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Cast Money and Coins of Kerkinitis of the Fifth Century B.C

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

84 bronze cast coins of 5 previously unknown types, found in 1982-86 during excavations of the earliest layers of Kerkinitis, and here presented and discussed. The types are: i. narrow leaf-shaped arrowhead money, cast in double moulds (3 specimens dated to the first third of the 5th cent. B.C. ii. flat pieces imitating bilobate arrowheads (38 specimens mostly dated to 470-460 B.C.) iii. arrow money, with a representations of a fish on one side (27 specimens dated to 2nd-3rd quarters of the 5th cent. B.C.) iv. one piece with a fish/dolphin on one side and the city name KA on the other (first issued in the course of the last third of the 5th cent. B.C. but still in circulation in the first quarter of the 4th ccnt. B.C.) v. 8 small-denomination pieces of the same series as iv with a fish on one side and the ethnikon K on the other (first issued at the end of the third quarter of the 5th cent. B.C. but still found in strata of the early 4th cent. and 3rd cent. B.C.). All the coins were cast, but the matrices used have yet to be found. The provenance of the metal used is unknown, but the relatively low weight of the coins would seem to indicate that little importance was attached to their metal content. Kerkinitis seems to have begun production of the earliest coin type, the arrowhead money, in the first third of the 5th cent. B.C. when its circulation was on the wane in other cities of the NW Black Sea area. Dolphin-shaped money does not seem to have been circulated in Kerkinitis as it did in Olbia, where it became the main coin type. The author suggests that the emission of transitional type iii may have to be seen in the context of the contest in the region between the cults of Apollo the Healer (popular in Kerkinitis) and Apollo Delphinios (stronger elsewhere) and thus as an attempt to reconcile the demands of both trade and cult symbolism. The appearance of the ethnikon on the reverse of types iv and v clearly points to their civic origin. The presence of a fish/dolphin symbol on their other sides shows their continuity with the typology of earlier coin series. Monetary practice at Kerkinitis shows clear similarities with that of other Ionian city-states of the NW Pontic area, especially Olbia. However Kerkinitis did not issue slavish copies of arrowhead and fish coins, but produced original forms, which differed markedly from those of other Greek cities.


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