THRACE, PANTIKAPION, bronze, 3-2 century BC


THRACE, PANTIKAPION, minor, no date (3rd-2nd century BC), Obverse: star, ΠΑΝΤΙΚΑ between rays, Reverse: tripod, bronze, 13mm, 2.65g, SG1706, VG/F

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Pantikapion (Panticapaeum) was a port city on the eastern (Tauric) coast of Crimea. Like other Black Sea Greek cities, the stone ruins were built by colonists from Melitos, on the southwestern Anatolian coast. The local products were grain and slaves. They got harrassed by nomads for several centuries, which took the wind out of their sales. They got caught up in local politics, which for a while was opposed to the Roman plan. But they fell, and Rome proceeded to dominate the region for several hundred years.

Thrace is the land between the Balkan mountains and the Black Sea from northern Greece to southern Bulgaria and European Turkey. The ancient Thracians are thought to have been indigenous, meaning, I suppose, that they were there at least as far back as the neolithic period, before the invention of history. The ancient and extinct Thracian language is “generally agreed” to be Indo-European, which is supposed to mean that they came from somewhere else. During the early coin period the coins of Thrace were mostly made by Greek colonists.

We think that our culture grew out of the culture of Greece because it was in Greece (and in China) that people started thinking about how things could be different than they were in a world where everything was dangerous and might made right. They also established principles of artistic expression that we still use today. We see this approach to art in their coins.

“Ancient Coins” includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.