Although extensive archaeological material from western Ukraine testifies to significant Celtic settlement in the region from the 3rd c. BC onwards (Kazakevich 2012), published finds of Celtic coinage from this region has hitherto been confined to the Upper Tisza and Dneister Estuary areas.
In the occupation layers at the Celtic settlement at Gut (Garazdivka, Beregivs’ kyj district) over 100 Celtic coins of the ‘’Philip II type’’ were discovered in a ceramic vessel, among them examples of the Huşi-Vorieşti type attributed to the Celto-Scythian Bastarnae (loc cit). The latter type have recently been discovered in hoards along with other Celtic coins at sites such as Pelczyska in southern Poland (Rudnicki 2003; See ‘The Celts in Poland’ article) and the examples from Gut are further evidence of the close political and economic links between the Bastarnae and other Celtic tribes north of the Carpathians.
Bastarnae Huşi-Vovrieşti type tetradrachms from Pelczyska
(after Rudnicki 2003)
At the Mala Kopanya hillfort (Vynogradivs’kyj district), in addition to a large amount of Celtic material including 7 ritually ‘killed’ late La Têne swords (Kazakevich 2012) a substantial amount of Celtic coins of the ‘Philip II types’ have been documented.
Celtic ‘Philip II’ type coins found during the 2011 excavations at Mala Kopanya. The coins are of types associated with the Transylvanian Celts (Göbl var. 254/269/ 269.1/ 269.9)
Interesting is the discovery at the site during the excavations in 2011 of a number of Roman Republican denars (4 examples) and drachms of the Illyrian colonies of Dyrrachium (x3) and Appolonia (x4). Large amounts of coins of these Illyrian towns have been recorded in the territory of the Celtic Scordisci in today’s western Serbia and northern Bulgaria and it is thought that these reached the Balkan interior and the Danube region as a direct result of the historically recorded Celtic campaigns against the Romans in the western Balkans in the 2nd decade of the 1st c. BC. (see ‘The Mystery of the Illyrian Cows’ article). Their presence in the Upper Tisza region is therefore clear evidence of extensive trade contacts between the Scordisci in Thrace and the Celts of western Ukraine.
Drachms of the Illyrian Colonies Dyrrachium and Appolonia discovered during the 2011 excavations at Mala Kopanya
At the largest Celtic settlement in western Ukraine, on the Galish and Lovachka hills near Mukacheve, along with a substantial amount of other Celtic archaeological material (Iron weapons, tools, pottery etc.) ‘more than 30’ Celtic coins of the Macedonian types (Philip II and III ‘imitations’) have been discovered. These include examples of the Kopf ohne kinn/Rad, w-reiter, Vogel auf Zweig, Vogel auf Helm, Schnurrbart/Rosette, Audoleontyp, Audoleon monogram, Reiter mit Kurzen Armen, Armloser Reiter, Schild + Kranz, and Schild + Schwert types (Kazakevich op cit).
Celtic Tetradrachm of the ‘’Armloser Reiter’’ type
Most fascinating are a number of Celtic coins discovered in the Dneister Estuary area of Ukraine, which provide valuable new information on cultural and economic relations in the western Pontus (Black Sea) region in the immediate pre-Roman period. For example, 7 Celtic coins currently in the numismatic collection of the Odesa Museum were discovered in the Dneister Estuary area. These consist of a gold 1/8 stater, a silver didrachma, a silver drachma, and 4 lead ‘drachms’.
(Odesa Museum, Numismatics Collection)
Most surprising is the fact that, with the exception of the 1/8 gold stater, all of these Celtic coins are of types minted in the area of today’s northern Bulgaria in the 2nd/ 1st c. BC.
The first of these coins is of the silver “Sattelkopfpferd” type , which recent studies have shown were mass produced by the Celtic tribes of northeastern Bulgaria, with the main production center being in the Rousse area around the Celtic settlement of Mediolana (Pirgovo) on the Danube (Paunov 2012; see also ‘Deus Ex Machina – Celtic Hoards from Thrace’, ‘Mediolana and the Zaravetz Culture’, and ‘The Mother Matrix’ articles).
Celtic ‘Sattelkopfpferd’ silver Issue from the Dneister Estuary
(Odesa Numismatics Museum)
Celtic Silver Sattlekopfpferd type coins from the Pirgovo / 1977 hoard, Rousse region, n.e. Bulgaria
(Regional Historical Museum Russe)
A cast bronze die (matrix) for Celtic coinage of type Sattelkofpferd from northeastern Bulgaria
(Rousse Numismatic Museum (see ‘The Mother Matrix’ article with cited lit.)
Despite its poor condition, the second example can be identified as a silver Drachma of the Philip III / Alexander III type. Large amounts of these coins were also produced by the Bulgarian Celtic tribes in the 2nd/ 1st c. BC. Finds of such coins in Thrace are concentrated between the Danube and Stara Planina (Balkan) mountains, with a further concentration in south-central Bulgaria in the Stara Zagora/Plovdiv area (Paunov 2012; see also ‘Coin hoards from Thrace’ article). The Dneister Estuary drachm would appear to be an earlier example of these Celtic imitations, produced around the end of the 2nd c. BC.
Celtic Silver Drachma from the Dneister Estuary
Celtic ‘Philip III type’ drachma from Razgrad, n.e. Bulgaria (late 2nd c. BC)
(see Numismatics sections 1 & 8)
Late examples of Celtic ‘Philip III type’ drachms (circa 50 BC) from Bratya Daskalovi, south-central Bulgaria
Celtic coinage from the Dneister Estuary also includes lead ‘drachms’ described as ‘’Philip II derivations’’. In fact, these are actually Celtic Zaravetz type coins imitating the coinage of the Greek Black Sea colony of Odessos (Varna).
(Odesa Museum, Numismatics Collection)
Celtic lead Zaravetz Issue – Northeastern Bulgaria (2nd c. BC)
(See Mac Gonagle 2015)
The distribution and concentration of the Zaravetz bronze and lead issues indicate that they were produced by the Celtic tribes in the Veliko Tarnovo/ Schumen area of Northeastern Bulgaria between the 3rd – 1st c. BC. The lead coins, unlike the silver Celtic issues, had little intrinsic value (chemical analysis has shown a lead content of 98.25%), and therefore could only have circulated within the framework of a highly organized economic and political structure/state. The presence of these and other Celtic coins in the Dneister Estuary area logically indicates that the sphere of influence of the barbarian Zaravetz Culture stretched much further north than previously thought.
On the Celts and Celticization in Ukraine see:
Kazakevich G. (2012) Celtic Military Equipment from the Territory of Ukraine: Towards a new Warrior Identity in the pre-Roman Eastern Europe. In: Transforming Traditions: Studies in Archaeology, Comparative Linguistics and Narrative. Studia Celto-Slavica 6. p. 177- 212. Lódź.
Paunov E. (2013) From Koine To Romanitas: The Numismatic Evidence For Roman Expansion And Settlement In Bulgaria In Antiquity (Moesia and Thrace, ca. 146 BC – AD 98/117) Phd. Thesis. School of History, Archaeology and Religion. Cardiff University. November 2012.
Rudnicki M. (2003) Celtic coin finds from a settlement of the La Tène period at Pełczyska. In: Wiadomości Numizmatyczne 47/1 (Polish Numismatic News 7), 2003, 1-24.