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Arrowhead Money

228, Lot: 412. Estimate $100.
Sold for $180. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

GREEK. Northern Greece. Æ Arrowhead money from Black Sea area. All coins: trefoil and triangular cast ‘arrowheads’ of varying length. VF. LOT SOLD AS IS, NO RETURNS. Five (5) arrowheads in lot.

The Milesian colonies of Olbia, Borysthenes, Istros, Odessos, and Apollonia, founded on the western Black sea coast in the 7th century BC, were once the central points of exchange and trade between the Greeks and local Scythian and Thracian populations. This exchange prompted the introduction of pre-monetary items: the ubiquitous ‘dolphins’ and the scarcer ‘arrowheads’ and ‘wheel-coins’, all cast in copper. These pieces remained in circulation in the west Pontic area for about two centuries, until being finally replaced by struck coinage. Recent publications of finds from South Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania limited the circulation area of these proto-monies to the narrow coastal strip along the western/north-western shores of the Black sea. Some scholars suggested the ‘arrowheads’ were produced there since Apollo, with his bow and arrows, was the main deity who supervised the colonies of Miletus. As a god of archery, Apollo was well known with epithets as Aphetoros (“god of the bow”) and Argurotoxos (“with the silver bow”). For further discussion, cf. H. Bartlett-Wells, 'The Arrow-money of Thrace and South Russia' in: SAN 9/1, 1978, 6-9, 12; SAN 9/2, 24-26, and SAN 12/3, 1981, 53-54); S. Topalov, Formes prémonetaires de moyens d’échange. Les flèches-monnaies couleés d’Apollonie du Pont VII-Ve s.av.n.e., (Sofia 1993); S. Solovyov, ‘Monetary Circulation and the Political History of Archaic Borysthenes’, Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia, 12/1-2, (Leiden, 2006), 63-75. See also D.M. Schaps, The Invention of Coinage and the Monetization of Greece (Ann Arbor, 2005), for a general study on the invention of coinage.