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The silver coinage of Crete, a metrological note online

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by any difference of type. The heavier is represented on my list by
only two examples, which weigh 11*33 and 10*91 grammes respectively, 1
and so give an average of 11*12, the ordinary norm of Cydonia. On
the other hand, seven specimens of the lighter group yield an average
of no more than 9*11 grammes, with a maximum of 9*52 and a
minimum of 8*39. 2 A contemporary drachm, with types similar to
those of the staters, weighs 4*62 grammes. 3 In all probability it is
an abnormally light example of the heavier class, for a parallel series
on which, however, the ivy-wreathed head is replaced by a head of
Athena, 4 is certainly struck on the debased ' standard. The average
weight of the ten specimens I have noted is only 4*15 grammes, with
a maximum of 4-58 and a minimum of 3*62.

Notwithstanding the obvious difficulty attending such a conclusion,
the facts seem to leave us no option other than to suppose that the
two classes were in circulation simultaneously, having been struck for
different markets. The difficulty is perhaps less serious than might
at first sight appear. The Greek trader was accustomed to handle
a miscellaneous currency, and his sense of weight must have been
highly developed. He was not likely to confuse two sets of staters
whose norms were separated by an interval of not less than a gramme
and a half, even if he received no assistance from the types. And we
have seen that, in the case of those with the archer Kydon, the

1 One of them is in Paris ; for the other see Hunter Catalogue, vol. ii.
PI. XLI. 8.

2 Svoronos, op. cit. } p. 104, Nos. 36 f.

3 Ibid,, No. 38.

4 Ibid., Nos. 39 ff.


presence or absence of the dog provided him, during one period at least,
with a very obvious guide. With the drachms the risk of confusion was
naturally greater. Doubtless that is why, in the case of the later
coins with the hound suckling an infant, a different obverse type was
employed. We shall have occasion to refer to this question at a
subsequent stage. Meanwhile it may be pointed out that the ' normal 1
standard seems to have survived the disappearance of the ' debased'
one. There is a set of Cydonian hemidrachms, 1 having on the obverse
a head of Apollo and on the reverse the hound suckling an infant,
which are proved by their style as well as by the form of the
inscription (KYAnNIATAN)tobe later than the pieces of which we
have been speaking. The average of the six known specimens of the
set is %-55 grammes, which is virtually the norm for this denomina-
tion on the ordinary Aeginetic standard as used in Crete. 2

The debased Aeginetic standard is traceable also at Aptera. It is
true that the earliest and best-known staters of that city those with
an armed warrior standing before a sacred tree are struck on the
lighter of the two ordinary Cretan norms. My list of twenty-three
examples brings out an average of 11*03 grammes, with a maximum
of 11*53 and a minimum of 9*61. But there is a much rarer series,
with a head of Apollo on the obverse and a naked warrior on the
reverse, 3 which must be regarded as debased ; the only two specimens
that are known weigh 9*30 and 9*01 grammes respectively. Again,
Allaria appears never to have employed the ordinary standard at all.
Her silver coins are all drachms, and the fourteen recorded specimens
have an average weight of no more than 4*47 grammes, with a maxi-
mum of 4*80 and a minimum of 4*03. This represents an average of
slightly less than 9 grammes for the stater. Ceraia is possibly in
like case, although there the data are inadequate and the evidence
consequently less convincing. She, too, struck nothing but drachms,
and the three examples I have been able to find have weights of 4-90,
4*62, and 3*76 grammes. 4 The view that the debased standard was
intended to meet the needs of a particular market is confirmed by the

1 They are called ' drachms ' in Hist. Num.*, p. 464. But this is clearly a mis-
print. For an illustration see Svoronos, op. cit., PI. X. 2 (p. 107, No. 61).

2 The weight of 11*62 grammes given for Svoronos, op. cit., p. 107, No. 59,
suggests that Aeginetic staters were also minted with the later form of inscription.
But the coin, which is in Paris, has been re-weighed for me by M. Dieudonne,
who informs me that the figure should be 14*62. It, therefore, belongs to the
same set as No. 60, for which see infra, pp. 18 f.

3 Hunter Catalogue, ii. p. 169, No. 6 (PI. XL. 16).

4 If the last of these is in reasonably good condition, it may be a tetrobol. As
it is in Vienna, I have no means of ascertaining the facts.



fact that its use seems to have been confined to a particular geo-
graphical area. At all events, Cydonia and Aptera lay close together
at the north-western extremity of the island. Although we do not
know precisely where Ceraia was, it is generally believed to have been
near Polyrhenium, 1 and if so it cannot have been far from Cydonia
and Aptera. The site of Allaria is wholly doubtful. Bursian, without
giving his reasons, expresses a belief that it was on the Bay of Mira-
bella, at the north-eastern end of the island. Svoronos, who also
favours the east, would rather make Allaria an inland town and
would place it midway between Hierapytna and Minoa. But he
candidly admits that his surmise is prompted solely by the existence
at this spot of a modern village called Messalare, which he suspects
of preserving the old name. 2 In all the circumstances the employment
of the debased standard seems at least as promising a clue. Ought
Allaria not to be searched for in the west rather than in the east ?

Limited Vogue of the Attic Standard : Coins with
Athenian Types.

The great majority of the silver coins of Crete were minted on the
Aeginetic standard. But there remain a certain number, for whose
weight we have still to account. It may be recalled that Head in his
first edition, after emphasizing 'the absence of Cretan coins in the
third century', was disposed to infer that 'the currency of the island
was at this time Alexandrine \ and that he then went on to say that
after the age of Alexander the Attic standard creeps in and replaces
the older Aeginetic \ 3 The drift of his argument was that the first
coins to be minted in Crete on the Attic standard were Alexandrine,
and that the new system of weight, starting from this vantage-ground,
gradually secured a supremacy which in the end became complete.
The pivot of the whole theory was Muller's attribution of tetra-
drachms with the types of Alexander to Ly ttus, Itanus, Aptera,
Cydonia, and Phalasarna, on the strength of the symbols which they
bear. 4 These identifications, however, like so many more of Muller's,
are now generally discredited. In the second edition of the Historia
Numorum they are abandoned sub silentio. At the same time, the
third century is left a good deal less barren of ordinary Cretan coins
than it originally was. But, in spite of the withdrawal of the pivot,

1 Svoronos, op. cit., p. 45.

2 Op. cit., p. 2.

s See supra, p. 3.

4 Num. dAleoc. le Grand, Nos. 900-909.


the Attic standard is still allowed to play too prominent a part. Its
vogue was in reality extremely limited.

That there was a considerable slackening of activity at the Cretan
mints throughout the third century, is more than probable. But
there is no reason for believing that a Macedonian supremacy was
responsible. A sufficient explanation can be found in the general
condition of the island. Foreign intrigue, civic jealousies, and petty
disputes about boundaries combined to produce a state of affairs that
was not far removed from anarchy. 1 Towards the close of the period,
however, there was a lucid interval, which was marked by the issue of
the earliest coins of Attic weight that can be certainly claimed as
Cretan. 2 These were tetradrachms, closely modelled on the Athenian
tetradrachms of the ' new style ' which began to make their appear-
ance soon after 229 b. c. when Athens concluded a foedus aequum
with Rome. The types are identical as well as the standard. The
resemblance indeed is complete, except that the name of Athens and
the crest of the magistrate are replaced by the name of a Cretan town
and, usually at least, its Trapacrr)nov (Plate, Fig. 5). As will be
seen from the following list of the surviving specimens with their
weights, seven cities are known to have participated. They were

Cnossus 16*44.

Cydonia 16-10, 15-97, 15-40, 15-05, 13-68 (in poor condition).

Gortyna 17-13, 16-58, 16-50, 16-47, 16-19, 15-92 (a piece broken
away), 15-42, 14.84, 14-52.

Hierapytna 16-59, 16-50, 16-05, 15-97.

Lappa 17-2.

1 For a summary of the scanty historical notices see Niese, Geschichte der
griech. und makedon. Staaten, ii. pp. 427 ff.

2 Sir Arthur Evans is inclined to attribute to the mint of Cydonia a remarkable
tetradrachm with the types of Lysimachus, also of course of Attic weight, which
he purchased at Rethymno, where it was offered him in company with tetra-
drachms of the group now to be described, including some of Cydonia. There
is an exactly similar piece in the Hunter Collection {Catalogue, i. p. 434, No. 86).
If Sir Arthur's interesting suggestion be accepted the grounds for it do not
seem to me to be quite convincing the Lysimachus tetradrachms must be
contemporary with the tetradrachms that have Athenian types, for one of the
strongest links in the argument is the occurrence, on both, of the magistrate's
name A I O fl N . As the Hunter Cabinet is fortunate enough to possess a good
specimen of each coin I have been able to compare them closely, but have failed
to detect any similarity of fabric such as might have been looked for, had they
had a common origin. I have placed them side by side here (Plate, Figs. 5 and 6).
The bevelled edge of the obverse of Fig. 6 is characteristic of a whole set of
tetradrachms of Lysimachus, but I do not remember observing it on any coins of
Cydonia. Sir Arthur, however, tells me that he has found analogies for the
fabric at various cities of Crete.


Polyrhenium 1670, 1646, 1614, 1603, 15-77.

Priansus 15-80, 15-79, 15-24.

The sudden emergence of this group is remarkable, and one cannot
avoid speculating as to its occasion. Beule x put it about 200 b. c,
acutely connecting it with the political activities of Cephisodorus,
whose tomb Pausanias saw at Athens. Cephisodorus, according to
Pausanias, was ' a popular leader and a most determined opponent of
Philip, son of Demetrius, king of Macedonia \ He ' gained for the
Athenians the alliance of two kings, Attalus the Mysian and Ptolemy
the Egyptian, as well as the alliance of independent peoples, to wit,
the Aetolians and the islanders of Rhodes and Crete. But when the
succours from Egypt, Mysia, and Crete were mostly delayed, and the
Rhodians, whose strength was in ships only, were of little avail against
the Macedonian infantry, Cephisodorus sailed with other Athenians
to Italy and begged the help of the Romans \ 2 From Polybius (xvii.
10) we learn that Cephisodorus and his colleagues went to Rome in
198-197 b. c. This appears to be the only reference in the literary
sources to a friendship between Crete and Athens at a time that
would suit the style of the coins, and Beule's conjecture was accord-
ingly accepted by Poole. 3 Head was more cautious, believing that
the types might have been adopted for commercial rather than for
political reasons. 4 At the same time he acquiesced in Beule's date.

Head's scepticism seems to me fully justified ; even on the state-
ment of Pausanias the formation of the alliance was an emergency
measure, and the Cretans were so half-hearted about it that they did not
furnish the troops they had promised. But I am inclined to go farther
than Head, and to place the issue twenty years earlier. The Athenian
tetradrachms of Crete have all the characteristics of a federal coinage.
Now we are told by Polybius (iv. 53 f.) that about 220 b. c. practically
the whole island was welded into a league under the joint leadership
of Cnossus and Gortyna. Lyttus alone, an ancient colony of Sparta,
declined to be coerced into agreement, with the result that in the end
she was utterly and unexpectedly destroyed. 6 The confederacy was
short-lived, but that it was a reality while it lasted seems to be
indicated by a reference to to koivov tcov Kprjraticou in an inscription
which was found at Magnesia on the Maeander, and which is assigned

1 Monnaies d'Athenes, pp. 90 ff.

2 Pausanias i. 36. 5 f. The translation is Sir James Frazer's.

3 Num. Chron., N. S. \, p. 174.

4 B. M. Guide, p. 98 (vi. B. 30), and H. N. 2 , p. 462. This possibility had also
occurred to Beule (I.e.).

6 "ApSryv Kai napaXoyas avr^pnaaBr] (Polybius, /. C.).


to the last quarter of the third century b. c. 1 It is no doubt hazardous
to argue from the non-existence of any particular coin when a chance
discovery may dispose of the argument to-morrow. Nevertheless one
cannot refrain from observing that Lyttus is conspicuous by its absence
from the list of towns where Athenian tetradrachms were minted.
Nor would it be fair to recall its destruction in or about 220, and to
say that this absence might be cited with equal cogency in support of
BeuleTs conjecture. The town was soon rebuilt. We do not know
the date of its restoration, but its recovery must have been tolerably
rapid. As early as 183 b. c. its citizens stood fourth in the list
of thirty-one Cretan communities whose treaty of alliance with
Eumenes II is recorded in a Gortynian inscription. 2 Only Cnossus,
Gortyna, and Phaestus took precedence. This time it was Cydonia
that stood aloof.

It is true that, as has been already indicated, there is nothing in
the literary sources to suggest an association of Athens with the con-
federacy of 220. But the literary sources are too scanty to make the
objection a serious one. And in any event, as Head has pointed out,
the motive underlying the choice of types may have been purely com-
mercial. By 220 the Athenian coins of the * new style ' had made
good their claim to enter on the heritage of popularity which their
predecessors of the ' old style ' had enjoyed

zv re rols "EWrjcri Kal tois ftappdpoLcn TravTOtyov.
There would thus be nothing surprising in their being taken as a model.
Cnossus, by the way, is represented by Polybius as having been the
moving spirit of the federation. It is a curious coincidence that
Cnossus should also be the city which issued the only coins of native
Cretan types that are of indubitably Attic weight. 3 These are the large
' spread ' tetradrachms having on the obverse the bearded head of
Zeus or Minos and on the reverse a square labyrinth. That they are
cansiderably later than the coins with Athenian types is evident, not
only from their style, but also from the fact that they are sometimes 4
restruck on tetradrachms of Antiochus IX (114-95 b. c), whose
money, by the way, is less likely to have reached Crete in the ordinary
course of trade than through the medium of returning mercenaries.
The weight is well maintained. The average of the twenty-nine
specimens known to me is 16-27 grammes. Only six fall below 16*12

1 O. Kern , Inschriften von Magnesia, p. 36, No. 46, and Dittenberger, Sylloge 2 ,
: , No. 259 {Sylloge*, \\, No. 580).

2 Dittenberger, Sylloge 1 , i, No. 288 (Sylloge 3 , ii, No. 627).

3 See^ however, infra, p. 21, as to Gortyna at a later period.

4 Svoronos, op. cit., p. 78, No. 99 (two examples).


and, of those six, two at least are restruck on Seleucid tetradrachms. 1
In the face of such a record it is impossible to believe that the lighter
pieces many of them certainly older which occur at Cnossus and
elsewhere, are correctly described as being of reduced Attic weight \

Widespread Use of the Rhodian Standard.

How, then, are we to classify them ? To find an answer, we may
turn to Hierapytna, where the system which they represent was
developed more fully than at any other Cretan city. With the
exception of the four Athenian tetradrachms already registered and
a very few older pieces of Aeginetic weight, the whole of the known
coins of this town are struck on the standard that has hitherto been
called * reduced Attic \ The following is a list of the examples I have
noted :

Tetradrachms 15-50, 15-15, 15-10, 15-09, 15-05, 14-90, 14-85,

Didrachms 7-72, 7-68, 7-64, 7-60, 7-58, 7-57, 7-57, 7-54, 7-51,
7-50, 7-50, 7-50, 7-47, 7.45, 7-42, 7-40, 7-40, 7-38, 7-38> 7-37,
7-35, 7-32, 730, 730, 728, 725, 725, 7-25, 7-19, 716 5 7-15,
708, 7-08, 705, 704, 7-02, 6-88, 6-85, 685, 6-85, 6-84, 6-62^ 6-38.

Drachms 414, 371, 3-67, 3-63, 363, 361, 360, 359, 3-50, 340,
3-40, 3-38, 3-35, 3-20.

These coins must belong to one or other of two standards the
Phoenician or the Rhodian (originally the Chian). And the obvious
popularity of the didrachm is a strong argument in favour of the
latter ; Rhodian didrachms are relatively much more common than
Phoenician ones. Besides, the weights are a little too high to be
Phoenician, whereas they are exactly right for Rhodian. Speaking
of the standard when it was first introduced at Rhodes circa 395 b. cL
Head gives 15*55 as the maximum for the tetradrachm, 7-77 for the
didrachm, and 3-88 for the drachm. 2 In the centuries that followed,
there was considerable fluctuation. At one time, indeed, the drachms
struck at Rhodes were so light that in Crete they might have passed
as Aeginetic hemidrachms. 3 But, as we shall see presently, the trans-
planting of the standard took place very early and, that being so, there
was no reason why it should consistently reflect, in the land of i^
adoption, all the variations that special conditions may have pre
duced at home. In point of fact, the Cretan coins of Rhodian weigh);

1 Svoronos, op. cit., pp. 77 f., No. 97 and No. 99.

2 B. M. Cat. Carta, S$c, p. civ.

3 One was actually so restruck at Cnossus : Svoronos, op. cit. 3 p. 88, No. 175.


are, as a rule, well up to the original level. Here and there we shall
meet with small groups that are exceptional. That, however, need
not surprise us.

The conclusion that has been drawn from the list of weights at
Hierapytna is amply supported by more general considerations.
It is true that intercourse with Ptolemaic Egypt must have made the
Phoenician standard familiar enough to the Cretans. But Rhodes
was much nearer to Crete than was Africa, and in the days of her
greatness her traders must have been frequent visitors to the neigh-
bouring island. Nor were the bonds between the two commercial
only. In spite of the obscurity in which the history of Crete during
the Hellenistic period is shrouded, we catch occasional glimpses of
the intervention of Rhodes, now as the influential friend of one city,
now as the declared enemy of others. Thus an inscription, now in
the Museo Archeologico at Venice, 1 records the conclusion of
a defensive and offensive alliance between Rhodes and Hierapytna
towards the end of the third century b. c. Naber, who was the first
to print the document, 2 was inclined to date it circa 220 b. c. Niese 3
and others would put it sixteen or twenty years later. It is a remarkable
fact that Head, arguing on grounds of style, should have attributed to
circa 200 b. c. the earliest Hierapytnian coins that were (as we now
see) struck on the Rhodian standard.

Returning to the Hunter coin of Itanus which was our starting-
point, we find ourselves in a position to identify it as a Rhodian
tetradrachm. Its weight (14.58 grammes) falls within the limits
supplied us by the list from Hierapytna. But the identification
lends a new importance to its date. The style, as has been already
pointed out, is good, being in no way inferior to that of the very
best of the Aeginetic staters with similar types. This latter series is
attributed by M. Babelon to circa 376-360 b. c. 4 The Rhodian
tetradrachm cannot be any later. Mr. Hill and I independently
placed it shortly after 400 b.c, while Mr. E. S. G. Robinson was
disposed to think it might have been struck even before the turn of
the century. In the circumstances absolute accuracy of dating is,
of course, impossible. Nor is it necessary for our present purpose.
The general trend of expert opinion is sufficiently well defined to
warrant the statement that the Rhodian standard was originally
introduced into Crete very soon after it made its first appearance in
the city that gave it its name. No other coin of Itanus of Rhodian

1 Dittenberger, Sylloge 3 , ii, No. 581. 2 Mnemosyne, 1852, p. 79.

3 Geschichte der griech. und makedon. Staaten, \\, p. 431, footnote 27 .

4 Traiti, 2 e partie, iii, pp. 901 f.


weight is known, and we have already made a complete inventory of
the Rhodian issues of Hierapytna. It will be of interest to bring
together now the whole of the evidence for the use of the standard in
other Cretan towns :

Arcadia Of this city, as of Itanus, only a single Rhodian coin
appears to have survived, and that a tetradrachm. It is in the
Bodleian collection, and was first published by Svoronos in his
npocrdfJKai. 1 It weighs 14-99 grammes.

Cnossus The Cnossian tetradrachms of Attic weight were men-
tioned above. They have a head of Zeus or Minos on the
obverse and a square labyrinth on the reverse. Svoronos
records 2 two pieces on which the types are similar but smaller,
and which weigh 13-90 and 12-04 grammes respectively. But
for the fact that it is oxidized, the latter of these might be an
abnormally heavy stater of Aeginetic standard. Its condition,
however, precludes such an explanation. It undoubtedly belongs
to the same system as its companion, and thi^ can hardly be
anything save the Rhodian. It is true that the Rhodian
tetradrachms of Crete generally weigh a good deal more than
13-90 grammes. On the other hand, in Rhodes itself after circa
300 b. c. even 13-90 would be exceptionally heavy for a tetra-
drachm. Another set of coins of Cnossus is more normal.
They have on the obverse a head of Apollo, with the name
TTOAXO^, and on the reverse a circular labyrinth. 3 The seven
specimens which I have noted weigh 14-69, 14-52, 14-50, 14-48,
14-45, 14-32, and 14-30 grammes respectively. The analogy
with Hierapytna is conclusive.

Cydonia At Cydonia it would seem that the Rhodian standard
was employed, simultaneously with the Aeginetic and the
debased Aeginetic, 4 for the coins having an ivy-wreathed head
on the obverse and a hound suckling an infant on the reverse.
A fine specimen, published some years ago, is said to weigh
13-77 grammes. 5 Unless there is a misprint and the correct-
ness of the text is so far confirmed by the size of the piece as
shown in the illustration this can only be a Rhodian tetra-
drachm. It belongs to the fourth century b. c. Considerably
later a series of Rhodian tetradrachms, with a head of Artemis

1 'E<. y Ap K ., 1889, PI. XI. 9.

2 Num. de la Crete ancienue, p. 78, No. 101.

3 Svoronos, op. cit., p. 77, No. 96.

4 See supra, p. 10.

5 Hirsch, Auktions-Katalog , xiii, No. 2943, PI. XXXII.


on the obverse and a full-length figure of the goddess on the
reverse, was struck by the magistrate TT A Z I H N } The weights
in grammes of the 8 known specimens are as follows : 14-91,
14-62, 2 14-59, 14-53, 14-46, 1444, 14-36, 14-25.
Gortyna The first group which calls for notice at Gortyna is
assigned in H. JV. 2 to the third century b. c. On the obverse is
Europa seated in a tree, on a branch of which an eagle is perched ;
on the reverse is a bull with reverted head and the legend
rOPT(YNinN). 3 I have noted the following weights: 6-65,
6-55, 6-37, 6-22, 6-21, 6-20, 539. It is not easy to be clear as to
the system to which these pieces belong. With the exception of
the last, which is obviously subnormal, they are too heavy to be
Aeginetic drachms. At the same time they are too light to be
didrachms of the original Rhodian standard, such as we met
with at Hierapytna. On the other hand, they correspond
exactly to the contemporary didrachms of Rhodes itself, and
it is probably with these that we should class them. Confirma-
tion of the suggestion is provided by the popularity, during the
next period, of a denomination which is clearly the half of the
pieces of which we have been speaking, and which seems to be
the Rhodian drachm. It is represented by two different sets of
coins, both having a head of Zeus upon the obverse and both

2 4

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