Coin Typology of


Topography and History

The ancient city of Ainos (modern-day Enez in Turkey) lay at the mouth of the River Hebros.1 Control of the river enabled the city to establish good trade contacts with eastern Thrace and as far as the cities of the Black Sea region.2 In particular, there were probably connections between Ainos and Apollonia Pontika.3 The Thracian interior was easily accessible from here on or along the Hebros, without having to overcome mountains, as was the case in other coastal areas. The city became prosperous not only through trade, but also through agriculture and especially fishing.4

Ainos had been attested in both the Iliad5 and by Herodotus.6 It was founded as an Aiolian colony in the 7th century BC, first by settlers from Alopekonnesos and later those from Mytilene and Kyme;7 the alleged former Thracian name of the settlement was Poltymbria.8 As a member of the first Delian League, Ainos paid high levies of 10–12 talents in the period between 454–439 BC.9 The city stood with Athens during the Peloponnesian War; in 413 BC, Ainians were involved in the Sicilian expedition.10 The city became a member of the Second Athenian League in 375 BC.11 After 350 BC, Ainos was a part of the Macedonian Empire. While other Thracian cities such as Maroneia continued to flourish in the 4th century BC, the importance of Ainos declined for reasons that are not yet apparent.12 Subsequently, Ainos belonged to the Ptolemaic Empire, the Attalids, and, finally, the Romans.

  1. Modern Enez is further inland than the ancient Ainos. It is assumed that resettlement was already necessary in ancient times due to the increasing marshification of the Hebros delta. ↑

  2. Location and natural environment: May 1950, 1–7; Isaac 1986, 140–145. ↑

  3. May 1950 sees this also proven by corresponding monetary standard. ↑

  4. Ath. III 92d. VII 285. ↑

  5. Hom. Il. 4,520 Ainos as home of Peiroos, leader of the Thracians, one of the two leaders of the eastern Thracians who lived west of the Hellespont. Because of the similarity of names, it was often suggested that Ainos was founded by Aeneas after his flight from Troy, e.g. Verg. Aen. III 18. ↑

  6. Hdt. IV 90. ↑

  7. Isaac 1986, 147. ↑

  8. Strabo VII,6,1. ↑

  9. Isaac 1986, 150. 435 BC, but only 4 talents and in 434, 431, and 429 BC are not represented in the tribute list; for a discussion of the reasons why, see Isaac. ↑

  10. Thuc. II 29, 5. IV 129, 2. VII 57,5. ↑

  11. Isaac 1986, 154. ↑

  12. Isaac 1986, 154–156. ↑

State of Research

In its first part, Volume 2 of Ancient Coins of Northern Greece deals with the ancient coins of Thrace, including the silver and bronze minting of Ainos. F. Münzer and M. L. Strack, taking into account numerous museum and private collections as well as coins from the commercial trade, have presented the minting series of the city, which they say began in 478 BC after the end of Persian rule.13 The chronology of the coinage is based on the previous study by H. von Fritze.14 J. M. F. May dedicated a study of his own to the silver coinage of Ainos in 1950, covering the years 474–341 BC, according to his periodization. During this span he defined 70 issues, which can be distinguished by means of the symbols that appear on the coins. May assigned these issues to individual years, so that he arrives at a yearly dating for this period, the exactness of which is questionable and requires revision, but cannot be done within the scope of CN’s type catalogue. Our typology is based on the aforementioned literature, as well as on other coins known from trade and publications, whereby a few types that cannot be reconstructed today were not taken into account.15

  1. Gaebler 1935. ↑

  2. Fritze 1909. ↑

  3. E.g. Gaebler 1935, No. 293*, as it is unclear whether the catalogue cited is about one or two coins. The same is true for many other coins marked with * in Gaebler 1935, which were already marked there because of uncertainty and omitted from the typology, e.g. also No. 305 and 306. ↑

Minting System and Typology

According to J. M. F. May, coins were minted in Ainos from the 470s BC onwards, primarily in silver. The extensive, but stylistically uniform minting died out with the conquest by Philip of Macedon around 341 BC. Additionally, from the late 5th or early 4th century BC onwards, minting in bronze took place, which continued beyond the end of silver minting—from the Hellenistic up to the early imperial period. Ainos was one of the mints of Lysimachus, and the caduceus of Hermes was used as the mint mark. Types of Marcus Aurelius and Caracalla are known from the provincial minting; there are also some pseudo-autonomous coins. The legends AI, AINI, AINION, and also AINIΩN can be found on the autonomous coins.

Coin Production und Metrology

The coinage is very uniform: two large minting phases, each with four nominal levels in silver, can be distinguished by the image motifs. In the first phase (474–409 BC, according to May), all denominations bear a Hermes head in profile with petasus on the obverse, usually to the right. The reverse sides show the caduceus as a distinctive attribute of Hermes, in addition to the goat, which was mainly represented in the early phase. Besides the city ethnic on the reverse, there are also additional signs that are common among all denominations. May used these to date the coinage year by year, interpreting them as annual emission signs or official signs. This classification according to years was adopted in our typology, but must be critically examined due to its absolute precision. With regard to the monetary standard used in Ainos there have been numerous speculations:16 according to May, it can be assumed that in the first phase, tetradrachms and trisigloi were minted according to the Persian standard.17 Shortly after the withdrawal of the Persians from the region, Ainos adapted their weight system, but it was divided according to the drachma system.18 The second phase (402–340 BC according to May) of the coinage is marked by Hermes’ head on the obverse appearing in three-quarter view. It should also be noted that the weights of the nominal values decreased; whether this is a change in the monetary standard to the Chiotic standard, as the change in motif suggests, or a mere reduction of the standard previously used, remains unclear. The same four denominations continued to be minted; the tetradrachms now weighed around 15.6 g. The reverse sides of the tetradrachms and tetraobols continued to show the billy goat with changing accompanying signs, whereas drachmas that appeared later in the phase depicted the cult image of Hermes Perpheraios on a throne. The same motif is also found on a single type of gold coin, a drachma or quarter stater, dating from approximately the beginning to the middle of the 4th century BC.19

From the 4th century BC onwards, a smaller bronze series ran parallel to this, which at the beginning adapted the motifs relating to Hermes and depicted either his head, a full-body view with the caduceus, the billy goat, and the throne with cult image. In the 3rd century BC a bearded male head, usually interpreted as Zeus, was depicted in combination with a Hermes, as was a Poseidon head in combination with a Hermes figure and the typical attributes. It is not easy to divide these bronze coins into nominal levels based on diameter and weight. Although it is of course easy to identify a large and a small denomination, it is difficult to distinguish them from a medium nominal size due to relatively fluid weight distributions. As an experiment, the CN database defines the weight grades as follows: a small denomination of approximately 11 to 15 mm in diameter and weighing 0.32 to less than 3 g, a medium denomination of approximately 15 to 19 mm and over 3 to under 6 g, and a large denomination of approximately 19 to 23 mm and over 6 to 8.70 g.20 If the material base per type increases and thus valid data becomes available, there may still be shifts in types between the nominal values.

Two types of Caracalla are known from Roman times; his portrait is associated with the head of Heracles, as well as Castor with a horse.21 Another type of the Marcus Aurelius with a caduceus on the reverse recently appeared in commerce.22

  1. Early Rhodian, a light form of the Euboean-Attic standard (Strack). ↑

  2. Persian siglos at 5.48 g, so the stater of Ainos is a tri-siglos or tetradrachm. The denominations are accordingly drachma, tetrobol and diobol or siglos, half siglos and quarter siglos. Recently, a lighter coin of the first phase CN_Type33101 became known, which is called an obol in commerce, but is more similar to a hemiobol in weight. ↑

  3. May 1950, 265–269. ↑

  4. CN_Type3778. ↑

  5. Hoover 2017, 42–44 distinguishes four nominal levels of bronzes, but the weights of some of them overlap considerably. ↑

  6. CN_Type5562; CN_Type5566. ↑

  7. CN_Type8995. ↑

Special Features of the Coinage

The central motif of the Ainian coinage is Hermes, whose head appears in most cases on the obverse of the silver and bronze emissions.23 Furthermore, his attribute animal—the billy goat—the caduceus, and a throne with a herm are depicted on the reverse of the coins. These motifs refer to the cult of Hermes Perpheraios in Ainos.24 As Callimachus reports, Epeus made a wooden Hermes in addition to the Trojan horse, which was placed in the River Scamander in the Troad, washed up at Ainos, and was found by fishermen. A sanctuary was then built, and the oracle of Apollo ordered that Hermes be worshipped as one of their gods.25 This wooden icon is occasionally depicted on the coins.26

Finds of coins minted in Ainos are known from Abdera, Zone, Maroneia, Seuthopolis, Amphipolis, and Macedonia. Tetradrachms of Lysimachus minted in Ainos have been found in Plovdiv, Boeotia, Cilicia, Cyprus, the Black Sea region, Mesopotamia, and Syria.27

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.

  1. Hermes is not only the city god of Ainos, but according to Hdt. V, 7 he is also worshipped by the Thracian rulers who, for example, swear by him and derive their ancestry from him. ↑

  2. The nickname Perpheraios is derived from the of Callimachus Papyrus, but is considered uncertain. ↑

  3. Callimachus, Iambus VII fr. 179. ↑

  4. E.g. CN_Type3778. ↑

  5. Schönert-Geiss 1999, 481–522. IGCH 869.0163.1292.1423.1537.1769. ↑


  • Diehl 1943 = E. DiehI, Zum Hermes Perpheraios von Ainos, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie Neue Folge_ 92. Bd., 2. H., S. 177–179.
  • Fritze 1909 = H. von Fritze, Die autonomen Münzen von Ainos, Nomisma 4, 1909.
  • Gaebler 1935 = H. Gaebler, Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands 3,2: Die antiken Münzen von Makedonia und Paionia (Berlin 1935), S. 92–93.
  • 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 3 (Lancaster/London 2017), S. 35–48.
  • Isaac 1986 = B. Isaac, The Greek Settlements in Thrace until the Macedonian Conquest (Leiden 1986), S.140–157.
  • May 1950 = J. M. F. May, Ainos, its history and coinage, 474-341 B.C., London 1950.
  • Schönert-Geiss 1999 = E. Schönert-Geiss, Bibliographie zur antiken Numismatik Thrakiens und Mösiens (Berlin), S. 481–522.
  • Strack 1912 = M.L. Strack, Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands 2.1: Thrakien. Die Münze der Thraker und der Städte Abdera, Ainos, Anchialos.

Map with Mints of typology