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Greek Letters on Ancient Greek and Roman Coins

Also see Greek dates.

This table lists the Greek letters, their names, equivalent English letters, and tips for pronouncing those letters which are pronounced differently from the equivalent English letters.1

 

Archaic Greek Letters

            digamma        w
            heta               e
            san                 zs(?)
            koppa             k
         sampi             ss
            tsan                ts

Sigma (s, V): There are two forms for the letter Sigma. When written at the end of a word, it is written like this: V. If it occurs anywhere else, it is written like this: s.

Upsilon (u): In the above table, we suggest that you pronounce this letter like "u" in "put". The preferred pronunciation is actually more like the German "" as in "Brcke", or like the French "u" as in "tu". If you do not speak German or French, don't worry about it, just pronounce it the way the table suggests.

Chi (c): This is the same sound as "ch" in "Bach", which does not sound like "ch" in "chair". The same sound occurs in the Scottish "Loch", as in "Loch Lomond", or the German "ach!".

Diphthongs When two vowels combine to make one sound, it is called a diphthong. There are seven diphthongs in Greek:

The "eu" combination is probably the hardest to learn for most people. It may help to take the "ow" sound and say it slowly: if you notice, there are actually two sounds in "ow" - it starts out with "ah", then glides to an "oo" sound, "ah-oo". Try doing the same with "e" (as in "Edward") and "oo" - "e-oo". This is a little like the "e-w" in Edward, if you remove the "d".

How to Type Greek Letters Using The Symbol Font


Keyboard KeyABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Symbol Font Upper CaseABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Symbol Font Lower Caseabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

HTML Codes for Greek Letters

αα
ββ
γγ
δδ
εε
ζζ
ηη
θθ
ιι
κκ
λλ
μμ
νν
ξξ
οο
ππ
ρρ
ςς
σσ
ττ
υυ
φφ
χχ
ψψ
ωω
ΑΑ
ΒΒ
ΓΓ
ΔΔ
Ε / Є / ЭΕ / &1028; / &1069;
ΖΖ
ΗΗ
ΘΘ
ΙΙ
ΚΚ
ΛΛ
ΜΜ
ΝΝ
ΞΞ
ΟΟ
ΠΠ
ΡΡ
ΣΣ
ΣΣ
ΤΤ
ΥΥ
ΦΦ
ΧΧ
ΨΨ
ΩΩ
Ϙ

How to write Greek letters

The arrows show you where to start when you write Greek letters.1

How to Read Greek Letter Dates and Officina Numbers

A 1
I 10
R 100
B 2
K 20
S or C 200
G 3
L 30
T 300
D 4
M 40
U 400
E 5
N 50
F 500
S, ς (stigma) 6
X 60
C 600
Z 7
O 70


H 8
P 80


Q or DE 9
(koppa) 90


Date numerals are often preceded by ETOUS (year in Greek), frequently written or abbreviated ETOYC, ET, or E.  L was also a symbol for "year." It probably originated in Egypt and may have been derived from a hieroglyph. Example: LGXR = Year 163

Greek dates are also sometimes written out or abbreviated.  Some examples follow:

TRITOU = year 3
TETARTOU = year 4
EKATOU = year 5
ENATOU, ETENAT = year 9
DEKATOU, LDE= year 10
ENDEKATOU = year 11
DWDEKAT = year 12
DWDEK = year 12
TRI
CKAIDEKA, TRICKAI = year 13
ENNEAKD = year 19
ENNEAKKD = year 19

The dates as written above may not be "proper" Greek.  They are sample dates as actually used on Roman provincial coins minted in Alexandria and other cities. 

To date a coin, you need to know the start date for the era. For most Roman coins it is the start of the emperor's reign. Some other era start dates are listed below:

Era Start Date
Seleucid Autumn 312 B.C.
Pompeian 64 B.C.
Caesarian Autumn 49 B.C.
Capitolias, Decapolis 97 A.D.
Neopolis, Samaria 72 or 73 A.D.
Dora, Samaria 64/63 B.C. (variation on Pompeian)
Provincial Arabia 106 A.D.
Philadelphia, Syria

63 B.C. (variation on Pompeian)

Chalcis, Chalcidice, Syria

92 A.D.

Anazarbus, Cilicia

19 B.C.

If the era started in before the common era, to determine the common era (AD or CE) date, subtract the era start year from the date on the coin.  If the result is less than zero, determine the date before the common era (BC or BCE) by subtracting the date on the coin from the era start year and then adding one.    

If the era started in the common era (AD or CE), add the start year to the date and then subtract one to determine the common era date.

Common Greek Titles for Roman Emperors and Their Wives (with some abbreviations)

AUGOUCTA = Augusta
AUTOKRATOR (AUT, AUTOK) = Imperator
GERMANIKOS (GERM) = Germanicus
DAKIKO
C (DAK) = Dacius
DHMARCIKHS EXOUCIAC (DHMARC EX) = Tribunicia Potestas
KAISAR (K, KAI, KAIS) = Caesar
PARQIKOC (PAR) = Parthicus
SEBASTOS (SEB) or CEBACTOC (CEB)= Augustus
UPATOC = Consul (usually followed by the number of terms served)

1. Source: http://www.ibiblio.org (A Public Domain Website)


From Historia Numorum.