DISTRIBUTION OF CELTIC COINS IN BULGARIA

Part 2 –THASOS MODEL

 

Mac Congail

 

 From an economic, political, and artistic perspective, the Celtic coins based on Thasos tetradrachmas are the most significant coinage produced by the local population on the Balkans in the II – I c. BC. In the aftermath of the defeat of Macedonia, the monetary vaccum on the Balkan peninsula was filled by various ‘barbarian’ models based on Hellenistic models (See also Zaravetz, Philip II, Philip III and Strymon/Trident sections). In terms of volume and distribution the most significant of these ‘barbarian’ models was the Celtic imitations (Fig. 2-7) based on the Thasos tetradrachma (Fig. 1). Examples of these Celtic ‘imitations’ have been found in Hungary, Serbia, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and in particularly high numbers on the territory of today’s Republic of Bulgaria.

Fig 1.           Thasos original Tetradrachma (Before 148 BC)

 

 

Fig. 2     Celtic Thasos ‘Imitation’ (End 2nd / beginning of 1st c. BC (Göbl Class IV)

 

Fig. 3     Celtic Thasos ‘Imitation’ (1st c. BC (Göbl Class V)

 

 

 Most remarkable about these coins is their diversity, ranging from ‘imitations’ close to the originals, to images so abstract that the original Hellenistic iconography is barely distinguishable. It is particularly interesting to note that from a chronological perspective this process of abstractionism increases in pace in line with the deteriorating political situation in the Balkan peninsula during the ‘Scordisci wars’ against Rome during the 2nd/1st c. BC. This suggests that this process is not, as many experts have suggested, the result of ‘illiteracy’, but a deliberate rejection by the Celts of classical art models.(1) Such processes are also to be observed on the other Celtic coins from the Balkans during this period.(2)

  

  From the perspective of distribution, Celtic ‘Thasos’ tetradrachmas have been found at the following sites in Bulgaria over the last century:

  1. BELITZA –  (Belitza district, Blagoevgrad district) (Map 2 # 1) (3)
  2. BENKOVSKI – (Stara Zagora district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 2) (4)
  3. BERKOVSKI – (Popova district, Targovischte region) (Map 2 # 3) (5)
  4. BLAGOEVGRAD – (Blagoevgrad district ) (Map 2 # 4) (6)
  5. BOJURITSA – (Dolna Mitropolia district, Pleven region) (Map 2 # 5) (7)
  6. BOLYARINO – (Rakovski district, Plovdiv region) (Map 2 # 6) (8)
  7. BRATYA DASKALOVI (Bratya Daskalovi district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 7) (9)
  8. BRESTOVETZ – (Pleven district, Pleven region) (Map 2 #8) (10)
  9. BURGAS – (Burgas region) (Map 2 # 9) (11)

10. BYALA ZLATINA – (Byala Zlatina district, Vratza region) (Map 2 # 10) (12)

11. CHUREK – (Elin Pelin district, Sofia region Map 2 # 11) (13)

12. DOBROLEVO – (Borovan district, Vratza region) (Map 2 # 12) (14)

13. DOBRICH – (Dobrich region) (Map 2 #13) (15)

14. DOLNO BOTEVO – (Stambolov district, Haskovo region) (Map 2 # 14) (16)

15. GABROVO – (Gabrovo region) (Map 2 # 15) (17)

16. GORNI DABNIK – (Gorni Dabnik district, Pleven region) (Map 2 #16) (18)

17. GORNO POLE – (Madjarovo district, Haskovo region) (Map 2 # 17) (19)

18. GORTALOVО – (Pleven district, Pleven region) (Map 2 # 18) (20)

19. GOTSE DELCHEV – (Gotse Delchev district, Blagoevgrad region (Map 2 # 19) (21)

20. GRADESHNITZA – (Krivodol district, Vratza region) (Map 2 # 20) (22)

21. HASKOVO – (Haskovo district, Haskovo region) (Map 2 # 21) (23)

22. HOTNIZA – (Veliko Tarnovo district, Veliko Tarnovo region) (Map 2 # 22) (24)

23. JAKORUDA – (Jakoruda district, Blagoevgrad region) (Map 2 #23) (25)

24. KOLYO MARINOVO – (Bratya Daskalovi district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 24) (26)

25. KUKLEN – (Kuklen district, Plovdiv region) (Map 2 # 25) (27)

26. KUSTENDIL – (Kustendil district, Kustendil region) (Map 2 # 26) (28)

27. LASKOVETZ – (Laskovetz district, Veliko Tarnovo region) (Map 2 # 27) (29)

28. LEVKA – (Svilengrad district, Haskovo region) (Map 2 # 28) (30)

29. LIPNIK – (Razgrad district, Razgrad region) (Map 2 # 29) (31)

30. LIPNITZA – (Moesia district, Vratza region) (Map 2 #30) (32)

31. MADAN – (Madan district, Smolyan region) (Map 2 # 31) (33)

32. MEDOVO – (Bratya Daskalovi district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 32) (34)

33. MEZEK – (Svilengrad district, Haskovo region) – (Map 2 # 33) (35)

34. MINDYA – (Veliko Tarnovo district, Veliko Tarnovo region) (Map 2 # 34) (36)

35. NEDAN – (Pavlikeni district, Veliko Tarnovo region) (Map 2 # 35) (37)

36. NAIDENOVO – (Bratya Daskalovi district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 36) (38)

37. NOVA ZAGORA – (Nova Zagora district, Sliven region) (Map 2 # 37) (39)

38. Former village of GIPSOVO, now a district of STARA ZAGORA (Map 2 # 38) (40)

39. Former Gagalia. Now NIKOLOVO – (Rousse district, Rousse region) (Map 2 #39) (41)

40. OPAKA – (Opaka district, Turgovischte region) (Map 2 # 40) (42)

41. ORYAHOVITSA – (Stara Zagora district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 41) (43)

42. OSIKOVO – (Popovo district, Turgovischte region) (Map 2 # 42) (44)

43. PALAUZOVO – (Straldja district, Jambol region) (Map 2 # 43) (45)

44. PAVELSKO – (Chepelare district, Smolyan region) (Map 2 # 44) (46)

45. PLEVEN – (Pleven district, Pleven region) (Map 2 # 45) (47)

46. PLOVDIV– (Plovdiv region) (Map 2 # 46) (48)

47. POLSKI TRUMBESH – (Polski Trumbesh district, Veliko Tarnovo region) (Map 2 # 47) (49)

48. POPINA – (Sitovo district, Silestra region) (Map 2 # 48) (50)

49. RAZLOG – (Razlog district, Blagoevgrad region) (Map 2 # 49) (51)

50. RUSSE – (Russe region) (Map 2 # 50) (52)

51. SCHUMEN – (Schumen region) (Map 2 # 51) (53)

52. SLIVEN– (Slivenregion) (Map 2 # 52) (54)

53. STARO SELO – (Troyan district, Lovech region) (Map 2# 53) (55)

54. STROYNO – (Elkovo district, Jambol region) (Map 2 # 54) (56)

55. SUBRANO – (Nova Zagora district, Sliven region) (Map 2 # 55) (57)

56. SUVOROVO – (Suvorovo district, Varna region) (Map 2 # 56) (58)

57. TOPOLOVO – (Asenovgrad district, Plovdiv region) (Map 2 #57) (59)

58. VARBITZA – (Varbitza district, Shumen region) (Map 2 #58) (60)

59. VARNA – (Varna region) (Map 2 # 59) (61)

60. VRATZA – (Vratza region) (Map 2 # 60) (62)

61.  ZETOVO – (Chirpan district, Stara Zagora region) (Map 2 # 61) (63)

 

 

                              Fig. 4

 

                              Fig. 5

 

                              Fig. 6

 

                                Fig. 7

 

Fig. 4 – 7    Celtic tetradrachmas (Thasos model) circa 50 BC

Bratya Daskalovi, Stara Zagora region (After Prokopov et al 2011)

 

 

  In the II – I c. BC the Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ were in circulation virtually over the entire territory of today’s Bulgaria (Map 2).  Most noteworthy is the concentration of these coins in the region of central Bulgaria called the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’ – especially in the area east of Plovdiv stretching to Nova Zagora. In the Chirpan/ Bratya Daskalovi district (Stara Zagora Region) recent excavations have uncovered such Celtic Thasos model tetradrachmas together with other Celtic coins (Philip III model – see Section 1 and Map 3). This data, in combination with other previous such finds from this area of Bulgaria  (Benkovski, Kolyo Marinovo, Medovo, Naidenovo, Bolyarino, Nova Zagora, Stara Zagora, Zetovo) strongly suggests that this was an important center for Celtic coin production in the 2nd / 1st c. BC.

 Also interesting is the number of finds along the Maritza (Hebros) river valley in the Plovdiv and Haskovo regions of Bulgaria, which suggests continuing trade contacts between the Celtic and Thracian tribes of the interior with the Aegean during the 1st c. BC. While other Celtic coinage from this period is localized in certain areas of Bulgaria, (for example the Philip III type in northern and central Bulgaria – map 3) the Thasos model is found in all areas of the country, frequently together with other Celtic, Hellenistic or Roman coins. This indicates that the Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ represented a de facto ‘pan-barbarian’ currency among the native Thracian and Celtic population of Bulgaria in the pre-Roman period.

 

 

Map 2 – Distribution of Celtic Thasos Model Tetradrachmas in Bulgaria (II – I c. BC)

 

 

Map 3 – Distribution of  Celtic Thasos and Philip III models in Bulgaria (III – I c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   REFERENCES

  1. In light of their geographic distribution, artistic style, and archaeological context, the claim (particularly during the communist period) that the imitations of Thasos tetradrachmae found in Bulgaria were ‘Thracian’ is today dismissed even by Bulgarian experts, as absurd – See Prokopov et al 2011 (Prokopov et al 2011 = Иля Прокопов, Евгени Паунов, Светослава Филипова. Монети и монетни находки от проучването на Каракочовата могила и на Читашката могила 1 в с. Братя Даскалови, Старозагорска област. / Coins and Coin Hoards form the excavation of two burial mounds near the village of Bratya Daskalovi, Stara Zagora Region. P. 44 -53. See also Numismatic section 1; On the artistic evolution of the abstract Celtic Thasos issues, and the political context in the region, see Mac Congail 2010
  2. Mac Congail op cit; See also the Philip II, Philip III, Zaravetz and Strymon/Trident sections, and the Numismatic Art section
  3. Prokopov 1997 (Prokopov 1997 = ProkopovI., Imitations of Bronze Coins in Thracia during the 1st c. B.C. In: Proceedings of the XII Internationaler Numizmatischer Kongress, Berlin 1997, 369-377); Prokopov 1998 (Prokopov 1998 = Прокопов И., Варварски подражания на македонски бронзови монети. – ИИМКН, V/2, 1998, c. 357 – 360); Filipova, Prokopov 2008 (Filipova, Prokopov 2008 = Филипова Св., Прокопов И., Монети от Светилището при Бабяк. In: Тонкова, М. и Ал. Гоцев (eds.) Тракийското Светилището При Бабяк И Неговата Археологическата Среда) Sofia 2008.
  4. IGCH 916; Prokopov 2006. P. 217. Hoarde # 15 (Prokopov 2006 = Prokopov I., Die Silberprägung der Insel Thasos und die Tetradrachmen des ‘thasischen typs’ vom 2 – 1 Jahrhundert v. chr. Berlin, 2006).
  5. Stoykov 2002-2003: 82, # 9 (Stoykov 2002-2003 = Стойков В. Кратък Исторически Анализ На Колективните Монетни Находки От Поповска и Опаченска Общини. Нумизматика и Сфрагистика, IX, 78-83 (2002 – 2003)
  6. Discovered in 2000. The trove, in the hands of ‘private collectors’, consisted of circa 100 coins and has been dated to 70 – 60 B.C. – Prokopov 2006: P. 218. Hoard # 22
  7. Discovered in the 1950’s. (IGCH 494); Prokopov 2006: 219, hoard # 27; Dated to the beginning of the 1st c. BC. – 90 – 80 BC –  Prokopov 2003: 142 (Prokopov 2003 = Прокопов И., Няколко Бележки Върху Тасоските Тетрадрахми От Колекцията На Народния Музей В Белград. In: Известия на Катедра Българска история и археология и Катедра Обща история – ЮЗУ ‘Неофит Рилски’ – Благоевград, 1/2003. P. 139-153)
  8. Two hoards of Celtic silver coins were found in the area in 1962/1963. The first (IGCH 975) contained 15 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ (Göbl, Ostkeltischer Typenatlas, class I-1,III-1,III/A-3, IV-2, V-5, V/B-1, VI-1). The coins are kept in the Plovdiv Archaeological museum under the inv. # 2273-2295 and 2313-2319. The trove has been dated between 90 and 48 B.C. The second hoard also contained a Celtic Thasos ‘imitation’ – Prokopov 2006; 218-219, hoard # 25/26.
  9. Prokopov et al 2011. P. 44-53.
  10. 500 metres n-w. of the village a massive hoard of silver coins was uncovered by locals. It consisted of circa 1,600 coins of which only 116 are stored in the historical museum in Pleven (inv. No. 3399 – 1-116). Of these 110 are Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov 2006:220, Hoard #33; The earliest coins from the hoard date to the period between 120-111 BC, and are of a type which are most common in n.w. Romania and e. Hungary – Prokopov 2003:140; Kostial 1997:163-166. The latest of the Celtic coins from Brestovetz date to between 90 and 70 BC. – Prokopov 2003:140-143. (Kostial 1997 = Kostial M.  Kelten im Osten. Gold und Silber Münzen der Kelten in Mitten und Osteuropa, Sammlung Lanz, Katalog der Staatlichen Münzsammlung München, München 1997)
  11. Dated 120 / 111 BC – Prokopov 2003:140
  12. 35 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’.  – Prokopov 2006: 224
  13. In the vicinity of Churek a massive hoard of Celtic tetradrachmas was found at the beginning of the 20th century.  The size of the hoard (over 7 k.) and the fact that the hoard also included a small number of original Thasos issues would appear to suggest production somewhere in the area  –  Head, B. 1967:266, 251; Мuschmov, Н.1912: 5651 and 3940. (Head 1967 = Head, B. V.  Historia Numorum. Chicago, 1967; Мушмов, Н. 1912. (Muschmov 1912 = Мушмов H. Антични монети на Балканския полуостров. София 1912)

14. In a grave from the early 1st c. BC 6 silver coins were found – 2 Thasos tetradrachmas and 4 Celtic ‘imitations’ – Thompson M., Morkholm O., Kraay C., Noe S. An inventory of Greek coin hoards., International Numismatic Commission. American Numismatic Society, 1973, P. 86, Hoard #  621.

15. Dated  90 – 80 BC. – Prokopov 2003:141

16. Of 30 coins found, 10 were viewed by communist ‘experts’ who recognized the ‘barbarian’ issues. All of the coins were subsequently stolen except for 1 which somehow ‘made its way’ to the Historical Museum in Haskovo – Inv. № Н-1073 – Yourokova 1978.  (Yurokova 1978 = Юрукова, Й. 1978: Й. Юрукова. Монетните находки, открити в България през 1973 и 1974 г. In: Археология, XX, 1978-2:72)

17. Dated 120 / 70 BC – Prokopov 2003: 140-146

18. In 1956 a hoard of silver coins were found south of the village. The original size of the hoard is unknown as most of it was subsequently stolen. 6 Celtic Thasos‘imitations’ from the hoard are stored at the regional museum in Pleven- Prokopov 2006: 231, #107

19. IGCH 910; Prokopov 2006:231, hoard #108

20. IGCH 495;  Dated 90 / 70 BC – Prokopov 2006:232, Hoard #109

21. Dated 90 / 70 BC – Prokopov 2003: 141-143

22. Coin hoard (IGCH 571) containing 400 Thasos tetradrachmas – 19 original Hellenistic and 391 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov 2006: 232; Hoard # 122; Coins date to the period 120 / 70 BC – Prokopov 2003:140 – 144

23. Dated to 90-/ 80 BC – Prokopov 2003:141; 2006:233, hoard # 121

24. IGCH 525; 64 Celtic tetradrachmas – Celtic Thasos model. Dated 120 / 70 BC – Prokopov 2003: 140-143; 2006: 235, hoard #129

25. Filipova 2008. P. 169-170

26. In 1958 in the vicinity of the village a hoard of coins was found which included 31 Roman Republican denari and 9 Celtic Thasos imitations – Gerasimov 1962 (Gerasimov 1962 = Т. Герасимов T. Монетни съкровища, намерени в България през 1958 и 1959 г. In: ИАИ, 25, 1962:225-237)

27. Kazarova 1961:56. (Кацарова, Г. 1961 = Г. Кацарова. Колективна находка от тасоски тетрадрахми при с. Куклен. In: Археология, 1961,4:53)

28. Dated 120 / 111 BC – Prokopov 2003:140

29. Dated 90 / 80 BC – Prokopov, 2003: 143

30. Prokopov 2006: 239, hoard # 154; Dated 90 / 70  B.C. Prokopov 2003: 141 – 143

31. Dated 90 / 80 BC – Prokopov, 2003:141

32. IGCH 499; Hoard contained 20 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov 2006: 239, Hoard # 156; Dated 120 – 80  BC – Prokopov 2003: 140 – 141

33. Discovered in 1936. Hoard included 10 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ –  Gerasimov 1937 (Gerasimov 1937 = Герасимов, Т. 1937: Т. Герасимов. Колективни находки на монети през 1934, 1935 и 1936 г. В: ИБАИ, XI, 1, 1937)

34. Two small hoards of silver coins have been found in the vicinity of the village, each containing 5 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov 2006: 243, hoard # 179/180).

35. Prokopov 2006. P. 243. Hoard  # 184.

36. IGCH 664;  Dated 65 / 61 BC – Prokopov 2006. P. 244. Hoard  # 186.

37. Dated 90 / 80 BC – Prokopov 2003:141

38. Prokopov 2006: 244/245, hoard #192

39. Four hoards of silver coins including Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ were found in the vicinity of the village during the 20th century – Prokopov 2006: 246, hoard(s) # 200-203. The third hoard (#202) is particularly interesting as one of the coins is minted over a tetradrachm of Aesillas, the Roman quaestor inMacedonia c. 90-75 B.C. This hoard has been dated to 40-30 B.C.

40. Gerasimov 1952 (Gerasimov 1952 = Герасимов, Т. 1952: Т.Герасимов. Колективни находки на монети през последните години. In:  ИАИ, 1952)

41. IGCH 968;  Prokopov 2006: 239, Hoard # 158

42. Stoykov 2002-2003: 82, # 8

43. Prokopov 2006: 248, hoard #211

44. Dated 120 / 70 BC – Prokopov, 2003, 140-143

45. Gerasimov 1962 (Gerasimov 1962 = Герасимов, Т. Монетни съкровища, намерени в България през 1958 и 1959 г. В: ИАИ, 25, 1962:225-237.

46. In 1975 a hoard of coins was found in the vicinity of the village. Included were a number of ‘heavily barbarised’ Celtic Thasos coins. The hoard has been dated to 46/41 BC – Prokopov 2006. P. 249. Hoard  # 221.

47. Prokopov 2003:141

48. Dated 120 / 111 BC – Porkopov 2003:140-141

49. Filov 1916/1918 (Filov 1916/1918 = Филов. Б. 1916/1918: Б. Филов. Новооткрити старини. В: ИБАД, VI, 1916/1918:165-170)

50. Dated 120 / 70 BC  – Prokopov 2003:140 – 143

51. Filipova, Prokopov 2008:169-170; Prokopov 2006:254, hoard # 252. 18 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’

52. Celtic ‘imitations’ of  PhilipIII Arridaeus have been found in a hoard together with a number of Thasos original tetradrachmae in the Rousse area. (Rousse Museum Inv. No.   CCXI) – Prokopov 2006. P. 255. Hoard  # 260. Two other hoards of silver coins found in the area contained Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov  2006. P. 255; Hoard(s)  # 160/162.

53. Two hoards of silver coins containing Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’  have been found in the area – Prokopov  2006. P. 234, Hoard # 123/124.

54. Prokopov 2003:140

55. 36 Celtic tetradrachmae –Thasos model – Gerasimov 1946 (Gerasimov 1946 = Герасимов, Т. 1946: Т. Герасимов. Колективни находки на монети през последните години– В: ИБАИ, XV, 1946:239)

56. Hoard of silver coins including 11 original Thasos tetradrachmae and 74 Celtic ‘imitations’ – Prokopov 2006: 260, hoard # 291; Dated 90 / 70 BC. (Prokopov 2003: 141- 143)

57. In 1936 a massive hoard of silver tetradrachmas –  Thasos originals and Celtic imitations, was found in the vicinity of the village. At the time it consisted of circa 600 coins (IGCH 965). Today only 36 are to be found in the Nova Zagora museum – Prokopov 2006. P. 255, Hoard  # 263. A second hoard of silver coins found in the area included 7 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov 2006. P. 254. Hoard  # 264.

58. 30 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ dated 90 / 70 BC – Prokopov 2003 141-143; 2006: 260, Hoard # 295

59. 40 Celtic Thasos ‘imitations’ – Prokopov  2006: 262. Hoard # 308

60. Prokopov 2006:263, Hoard #316

61. Prokopov, 2003:140 – 144

62. Dated 120 / 70 BC – Prokopov, 2003. P. 140-144

63. In 1943 an ‘undefined number’ of Celtic tetradrachmas (Thasos model) were found in the vicinity of the village – Gerasimov 1946.

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