Archaic letters on Greek coins
One thing a collector of ancient Greek coins
might collect is an example of a coin with an Archaic letter on it, either alone or in an ethnic
or other inscription
These letters include the vau or digamma
pronounced as a W as in the word Wanax or king
, a word used in Homer
, without the vau, but meter of Homer
shows it was originally there.
Also the koppa
or Archaic 'Q' later replaced by the kappa.
Also the san
, which is a sigma, but appears like
The vau is also called the digamma because it has not one but two arms extending to the right, (like an F), Elis has for its ethnic
, also the incuse
issues of Laus have a vau in the middle of the inscription
starting on the obverse
, continuing the the reverse
Also, some Poseidonia incuse
coins have the inscription
The koppa is used on Corinthian coin as an ethnic
, also it is found in the ethnic
on the Archaic and early Classical for Kroton
) in Southern Italy
. Also, early on, Syracuse
used a koppa in its ethnic
is seen on the coins of Sy[baris], Sirinos-Pyx[oes], Pos[eidonia] and some of those mentioned above.
One variant of the san
is found on the coins of Messembria, called a "disigma". The 'double sigma' appears as a wide, short 'T' with tabs hanging from the arms of the T. Around a wheel is the inscription
The "disigma", unlike the digamma represents a double letter combination, not a separate letter.
The vau or digamma represents the Greek number 6,
The koppa represents the Greek number 90,
is incorporated in the sampi, representing the number 900.
Another example of an Archaic usage of a letter is the consonantal
which, if I accurately recall, Halartus (spelling?) in Boeotia
uses the consonantal eta.
There are other nuances to the letters on Greek coins
, strange letter forms. There are classical letters that probably did not exist in the Archaic Greek, like the vowel eta, or probably the omega. But that is an issue for another time.