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Coin Typology of

Dikaia *

Topography and History

There remains some uncertainty surrounding the Thracian Dikaia, as neither its founder nor its exact location are known. 1  Its proximity to Abdera is epigraphically attested, as is its location on Lake Bistonis. 2  Parallels to the neighbouring cities of Abdera and Maroneia are also present within its coinage. Furthermore, the city appears in tribute lists, where it is listed with 3,000 drachmas and is called ‛par'Abdera’. 3 

  1. Pantos 1986.
  2. Strabo VII fr. 46, today Lake Vistonida.
  3. Isaac 1986, 109–111.

State of Research

The non-extensive coinage of the city was first compiled in 1965 by J.M. F. May. 1  He presented the known coins as a die study, taking into account numerous coins that were assigned to Selymbria in collections or in previous publications. In 1975, E. Schönert-Geiss presented a die study of the Thracian Dikaia in a volume of the Griechisches Münzwerk series. There, she made a distinction from pieces from the Macedonian Dikaia. 2  The attribution of coins to the Thracian Dikaia by May and Schönert-Geiss is based on the criterion that all coinage of the Macedonian city bears the head of Heracles, while in the coinage of the Thracian Dikaia, the hero’s head appears in combination with a rooster or the city ethnikon. As part of her review of the Thracian weight standards, S. Psoma also discusses the coinage of Dikaia and assigns it to the reduced Aegean standard in its first phase and to the reduced Chian standard in its second. Likewise, she undertook a re-dating of this material, in which she assigns the first phase to the late 6th century BC and the 2nd phase to the beginning of the 5th century BC. 3 

  1. May 1965.
  2. Schönert-Geiss 1975, 15–31.
  3. Psoma 2015.

Minting System and Typology

The oldest coin that can be dated to the city is perhaps an electrum hekte from the 6th century BC. 1  As with the somewhat later silver coinage, it features a Heracles head as the motif on the obverse. The use of this motif can be explained by the location of the city on Lake Bistonis, which was said to have been dug by the hero during the course of his Thracian deeds. 2 

In addition to this exceptional electrum specimen, the city issued a small series of silver coins. 3  The dating and weight standard of the Dikaian coinage are subject to ongoing discussion in numismatic literature. 4  Consensus has been reached, however, that at least two periods of minting can be differentiated. The first period is characterized by the head of Heracles with the occasional abbreviation of the city ethnic on the obverse and a quadratum incusum on the reverse; in the second period, figural motifs appear on both sides, including the head of Heracles and a bovine protome 5  or rooster, occasionally accompanied by an abbreviated city ethnic. E. Schönert-Geiss dates the first series to the years 540/535–492/490 BC and the second to 492/90–476/5 BC. Psoma has suggested a different dating, instead attributing the first minting period to the end of the 6th century BC and the second to the beginning of the 5th century, with some of the small coins dating to the 430s.

The heaviest denomination from the first phase of silver minting is a 19 g distater, followed by staters weighing under 10 g and two smaller denominations of 2.8 g and 1.9 g. Schönert-Geiss assigns these to the first weight series of the Thraco-Macedonian weight standard, while Psoma assigns them to the reduced Aegean standard. 6  Like Abdera and Maroneia, Dikaia changes in its second minting period to a standard designated by Schonert-Geiss as the third weight series of the Thraco-Macedonian weight standard, whose largest denomination is around 7.3 g. This standard is interpreted by Psoma as a reduced Chian weight standard. 7 

Except for the two largest denominations of Phase I, which appear in large hoard finds, the finds of Dikaian coins are limited to the territory around the cities of Dikaia, Maroneia, and Abdera, which minted in the same weight standard. 8 

The existence of a Macedonian Dikaia gives rise to many uncertainties in the allocation of coins. The question as to whether the Thracian Dikaia minted bronzes showing the head of Heracles on the obverse and a bovine head with the legend ΔΙΚΑΙΑ on the reverse remains unclear. 9  Furthermore, silver coins were discovered during excavations of the ancient Stryme and Maroneia on the Molyvoti Peninsula that are partially attributed to Thracian Dikaia, which also seems to be supported by their find-spot. 10  Their featured motifs include a lion head en face/quadratum incusum, 11  a bull’s head to the right/grapes in a quadratum incusum 12  and a lion head en face/grapes in incusum. 13  Although these motifs are not characteristic of Dikaia, the coins can nevertheless be assigned to this mint based on parallels in the Alpha Bank collection in Athens with the inscription ΔΙΚΑΙ. Additionally, the finds on Molyvoti seem to point to the Thracian Dikaia rather than the Macedonian mint of the same name. 14 

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. Wartenberg 2016; Tzamalis 2000.
  2. Strabo VII fr. 44.
  3. Danger of confusion exists on the one hand with the Macedonian Dikaia, where the allocation of coins to the Thracian or Macedonian Dikaia is often controversial, as well as on the other hand with the coinage of Selymbria, which also uses the motif of the rooster as a coin image.
  4. May 1965; Schönert-Geiss 1975; Psoma 2015.
  5. May 1965 sees a connection to Samos.
  6. In addition to the denominations listed in the CN database, see: Psoma 2015, Note 124: “There is a considerable number of small fractions of Dikaia-by-Abdera, obols and hemiobols with a variety of types, in private collections.”
  7. Psoma 2015, .
  8. Psoma 2015, 28.
  9. Against this theory: Schönert-Geiss, 16 Note 1. For it: Psoma 2008, 11 with the find of such a bronze from the Molyvoti Peninsula. In the catalogue of the Lindgren Collection II, Nr. 1051, assigned to the Macedonian Dikaia, but assigned in SNG Greece 7 Nr. 313 to the Thracian Dikaia.
  10. Psoma 2008, 10–11, PM 23–25.
  11. Psoma 2008, 10 PM 23, Hemiobol? Terzopoulou 2003, 14, Group II.1–2.
  12. Psoma 2008, 10 PM 24 ¾ Obol. A comparison copy with the same motifs in the Alpha Bank collection in Athens bears the legend ΔΙΚΑΙ. Terzopoulou 2003, 12, Group I.1–2.
  13. Psoma 2008, 11, PM 25 Hemiobol? Terzopoulou 2003, 14, Grippe II.3.
  14. These types have not yet been included in our database. Furthermore, there is some confusion in the literature and in auction catalogues about the attribution of some types (rooster/Heracles head) to Dikaia or Selymbria, and coins with the motive of a rooster are attributed to Dikaia, e.g. rooster/incused horse head.


  • Arrington 2016 = N. T. Arrington - M. L. Lawall - D. Terzopoulou u.a.: Molyvoti, Thrace, Archaeological Project. 2013 Preliminary Report, Hesperia 85, 1–64.
  • Gaebler 1935 = H. Gaebler, Die antiken Münzen von Makedonia und Paionia, Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands Vol. III. Macedonia and Paionia. (Berlin 1935).
  • Isaac 1986 = B. H. Isaac, The Greek Settlements in Thrace Until the Macedonian Conquest (Leiden1986).
  • May 1965 = J. M. F. May, The Coinage of Dikaia-by-Abdera c.540/35 - 476/5 B.C., Numismatic Chronicle 5, 1965, 1–25.
  • Pantos 1986 = P. A. Pantos, Archäologische Topographie von Dikaia bei Abdera und Stryme, VII.-V.Jh.v.Chr. Der heutige Forschungsstand, in: Thracia Pontica, 3. Les Thraces et les colonies grecques, VII - V s. av. n.è. Troisième symposium international, Sozopol, 6–12 octobre 1985. (Sofia 1986) 109–127.
  • Price 1975 = M. J. Price – N. M. Waggoner, Archaic Greek Silver Coinage (London 1975), 37 f.
  • Psoma 2008 = S. Psoma, - C. Karadima - D. Terzopoulou - M. Tassaklaki - V. Psilakakou. The Coins from Maroneia and the Classical City at Molyvoti : A Contribution to the History of Aegean Thrace (Athen 2008), 10–11.
  • Psoma 2015 = S. E. Psoma. Did the So-Called Thraco-Macedonian Standard Exist?, in: Ute Wartenberg – Michel Amandry (Hrsg.), ΚΑΙΡΟΣ: Contributions to Numismatics in Honor of Basil Demetriadi (New York 2015), 167–190.
  • Schönert-Geiss 1975 = E. Schönert-Geiss: Die Münzprägung von Bisanthe, Dikaia, Selymbria. (Berlin 1975) V, 62 S., Taf. (Griechisches Münzwerk. Schriften zur Geschichte und Kultur der Antike, 13).
  • Terzoupoulou 2003 = D. Terzopoulou, Small Silver Fractions from Ancient Stryme, Nomismatika Khronika 22, 2003, 9–30.
  • Tzamalis 2000 = A. Tzamalis, Some of the Acquisitions of the Alpha Bank During 2000, Νομισματικά Χρονικά 19, 2000, 28–37.
  • Voutiras 2008 = E. Voutiras, La réconciliation des Dikaiopolites. Une nouvelle inscription de Dikaia de Thrace, colonie d'Erétrie, CRAI, 2008, 781–792.
  • Wartenberg 2016 = U. Wartenberg, Die Geburt des Münzgeldes: Die frühe Elektronprägung, in: Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Numismatischen Gesellschaft 56, 2016, 30–49.