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Coin Typology of

Perinthos *

Topography and History

The ancient port city of Perinthos (Greek Πέρινθος) was located on the Thracian coast of Propontis, between Bisanthe and Byzantium. The city was founded around 602 BC by Samian colonists. 1  From the end of the 3rd century AD, Perinthos was renamed Herakleia after its mythical founder Heracles. 2  The modern city is now called Marmara Ereğlisi and is a small fishing port on the Sea of Marmara in European Turkey and belongs to the province Tekirdağ.

The history of the city in classical times as well as during Hellenism is characterized by its constant struggle to maintain its independence. Although its geographical position made it one of the most important ports and trading cities on the Propontis coast, it seems that Perinthos hardly played a decisive role at that time and was always affected by the neighbouring city of Byzantium.

The importance of the city increased considerably during the Roman Empire. From AD 46 onwards, Perinthos was the capital of the province of Thrace and was elevated to the administrative seat of the Thracian governors. This new role gave Perinthos the scope to gain importance as an administrative centre. In this function, the city received special support and thus reached its economic peak, which was directly expressed in its imperial coinage.

  1. Ps.-Skymn. 713–715; Strab. 7a,1,56; Diod. 16,76; Plin. nat. 4,47; Colonization IV.
  2. The renaming is first documented in AD 286 (comparison Amm. 27.4,12; Zos. 1.62,1).

State of Research

The coinage of Perinthos has thus far been extensively studied by E. Schönert-Geiss, who published a die catalogue in the Griechisches Münzwerk series in 1965. For the creation of our type catalogue, we have taken this corpus volume into consideration, as well as the coin types of the Roman Provincial Coinage series, 1  the coin types of I. Varbanov, 2  and other coin types that are found in the coin trade today.

  1. RPC I, II, III, IV.
  2. Varbanov 2007, 7–83.

Minting System and Typology

The coinage of Perinthos comprises autonomous, pseudo-autonomous, and imperial provincial emissions. The city began minting coins in around the middle of the 4th century BC, initially consisting of only a few silver issues and more extensive bronze issues. During the Roman Empire, as well as in the so-called pseudo-autonomous period, Perinthos minted exclusively in bronze. In total, more than 550 types can be distinguished for the city, to which subtypes were created on account of iconographic and other deviations. The value system of the coinage follows the classification of Schönert-Geiss. 1 

  1. Schönert-Geiss 1965, 27–33.

Coin Production und Metrology

Autonomous Coinage

Perinthos minted in both silver and bronze during its autonomous period. Silver coinage had begun to be minted in the late second half of the 4th century BC, 1  when the city minted double sigloi (didrachms weighing about 10.5g), hemisigloi (hemidrachms weighing about 2.5g), and obols (weighing 1.14g), all according to the Persian standard. 2  In addition to changing image motifs on the obverse, a consistent image appears on the reverse, namely the foreparts of two jumping horses whose bodies are connected to each other in the middle. Various monograms and magistrate names as well as the city ethnic (given in full or abbreviated form) on the reverse complete the coins’ designs.

The bronze coins of the 4th and 3rd centuries BC followed the same iconographic programme of the aforementioned reverse type, 3  and the motif appears as a mintmark on later bronze issues. 4  Thus, the initial coin image of the two horses served as an emblem for the city’s mint. The bronze coinage from the 2nd to 1st centuries BC is characterized by alternating types, with images of the Greco-Roman pantheon predominating. Many bronze coins were issued with gods’ heads on the obverse and their attributes on the reverse. 5 

Schönert-Geiss distinguishes two groups for the nominal system of bronze coins in the period after 280 BC. These groups have been further divided into ten series based on their chronology as well as their weight and diameter (Perinth Series 1–10). 6  Since the difference in weight between the two groups is relatively small (about 1g), the question of whether they have the same nominal values remains open. 7 

One of the special imprints from the city features representations of Egyptian deities, whose influence is reflected in this bronze series. Their earliest appearance is on the autonomous coins minted in Perinthos under Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–204 BC), which Schönert-Geiss correctly associated with the occupation of a large part of the Thracian coastal regions by the Ptolemies. The busts of Serapis and Isis appear behind one another on the obverse, and the images of the god Anubis or the bull Apis are depicted on the reverse. 8  These Egyptian types indicate that there were close trade relations between Thrace and Egypt. .

Pseudo-Autonomous Coinage

During the Roman Empire, there was a large number of bronze coins which often show the founder of the city, city goddesses, or other gods or demigods in place of a portrait of the emperor on the obverse. These are therefore called pseudo-autonomous coins and represent a separate complex of Roman provincial coinage. This pseudo-autonomous coinage probably first began in Perinthos under Claudius. 9  The bulk of this coinage belongs to the middle part of the 1st to the end of the 2nd century AD, a time when the provincial minting of the city was relatively low. Schönert-Geiss divided the coins into six independent nominal values, 10  which correspond in both size and weight to the small nominal values of the provincial coinage. 11 

The pseudo-autonomous series are characterized by a close thematic connection between obverse and reverse (e.g. Apollo/lyre, Demeter head/pot with grain or poppy, Dionysus head/Demeter, the heads of Isis and Serapis/Harpocrates, Anubis etc.). It appears as though the representation of Serapis and Isis appears again from the 2nd century AD, and that Anubis and Apis can also be found once more. Harpocrates formed a triad of gods with Isis and Serapis and was depicted in various Thracian cities, including Perinthos. 12  On the pseudo-autonomous coinage, the city ethnic appears on the reverse, as does the title of Neocoria from AD 196 onwards.

On the pseudo-autonomous coins of Perinthos, mythical and historical elements of the city’s foundation are blended. The representation of Heracles in particularly interesting. It seems that this hero had a special significance in the city because the Perinthians regarded him as the founder of their city. Heracles is first explicitly mentioned as the founder on the coinage, as his head appears with the legend ΗΡΑΚΛΗϹ ΚΤΙϹΤΗϹ or ΤΟΝ ΚΤΙϹΤΗN on the obverse. 13  The addition of ‛Ionon’ (ΙΩΝΩΝ ΤΟΝ ΚΤΙϹΤΗ und ΙΩΝΩΝ) 14  refers to the Ionian origin of the city. This origin is later emphasized in the coinage of Severus Alexander and less so by the time of Gordian III with the addition of ΙΩΝΩΝ to the reverse legend. 15 

The coin type with the Hera of Samos is particularly of note. The reverse motif alludes to the foundation of Perinthos, which was a colony of the island of Samos, with the depiction of a statue of Hera. Here, the goddess stands on a prora, which is a symbol for her passage from Samos to Perinthos. 16  The same coin type reappears on the coins of Nero and Octavia, but without the prora. 17 

Also noteworthy is the depiction of the hero of Perinthos with the legend ΠEPINΘOC on the obverse. He appears on the reverse of both the coins of Marcus Aurelius 18  and those of pseudo-autonomous issue. 19 

  1. The dating is based on stylistic criteria. See Schönert-Geiss 1965, 13.
  2. CN_Type890; CN_Type891; CN_Type892; CN_Type893.
  3. CN_Type894; CN_Type895; CN_Type2037; CN_Type896; CN_Type900; CN_Type2038; CN_Type905; CN_Type2039; CN_Type2040; CN_Type951; CN_Type952; CN_Type953; CN_Type2035; CN_Type3416.
  4. CN_Type906; CN_Type2045; CN_Type910; CN_Type2041; CN_Type2042; CN_Type2043; CN_Type2044; CN_Type938; CN_Type2045; CN_Type2047; CN_Type2048; CN_Type2049; CN_Type2050; CN_Type2051; CN_Type2052; CN_Type956. The same motif also appears as an mintmark on the Alexander coins of Lysimachos.
  5. CN_Type956; CN_Type957; CN_Type960; CN_Type961.
  6. Schönert-Geiss 1965, 27. Series 1–10.
  7. Group 1: smaller nominal with a diameter of 18–19 mm and a weight of ca. 5–6 g, larger nominal 20–21 mm, 7–8 g; Group 2 2: smaller nominal with a diameter of 18–19 mm and a weight of ca. 4 g, larger nominal 20–21mm, 6–6.5 g.
  8. CN_Type910; CN_Type2041; CN_Type2042; CN_Type2043; CN_Type2044; CN_Type938; CN_Type2046; CN_Type2047; CN_Type2048; CN_Type2049; CN_Type2050; CN_Type2051; CN_Type2052; [CN_Type951.
  9. Schönert-Geiss has dated a series of pseudo-autonomous coins to the time of Claudius and Nero. However, the chronology is not certain.
  10. Pseudo-autonomous groups 1–6.
  11. Schönert-Geiss 1965, 32–33.
  12. CN_Type1347; CN_Type1348.
  13. CN_Type1366; CN_Type1369; CN_Type1372; CN_Type1384; CN_Type1383; CN_Type2087; CN_Type1418; CN_Type1477.
  14. CN_Type1381; CN_Type2342; CN_Type1386; CN_Type1387; CN_Type1417; CN_Type2089; CN_Type2088; CN_Type1457; CN_Type1460.
  15. CN_Type3145; CN_Type3065; CN_Type3083; CN_Type3119; CN_Type3121; CN_Type3131; CN_Type3134; CN_Type3138.
  16. CN_Type1044; CN_Type1490.
  17. CN_Type1494. Further Hera types: CN_Type1041 and on the coins of Sabina: CN_Type1633.
  18. CN_Type2435: with the legend ΠΕΡΙΝΘΙΩΝ.
  19. CN_Type2435; CN_Type1371.

Bibliography

  • Burell 2004 = B. Burell, Neokoroi, Greek Cities and Roman Emperors (Cincinnati 2004), S. 236–242.
  • 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, Volume 3 (Leiden/Lancaster 2017).
  • Leschhorn 1998 = W. Leschhorn, Griechische Agone im Makedonien und Thrakien in: U. Peter (Hrg.), Stephanos nomismatikos, Edith Schönert-Geiss zum 65. Geburtstag (Berlin 1998), 408–415.
  • Raycheva 2015 = M. Raycheva, The Imperial Cult in Perinthos in Archeologia Bulgarica XIX, 2, 2015, 23–34.
  • RPC I 1992 = A. Burnett u.a., Roman Provincial Coinage. Vol. 1: From the Death of Caesar to the Death of Vitellius: 44 BC–AD 69 (London 1992).
  • RPC II 1999 = A. Burnett u.a., Roman Provincial Coinage. Vol. 2: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69–96) (London 1999).
  • RPC III 2015 = M. Amandry u.a., Roman Provincial Coinage. Vol. 3: Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian (AD 96–138) (London/Paris 2015).
  • RPC IV = V. Heuchert, Roman Provincial Coinage IV online (temporary), [https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/].
  • Schönert-Geiss 1965 = E. Schönert-Geiss, Die Münzprägung von Perinthos (Berlin 1965).
  • Schönert-Geiss 1999 = E. Schönert-Geiss, Bibliographie zur antiken Numismatik Thrakiens und Mösiens (Berlin 1999).
  • Varbanov (Vol. III), 2007 = I. Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins. And Their Values, Vol. 3: Thrace (from Perinthus to Trajanopolis) (Bourgas 2007).

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