Coinage of the two Greek-Illyrian city states
Apollonia and Dyrrhachium
By Gyula Petrányi
General revision: 08 February 2013
The coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium is a less known chapter in ancient numismatics. Founded by Corcyra, these city states on the east coast of the Adriatic produced parallel series of similar coins during the first three centuries B.C. Except from the Pegasus-type Corinthian pieces the characteristic coins of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium show devices originating from Corcyra: the cow with suckling calf on the obverse and a symmetrical geometrical pattern on the reverse, beginning with the staters. The longer, better known drachm series was minted from the end of the 3rd c B.C. until the mid-1st c. under Roman protectorate. The coin above is a typical silver drachm from Apollonia around 64 B.C. Various and town-specific bronze coins were also produced. A large number of cow-calf type drachms from the last phase of their production is found in the North-East Balkan area causing much speculation about their role in these territories.
Following the drachm series and now under direct Roman rule only Apollonia continued minting silver pieces in the weight of the Roman denarius with head of Apollo on the obverse and three dancing nymphs on the reverse for a few decades in the second half of the first c. B.C. and much later Roman provincial bronze issues from time to time.
Many aspects of the Illyirian coinage in the following pages are based on my observations; some has not been published elsewhere. Short explanations help understand numismatic terms for the occasional visitor.