The coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium:

The other Illyrian coinages

28 March 2021

Contents of this page


The previous chapters deal with the coinage of the best known and most productive city states of Illyria, Apollonia and Dyrrhachium. The title of my home page doesn't cover the coins produced by the surrounding Illyrian territories for I have not studied them thoroughly. However, I put here a short orientation.

Ceka's book covers only those Illyrian areas, which are now in Albania; and there is no recent manual covering the whole of this interesting field.

Coin production in some of the other Illyrian tribes (prior to their final integration in the Roman empire in the second half of the 1st c BC) was occasional or short-lived, for local use, and usually in bronze. As elsewhere in the vicinity, the Greek influence was predominant: some places were or became Greek colonies, or adapted the Greek polis-type autonomous organization governed by the community (KOINON) through yearly elected magistrates. The coin legends are always in Greek, displaying the ethnic in the genitive plural on the reverse (the flatter side of the coin). Close to the two major places, Apollonia and Dyrrhachium, the coins display similar devices as the bronze coins of these cities: Zeus, Heracles, bow-club-quiver, thunderbolt around Dyrrhachium; Apollo and Artemis around Apollonia. Further to the South, the coins showed Epirote symbols. In the North, in some islands close to the mouth of the Neretva river, and in bay ports or inland on navigable river shores, a galley is characteristic on the reverse; pointing at the importance of these vessels in the everyday life: trade and/or piracy.

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Coin producing tribes

The list below shows the different coin-producing places by their Latin name as they are best known in the numismatic literature starting with the islands in the North, then in places on riversides, sea ports, and inland, further to the South. The details show the ethnic first, as it appears on the coins, then the name of the place in Greek, followed by additional information about the main types of the coins, closing with the whereabouts of the place.

ΙΣΣΙΩΝ. ΙΣΣΑ island. Head of Ahena/goat, amphora/grapes, male head/kantharos. Vis in Croatia.
Corcyra Nigra
ΚΟΡΚΥΡΕΙΩΝ. KOPKYPA MEΛAINA island. Korčula in Croatia.
ΦΑΡΟΣ island. Zeus/goat, Persephone/goat, Dionysos/grapes, male head/kantharos. Faros in Croatia.
ΔΑΟΡΣΩΝ. Along the Neretva river. Probable capital was near Oṡanjiċi in Bosnia.

ΣΚΟΔΡΙΝΩΝ. ΣΚΟΔΡΑ on the lake Scodra, connected to the sea by river Drin. Zeus/ship. Shkodra in Albania.
ΛΥΣΣΩΝ. ΛΥΣΣΑ sea port. Goat/thunderbolt, young male head with causia/ship, Illyrian helmet, Artemis/thunderbolt. Lhezan in Albania.
ΔYP on silver coins, ΔYPPAXINΩΝ on bronzes. ΔΥPPAXION sea port (Durazzo in Venetian times). Durrës in Albania.
ΑΠΟΛ on silver coins, ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΑΤΑΝ on bronzes. ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΑ, ruins close to the sea at the river Aous in Albania.
ΟΡΙΚΩΝ. ΟΡΙΚΟΣ, Greek founded sea port. Apolloniate bronze coin types like Apollo/obelisk or eagle, Athena/thunderbolt, Zeus/eagle on thunderbolt. In Vlore bay in Albania.
ΑΜΑΝΤΙΩΝ. AMANTIA. Dyrrhachian type coins like Zeus/Eirene-thunderbolt, busts of Zeus and Dione/serpent, heads of the Dioscuri/eight-pointed star, Artemis/torch. Fought on side of Genthius. In Albania.
ΒΥΛΛΙΩΝ. ΒΥΛΙΣ. Apolloniate devices: Zeus/nymph, cornucopia with serpent, fire. In Albania.
ΛΑΒΕΑΤΩΝ. On the lake Scutari.
ΟΛΥΜΒΑΤΑΝ. Apolloniate devices like Zeus/thunderbolt, Corinthian helmet/serpent round stick, Apollo/obelisk in laurel wreath.
ΗΡΑΚΛΕ[...]. ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΑ. Head of young Heracles in lion skin/bow and club.

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Illyrian kings

Some Illyrian warlords could bring wider areas under control as Illyrian kingdom and minted coins (sometimes continuing the preceding types) with their name, with or without the title 'king' added. From the ancient sources it is not clear what area they ruled; the coin types bearing these names in comparison with excavation material may say more about this. The title was probably inheritable, but the genealogy is obscure, partly because of name repetitions. The name and the title on the coins are spelt in Greek, in genitive singular.

ΜΟΝΟΥΝΙΟΥ. Occupied Dyrrhachium and minted cow/calf-double stellate pattern staters with boar's jaw; around 280-270 BC, see in the Cow/calf type staters chapter.
ΓΕΝΘΙΟΥ. Obv. Male head wearing the Mercurius-type helmet. Rev. naval ship. His Illyrian kingdom included Scodra and Rhizon. He was defeated by the Romans in the Third Illyrian War in 168/167 BC; his territories became Roman protectorates.
His coins minted in Rhizon show his bare head, the rev. Artemis holding torch, and inscription ΒΑΛΛΕΙΟΥ. His later ones from Rhizon and later ones minted in Pharos show him as king (ΒΑΣΙΛΗΟΥ ΒΑΛΛΙΟΥΟΥ).
ΜΥΘΙΛΟΥ ορ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟΣ ΜΥΘΙΛΟΥ. Dyrrhachian style coins with Heracles/club and quiver.

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Literature references

The the most recent publications received from the authors or other friends working in this field are listed below. These provide you with lots of information on geography, ancient history sources, archaeology, numismatics, and coin pictures. There are several overlaps in the contents of these articles. The list is arranged in the alphabetical order of the authors. The formal references are extended with some technical comments in italics. Ceka's monographs and the Osijek museum collection are reviewed in the Further reading chapter.

  1. Bonačiċ Mandinić, M. Greek coins displayed in the Archaeological Museum Split. Split, 2004
  2. Dragičeviċ, I. Daorsi coins and a contribution to the understanding of the circulation of coinage in Daorsi territory. Vjesnik za Arheologiju i Historiju Dalmatinsku. 109 (2016) 107-128
  3. Ilkiċ, M. Adriatic Corcyra coin from the Liburnian hillfort Budim near Posedarje. Vjesnik za Arheologiju i Historiju Dalmatinsku. 109 (2016) 99-105
  4. Jelić Radoniċ, J, Katiċ, M. Faros - osnivanje antičkog grada I. [Pharos - the foundation of the ancient city 1.]. Kniževni Krug Split. Filozofski Fakultet Sveučilista u Splitu. Split, 2015. In Croatian, with extensive summary in English and rich coin catalogue with colour photos.
  5. Jeliċ Radoniċ, J, Göricke-Lukiċ, H, Mirnik, i. Faros. Grčki, grčko-ilirski i rimski novac. [Pharos. Greek, Greek/Illyrian, and Roman coins]. Kniževni Krug Split. Filozofski Fakultet Sveučilista u Splitu. Split, 2017. In Croatian, with essential English translation. Covers locally produced and imported ancient coins with colour photos.
  6. Paškvan, S. Prijedlog za novu kronologiju kovanja Ballaiosevih emisija hvarskog (Pharos) i risanskog (Rhizon) tipa. [Suggestion for a new chronology of the coinage of Ballaios issues of Hvar (Pharos) and Risan (Rhizon) types]. Proceedings of the 1st International Numismatical Congress in Croatia, 12-15.10.1995. Opatija, 1996
  7. Šašel Kos, M. The Illyrian king Ballaeus - some historical aspects. In: Épire, Illyrie, Macédonie... Mélanges offerts au Professeur Pierre Cabanes. Centre de Recherches sur les Civilisations Antiques (CRCA). Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal. Clermont-Ferrand (France), 2007
  8. Ujes, D. Novac "kralja" Balajosa i risanske kovnice iz Narodnog muzeja u Beogradu. Numizmatičar 16 (1993) 5-35
  9. Ujes, D. Monete di Ballaios dall'Ermitage di San Pieterburgo. Rivista italiana di numismatica e scienze affini 17 (1996) 37-41

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