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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Thrace & Moesia| ▸ |Olbia||View Options:  |  |  | 

Olbia, Skythia, Black Sea Area

Olbia, a Milesian colony in what is now Ukraine, was settled in the late 7th century B.C. and endured for a millennium. At the convergence of two rivers, about 15 miles inland from the Northwest coast of the Black Sea, it was well located for trade. Olbia was a prosperous trading city and major grain supplier when it was visited by Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. By the end of the 3rd century, the town had declined and accepted the hegemony of King Skilurus of Scythia. It flourished under Mithridates Eupator, but was sacked by the Getae under Burebista, abruptly ending its economic prominence. Olbia was restored by Rome, but on a small scale, and incorporated into the province of Lower Moesia. After being burned at least twice during the Gothic Wars, the town was abandoned in the 4th century A.D.Map of Ancient Greek colonies on the northern coast of the Black Sea

Olbia, Skythia, c. 5th Century B.C.

|Olbia|, |Olbia,| |Skythia,| |c.| |5th| |Century| |B.C.||cast| |dolphin|
The Hellenic city of Olbia was founded in the 7th century B.C. by colonists from Miletus. It was located in what is modern-day Ukraine at the convergence of the Hypanis and Borysthenes rivers, about 15 miles inland from the Northwest coast of the Black Sea. Well located for trade, its harbor was one of the main ports on the Black Sea for the export of cereals, fish, and slaves to Greece, and for the import of Attic goods to Scythia. The area was already a major grain supplier by the 5th century B.C. Small bronze dolphins were cast in Olbia, beginning around 550 - 525 B.C., at first as sacrificial objects for the worship of Apollo. Soon after their introduction it seems they were used as an early form of proto-money. Later, when proper coins came into the area, we find the cast bronze dolphins in hoards mixed along with coins, strong evidence that they were being used as money. Most of the Olbia dolphins were cast in trees with a sprue attached to where the tail would be. Many like this one were broken off in the body of the dolphin, leaving them without a tail.Olbia
GA99929. Bronze cast dolphin, SNG BM 360 ff., SNG Stancomb 334 ff., SNG Pushkin 12 ff., SNG Cop 67 ff., SGCV I 1684; 2.263g, 31.7mm long, VF, dark green patina, light deposits, weight 2.335 g, maximum diameter 30.8 mm, die axis 0o, Olbia (Parutino, Ukraine) mint, c. 5th century B.C.; obverse dolphin with pointed nose, with raised spine and dorsal fin; $90.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Olbia, Skythia, c. 550-430 B.C.

|Olbia|, |Olbia,| |Skythia,| |c.| |550-430| |B.C.||cast| |dolphin|
The Hellenic city of Olbia was founded in the 7th century B.C. by colonists from Miletus. It was located in what is modern-day Ukraine at the convergence of the Hypanis and Borysthenes rivers, about 15 miles inland from the Northwest coast of the Black Sea. Well located for trade, its harbor was one of the main ports on the Black Sea for the export of cereals, fish, and slaves to Greece, and for the import of Attic goods to Scythia. The area was already a major grain supplier by the 5th century B.C. Small bronze dolphins were cast in Olbia, beginning around 550 - 525 B.C., at first as sacrificial objects for the worship of Apollo. Soon after their introduction it seems they were used as an early form of proto-money. Later, when proper coins came into the area, we find the cast bronze dolphins in hoards mixed along with coins, strong evidence that they were being used as money. This example is one of the largest dolphin types.Olbia
SH01466. Bronze cast dolphin, cf. SNG Pushkin 15, SGCV I 1684, SNG BM 360 ff., SNG Stancomb 334 ff., SNG Cop 67 ff., VF, weight 2.830 g, maximum diameter 47.9 mm, Olbia (Parutino, Ukraine) mint, c. 550 - 430 B.C.; obverse dolphin with raised spine, dorsal fin and tail; very rare; SOLD










REFERENCES

Anokhin, V. Coins of Ancient Cities of North-Western Black Sea Area. (Kiev, 1989).
Anokhin, V. The Arrowhead-Money in Olbia and its Vicinity. (Kiev, 1986).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, et al. Roman Provincial Coinage. (London, 1992 - ).
Corpus Nummorum Thracorum - http://www.corpus-nummorum.eu/
Dittrich, K. Ancient Coins from Olbia and Panticapaeum. (London, 1961).
Frolova, N. & M. Abramzon. Coins of Olbia in the Collection of the State Historical Museum. (Moscow, 2005).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of Macedon and Its Neighbors, Vol. 3, Part II: Thrace, Skythia, and Taurike, Sixth to First Centuries BC. HGC 3.2. (Lancaster, 2017).
Karyshkoviskij, P. Coinage and Monetary Circulation in Olbia (6th century B.C. - 4th century A.D.). (Odessa, 2003).
Poole, R. ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Thrace, etc. (London, 1877).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 2: Macedonia and Thrace. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Mnchen Staatlische Mnzsammlung, Part 7: Taurische Chersonesos, Sarmatien, Dacia, Moesia superior, Moesia inferior. (Berlin, 1985).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain, Volume IX, British Museum, Part 1: The Black Sea. (London, 1993).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain, Volume XI, The William Stancomb Collection of Coins of the Black Sea Region. (Oxford, 2000).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Russia, State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts: Coins of the Black Sea Region. (Leuven, Belgium, 2011).
Zograph, A. Ancient Coinage. BAR Supplementary Series 33. (Oxford, 1977).

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