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1

IGCH, p. 243.
2
Kagan 1994, pp. 36ff.
3
IGCH 1790; the author would like to thank Andrew Meadows for making
available the manuscript of his forthcoming republication of the hoard.
4
Schlumberger 1953, pp. 31ff. = IGCH 1830.
ARCHAIC GREEK COINS EAST OF THE TIGRIS:
EVIDENCE FOR CIRCULATION?
J. KAGAN
In the landmark 1973 publication An Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards only one archaic Greek
coin nd east of the Euphrates was known. That was the deposit in the Foundation of the Apadana
in Persepolis (IGCH 1789). The authors went on to say that that deposit served a very special
purpose and has nothing to do with monetary circulation.
1
I took issue with this in publishing
CH.VIII.19, a sixth-century hoard from the eastern Levant that contained a similar mix to that
deposited at Persepolis. Early coins of Aegina, Abdera and Cyprus were found together in both
hoards. My point was that the mix of silver coins found at Persepolis could well represent a cir-
culating sample.
2
While there is similarity in composition, the Levantine hoard most probably came from some-
where near the eastern Mediterranean coast. It does not tell us how frequently Greek coins trav-
elled beyond Mesopotamia in archaic times. Before looking at some exciting new evidence, it is
worth surveying the known archaic coins with eastern pedigrees. There exist three important and
remarkably similar Eastern hoards with burial dates in the last quarter of the fth century that
bear discussion.
Largest of these is the Malayer Hoard, found in 1934 65km SE of ancient Ecbatana, that thanks
to the efforts of Andrew Meadows and the cooperation of the National Museum in Teheran will
shortly receive its long overdue proper publication. The nd consisted of almost 400 coins, with
Athens making up slightly over 40%. There is only one siglos, proving as has long been noted that
sigloi did not play a special role in the monetary system in the Eastern Persian Empire in this pe-
riod. There are coins from the Levant, including 138 coins from Tyre and Sidon and three Cypriot
coins. The hoard closed in c. 425. There are, however, a few archaic coins worth noting including
two Corcyrean coins. One of the chopped Athenian tetradrachms is archaic as are three of the
Aeginetan turtles. The solitary stater from Corinth is an early Pegasus / Aphrodite type with a late
archaic date. Naxos is represented by a fragmentary sixth-century stater with the ivy wreath. Also
archaic is the solitary coin of Clazomenae, a lion head / divided incuse square coin from Caria,
most probably Mylasa, one of the Lycian staters with the boar obverse and rough incuse and nally
the ve coins from Cyrenaica.
3

The next two remarkably similar hoards come from Afghanistan. The 1933 Cabul hoard pub-
lished by Schlumberger consisted of over 115 coins, with signicant overlap with the Malayer
hoard. Athens again is the largest group, with 33 recorded tetradrachms compared to eight sigloi.
In addition to the worn archaic stater of Aegina, a fragmentary stater of Thasos and a worn Chiot
stater may be archaic. There are two well-preserved early classical tetradrachms from Acanthus
and an early classical stater of Corcyra. Again there is a signicant Levantine component repre-
sented by coins from Pamphylia, Cilicia and Cyprus, though nothing from Phoenicia.
4
The early
Cilician coins probably date the hoard slightly later than the Malayer hoard.
The 1966 hoard said to have been found in Balkh, ancient Bactra, complements the group.
ARCHAIC GREEK COINS EAST OF THE TIGRIS:
EVIDENCE FOR CIRCULATION? 231
5
Troxell / Spengler 1969, pp. 1-19 = IGCH 1820.
6
Bopearachchi / Rahman 1995, p. 78.
7
The author intends to publish the hoard fully in a forthcoming AJN;
because of the different sources of photographs, some of the illustrations
may not be to scale.
8
CAH 2
nd
IV, p. 179.
9
See Kagan 1994 for hoard bibliography.
It consisted of more than 170 coins with the bulk - over 150 - being Athenian. No sigloi were
recorded, but 11 of the 16 recorded non-Athenian coins are from Cilicia, Cyprus and Phoenicia.
In addition to a worn archaic Aeginetan stater, there is a late archaic coin of Lete (Berge) and a
unique Thraco-Macedonian coin of a horseman that might also be archaic. Intriguingly for what
we will discuss next, the publishers of this hoard recorded a group of three well-preserved Thraco-
Macedonian archaic coins which may or more probably may not be related to the above nd: a
stater of Dicaea and Stagira from the sixth century and a late archaic tetradrachm of Acanthus.
5

Interestingly a slightly later stater of Stagira with the lion attacking the boar obverse and an early
fth-century stater of Paros were found recently in Afghanistan, possibly as part of a large, much
later hoard found at Ai Khanoum.
6
Yet another slightly earlier Stagira was reportedly the earliest
coin from the large well hoard at Mir Zahke.
It is tempting to see evidence here that some of these archaic Greek coins found their way to
Afghanistan shortly after their minting. All the hoards mentioned are notable in that the coins are
not as often test cut or turned into fragments as one is accustomed to in hoards found in Egypt
and the Levant. With this as background, the discovery in this region of a hoard with only sixth-
century coinage should not come as a complete surprise, yet I hope you will agree with me that the
following survival is still remarkable.
7
In 2003 a group of probably as many as 50 sixth-century BC Greek coins came to light in
Turkmenistan. The nd details, as with all hoards discovered out of archaeological context, are
somewhat murky; but the numismatic community was fortunate in that a collector of later central
Asian coins - Hans Mondorf, who lived at the time in Ashgabat - quickly realized the uniqueness
of the nd and did his best to preserve a record. While the exact spot was kept secret, we know
that the coins were uncovered on the left bank of the Amudarya (the Oxus River of the Greeks)
near modern Kerki in Turkmenistan. The coins were not found in a single pot or at one time, but
rather over a period of 10-12 months. There is no evidence of a single intrusion, so the most likely
explanation is that the hoard became dispersed in the ground. There is no way to know how much
of the original hoard was recovered. It is also hard to be certain how much of the recovered hoard
was recorded. Through Mondorfs efforts, weights and photographs of 33 coins and 20 pieces of
hacksilber now exist. At least 15 coins (reportedly Thasian in poor condition) were known to have
been dispersed without being photographed.
This is not the rst time ancient coins have been found at Kerki. V. Masson in the 1950s re-
ported the nd of a gold daric.
8
Kerki was part of Central Asia added to the Persian Empire by
Cyrus in the 530s and re-conquered by Darius after the revolts that marked the start of his reign.
Kerki stands on the border of the Persian satrapy of Bactria to the south, to the east is the city of
Samarkhand, and the satrapy of Sogdiana and Margiana with its capital at Merv lies to the west.
It is at the centre of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, an important Bronze Age
civilization that only came to light in the 1970s. Kerki is also situated at a likely crossing point of
the Oxus.
The coins themselves bear great similarities with other sixth-century nds notably Deman-
hur, Ras Shamra, IGCH 1185 in Brussels and CH VIII.19.
9
Also, as seems to be the case with all
these nds, there is a new type, reminding us how much less complete our record of sixth-century
coinage is than, for instance, early fth-century coinage. Lets take a quick survey of the nd. The
J. KAGAN 232
10
Marconi 2007, p. 13.
11
Kagan (forthcoming)
largest component is Thraco-Macedonian. Of the 33 coins for which we have photos, 17 are from
that region. If one adds the unrecorded 15 Thasian coins to the hoard, the regions representation
goes from half to roughly two-thirds. The mix of Abdera, Dikaia, Berge, Thasos, Stageira and the
uncertain type with the winged-running gure is, with the exception of Thasos, identical to the mix
in Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit), the hoard thought to have the earliest Thraco-Macedonian coins
found in the Levant.
The running-winged gure (Pl. I, 1) shares dies with Demanhur (52) and Ras Shamra (nos. 5
etc). This type represented 14 of the 38 coins from that latter nd. It is fascinating how often coins
of Stageira, an otherwise rare mint, appear in this part of the world. The exact type we have of the
standing boar with a rose underneath was found in Ras Shamra (29), Demanhur (48) and IGCH
1185 (19). The four Berge staters are all early. None of the broad gured dies with the regular-
ized diagonally divided incuses are present. Illustrated are two particularly early types (Pl. I, 2-3).
The rst is marked by the very large head of the satyr. The second is unusual in that the nymphs
left hand is raised and in her lowered left hand is a wreath or round instrument. That Berge was
also represented by a fraction is notable as well (Pl. I, 4). It has already been remarked upon that
the presence of these early fractions argue against seeing the coinages purpose as purely tribute
payment. This may well be the rst Thraco-Macedonian fraction found in a sixth-century mixed
hoard, and as such it provides a valuable testament to trade rather than tribute leading to the pres-
ence of archaic Greek coins in this part of the world. It is de rigeur for an archaic mixed sixth-
century hoard to have at least one stater of Dikaia (Pl. I, 5) without any accompanying distaters.
IGCH 1185, Adana, Sahkha, Ch VIII 19 (to which we share the obverse die) all have a single sta-
ter, while Demanhur has three. Of the photographed coins, Abdera is the largest contingent. There
are six tetradrachms and one octodrachm. All are early in Mays Period 1. None bears symbols;
one of the coins shares its obverse die with a specimen from the Persepolis deposit (Pl. I, 6-7).
We have records of two coins of Thasos. If the report was right that there were another 15 coins
from the island badly corroded then this would be the largest contingent. The examples we have
are from the early stages of the mint and consistent with a sixth-century date (Pl. I, 8). An archaic
Thasos fragment we should remember was found in the Kabul hoard.
As we turn to central Greece, the rst thing to notice is the absence of any coins of Athens.
That Wappenmuenzen and early owls are rarely found in sixth-century hoards has once more been
conrmed. We have a unique coin that I believe to be an early stater of Corcyra (Pl. I, 9). There are
several reasons for this. It is on the Corcyrean weight standard: 11.5g. versus a theoretical 11.6g.
The reverse star is reminiscent of Corcyra. The obverse type of the Medusa is otherwise unattested
on the island, but I wonder if the depiction of the Medusa and her child Pegasus on the pediment of
the Temple of Artemis earlier in the century might have some connection (Pl. I, 10). The argument
based on coin types that the Pegasus on the pediment represents Corinth has been made by others,
most recently Clemente Marconi.
10
Was Corcyra sending her Metropolis a message by choosing
the mother of Pegasus as its coin type? At the recent congress on Epiorote coinage at Ioninna I
argued before knowing of this coin that Corcyra may have had a wappenmuenzen-like series of
staters to go with the facing cow head fractions that predate the cow/calf coinage. This coin from
Berlin may be another in the series, also on the weight standard (Pl. I, 11).
11
To go with the Me-
dusa, we have a single one-sided Pegasus stater of Corinth. This coin belongs to the second class
of Ravels rst period and is similar to staters found at Mit Rahineh (four of the 23 coins in that
hoard) and Demanhur. The Aeginetan coin is, as would be expected, an early example of Group II
ARCHAIC GREEK COINS EAST OF THE TIGRIS:
EVIDENCE FOR CIRCULATION? 233
12
Destrooper-Georgiades 1993. The author wishes to thank Dr.
Destrooper-Georgiades for her helpful comments at the Congress.
with a thin collar and a windmill reverse with no indication of a proto-skew (Pl. I, 12).
From the Cyclades, only Paros is represented (Pl. I, 13). This coin should be placed in
Sheedys Series B group 2, the same group as the Mit Rahineh specimen. Demanhur and Sakha
had slightly later examples. Ionia is represented by fractions of Teos and Samos (Pl. I, 14-15)
and a stater of Chios. All three coins (including the fractions), were also found in Demanhur. The
solitary coin from Caria is an early lion-forepart usually attributed to Mylasa (Pl. II, 16). That
these coins are early is well-established by their presence in the Croesus-Carian hoard of c.525
(CH VIII.10) found in western Asia Minor. This is, however, the earliest mixed sixth-century
context for the mint.
The presence of four Lydian Croesids two staters and two hemistaters - is just one more
remarkable aspect of this nd. CH VIII 19 had the rst stater recorded in a mixed context and
the large Demanhur hoard had a single hemistater (Pl. II, 17-18). What is perhaps most com-
forting about the group is the presence of an extremely worn example. Many of the coins in the
hoard suffer from a degree of corrosion and some wear, but this is by far and away the coin that
shows the most evidence of wear from circulation. We know from the recent archaeological
discoveries from Sardis that the heavy Croesids pre-date the Persian destruction. Their presence
in this hoard that I would date to between 520/515 on the high side and 505/500 on the low side
is perfectly consistent.
Lycia is represented by three boar forepart incuse staters on the local nine gram standard.
The illustrated example has the distinctive reverse type of the three solid triangles and the outline
triangle that was found in Demanhur and CH VII 19 (Pl. II, 19). Finally there is a rare coin with
a facing lion devouring a cow on the obverse and a winged solar disk on the reverse (Pl. II, 20).
Destrooper-Georgiades has convincingly attributed this type to Cyprus based on the type and date.
One of the four previously known examples comes from CH. 2.10, a small sixth-century BC hoard
from Egypt.
12
Bullion was an important component of the hoard (Pl. II, 21-22). We have photographs and
weights for 20 pieces. The weights of the Hacksilber range from 2.30g to 14.95g, with an average
weight of 7.15g. There is no evidence of a denominational structure. The bullion helps us under-
stand perhaps the purpose the Greek coins served so far from their place of origin. While it seems
unlikely that the Greek coins had a value in excess of their weight, it is notable compared to coins
found in Egyptian hoards how few test cuts have been made. Also there are no fragmentary coins.
This is perhaps best read as an indication that precious metal did not change hands with a high
frequency in Central Asia compared for instance to the Levant at this date. Coins and hacksilber
were a storehouse of wealth, but not a vehicle for small commercial transactions.
The presence and nature of the bullion should also be of interest to students of South Asian nu-
mismatics. The Kabul hoard that we can now date 40 to 50 years earlier than the original publisher
is the rst appearance in a datable context of punchmarked coins. It is an argument admittedly ex
silentio (and Kerki may be north of the expected circulation pattern), but the absence of punch-
marks on the bullion of the Kerki hoard certainly supports the proponents of a late starting date
for Indian coinage following rather than preceding the appearance of Greek coins in the region.
This hoard leaves us with much to speculate on. When examined in the context of the Persepo-
lis Deposit, the Malayer, Kabul and Balkh hoards and other recent small nds from Afghanistan,
we can clearly state that Greek coins found their way to the eastern fringes of the Persian Empire
very soon after they were rst struck. Perhaps we can now reasonably expect to nd early Greek
J. KAGAN 234
coins in Uzbekistan and even China. What inuence these coins had other than as bullion again is
a matter for speculation. At least we can see that the iconography of the coins survived their travel
and were not obliterated by cuts and fragmentation. The diversity of the sixth-century hoards re-
corded from the Persian Empire is a matter of some wonder. Our ratio - 16 different mints out of 33
recorded coins - is not atypical. There is getting to be enough new evidence for the sixth century,
both electrum and silver, to warrant a new synthesis on the purpose and spread of early coinage.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bopearachchi, O. / Rahman A. (1995), Pre-Kushana Coins in Pakistan, Karachi.
Destrooper-Georgiades, A. (1993), Le disque ail inclus dans un motif geometrique sur
une srie de monnaies chypriotes?, CCEC 20, pp. 19-24.
Kagan, J. (1994), An Archaic Greek coin hoard from the Eastern Mediterranean and early Cypriot
coinage, NC 1994, pp. 17-52
Marconi, C. (2007), Temple Decoration and Cultural Identity in the Archaic Greek World, New York
Schlumberger, D. (1953), Largent grec dans lempire Achmnide, in Curiel R. / Schlumberger
D., Trsors montaires dAfghanistan, Paris, pp. 5-64.
Troxell H. / Spengler W. (1969), A hoard of early Greek coins from Afghanistan, MN 15, pp.
1-19.
PLATE I

1 2 3

(1:1) 4 (2:1) 5

6 7 8

9 11 12
10

13 14 (1:1) 15 (2:1)
PLATE II

16 17 18

19 20

21 (both enlarged) 22