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Coin Typology of

Alopekonnesos *

Topography and History

Alopekonnesos is located on the western side of the Thracian Chersonese in the middle of the modern-day Suvla Bay. 1  The only other city on the west coast of the peninsula to mint coins nearby was Kardia. The location of Alopekonnesos made it one of the ports for grain exports from the Chersonese to the Thracian mainland. The city was founded by Athenians or, according to other sources, by Aeolians 2  and is considered the mother city of Ainos; however, the date of its foundation is debated. 3  According to Stephanus of Byzantium, the origin of the fox in the city name can be traced back to a founding oracle to settle where young foxes could be discovered. 4  The name of the city is also reflected in the coin imagery, which uses a fox (Greek ἀλώπηξ) partly as its main image and partly as a symbol in the sense of a parasemon.

The city is named in the Attic tribute lists of the 5th century BC, and there are archaeological finds dating to this period.

  1. Localization in the north of Suvla Bay or south of the bay on a cape, which is called Küçük Kemikli Burnu today.
  2. Skyl. 67; Skymn. 705; Dem. XXIII 166. XVIII 92; Strab. VII 333 fr. 52; Steph. Byz. Liv. XXXI 16; Mela II 27.
  3. Isaac 1986, 161 and 190: second half of the 7th century or first half of the 6th century BC.
  4. Head, Historia Nummorum (1887) 223, without mentioning the exact text passage in Stephanus.

Minting System and Typology

Alopekonnesos emitted few bronze coins in the period between 400–250 BC. The obverses of these emissions always depict a head in profile (a youthful Dionysus or maenad, Athena, Apollo, or ‘Persephone’). The reverses during the first minting period portray a kantharos with various mintmarks, including the fox. Later, the fox appears as the main image on the reverse, 1  as does a bunch of grapes. 2 

U. Yarkin, who has pieced together the coinage of Alopekonnesos, differentiates the types in three chronological groups, which are followed here: 400–300, 300–250, and 250–200 BC. Once all of the bronze emissions of the Chersonese have been processed, a revision of this division may be possible since all locales on the peninsula emitted small imprints for only short amounts of time in the Classical and Hellenistic periods. These may have been temporally parallel and may have also been coordinated in their nominal systems, especially if one assumes that the silver emissions with lion motifs served as the collective coinage on the peninsula (see the Thracian Chersonese). During the entire minting period of Alopekonnesos, two nominal levels can be distinguished by their diameter: a larger denomination with a diameter between 18–21 mm and a smaller denomination measuring 12–15 mm. The smaller group weighs between 1–4 g, while the weight fluctuates more in the larger diameter group and ranges between 5–11 g. This classification is disturbed by the fact that, in 3  , the boundary between these two levels appears to be fluid with respect to the previously known copies. 4 

U. Yarkin's first period shows Dionysus or a maenad’s head as its obverse motif, and possibly Apollo towards the end. 5  The classification of this head from Group 1 is inconsistent in the literature; there are hardly any differences between these heads, so the interpretation remains unclear. However, it can be assumed that the same figure, either a maenad or a youthful Dionysus, is shown. As a reverse motif, Group 1 shows the kantharos with different mintmarks, for which we have formed subtypes on the basis of what they portray and their distribution in the image field. A common feature of Group 1 is the abbreviation of the city name, AΛΩ, on the reverse.

In the second phase various heads appear on the obverse, whose identification can usually be secured based on the adornments worn in their hair (a laurel wreath for Apollo, a garland of grain for Demeter/Persephone or Dionysus); only Athena can be clearly identified by a helmet. In addition to the kantharos, the fox and the grape are the main motif on the reverse. The city name on the reverse in the second group is written out as ΑΛΩΠΕΚΟΝ or ΑΛΩΠΕΚΟΝΝΗΣΙΩΝ. 6 

The separations of two types into Group 3 by Yarkin is based on stylistic elements, and also possibly on the circumstances in which all three associated coins were found near ancient Alopekonnesos. Both coin types and legends can be found in the previous two groups.

The types of the bronze emissions of Alopekonnesos refer mainly to Dionysus. These include the head of Dionysus in profile, the kantharos, and a bunch of grapes (represented in each of the 13 types as the main motive or mintmark). Furthermore, the motif of the fox on the city name refers back to the founding oracle (three types as main motif, seven as a mintmark), and a connection to Athens is possibly evoked by the four types featuring Athena’s head. 7 

Many coins were found in the direct vicinity of Alopekonnesos. 8  However, due to the small amount of known coins, it was not possible to find suitable images for all types in the database.

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. CN_Type396; CN_Type392; CN_Type391; CN_Type400; CN_Type1979.
  2. CN_Type397.
  3. CN_Type1992.
  4. In Hoover 2017 divided into three nominal levels: Denomination B (19-22 mm; 4.79-10.46 g), Denomination C (15-18 mm, 1.55-6.05 g), Denomination D (14-15 mm, 1.55-3.21 g); both weight and diameter blur between Denominations C and D, so merging them into a nominal as suggested here would be possible.
  5. Yarkin 1978, 5, lists two copies under Nos. 52 and 53. No. 53 is described by Mionnet Suppl. II (1822) 522 No. 3 as Bacchus with ivy wreath.
  6. The separation of two other types to his group 3 is not revealed.
  7. Isaac 1986, 190 sees in the reduction of tribute payments after 446 BC an indication that Attic clerics were settled.
  8. In the Aegean Mesembria, there were nine coins of Alopekonnesos. A Berlin coin comes from a find from Pergamum. Another coin came to light in the Geto-Dacian Zimnicea.

Bibliography

  • Chitescu 1972 = M. Chiṭescu, O monedă a oraşului Alopeconnesos (chersonesul tracic) descoperită la Zimnicea, Studii şi cerceetari de istorie veche 23 Nr.2, 1972, 299–306.
  • 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. 45–48.
  • Isaac 1986 = B. Isaac, The Greek Settlements in Thrace until the Macedonian Conquest (Leiden 1986), S.189–191.
  • Schönert-Geiss 1999 = E. Schönert-Geiss, Bibliographie zur antiken Numismatik Thrakiens und Mösiens (Berlin 1999), S. 1403–1409.
  • Yarkin 1978 = U. Yarkin, The Coinage of Alopeconnesus in Thracian Chersonesus, Numismatic Chronicle 18 Nr. 138, 1978, 1–6 mit Taf. 1.

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