The coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium:

The cow-calf type staters

25 February 2017

Contents of this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Details to observe
  3. Examples

1. Introduction

The stater is a two-drachma (didrachma) silver coin denomination. The Illyrian staters belong to the classical Greek coinage of the early Hellenistic era with beautiful devices in high relief. They are similar and are contemporary with their Corcyrean prototypes (or at least this is a terminus post quem their production started); when their original reverse consisting of two separate oblong stellate patterns had become a single device within a square. The weight standard was also similar, between 10 - 11 g. For a while the Illyrian king Monounios ruled in Dyrrhachium and produced similar staters showing his name.

Several pieces are published in museum collections and auction catalogues; but we know only the Kreshpan hoard, which contains large numbers of Corcyrean staters and halves, Illyrian cow/calf type staters, including those with the name of Monounios, and Heracles/Pegasus type Dyrrhachian drachms (quarter staters?). This hoard doesn't contain Illyrian cow/calf type drachms, therefore - according to my opinion - it was concealed before Apollonia and Dyrrhachium came under Roman protectorate status in 229 BC.

Albana Meta's book on the Dyrrhachian silver coins (see in the Further reading page) uses a rather complicated system for the classification of the coin types, which is difficult for quick coin identification and referencing: One must find the relevant type first, then the obverse-reverse die number combination, plus the plate number where that combination can be found. I show these only in cases when I am referring to a particular piece in the book.

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2. Details to observe

There is no border on the obverse; the main device is the cow with suckling calf. Small symbols or monograms may appear on the obverse. The main device of the reverse is the double stellate pattern within single or double sided square, surrounded by line border.

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3. Examples

a. Dyrrhachium

Dyrstater 1

1. Obv. Cow to right. Rev. Club pointing to L. Rev. Vertical, teardrop shaped rays. D-Y-R anticlockwise, starting in the upper segment. 10.93 g, 21.6 mm. BMC 6, Maier 2.

Dyrstater 2

2. Obv. Cow to L. Rev. Club pointing to left. Vertical, teardrop shaped rays. DY-R outward-anticlockwise; starting from the R segment. 10.24 g, 21.7 mm. Maier 10?

Dyrstater 3

3. Obv. Cow to right, monogram above. Rev. Club pointing to R. Vertical, teardrop shaped rays. D-Y-R anticlockwise, starting in the R segment. 10.93 g, 20.4 mm. BMC 28.


b. Apollonia

Apolloniate staters have a similar design but the legend is different, and there is no club on their reverse.

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