Are they really "of the Thasians"?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Mar 9, 2021.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    In the late Hellenic period the island of Thasos, south of Thrace, started to produce tetradrachms in the name of the Thasians, claiming that Herakles is their saviour.
    When exactly these tetradrachms were being minted is still a matter of debate, but experts like Ilya Prokopov argue based on recent hoard evidence that it began ca. 168 BC, with the conquest of Macedonia by Rome during the Third Macedonian War.


    There is little known what the end date for the minting of these Thasos tetradrachms are, the hoard evidence is fragmentary. However, what was found is that the Thasos tetradrachms varied greatly in style and using hoard evidence it was found that Thasos tetradrachms were minted by various authorities outside of Thasos on the mainland. Some were for example minted by Thracian tribes on the Thracian mainland to support their military activities against the Roman invaders.

    An example of these beautiful original Thasian tetradrachms (courtesy of Nomos AG):

    However, based on hoard evidence and stylistic derivations from the original Thasos tetradrachms, Roman moneyers may have taken over the minting of Thasos tetradrachms in Thasos ca. 148 BC after previously allowing the Thasians to mint their own coins as agreed in the initial administrative policies. In tightening the control of the Thasians, the Romans turned out slightly cruder coins than the originals while retaining the original design, not having the same pride in ownership as their predecessors and needing to produce large quantities of coinage quickly. It was therefore not really a coin in the name "of the Thasians" anymore.
    It is not that unusual for the Romans to strike coins that didn't clearly indicate its authority. When the Romans ruled over Syria in the beginning, they produced coins in the name of the Seleukid king Philip I Philadelphos, with different style as the original and with only a small monogram indicating the issuing authority.

    My new coin struck as a late imitative Roman tetradrachm:
    Islands off Thrace, Thasos. AR Tetradrachm. “Imitative series”, circa 90-75 B.C.
    Obverse: Wreathed head of young Dionysos right
    Reverse: ΘΑΣΙΩΝ ΗΡΑΚΛΕΟΥΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ. Herakles standing facing, head left, holding club, lion skin draped over left arm; monogram to inner left.
    Reference: Prokopov, Silberprägung, Group XII, 739 var.; Le Rider, Thasiennes 52; HGC 6, 359.
    16.7g; 32mm

    Roman administrators in Macedonia may have also minted Thasos-type tetradrachms beginning ca. 120 BC, to support Rome's war effort, bribing Thracian rulers and paying Thracian mercenaries.
    Probably ca. 75 BC these Roman imitations stopped being minted with a possible scenario that Rome began actively replacing these with its own denarii. Thracian tribes still struck these Thasos tetradrachm however, but in much more distinctive style compared to the Romans, see an example here.

    In auctions all Thasian tetradrachms are often just labeled as an original Thasian tetradrachm, even when the Romans were the producing authority of these coins. Only when the style is so off they are sold as Celtic imitations. Since the original Thasian tetradrachms were only minted for ca. 20 years, and the Roman imitations for ca. 73 years, it is not surprising if many people here on the forum actually own the Roman imitation rather than the original. The style is sometimes difficult to separate, especially in the beginning of these new Roman series. For my coin the style difference is rather obvious.

    Please share your coins of Thasos (and it's imitations)!
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Good write up, thanks Pavlos.
    No Thasos coin here, but you mention Seleukid King Philip I under Roman rule,
    here's one:

    P1190164 best.JPG
  4. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Bill Daehn is one of the members of my coin club, and one of the world leaders on these. From the fragments I remember, the highest quality coins are Thasan, then when they got a mine on the mainland they struck coins "of the Thasians" also. Later, the Macedonians took over the mine and Thasos. In the meantime, since Thasos struck so many of these, there were tons of celtic imitations of various quality. I think bill said once the vast majority of these out there are celtic imitations. Only the best style coins are from Thasos proper. Bill claims he can tell the difference between Thasan, Thasans on the mainland, and celtic imitations. @Ryan McVay , anything I am missing from Bill's talks? (Bill LOVES to talk about Thasos coinage :)).
  5. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter


    Anyone remember?
    AR Trihemiobol
    OBVERSE: Satyr running left in three-quarter view, holding kylix
    REVERSE: ΘΑΣ − ΙΩΝ Amphora
    Struck at Thasos, 411-350BC
    0.69g, 12 mm
    SNGCop 1030
    Ex: @Bing
  6. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    An imitative done by the Romans of another cultures coins??? COOL!!!:cigar:Great imitative & write up!!! That example from Nomos is no joke:artist:
    My favorite coin from Thasos is this little cutie I bought in celebration of the twins my wife was pregnant with! The boys actually arrived the night this coin arrived:woot:
    THRACIAN ISLANDS. Thasos. Ca. 463-411 BC. AR 1/16 stater or obol (0.49 gm). VF. Two dolphins swimming in opposite directions; pellets around / Quadripartite incuse square. Le Rider, Thasiennes 9. SNG Copenhagen 1020-1.

    And I think I might have a coin or two from around this time and place from their neighbors to the west:
    ThessalianLeague, Thessaly,Greece, c. 170 B.C. GB84862. Bronze chalkous, Warren, "Two Notes," NC 1961, pl. I, 11; BCD Thessaly II 24.2; HGC 4 236; Rogers 4 var., VF, dark green patina, cleaning scratches, earthen deposits, Demetrias(?) mint, weight 2.535g, maximum diameter 14.7mm, c. 170 B.C.; obverse Macedonian shield with star in central boss; reverse kestrosphendone (dart sling) with dart inside, ΘEΣΣA/ΛΩN divided in two lines, the first above, ending below; ex John Jencek;
    The object on the reverse was long considered somewhat mysterious. Roger identified it as a lyre. Robinson suggested a diadem or more probably a sling. Warren argued it is a stylized depiction of a dart sling, or Kestrosphendone, a weapon first introduced during the Third Macedonian War between Rome and Perseus of Macedon. Warren suggests this type was struck at Demetrias, under orders from Perseus, to commemorate the success of the weapon.
  7. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    A nice post @Pavlos, here's my Roman imitation:
    Thasos Tetradrachm.jpg Islands off Thrace, Thasos, circa 90-75 BC AR Tetradrachm (33mm, 16.32 g, 1h), "Imitative" series
    Obv: Head of young Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath
    Rev: Herakles standing facing, head left, holding club in right hand, lion skin draped over left arm; monogram to inner left
    Ref: Le Rider, Thasiennes 52
  8. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    The grammar of the reverse inscription is interesting. Θασίων is the genitive plural ("of the Thasians"). When in isolation on a Greek coin, it would be taken as the city (island) ethnic, interpreted something like "[coin] of the Thasians'. Here, however, Θασίων is not in isolation but follows Ηρακλέους σωτηρος, both words in the genitive singular ("of Herakles the protector"). The overall inscription then could be understood as "of Herakles the protector of the Thasians'". I can't comment on how this parsing might play into the broader theme of the op but it caught my attention as I read the post. Great topic and coins!
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
  9. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up on another islands coinage!

    thasos2.jpg Thrace, Islands off. Thasos. 200-1 BC. Æ 20mm. Diademed & draped bust of Artemis right, bow & quiver over shoulder / QASIWN, nude Herakles standing right, drawing bow about to shoot an arrow, lionskin around neck.
  10. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    This one is waving at us:

    Wavy flan...

    Thrace Thasos
    146-50 BCE
    Roman provincial or Military mint
    AR Tet
    Herakles Club Lion skin
  11. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Thasos 2.png
    AR Stater
    OBVERSE: Naked ithyphallic satyr carrying off a nymph who raises her arm in protest
    REVERSE: Quadripartite incluse Square
    Struck at Thasos, 525-463 BC
    8.69g, 21mm
    SNGCop 1008
    AR Trihemiobol
    OBVERSE: Satyr running left, holding kylix
    REVERSE: ΘΑΣ − ΙΩΝ Amphora Struck at Thasos, 411-350BC
    0,7 g, 12 mm;
    SNGCop 1030
  12. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Fine style:
    ISLANDS off THRACE, Thasos. Circa 148-90/80 BC. AR Tetradrachm (15.8 gm, 11h, 31mm). Obv: Wreathed head of young Dionysos right. Rev: Herakles standing facing, head left, holding club, lion skin draped over left arm; monogram to inner left. SNG Cop. 1040; LeRider Thasos 51.
  13. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Thanks all for your comments and nice coins!

    Very interesting, would love to speak to Bill about the Thasian coins to improve my knowledge as well. I think my tetradrachm is minted by Romans on the mainland.

    Very cool that the obol arrived at the same day your twin came into this world. Special coin.

    I know it is indeed of Herakles the saviour of the Thasians, but the principle is the same. If the coin is minted by the Romans, is it really still valid that it is of Herakles the saviour of the Thasians?
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
  14. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting write-up! I have been looking for (and unsuccessfully bidding on) a Thasian tetradrachm, and I have wondered about the imitations frequently offered on the market. That clarifies some of my questions.

    My currently only Thasian coin is an earlier satyr trihemiobol:
    Griechen – Thrakische Inseln, Thasos, Trihemiobol..png
    Islands off Thrace, Thasos, AR trihemiobol, c. 411-350 BC. Obv: Satyr kneeling l., holding kylix. Rev: ΘAΣ-IΩN; amphora. 12mm, 0.87g. Ref: SNG Copenhagen 103.
  15. Ignoramus Maximus

    Ignoramus Maximus Nomen non est omen.

    Thanks for the write-up. I knew of the Celtic imitations, not that the Romans took over minting.

    Judging from its fine style, mine's definitely an original Thasian, and not some Celtic knock-off::D bsx.jpg
    Eastern Europe, lower Danube.
    1st cent. BC. Tetradrachm imitating Thasos.
    16,25 gr. (Kostial 971-4)
  16. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Sometimes it's difficult to determine who made these coins o_O. I got this coin slabbed before putting it up for auction & NGC didn't commit to it's origin.

    IMG_5821.JPG IMG_5824.JPG
  17. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    DeCallatay, F.,” A Tetradrachm with the legend ΘΡΑΚΩΝ overstruck on an Athenian stephanephoros tetradrachm of ΑΠΕΛΛΙΚΩΝ−ΓΟΡΓΙΑΣ (88/7 BC) and its consequences for the Thasian type coinage”. HPAKΛEOYΣ ΣΩTHPOΣ ΘAΣIΩN. Studia in honorem Iliae Prokopov sexagenario ab amicis et discipulis dedicata. 2012

    On Jstor and

    A must read for all those interested in the chronology of NewStyles and Thasian types. Plus an Aesillas link with Thasian with Sura "monogram", whilst the "Aesillas" Thasian monogram type is not tenable. I think Reid Goldsborough write up on Thasians is still available.
    cmezner likes this.
  18. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    I really like those Celtic imitations, they have such a different, alien-like style. I hope to get one, and also an original Thasian one, then I have the main 3 variaties.

    Check out this coin, it is a coin of Thasos struck by the Romans, but it is overstruck on a Athenian (?) stephanephoros.


    I indeed read about the "Aesillas" monogram on these issues. Really interesting how many varieties and different authorities there were for this issue, it really became a dominant issue for northern Greece/Thrace so late in the Hellenistic period. The issue was struck only 20 years by the Thasians themselves, and a century later they are still being struck by many except the Thasians themselves.
    Curtisimo, Andres2, PeteB and 6 others like this.
  19. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I.M. Celtic Te,.jpg Celtic Tet. late 2nd - 1st cen, Thasos (2).png
    Celtic Imitation of a Thasos Tetradrachm, AR 16.35 gm, 35 mm, 12 h.

    Which of the two coins would win an ugly contest, the top coin posted by I.M. or my coin posted below his :happy:? His Hercules is sporting a longer dong than my Hercules :hilarious:.
  20. Ignoramus Maximus

    Ignoramus Maximus Nomen non est omen.

    Are you suggesting there's something wrong with my coin???:D:D:D.

    (and that thing dangling between his legs: I really want you to be right, but it's probably just a loincloth...)

    ps. I like yours. Some of these 'imitations' really are works of abstract art.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
    NewStyleKing likes this.
  21. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Thasos Ar Tetradrachm168/167-148 BC Obv Head of Dionysos right wearing wreath of Ivy leaves Rv. Herakles standing facing head left holding club. Prokopov Group 1 A3/R14 16.93 grms 33mm Photo by W. Hansen thasos2.jpg Ilya Prokopov does a die study of these coins but I do not know if she divides this coinage into the two basic groups of "civic" and "Roman" As Thasos was in antiquity a major source for silver it is possible that this civic coinage continued as its completion from Macedonia more or less ended. Prokopov does record some coins in his group XII issues with the monograms of Aesillas? No 580 He also records an issue of one Braetius Sura in her Group XVI coinage no 1199 Both these issues appear to have been minted early in the first century BC. It is possible that these issues plus any of the "anonymous" issues related to these coins were struck elsewhere other than Thasos but that really is an open question. It is clear that this coinage penetrated the trans Danubian regions as the coinage was extensively copied. The Roman generally do not like messing around with a good thing so they probably left the minting of these coins to the Thasians. Made an error of gender for Mr Prokopov Ooops The dreaded secondary source Repaired it
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
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