Related Records

Coin Typology of

Kardia *

Topography and History

Kardia was an important city that was either at the northern edge of the Thracian Chersonese or had access to it, but whose exact location has yet to be confirmed. 1  It was, however, west of the Gulf of Melas 2  and possibly in the vicinity of the later Lysimacheia. 3  The city itself was fortified by defensive walls and formed an end point of the Long Wall of Miltiades, which was intended to protect the peninsula from Thracian tribal invasions. 4 

Kardia was originally a colony of Miletus and Klazomenai and was founded in the 7th century BC. 5  Around 566/5 BC, settlers from Athens probably came to the city with Miltiades the Elder. The history and power relations of the city were very fickle; at times Kardia was under Persian rule in the 5th century BC, belonged to the Athenian sphere of influence in the first half of the 4th century BC, and was the base for the Attic naval fleet during the Peloponnesian War. After the defeat of Athens, Kardia––along with the rest of the Chersonese––was for a time under the Odrysian rule of Cotys I and his son, Kersobleptes. 6  After the expulsion of the latter, the city resisted the settlement of Attic cleruchs and stood against Athens on the side of Philip II. Kardia was ruled by the tyrant Hecataeus after the death of Alexander the Great. 7  Out of hostility to him, Eumenes had gone to the court of Alexander the Great as a secretary. The city was possibly destroyed by Lysimachus in 309 BC, 8  and its population was forcibly resettled in the new neighbouring settlement of Lysimacheia. 9 

  1. Tzvetkova 2009, 33, localization on Cape Bakla Burun.
  2. Ps. Skylax 67.
  3. Ps. Skymnos 699; Demosthenes XXIII 182.
  4. Isaac 1986, 166. Hdt VI, 36, 3.
  5. Tzvetkova 2009, 33, ca. 644/640 BC.
  6. Demosthenes, XXIII, 181; Tzvetkova 2009, 33.
  7. Diodor 18.14.4; Plutarch, Eumenes 3.
  8. Pausanias I,9.8, but Pliny, NH 4.11.40.
  9. Hoover 2017, 110.

Minting System and Typology

Before the start of autonomous minting, it is assumed that the city counter-stamped foreign bronze coins with a star as a sign of Kardia. 1  According to J. Tzvetkova, minted its own bronze coins from the middle of the 4th century BC, to the end of the Odrysian control of the area, and until its destruction in 309 BC. A single coin from the middle of the 2nd century BC suggests that Kardia continued to exist in a weaker form than previously. 2 

J. Tzvetkova, who presented a die study of Kardia in 2009, 3  dates the entire coinage of the city to the years 357/346–309 BC. 4  She distinguishes three nominal levels: the largest, Nominal A, has a diameter between 18–22 mm and a weight between 5.9–8.14 g; the middle, Nominal B, has a diameter between 13–18 mm and a weight between 2.6–3.8 g; and the smallest, Nominal C, has a diameter between 9–14 mm and a weight between 1.5–1.68 g. 5 

The primary motifs of the city’s coinage are linked to Demeter; a Demeter head in profile or in three-quarter view appears on the obverse of Nominals A and B. 6  Most of the reverse of these coins bear the image of a lion holding a spear between its claws, breaking a spear between its teeth, or either standing or running. The coin image of the standing or running lion was possibly adopted from the mother city, Miletus, and is meant to emphasize the roots of Kardia, while the lion breaking the spear can be traced back to Macedonian references. 7  Nominal B shows the lion as a protome, likely to indicate the nominal level. 8  A grain kernel usually appears in the section below the lion, occasionally with further mintmarks. In the smallest nominal level, C, the lion appears in its entirety or as just a head on the obverse, while the reverse features the grain kernel or a garland of corn as a main image, in contrast to the larger nominals. 9  Only one new type from Nominal C, which was not known to J. Tzvetkova, repeats the motifs of the larger nominal levels. 10  The city name always appears on the reverse, and J. Tzvektova distinguishes subtypes on the basis of its spelling, 11  as well as on the basis of the use of various mintmarks.

Coins from Kardia were found during the excavations of Zone, Abdera, Thasos, Constantia, Pistiros, Olbia, and Seuthopolis. 12 

It can be assumed that the silver coins that feature the head of Athena and a lion, as well as the later hemidrachms with the inscription XEP, which also use the lion as a motif and were a type of community coinage for the Thracian Chersonese, were minted in Kardia. 13 

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. Jurukova 1992, 73.
  2. Hoover 2017, 111; Tzvetkova 2009, 36. Pausanias 1.10.5.
  3. Tzvetkova 2009, 36 with reference to pieces not accessible to her.
  4. Recently, S. Psoma (Psoma forthcoming) suggested a chronological fine tuning of the series, where she starts with the small nominal. She pleads the case for a beginning of minting in the late 350s BC.
  5. Cf. also Psoma (forthcoming), to a revaluation and renaming of the nominal: she calls the smallest nominal chalkous, followed by the tetartemorion and then the hemiobol as the largest denomination.
  6. Occasionally also described as Persephone. S. Psoma recently suggested interpreting the head as a personification of the local nymph Kardia, since the representation of local personifications by nymphs in the coinage of the 4th century BC was widespread. Psoma (forthcoming).
  7. Furthermore, there are parallels to the coinage of Amyntas III and Perdikkas III, which also show lions breaking the spear.
  8. CN_Type448; CN_Type454; CN_Type466; CN_Type4194; CN_Type478; CN_Type2011.
  9. CN_Type479; CN_Type480; CN_Type481; CN_Type482; CN_Type483; CN_Type484; CN_Type485; CN_Type1990; CN_Type1991.
  10. CN_Type2015.
  12. Tzvetkova 2009, 36.
  13. Tzvetkova 2009, 38.


  • 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. 110–113.
  • Isaac 1986 = B. Isaac. The Greek Settlements in Thrace Until the Macedonian Conquest (Leiden 1986), S. 187–188.
  • Jurukova 1992 = J. Jurukova, Monetite na trakijskite plemena i vladeteli/ Монетите на тракийските племена и владетели, (Sofia 1992), S. 73.
  • Psoma Forthcoming = S. Psoma, The Bronze Coinage of Cardia, (TOPOI Publications, forthcoming).
  • Schönert-Geiss 1999 = E. Schönert-Geiss, Bibliographie zur antiken Numismatik Thrakiens und Mösiens, (Berlin 1999), S. 1419–1433.
  • Tzvetkova 2009 = J. Tzvetkova, The Coinage of Kardia, Archaeologia Bulgarica 13, 33–54.