Coinage of the two Greek-Illyrian city states
Apollonia and Dyrrhachium
By Gyula Petrányi
Version 22 September 2016
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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 four centuries B.C. Except from the Pegasus-type Corinthian pieces, the characteristic coins of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium show devices adopted 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 drachma 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 drachma 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 arrived in the North-East Balkan area, causing much speculation about their role in these territories.
Following the drachma 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. Much later, Roman provincial bronze issues were produced from time to time.
Many aspects of the Illyrian coinage in the following pages are based on my own observations, published with detailed scientific arguments in the numismatic literature; some coin pictures have not been published elsewhere. Short explanations help understand numismatic terms for the occasional visitor.