Ancient Coins of Crete

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Ancient coins of Crete showing the palm tree, as they are found to this day in CRETE! For all those that say that there are no palm trees in Greece :)

Text of Ancient Coins of Crete

  • 457

    [Svoronos, Numismatique de la Crete ancienne, 1890. Wroth, Cretan Coins in Num. Chron.1884, pp. 1-58. Wroth, Brit. Mus. Cat., Crete, &c., 1886.]

    The oldest coins of Crete, so far as they have been identified, cannot be assigned to an earlierperiod than circ. B.C. 500 (cf., however, A. Evans on Minoan weights and currency in CorollaNum., p. 336 f.), while the most important period of coinage is from circ. B.C. 400 to 300. Theautonomous issues cease about B.C. 67 with the conquest of Crete by Q. Caecilius Metellus.Imperial coins were struck at some of the principal cities of the island, and there was also anissue of money for the Province of Crete generally.

    The usual standard is the Aeginetic, the chief denominations being the stater or didrachm anddrachm. After the age of Alexander the Attic standard gradually replaces the Aeginetic. It isprobable that Alexan- drine coins circulated in Crete, though only a few of the mint-symbolshave been satisfactorily made out. About B.C. 200 many of the cities (see under Cnossus)struck imitations of the Athenian tetradrachm with their own names and symbols.

    The Cretan cities furnish many remarkable examples of fine coin- engraving, notably Cnossus,Cydonia, Gortyna, Phaestus, and Sybrita, and two engravers, Neuantos and Pythodoros, recordtheir signatures on the money of Cydonia, Aptera, and Polyrhenium. R. S. Poole (N. C., 1864, p.240; cf. Gardner, Types, p. 161) has called attention to the frequent portrayal of animal andvegetable subjects in Cretan coin-art and its fondness for perspective and foreshortening.Everywhere, however, side by side with these fine coins, there exist unskilful copies and even themost barbarous reproductionssee, for example, the various copies of the fine Gortyniandidrachm representing Europa in the tree (B. M. C., Crete, Pl. IX. 5-10). Any large collection ofCretan coins has therefore a somewhat bizarre appearance, and the crudities of style and fabricare emphasized by the common practice of the Cretan mint-masters of employing the coins ofother placesCyrene, Argos, Euboea, & flans on which to restrike their own designs. Suchrestriking, however, often offers to the numismatist a useful clue to the chronologicalarrangement of the coins.

    The types are of great interest, especially when they embody such distinctively Cretan myths andpersons as those of Minos, the Minotaur, and the Labyrinth at Cnossus; Europa at Gortyna;Herakles, Velchanos, and Talos at Phaestus; and the local heroes of Aptera and Cydonia. Theprincipal gods represented are Zeus (cf. N. C., 1893, p. 237) and Artemis, the latter often in thelocal forms of Diktynna and Britomartis. Apollo, too, is of frequent occurrence, sometimesapparently in the character of a hunters god, the patron of those who pursued the wild goat ofthe island. Demeter, Hermes, Dionysos, &c., are also found.

    Allaria issued drachms (74 grs.) of third or second century B.C. Obv. Head of Athena. Rev. (sometimes retrograde), Herakles standing resting on club.


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  • 458Anopolis (Anopolis), also called Aradn (Steph. Byz.; Svoronos, p. 5).

    After circ. B.C. 250.Young male head (rude style). and palm-branch.

    .9, &c.Horn of goat; in field,

    palm-branch. ; in field, palm-branch(Hunter Cat., II., p. 168).

    .55 No type. i.e. . No type.


    Apollonia, near Cnossus (?) (Svoronos, p. 7; Eph. Arch., 1889, p. 195).

    Third century B.C.Head of Apollo. Stern of vessel with

    aplustre [B. M.]. .5

    Id. [] Aplustre and palm-branch. .6

    Aptera, on the north coast, near Cydonia.

    M'berg SNG B ANS

    Circ. B.C. 400-300. (or )

    Head of the Artemis of Apterawith ornamented stephane;on some speci- mens, artistsname .

    (sometimes- ) Armed warriorstanding with r. hand raised tosalute a sacred tree

    AR Stater.Id. Bow.

    AR Dr.Id. Id.


    The hero called is perhaps the oekist ( ) Apteros or Pteras (Paus. x. 5.9 and 10; B. M. C., p. xxx). The artist, Pythodoros, also signs coins of Polyrhenium.

    Circ. B.C. 250-67.Head of Apollo. Warrior standing

    fac- ing [Svor., p. 20, No. 39]AR Stater.

    Head of the Artemis of Aptera. Warrior advancing.AR Dr.

    Id. Apollo seated; lyre be- hind.AR Dr.

    Head of Zeus. Hermes standingAR Dr.

    The bronze coins have on obv. Head of Artemis; rev., Torch; Three torches crossed; Torch and

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  • arrow-head; Bee; Lyre; Dove; Bearded term; (i. e. Aptera); Warrior standing facing (with obv.Head of Apollo), &c.

    Arcadia, an inland town between Cnossus and Gortyna.

    Circ. B.C. 300.Head of Zeus Ammon. Athena standing,

    armed.AR Drachm.

    Id. within wreath. .5-.4

    459Circ. B.C. 200.

    Head of Zeus. Athena standing,armed; laurel-wreath[Bodleian Libr., Eph. Arch.,1889, Pl. II. 9].

    AR Tetradr. 231 grs.


    Arsino, apparently near Lyttus (see Svoronos, p. 29, on Steph. Byz.).

    Third century B.C., or later.Head of Athena. Two dolphins.


    (On the attribution to the Cretan Arsino see Svoronos in Journ. Int., 1904, p. 397 f.) Cf.Methana (p. 442).


    Axus, to the north of Mount Ida and south-east of Eleutherna.

    M'berg WW SNG B ANS

    Fourth century B.C.Head of Apollo (usually of rude

    style).NIA (i.e. with di-

    gamma) Tripod [Svor., p. 36f.], also with I[Ephem. Arch., 1898, p. 265]and without inscr.AR Stater, Drachm, Drachm.

    Also with C.Head of Apollo. F Tripod.

    AR Didrachm, Drachm, Obol.

    Circ. B.C. 300-67.Head of Zeus. C Tripod.

    .75 and smaller.Head of Artemis. C Fulmen.


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  • Head of Zeus. F Tripod; above, fulmen and.

    AR DrachmId. C Tripod; above, fulmen.

    .5Id. Tripod.

    .75Id. Fulmen.

    .75 and smaller.

    ImperialTiberius to Caligula. Inscr., () () (); rev. Head of the Senate, bearded and veiled, AR 118 grs. (Paris); and , () Heads of Caligula and Germanicus, AR 33 grs. (Hirsch, Auctions-Cat.,xiii. 2912). Cf. Cydonia, p. 464.

    Biannos or Biennos (Viano), in the southern part of Crete between Priansus and Hierapytna.

    Third century B.C. (?).Female head (Artemis ?) N Rose [B. M.].

    .55Id. in dotted circle [Svor., p.

    43]. .45


    460Ceraea, near Polyrhenium (Svor., p. 45; cf. N. C., 1902, p. 339).

    Third and Second century B.C.Head of Artemis with quiver. Arrow-head and

    spear- head within wreath.AR Drachm.

    Head of Artemis. Arrow-head and spear-head[B. M.].

    .6Head of Apollo. Similar.


    Chersonesus or Cherronesus (Chersoneso), on the north coast near Lyttus, had a temple ofBritomartis (Strabo x. p. 479).

    Circ. B.C. 370-300.Head of Britomartis, laur. Apollo, naked,

    seated on omphalos holdinglyre; in field, thymiaterion.

    AR StaterHead of Britomartis. (or )

    Hera- kles striking withuplifted club.AR Stater usually of rude style

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  • (copied from stater ofStymphalus, p. 454 supra).

    Circ. B.C. 300-220.Head of Athena. ... Eagle [Ephem. Arch.,

    1889, p. 199].AR Drachm.

    Id. Eagle. .45

    Id. (or ) Prow. .7-.45

    Eagle. .65

    Other types, Head of Zeus; Arrow-head (inscr., ).M'berg ANS

    Cnossus, in the northern part of the island near Lyttus. Its types chiefly relate to Minos and theMinotaur, and to Zeus and Hera, whose marriage was commemorated at Cnossus by a festival ofthe .

    M'berg WW SNG B ANS

    Circ. B.C. 500-400.Minotaur running, holding stone

    in each band.[Babelon, Trait, pt. 2, 1. No.1968.]

    Labyrinth of cruciform maeanderpat- tern; in centre, star; ateach corner, deep squaredepression.

    AR Stater.Id. with inscr. . Similar [N. C., 1896, p. 90]

    AR Stater.Minotaur running. Star in inc. sq., within

    ornamental frame [Babelon,Trait, No. 1972].

    AR Triobol.Minotaur running, inscription- S(N).

    Square labyrinth of maeanderpattern (Ephem. Arch., 1889,p. 199, No. 13)

    AR Stater.Minotaur running, holding

    stones.Beardless bead (Theseus ?)

    within square frame ofmaeander pattern. (thelabyrinth).

    AR Stater.Id. Square labyrinth of maeander

    pattern.AR Stater.

    Id. Star within ornamental frameAR Dr., Dr., Obol.

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  • 461Circ. B.C. 400-350.

    Female head (Ariadne ?) inmaeander frame.

    Zeus seated, holdingphiale and sceptre [Svor., Pl.IV. 33].

    AR Stater. Head of Demeter or

    Perse- phone in maeanderframe.

    Minos seated on throne,hold- ing sceptre [Berlin.Svor., Pl. IV. 34].

    AR Stater.Head of Demeter or Persephone. Zeus seated, holding

    phiale and sceptre; whole inmaeander pat- tern.

    AR Stater.Id. Labyrinth of maeander pattern

    formed like the swastika; incentre, star. (Also withlabyrinth of square form,sometimes inscribed ).

    AR Stater.Id. (or ) Bull's

    head in maeander frame.AR Stater.

    Small bronze usually with a head (Demeter, Zeus, &c.) on each side. Some of the AR have acurious countermark (pomegranate (?) within circle of dots), found also on the coins of severalother Cretan cities (cf. Svoronos in Bull. corr. hell., xii. p. 410, explaining it as a lebes; see alsoTh. Reinach, L'hist. par les monn., p. 27 note).