Celtic “Thasos Type” Coinage from Bulgaria and Romania – Chronology and Classification

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“For many years it was considered that Thasian imitations were a product of the Thracian tribes… In my opinion, the Thasian imitations coinage and its use are closely associated with a population who arrived and settled later within the Balkan territory. In fact, the east Celts had played a significant role in the regional history since the 270s BC. There are good reasons to believe that the imitations of Thasos tetradrachms had an ‘international’ nature and featured interactions and activities of a culture dominated by the east Celts”…

 

FULL ARTICLE by Dr. Ilya Pokopov,  President of the Bulgarian Museum Association and Bulgarian Numismatic Association:

 

https://www.academia.edu/1287658/The_imitations_of_Late_Thasian_Tetradrachms_Chronology_classification_and_dating

 

 

 

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Celtic Shield Coinage

UD: November 2018

 

Rennes Region (Bretagne). Gold Stater (7.72 g) struck c. 2nd century BC.

 

One of the most iconic symbols on Celtic coinage, the oval shield appears either alone or as a central element in the artistic composition on Celtic coins (and other artifacts) across Europe and Asia-Minor in the 3-1 century BC period, as well as being represented on numerous Greek and Roman images depicting Celtic military equipment.

 

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Kings Of Galatia, Deiotaros I (c. 62-40 BC) AE. Obverse: Laureate head of Zeus right. Reverse: Large monogram and Celtic oval shield

 

tascio reverse.

Mounted warrior with oval shield on the reverse of a silver issue of Tasciovanus – King of the Catuvellauni tribe in southern England (25-10 BC)

 

carnyx gold stater caesar 48 bc

Celtic military equipment, including oval shield and carnyx, represented on the reverse of a Roman gold stater (c. 48 BC)

 

The fact that oval shields are depicted with such frequency by both the Celts themselves and their enemies, in such a broad spatial and temporal context, logically indicates that they had a political and cultural significance that went beyond their purely military function, i.e. also served as a symbol of political authority and power.

Rennes Region (Bretagne). Gold Stater (7.72 g) struck c. 2nd century BC.

Mounted Goddess with oval shield depicted on the reverse of a Celtic gold stater from the Rennes Region, Brittany (2nd century BC)

 

Wild boar over Celtic oval shield motif, recently discovered by ‘treasure hunters’ in southern Germany. Such a ring would have belonged to a high ranking member of society, probably a chieftain.

(1 c. BC)

 

Among the Balkan Celts oval shields first appear on coinage of the ‘Tyle’ state in today’s eastern Bulgaria in the mid 3rd century BC, and are to be found on both tetradrachms and bronze issues of the Celtic kings of Thrace during this period.

 

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Bronze issue of the Celtic king Cavaros with oval shield on the reverse – minted at Arkovna (Varna reg.), Bulgaria (2nd half of the 3rd c. BC)

https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT

 

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Reverse of a tetradrachm of Kersebaul, one of the Celtic kings of the ‘Tyle’ state in today’s eastern Bulgaria (mid 3rd c. BC)

https://www.academia.edu/9763573/BIRTH_OF_THE_ICON_-_The_Development_of_Celtic_Abstract_Iconic_Art_in_Thrace_3-1_c._BC_

 

 

Also noteworthy in this context are the Celtic shield coins minted by the Greek city of Mesembria (modern Nesebar) on the Black Sea coast during this period. These coins, which feature a helmet on the obverse and a Celtic oval shield on the reverse (viewed from within; Price 1991, Karaytov 2000, Mac Gonagle 2013) illustrate the influence of the Celtic state on the Greek Black Sea colonies during the 3rd c. BC – a phenomenon also testified to by archaeological evidence, and confirmed in ancient sources (Lazarov 2010, Manov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2013).

 

mess shield

Bronze Mesembria Celtic Shield Issue (last quarter of the 3rd c. BC)
(After Karaytov 2000)

Also connected to the Tyle state are the Apros Celtic shield coins minted in today’s European Turkey in the second half of the 3rd century BC, which provide further archaeological evidence, again confirmed in ancient sources, that the area of south-eastern Thrace, including the immediate environs of Byzantium, was under Celtic control during this period (Manov 2010, Lazarov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2013). Exactly which tribe minted the Apros coins remains unclear, but one possibility is that that they were produced by the Aegosages tribe prior to their migration into Asia-Minor in the summer of 218 BC.

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Bronze Celtic shield coins minted at Apros (After Draganov 2001)
(Apros was located either at present-day Kestridge or further west near present-day Kermian, both in European Turkey above the Thracian Chersones and on the route of the later Via Egnatia)
On the Aegosages tribe see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/death-of-a-dream-the-aegosages-massacre/

 

mondragon-vaucluse-late-iie-siecle-av-j-c-begin-ier-siecle-av-j-c-sagum-oval-shield-right-hand-torc

Statue of a Celtic chieftain wearing a sagum, and holding an oval shield and torc  – from Mondragon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), France

(late 2nd / early 1st c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Cited

Dimitrov K. (2010) Celts, Greeks and Thracians in Thrace During the Third Century BC. Interactions in History and Culture. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 51- 66
Draganov D. (2001) Coins of the Unknown Mint of Apros in Thrace. НСФ 8, 1-2, 25-31.
Kарайтов И. (1996) Месамбрия и келтският цар Кавар. In: More 4, 9-10, 10-14; Kарайтов И. (2000) Месамбрия и владитетелите на крайбрежна Тракия (според нумизматични данни) – INMB 3, 66-81
Карайтов И. (2000) Месамбрия и владетилите на крайбрежна тракия според нумизтични данни. Известия на Народния Музий Бургас. Том 3, 2000. 66- 82
Lazarov L. (2010) The Celtic State In the Time of Cavaros. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 97-113
Mac Gonagle B. (2013) https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT
Manov M. (2010) In Search of Tyle (Tylis). Problems of Localization. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 89 – 96
Price M. J. (1991) The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arhideus. A British Museum Catalog, vol. 1, Zurich-London.
Topalov S. (2001) Contributions to the Study of the Coinage and History In the Lands of Eastern Thrace from the end of the 4th c. BC to the end of the 3rd c. BC. Sofia 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celtic ‘Thasos Type’ Coinage from Bulgaria

 

The most enigmatic and artistically varied of Iron Age European coinage, the barbarian issues based on the Thasos prototype became a de facto common currency among the tribes of the central and eastern Balkans in the immediate pre-Roman period…

 

Full Article:

https://www.academia.edu/6144182/Celtic_Thasos_Type_Coinage_from_Central_Bulgaria

 

 

 

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A QUESTION OF PERSPECTIVE – Expressionist Compositions in Celtic Paeonian Imitations

UD: Jan. 2019

The migration of Celtic tribes into south-eastern Europe from the first half of the 4th c. BC logically brought them into contact with the Greek world. Although in the initial phase this contact was violent in nature, one of the positive results of this cultural interaction was the rapid adoption by the ‘barbarians’ of a coinage system based on the Hellenistic model. From the 2nd half of the 4th c. BC highly stylized coins based on Greek prototypes became common throughout the areas of Celtic settlement in s.e. Europe. Among the first Hellenistic numismatic models to be ‘imitated’ by the Celts was the coinage of the kings of Paeonia – Lykkeios, Patraos, and Audoleon.

PAEONIA

 Paeonia (Greek Παιονία) coincided with parts of today’s northern Greece, the modern Republic of Northern Macedonia, Kosovo and parts of western Bulgaria. It was situated to the north of ancient Macedonia, and south of Dardania, its borders being fluid over the centuries, depending on the geo-political situation. Celtic coinage based on Paeonian models had a wide range of circulation ranging from Noricum to western Thrace. The earliest ‘imitations’ of Paeonian coins (those of the Paeonian king Lykkeios, 356 – 335 BC) give us a taste of the artistic experimentation which is further developed in later Balkan Celtic issues.

AR Tetradrachm. Lykkeios (356 – 335 BC)

Laureate head of Zeus right / Herakles strangling the Nemean Lion

(SNGANS 109)

AR Tetradrachm. Celtic ‘imitation’ of Lykkeios.

(late 4th c. BC)

On the obverse of both coins a male head (Zeus) is depicted. On the Hellenistic prototype we observe conformity to anatomical principles in the composition of the subject, an approach typical of classical art of this period. In sharp contrast is the portrait on the ‘barbarian’ coin which is highly stylized, the composition conforming to the circular form of the coin, rather than the anatomical characteristics of the subject – the nose is represented by a straight line, the eye is presented en face, etc.

On the reverse a similar disparity is to be observed. On the Hellenistic prototype there is again obvious intent to portray the animal and human figures in an anatomically correct manner, while the schematic approach on the Celtic coin disregards anatomical precision. The result is two very different images emanating from the same subject matter. The emphasis on anatomical precision on the Hellenistic coin has the effect of ‘freezing’ the image, while the expressionist approach by the Celtic artist conveys the sense of movement in the battle between man and animal.

On the evolution of Celtic numismatic art from Hellenistic prototypes See also:

https://www.academia.edu/9763573/BIRTH_OF_THE_ICON_-_The_Development_of_Celtic_Abstract_Iconic_Art_in_Thrace_3-1_c._BC_

https://www.academia.edu/5543801/On_Posthumous_and_Barbarian_Lysimachus_Staters

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