Topography and History
Elaious lay almost at the southernmost point of the Thracian Chersonese, at the entrance of the Dardanelles. The port of the city is attested several times and served as a base for the Athenian fleet in the Chersonese during the Peloponnesian War.1 The city was founded in the 7th century BC, presumably by settlers from Aeolia,2 but soon became an Athenian Apoikia. Based on ceramic evidence, it can be proven that there was an Athenian settlement starting in the mid-6th century BC.3 Pseudo-Skymnos reports of an Athenian foundation of Elaious by the oecist Phorbon or Phorbas, which may be a later, legitimizing legend.4 Elaious was a member of the First and Second Delian League, first as part of the community payment from the Chersonese, and later as an independent member that paid high dues.5
Minting System and Typology
Two minting periods are known from Elaious. The first series of autonomous bronze coins dates from the middle of the 4th century BC until about 281 BC. The second period spans the Roman Empire to the reigns of Commodus and Caracalla.
The motifs on the bronze coins refer to the city in various ways. The name of the city, from the Greek word η ἐλαία for ‘olive’, is represented by depictions of olive wreaths. In addition, the Heroon of Protesilaos was in Elaious or in its immediate vicinity.6 The Thessalian prince, Protesilaos, was one of the suitors of Helen and was also the first commander to set foot on the soil of Asia Minor when the Greeks entered the Trojan War. An oracle had predicted that the first one to land would be the first to die. Protesilaos was killed by Aeneas and buried near Elaious. The city’s coinage features him armed and standing on the prow of the ship, ready to jump ashore. A statue with the same appearance could probably have been found in the Heroon.7
Three nominal levels can be defined during the first minting period, which can probably be dated parallel to the other bronze coinage of the Thracian Chersonese from the middle of the 4th century until the first quarter of the 3rd century BC: large ca. 17–20 mm and 6–8 g, medium ca. 13–17 mm and 2–4 g, and small ca. 11–13 mm and 1.45–1.9 g.8 The combination of the ship’s prow on the obverse and the olive wreath on the reverse appears in all three nominal levels. Furthermore, the heads of the goddesses Artemis and Demeter are each combined with the reverse image of a bee in the medium denomination. As in other coinages from the region of the Chersonese, there are also coins that bear the head of Athena and an owl, which refer to the Athenians.9 The number of types in the first minting period is uncertain, as some monograms and countermarks are unclear. It is therefore not possible to decide whether they are the same or different symbols and monograms, but this remains a criterion for differentiating the types.10 The reverse motifs of a wreath,11 a ship’s prow with a deer akrostolion,12 a ship’s prow with Protesilaos,13 and the cult image of Artemis14 are all linked to the obverse portrait of Commodus. So far, obverse portraits of Caracalla have only been found combined with the cult image of Artemis.15
Coins from Elaious have been found in Zone.16 In some collections, coins from Elaious are attributed to Elaeusa-Sebastes in Cilicia. Likewise, there is often confusion and mistaken attribution between these two mints in the literature.17
Our type catalogue represents the state of research from August 2019 and does not take into consideration any coin types that have become known later. Further information, especially about new types, is always welcome.
Sanctuary and tomb? E.g. Hdt. VII 33, IX, 116; Thuc. VIII 102; Strabo VII fr. 51. ↑
Richter 1929. ↑
Hoover 2017, 101f. ↑
Schönert-Geiss 1412, Nr. 7936. ↑
E.g. Mušmov 1912, Nr. 5465. 5466.5467. ↑
- Hoover 2017 = O. D. Hoover, Handbook of Coins of Macedon and Its Neighbors. Part II: Thrace, Skythia, and Taurike, Sixth to First Centuries BC (The Handbook of Greek Coinage Series, Volume 3) S. 100–102.
- Isaac 1986 = B. H. Isaac, The Greek Settlements in Thrace Until the Macedonian Conquest (Leiden), S. 192–193.
- Mušmov 1912 = N. A. Mušmov, Antičnitě moneti na Balkanskija poluostrov i monetitě na bŭlgarskite care (1912).
- Richter 1929 = G. M. A. Richter, A Statue of Protesilaos. Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 24.1, S. 26–29.
- Schönert-Geiss 1999 = E. Schönert-Geiss, Bibliographie zur antiken Numismatik Thrakiens und Mösiens (Berlin), S. 1411–1417.
- Varbanov 2007 = I. Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins. And their Values, vol. 3: Thrace (from Perinthus to Trajanopolis), Bourgas, S. 317–318.