money was first struck in the temples of the gods by authority of the priesthoods, who, in the more important sanctuaries, were at once large capitalists and bankers.

The weak points in both Burgon’s and Curtius’s theories were first seriously challenged by Prof. Ridgeway, who, in his Origin of Currency and Weight- Standards, while he did not deny the influence of religion on the choice of many coin-types, contended that there are few evidences of such an influence on the types of the earliest coins, a considerable number of which might, on the other hand, be more reasonably accounted for by interpreting them as representations of some animal, natural product, or utensil which, before the introduction of money, had served as a medium of exchange or barter-unit with a recognized local value, e.g. tunny-fish at Cyzicus, axes at Tenedos, and many others.

The controversy as between the ‘religious’ and the ‘commercial’ theories

has since been ably discussed by Hill (Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins, 1899, pp. 166-169), whose unbiassed summing up of the question maybe here quoted— ‘The type then does not indicate that the coin represents an old barter-unit; but it must be admitted that there are many types which cannot be explained as religious symbols, and that some of these have a commercial significance, in that they symbolize an industry. Nevertheless, owing to the extraordinary penetration of religion into all the affairs of life among the Greeks and Romans, it is by no means entirely unscholarly to read a religious sense into what often at first sight appears to be something very different.’

With this judgment Macdonald (Coin Types, 1905) concurs, and, from the analogy which he points out between City-types and Magistrates’ symbols, he draws the further conclusion (partly anticipated by Hill, op. cit., p. 167) that the two are fundamentally identical, the type being the Signet of the State and the symbol that of a responsible individual. Such religious sanction as either or both may possess will then attach to them in virtue of their character as signets, and not as a result of a belief in the sacredness of coined money in general.

We may take it therefore as certain that the stamp, device, or, as it is conveniently termed, the type placed by authority on metal intended to circulate as money was simply the signet or guarantee of the issuer, a solemn affirmation on the part of an individual or of a State that the coin was of just weight and good metal, but that it was not originally, or indeed at any time primarily, an indication of a given quantity or value, as Aristotle’s words o gar charaktaer etethae tou posou saemeion`(o γα\ρ χαρακτη\ρ `)eτε/θη του~ ποσου~ σημει~ον (Polit. i. 3. 14) might lead us to suppose.

The earliest Lydian electrum coins bear no designs or types. On the lower side they show nothing but rough hatchings or striations, proving that the anvil, or a die let into it, on which the lumps of electrum were dropped while in a molten condition, had been intentionally roughened in order to keep the metal from slipping, while punches, also roughened at the end, were being hammered into the upper surface. The nuggets or lumps, previously to being heated and laid upon the anvil, must have been carefully adjusted to the required weights.

The stater or largest denomination, oval in form, is usually impressed with three punch-marks, the central one oblong, the two others smaller and square. These punch-marks sometimes overlap one another, showing that too punches must have been separately applied, probably by two or three men standing round the anvil, each in turn hammering his punch into the lump of electrum before it had had time to cool, the blows of the three hammers being almost simultaneous. The smaller denominations show only one or two punch-marks according to their size.

Rough stamps such as these can never have been intended to be generally understood as signets by anyone but the actual moneyer, as he alone would be able to identify his punch-mark. There is nothing, therefore, to show that the earliest typeless pieces were either civic or regal issues, and their rarity is an indication that they cannot have been current for long, and that the goldsmith or banker who punched them must have done so for some private purpose,

such perhaps as marking off one by one the lumps of metal as they were successively passed on from the balance to the furnace and thence to the anvil. Pieces thus stamped might have a limited circulation, and if they sub- sequently came into the issuer’s possession they would require no further testing or weighing on his part as he would be able to recognize the marks of his own punches. Strictly speaking, monetiform pieces of this kind were not in reality nomismataνομι/σματα as they bore no recognizable guarantee of the issuer's good faith or commercial standing, nor consequently of their intrinsic value, tou posou saemeionτου~ ποσου~ σημει~ον.

The addition of simple devices either within the punch-marks or on the lower surface (the obverse) soon followed, and the only wonder is that the application of signets to the precious metals had not been adopted earlier, for private seals and signet-rings with engraved devices had been in ordinary use for signing contracts, &c., ages before the Lydian or Ionian bankers first thought of utilizing them as guarantees on gold and silver; cf. Herod. (i. 195), who, speaking of the Babylonians, tells us that every man carried his own signet. There have also been recently found in Crete an enormous number of seal-stones dating from prehistoric times. [1]

It is highly probable that the types first met with on electrum punch- stamped coins were, as Babelon was the first to point out in his Origines de la Monnaie, the signets of private individuals, and not of the State; e.g. the stag accompanied by the inscription ‘I am the signet of Phanes’, who was more likely to have been some wealthy banker than a tyrant unknown to history. The goat’s head and the two fighting cocks may also be included among the very earliest coin-types, as they are engraved upon roughly striated surfaces like those of the typeless lumps (cf. Archaic Artemisia, Pl. I, 12-31).

Whether these were private or civic issues is uncertain. In any case the right of coining money cannot have been allowed for any length of time to remain in private hands. Such a useful invention would very soon be recognized as a source of considerable profit, and would become a monopoly of the ruling authorities whether civic or regal. The coinage of an autonomous city would be usually impressed with the public seal or parasaemonπαρα/σημον of the town, which would often be the emblem of a local divinity, such as the Bee or the Stag of Artemis at Ephesus, or the Lion of Apollo at Miletus. Leonine types were also ancient symbols of royalty, cf. the Lion-Weights of the Babylonian and Assyrian monarchs, and, as such, would naturally be selected as appropriate signets by the early kings of Lydia.

The motives of the choice by a city of its coin-types became, as time went on, more various and complex. Sometimes a device was chosen on account of its association with the legendary history of the town, such as the figure of a mythical oekist, as for instance Taras at Tarentum; sometimes it referred to the local geographical features of the city, as the sickle-shaped harbour at Zancle. River-gods, heads of local nymphs, &c., mayor may not be parasaemaπαρα/σημα, but with few exceptions all such types partake of a religious or mythological character, as do also most of the agonistic types, such as a Quadriga, a Chariot-wheel, a Race-horse, or a Race-torch, &c., referring to Games and Festivals, for it must

1 Cf. especially Hogarth, The Zakro Sealings in J. H. S., xxii, pp. 76ff.

be borne in mind that all Greek games were originally held in honour of a god. The causes which led to the original heraldic motive being gradually displaced by a more specifically religious one are discussed by Macdonald, Coin Types, pp. 135 ff.

There are, of course, many instances, especially among the early parasaemaπαρα/σημα and among the types parlants or punning types, where no overt religious motive is discernible, but even these, as official signets, Were doubtless regarded as possessing the same sort of religious sanction as the effigies or emblems of divinities. It is only on this theory of the sanctity of the charaktaerχαρακτη/ρ that we can account for the fact that no Greek tyrant, however despotic, no Greek general, however splendid his achievements by land or sea, no demagogue, however inflated his vanity, ever ventured to perpetuate his features on the current coin. Hence the mythological interest of the coin-types is paramount from the first introduction of the art of coining down to the age of the successors of Alexander.

These remarks do not, however, apply to coins issued by the Persian satraps, which often bear what seem to be conventionalized portraits evidently engraved by Greek artists. The abstention of Greek tyrants and of the Macedonian kings before Alexander from following the example of Persian satraps must therefore have been due to a deep-rooted idea of the sacred character of the coinage, and not to any lack of skill in medallic portraiture on the part of the engravers.

The signet or arms of a magistrate, whether hereditary or personal, partook of the same sacred character as the signet of the State, and at some cities the magistrate, or other official directly responsible to the state, was authorized to place his own private seal upon the money issued during his term of office. At Abdera, for instance, during the latter part of the fifth century, while the obverse of the coins bears the παρα/σημον of the city, the griffin, the reverses are distinguished by variable types which are indubitably the personal badges of the chief monetary official or of the eponymous magistrate. At Cyzicus also and at Phocaea and Lampsacus, except on the very earliest specimens, the obverses are subject to very frequent changes, the devices being doubtless those selected by the official responsible for each issue, while the badge of the city is relegated to a subordinate position or, as on the gold coins of Lampsacus, transferred to the reverse. This custom is, however, quite exceptional, the almost universal rule being that a magistrate’s signet, when present, takes the form of an adjunct symbol placed usually on the reverse beside the principal type.

The religious motive which underlies the majority of Greek coin-types, and which assumes a more obvious character during the period of finest art, is less apparent on the coins of an earlier date, but the fact that it became more and more conspicuous with the ever-increasing power of expression attained by the highly skilled engravers of the fifth century, only serves to reveal its presence in a veiled form in the simpler badges of an earlier age. The religious origin of the signet may therefore in all probability be traced up to the engraved stone seals of the ‘Mycenaean’ period, if not to the cylinder seals of still remoter times.


It is not until after the death of Alexander that the first indication of a change of ideas becomes apparent. In the course of a single decade a new world had been opened up. A great wave of Hellenic influence had swept over the ancient kingdoms of the East, and in its reflux had borne back to the West the purely oriental conception of the divinity of kings.

Petty local interests, local cults, local trade, were now merged in larger circles of activity; commerce was now carried on over a wider field and on a grander scale, and Alexander, the one mall by whose impetuous energy and insatiable ambition this mighty change had been brought about over the whole face of the ancient world, came to be regarded as a demi-god. The altered political aspect of the world, and the inward change in men’s minds, were at once reflected as in a mirror on the current coin. The head of the deified Alexander now first appears on the coinage in his character of son of Zeus Ammon, and, as one after another of his generals assumed the title of king and the insignia of royalty, each in turn was emboldened to place his own portrait on the money which he caused to be struck in his name.

From this time forward Greek coins possess for us an altogether different kind of interest. The ideal gives place, to the real, and we are in the presence of a gallery of royal portraits of undoubted authenticity, invaluable as illustrations of the characters of the chief actors on the stage of the world's history.

Meanwhile the reverse types, though still mainly religious in character, become more and more conventional in style. This is in part due to the exigencies of an enlarged commerce which demanded a fixity and uniformity of type fatal to originality of conception and design on the part of the die- engraver, a conventionality which, in the case of some coinages, extends to the obverse as well as to the reverse. This is especially noticeable in the Ptolemaic series, where the stereotyped head of Ptolemy Soter is repeated with wearisome similarity for no less than two centuries and a half, though not to the total exclusion of portraits of the reigning monarch.

Among the bronze coins of the Imperial age struck in Greek cities, com- monly known as the Greek Imperial series, there are many which are in the highest degree instructive, although it must be confessed that they can lay no claim to be regarded as works of art. The interest of this class of coin-types is both mythological and archaeological. They tell us what gods were held in honour and under what forms they were worshipped in every town of the ancient world. On this series also are to be found numerous copies of the actual statues of the gods as they stood in the temples;—the strange upright effigy of the Ephesian Artemis with her many breasts, no longer idealized and Hellenized as on the coins of the best period of art, but in her true Asiatic form; the Aphrodite which Praxiteles made for the Cnidians; the famous chryselephantine Zeus of Pheidias at Olympia; the simulacrum of the Sidonian Astarte, and many others.

Sometimes a complete myth is represented in the pictorial style, as on a coin of Myra in Lycia, where we see the veiled effigy of an Asiatic goddess mounted on a tree, on either side of which stands a man wielding an axe in the act of striking at its roots, while two serpents emerge from the trunk seemingly

to defend the tree against its assailants. This remarkable type seems to be another version of the story of the maiden Myrrha who was transformed into a tree, from the trunk of which, when her father hewed it with his sword, Adonis was born.

Another mythological type which may be here mentioned possesses for us still greater interest. I allude to that on certain coins struck at Apameia in Phrygia, surnamed ae kibotos`(ae κιβοτο/ς or ‘the Ark’. Here a local form of the legend of the Noachian deluge prevailed, due perhaps to the existence of a Jewish element in the population of the town. On these coins we see the Ark in the form of a chest floating on the waters. Standing in the ark are two figures, and beside it the same two, repeated, a man and a woman identified by the inscription ΝΩΕ as Noah and his wife. On the top of the ark is a raven and above it a dove carrying all olive-branch.

The importance of such types as these can hardly be exaggerated, and we may turn to the Greek Imperial coins, as we might have done to the pages of Polyhistor had they been preserved, for illustrations of many obscure local cults which prevailed in Greece, Asia Minor, and the East under the Roman rule.


A true symbol has been well defined as a sign included in the idea which it represents, a part chosen to represent the whole. Thus the club is the symbol of Herakles; the lyre, of Apollo; the trident, of Poseidon; the thunderbolt, of Zeus. In this sense many archaic coin-types were in their origin true symbols. But in numismatic terminology those secondary devices which occupy some vacant space in the field of the coin are alone called symbols.

Sometimes the symbol merely serves to emphasize or give greater precision to the main type, as for instance the olive-branch beside the owl on the earlier coins of Athens, or the bow beside the heads of Apollo and Artemis on certain coins of Syracuse. Sometimes also an adjunct symbol bearing no relation to the main type may serve the purpose of indicating indirectly some historical event such as a victory in war or a political revolution, the commemoration of which by means of the principal type would have been inconsistent with ordinary Greek usage before the age of the Diadochi. Among historical symbols of this kind may be mentioned the olive-branch on certain coins of Samos, which contains a veiled allusion to the Athenian conquest of the island, as it only appears on Samian coins during the period of Athenian rule. But far more frequently symbols having no connexion whatever with the principal types are constantly varied on coins of one and the same series. These changing symbols are, properly speaking, not symbols at all, but subsidiary types or supplementary guarantees, serving to fix responsibility for the quality of the coin within a narrower range than that covered by the main type. Generally they are the personal signets of the magistrates under whose authority the coins were issued; cf. the so-called symbols in the field on the later tetradrachms of Athens, which vary from year to year with the names of the magistrates. Another class of wrongly-called symbols consists of those

which occur on the various regal series from the age of Philip and Alexander down to Roman times. Here the ‘symbol’ has sometimes a local signification, and indicates the place of issue, as for instance when the Rose on late coins of the second century B.C. bearing the types of Alexander stands for the town of Rhodes. More frequently, however, such adjunct ‘symbols’ are probably only officinal signets, which, with accompanying monograms, served the purpose of differentiating the successive issues of one and the same mint.


It has been often and truly said that Greek coins are the grammar of Greek art, for it is only by means of coins that we can trace the whole course of art from its very beginning to its latest decline. Neither statues, bronzes, vases, nor gems can, as a rule, be quite satisfactorily and exactly dated. Coins, on the other hand, admit of a far more precise classification, for in every period there are numerous coins of which the dates can be positively determined; and around these fixed points a little experience enables the numismatist to group, within certain limits, all the rest.

The main chronological divisions or periods into which the coins of the ancients fall according to their style are the following :—

I. B.C. 700-480. The Period of Archaic Art, which extends from the in- vention of coining down to the time of the Persian wars. Within these two centuries there is a gradual development from extreme rudeness of work to more clearly defined forms, which, however, are always characterized by stiffness and angularity of style, the distinguishing mark of archaic Greek art. As a rule the coin-types in this period consist of animal forms or heads of animals. The human face is of rare occurrence, and, even when in profile, is drawn with both corners of the eye visible, as if seen from the front. The hair is generally represented by minute dots, and the mouth wears a fixed and formal smile, but withal there is in the best archaic coin-work, especially about the close of the period, a strength and a delicacy of touch which are often wanting in the fully developed art of a later age. The reverse sides of the coins in the archaic period do not at first bear any type, but merely the impress, usually in the form of an incuse square (often divided into four quarters or into eight or more triangular compartments, some deeply indented), of the punch used for driving the metal down into the slightly concave die in which the type was engraved, and for holding it fast while the punch was being struck by the hammer.

In Magna Graecia, Sicily, and in some parts of European Greece the coins are from the very first provided with a type on both sides. For examples see B. M. Guide to the Coins of the Ancients, Plates I-IX.

II. B.C. 480-415. The Period of Transitional Art from the Persian wars to the siege of Syracuse by the Athenians. In this period of about 65 years an enormous advance is noticeable in the technical skill with which the dies

of the coins are prepared. The rude incuse square is generally superseded by a more regularly formed incuse square, often containing a device or a kind of ornamental quartering, together with, in many cases, the name of the city or of the magistrate (in an abbreviated form) under whose jurisdiction the coin was issued. In Asia Minor the incuse square is for the most part retained down to a much later period than in European Greece. The devices on the coinage of this period are characterized by an increased delicacy in the rendering of details, and by a truer understanding of the anatomical structure of the human body and, towards the close of the fifth century, by greater freedom of movement. Some of the most delicately wrought and powerfully conceived Sicilian coin-types belong to the close of this transitional period; cf. the two eagles devouring a hare on the well-known coins of Agrigentum. (Fig. 66.)

III. B.C. 415-336. The Period of Finest Art, from the siege of Syracuse to the accession of Alexander. During this period the art of engraving coins reached the highest point of excellence which it has ever attained, either in ancient or in modern times. The types are characterized by intensity of action, perfect symmetry of proportion, elegance of composition, finish of execution, and richness of ornamentation. The head of the divinity on the obverse is frequently represented almost facing and in high relief; cf. the beautiful heads of Apollo at Clazomenae, Rhodes and Amphipolis, of Hermes at Aenus, of the Nymph Larissa, of Hera Lakinia at Pandosia, of Arethusa and Athena at Syracuse, and of Zeus Ammon at Cyrene. Among the more remarkable reverse-types are the seated figures of Pan on a coin of Arcadia, of the nymph at Terina, of Nike at Elis, and of Herakles at Croton.

It is to this period also that nearly all the coins belong which bear artists’ signatures, a proof that the men employed at this time to engrave the coin-dies were no mere mechanics, but artists of high repute; among them the two names of Euainetos and Kimon of Syracuse, the engravers of the splendid silver medallions (dekadrachms) of that city, can never be forgotten as long as their works remain, notwithstanding the fact that no ancient writer has recorded them.

IV. B.C. 336-280. The Period of later Fine Art, from the accession of Alexander to the death of Lysimachus. The heads on the coins of this age are remarkable for expression of feeling. The eye is generally deeply set and the brows more defined. The human figure on the reverses gradually becomes more élancé, and the muscles of the body are more strongly in- dicated. On both obverse and reverse the influence of the school of Lysippus becomes apparent. The most frequent reverse-type is now a seated figure, the general aspect and pose of which is borrowed from the seated figure of the eagle-bearing Zeus on the money of Alexander. For examples, see B. M. Guide, Plates XXVII-XXXV.

V. B.C. 280-146. The Period of the Decline of Art, from the death of Lysi- machus to the Roman conquest of Greece. As the chief silver coinages of this period are regal, there is little or no difficulty in dating them. They present us with a series of portraits of the kings of Egypt, Syria, Bactria,

Pontus, Bithynia, Pergamum, Macedon, Sicily, &c. The defeat of Antiochus by the Romans at the battle of Magnesia, B.C. 190, was for Western Asia Minor no less important than the defeat of Philip V at Cynoscephalae in B.C. 197 had been for European Greece. The freedom of many Greek cities in Asia was forthwith proclaimed by the Romans, in consequence of which they again obtained the right of coining money. This privilege they imme- diately took advantage of by issuing coins either in their own names or on the pattern of the money of Alexander the Great, and in his name, but with the addition of their respective badges and sometimes with the names of their local magistrates in the field; a proof that the mass of the currency still consisted of the money of the great conqueror, for in no other circum- stances could we explain the adoption by so many towns of Alexander's types more than a century after his death. All these coins are easily distinguished from the real coinage of Alexander by their large dimensions and spread fabric.

In European Greece, the money of the kings of Macedon comes to an end in B.C. 168 on the defeat of Perseus by the Romans, but soon afterwards silver was again issued in Macedon on its division into four regions under Roman protection. Athens, after an interval of about a century, during which she was not permitted by the kings of Macedon to strike money, recovered the right of coinage about B.C. 220, and from that time her tetradrachms of the ‘new style’ began to be issued in great abundance. In Italy the commencement of the Roman silver coinage in B.C. 268 put an end to almost all the other autonomous silver coinages in that country. In Africa the money of Carthage, down to its destruction in B.C. 146, is remarkable for a rapid degradation in the style of its execution, and in the quality of the metal employed. Artistically, the coins of Asia are through- out this entire period incomparably superior to those of European Greece, although it cannot be affirmed that they in any degree reflect the best contemporary art of the flourishing Schools of Pergamum, Rhodes, and Tralles.

VI. B.C. 146-27. The Period of continued Decline in Art, from the Roman conquest of Greece to the rise of the Roman Empire.

In Northern Greece, when Macedonia, west of the river Nestus, was finally constituted a Roman Province (B.C. 146), and when the coinage of silver in that country consequently ceased, Maroneia in Thrace and the island of Thasos endeavoured for a time to supply its place by the issue of large flat tetradrachms of base style. Athens, almost the only silver-coining state in Greece proper, continued also to send forth vast quantities of tetradrachms down almost to Imperial times, when she too was deprived of the right of coinage. In Asia Minor the chief silver coinage consisted of the famous Cistophori, a special currency which was long permitted by the Romans, even after the constitution of the Province of Asia in B.C. 133. Farther East, the regal series of Syria and Egypt remain unbroken down to the Roman conquest of those countries. The Bactrian money rapidly loses its Hellenic character and becomes at last purely Indian.

Almost the only coins in this period which can lay claim to any high

artistic merit are those which bear the idealized portrait of the great Mithradates.

VII. B.C. 27-A.D. 268. Imperial Period. Augustus to Gallienus. Under the Roman Emperors the right of coining their own bronze money was from time to time accorded to a vast number of cities in the eastern half of the Empire. In the western provinces this privilege was much more rarely granted. These coinages, which now go by the name of ‘Greek Imperial’, are in reality rather municipal than Imperial. The head of the Emperor is merely placed on the obverse out of compliment to the reigning monarch, and is frequently exchanged in the Province of Asia for that of the Roman Senate (CΥΝΚΛΗΤΟC or ΙЄΡΑ CΥΝΚΛΗΤΟC) or that of the local council, senate, or people (ΒΟΥΛΗ, ΓЄΡΟΥCΙΑ, ΔΗΜΟC). At many towns the privilege of coining money appears to have been assumed only on certain occasions, e. g. during the celebration of games and festivals or under certain emperors, and to have been again asserted only after an interval of perhaps many years. The dimensions of the present work will not permit me to give in detail the periods during which the local mints were active or dormant. I must content myself with indicating the highest and lowest limits within which coins occur at each town. It will be seen that the Greek Imperial series only extends beyond the reign of Gallienus at a very few towns, chiefly in Southern Asia Minor, where it continued down to that of Aurelian, A.D. 270-275, and at Alexandreia, where it does not finally come to an end until the reign of Diocletian, A.D. 284-313; but at the last place the coinage was not on the same footing as at other Greek Imperial mints.