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XXI

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Euboea

[British Museum Catalogue of Greek Coins, Central Greece—by B. V. Head, 1884.
E. Curtius, Hermes, vol. x, 1876, p. 215 sqq.
Imhoof-Blumer, Monatsbericht d. k. Akad. d. Wissensch., Berlin 1881.
Dondorff, De rebus Chalcidensium, Halle 1855.
Heinze, De rebus Eretriensium Göttingen 1869.]

That an island of the extent and importance of Euboea should have had no native currency during the period of her greatest colonizing and commercial activity is a proposition hardly to be entertained. Chalcis and Eretria, from the dawn of history down to the close of the sixth century, were the two most enterprising cities in European Greece, as is shown by the large number of Chalcidian and Eretrian colonies on the coasts of Thrace, of Southern Italy, and of Sicily.

Euboea, also, in very early times had already given her name to one of the most widely used standards for weighing the precious metals; a remarkable fact, and one which is alone sufficient to warrant us in supposing that Euboea would be one of the starting-points of the art of coining on the western side of the Aegean Sea. Granting therefore that, in all probability, coins must have been issued in Euboea during the period of her colonizing activity (and especially during and after the Lelantine war, when the rival Euboean cities Chalcis and Eretria fought out their quarrel for maritime supremacy, a struggle in which all the more important states, e.g. Corinth, Corcyra, Samos, Miletus, etc., took part), we must seek for them among the archaic and uninscribed specimens of the Euboïc standard.

It cannot, however, be denied that among the numerous archaic and anepigraphic silver coins of Euboïc weight and of various types it is a matter of conjecture which belong to the Euboean towns, Chalcis, Eretria, Cyme, etc., and which are contemporary issues of other states in intimate commercial relations with Euboea. All these coins nevertheless form a class distinguishable from the contemporary issues of Aegina and from those of most of the Aegaean islands, not only by their weight but also by their incuse squares divided diagonally instead of rectangularly or otherwise. Most of these uncertain archaic coins of the Euboïc standard are also characterized by what seems to be a local peculiarity, the plain linear circle which encloses their obverse types. This is an indication that they were struck at closely connected mints, if not at a single mint on behalf of various towns. Linear circles do not


356
occur on any other class of archaic coins, as may be seen at a glance by comparing Pl. XXXIII of Babelon’s Traité with the other plates of the same volume.

Most of the coins of the above-mentioned series were formerly assigned to Athens before the time of Pisistratus, on the ground that they have been usually discovered in Attica; but as some of them are distinctly later in style than the earliest Athenian tetradrachms, it may be confidently asserted that Athens could not have issued from her single mint so many various series of coins simultaneously with her own well-known ‘Owls’. The circumstance that they are usually found in Attica [1] is easily explained by the close relations which always existed between Attica and Euboea, and by the identity of standard (135 and 270 grs. max.) which enabled them to circulate side by side with the money of Athens. The uninscribed archaic coins of the Euboïc standard with a diagonally divided incuse square bear on their obverses, usually within a linear circle, the following types :—Owl; Horse walking; Hind part of walking horse; Forepart of prancing horse; Amphora; Triskeles; Astragalos; Wheel of peculiar form ; Wheel of four spokes Θ; Scarabaeus; Gorgoneion; Bull’s head to front. On the evidence of inscribed specimens of a somewhat later date (flatter fabric, and types on both sides) the Wheel may be assigned to Chalcis and the Gorgoneion and Bull’s head to Eretria. The attribution of the remaining types is doubtful, though it is tempting to assign the Horse types to Cyme on the ground that similar types are characteristic of its colony Cyme in Aeolis. In Euboea, as elsewhere in Greece, the Persian Wars form the lower limit of the early archaic coinage. The war over, the cities of Euboea were enrolled among the allies of Athens, and such of them as retained the right of coinage adopted a new and improved method of striking money, and for the most part new types. The various Euboean cities to which these and later coins may be attributed are the following:—

Carystus

Click here for the Carystus page.


Chalcis

Click here for the Chalcis page.


Cyme

Click here for the Cyme, Euboea page.


Eretria

Click here for the Eretria page.


Histiaea

Click here for the Histiaea page.


365

Uncertain Coins of Euboïc weight.

Sixth century B.C.

Scarabaeus.
[Babelon, Traité, p. 719.]
Incuse square diagonally divided
AR Didrachm and Obol.
Id. [Imhoof and Keller, Tier- und Pflanzenbilder, Pl. VII. 13.] Id.
AR Obol.
Id. [Ibid., Pl. VII. 14.] Gorgoneion.
AR Size .4 Diob. (?)
Frog swimming. [Babelon, Traité, Pl. XXXIII. 21, 22.] Incuse square diagonally divided.
AR Obol.
Amphora in plain circle.
[Brit. Mus. Guide, Pl. V. 22.]
Id.
AR Didr. 128 grs.
Triskeles in plain circle.
[N. C., 1888, Pl. V. 1, 2.]
Id.
AR Didr. 125 grs., Dr., and ½ Dr.
Astragalos in plain circle.
[N. C., 1903, Pl. X. 6.]
Id.
AR Didr. 130 grs.

These coins belong to the same class as those with the Wheel, attributed to Chalcis, the Gorgoneion to Eretria, and the Horse to Cyme, etc.