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Coin Typology of

Imbros *

Topography and History

The island of Imbros (modern-day Gökçeada in the Turkish province of Çanakkale) is located off the Turkish coast of the ancient landscape of the Troad and the Thracian Chersonese, between the two Thracian islands of Samothrace to the north and Lemnos to the south. It was of strategic importance because of its location at the entrance of the Dardanelles. Originally, it was inhabited by the tribes of the Pelasgians or Tyrrhenoi. 1  However, from 500 BC until the middle Imperial period, Imbros was Athenian and was organized in the manner of a cleruchy. 2  As a member of the Delian League, the island paid dues of between 3,300 drachmas and one talent.

On Imbros, there was a sanctuary for the Cabeiri, whose archaeological remains can be found today near the village of Roxado in the north-east of the island. 3  Also attested epigraphically is the cult of Orthanes, a son of Hermes whom B. Ruhl would like to identify with the ithyphallic deity appearing on the island’s coinage. 4  She also finds evidence for a cult of Demeter and/or Persephone, which may explain the interpretation of the goddess' heads being depicted on the coins. 5 

  1. Ruhl 2018, 30–32.145.
  2. On this in detail, Ruhl 2018, 33–38.99–105.
  3. Ruhl 2018, 107–120.
  4. Ruhl 2018, 212.
  5. Ruhl 2018, 124.

Minting System and Typology

Research on the coinage of the island is sparse apart from a few essays and mentions in survey works. However, B. Ruhl recently devoted a summary overview to the island of Imbros, its monuments, and its coinage as part of an archaeological investigation.

Few coins were minted on the island (exclusively in bronze) from the middle of the 4th century BC until the Roman Empire.

B. Ruhl identifies eleven coin types, differentiating them only by obverse and reverse motifs and admitting that some of her types run for several centuries. This typology is used here as a basic framework and has been further differentiated. The motifs present on the coins of Imbros are mainly divided into three groups. The first motif group depicts local references; according to Ruhl it often depicts Orthanes, a son of Hermes who is venerated on the island and who appears on the reverse of the coins in an ithyphallic manner, together with his distinctive attribute, the caduceus. The representation of piloi on the reverse of imperial coins is also probably a local reference. Ruhl notes that these caps, which can refer to the Dioscuri as well as to the Cabeiri, are related to the mystery cult of the Cabeiri on Imbros. Furthermore, there are motifs related to the Athenian cleruchy, such as the head of Athena and the owl, 1  as well as 'generally' used motifs such as Apollo, Tyche and Artemis, and a grasshopper. 2 

Types with the portrait of Augustus have become known from the Imperial period. 3  His obverse portraits are usually linked to the reverse image motifs of a herm, 4  the head of Apollo, 5  and the depiction of a caduceus between two piloi. 6  Furthermore, many types can probably be attributed to the Roman Empire as so-called pseudo-autonomous coins. All of them show a head or bust of Athena on the obverse and varying motifs on the reverse. 7 

Since the coinage of Imbros has not yet undergone a detailed numismatic revision, all dates of the autonomous period given here may have to be revised. 8  It is also expected that the number of types minted on Imbros will increase. 9  Coins from Imbros have been found at the Athenian agora, in the Chaidari hoard, at the sanctuary for the Cabeiri of Lemnos, and in Abdera. 10 

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. Imhoof-Blumer 1882, 146–149.
  2. CN_Type6948.
  3. CN_Type6950; CN_Type8742; CN_Type6951; CN_Type6955; CN_Type6953.
  4. CN_Type6955; CN_Type8742.
  5. CN_Type6950; CN_Type6956.
  6. CN_Type6953; CN_Type6955.
  7. CN_Type8715; CN_Type8714; CN_Type8712; CN_Type8710; CN_Type8716; CN_Type8722; CN_Type8720; CN_Type8723; CN_Type8728; CN_Type8735.
  8. Ruhl 2018, 283, on further coins that may be assigned to Imbros.
  9. For example, a coin described in the ANS database with an Athena head on the obverse and Artemis head on the reverse has not yet been included. http://numismatics.org/collection/1944.100.16648?lang=de
  10. Ruhl 2018, 23.139.

Bibliography

  • Poole 1877 = R. S. Poole (Hrsg), A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, The Tauric Chersonese, Sarmatia, Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, etc. (London 1877) S. 211–212 Nrn. 1–10.
  • Imhoof-Blumer 1882 = F. Imhoof-Blumer, Münzen der Kleruchen auf Imbros, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Abteilung Athen: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung, 7, 1882, S. 146–149.
  • Gorini 1998 = G. Gorini, Le monete di Imbros dal santuario dei Cabiri a Lemno, in: U. Peter (Hrsg.), stephanos nomismatikos. Edith Schönert-Geiss zum 65. Geburtstag, 1998, S. 295–300.
  • Hoover 2010 = O. D. Hoover, Handbook of Coins of the Islands, The Handbook of Greek Coinage Series Vol. 6, S. 65–66, Nr. 276–279, 2010.
  • Kroll 1993 = J. Kroll, The Athenian Agora 26 (1993) S. 178.
  • Burnett et al. I = A. Burnett - M. Amandry - P.P. Ripollès, Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC–AD 69). (London, 1992 and supplements) 316f.
  • Ruhl 2018 = B. Ruhl, Imbros. Archäologie einer nordostägäischen Insel, Marburger Beiträge zur Archäologie 5 (Marburg 2018).
  • Schönert-Geiss 1999 = E. Schönert-Geiß, Bibliographie zur antiken Numismatik Thrakiens und Moesiens. Berlin 1999 (Griechisches Münzwerk) S. 1501–1512.

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