Classical Numismatics Discussion
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Greek Coins (Moderators: Dino, Meepzorp)  |  Topic: Archaic Greek letters 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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JBF
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« on: February 12, 2020, 03:57:29 pm »

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  Greek_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  Greek_Koppa or Archaic 'Q' later replaced by the kappa.
Also the san, which is a sigma, but appears like  Greek_Mu not a  GreeK_Sigma

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  Greek_Digamma  Greek_Alpha, also the incuse issues of Laus have a vau in the middle of the inscription starting on the obverseGreek_Lambda Greek_Alpha Greek_Iota Greek_Digamma, continuing the the reverse  Greek_Nu Greek_Omicron Greek_Mu  Also, some Poseidonia incuse coins have the inscription  Greek_Digamma Greek_Iota Greek_Iota Greek_Mu

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 ( Greek_Koppa Greek_Rho Greek_Omicron or  Greek_Koppa Greek_Rho Greek_Omicron Greek_Tau Greek_Omicron Greek_Nu) in Southern Italy.  Also, early on, Syracuse used a koppa in its ethnic.

The san 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
      E
M         'T'
      A

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,
The san is incorporated in the sampi, representing the number 900.

Another example of an Archaic usage of a letter is the consonantal  Greek_Eta 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.
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