A litra is a small silver coin used in the colonies of Ancient Greece in general and in ancient Sicily in particular. As a coin, the litra was similar in value to the obol and weighed one-third of a Roman libra, in silver, the coin weighed 0.87 g and was equal to one-fifth of a drachma. In the 3rd-century apocryphal New Testament text known as the Acts of Thomas, in the Talmud, the litra is a unit of measurement, the equivalent of 60 shekels, weighing 354 g. Media related to Litra at Wikimedia Commons
Ancient Greek coinage
The history of Ancient Greek coinage can be divided into four periods, the Archaic, the Classical, the Hellenistic and the Roman. The Archaic period extends from the introduction of coinage to the Greek world during the 7th century BC until the Persian Wars in about 480 BC, the Greek cities continued to produce their own coins for several more centuries under Roman rule. The coins produced during this period are called Roman provincial coins or Greek Imperial Coins, the word drachm means a handful, literally a grasp. Drachmae were divided into six obols, and six spits made a handful and this suggests that before coinage came to be used in Greece, spits in prehistoric times were used as measures in daily transactions. Because of this aspect, Spartan legislation famously forbade issuance of Spartan coin, and enforced the continued use of iron spits so as to discourage avarice. In addition to its meaning, the word obol was retained as a Greek word for coins of small value. The obol was further subdivided into tetartemorioi which represented 1/4 of an obol and this coin is mentioned by Aristotle as the smallest silver coin.
Various multiples of this denomination were struck, including the trihemitetartemorion valued at 3/8 of an obol and these coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver that was highly prized and abundant in that area. By the middle of the 6th century BC, technology had advanced, making the production of pure gold, King Croesus introduced a bi-metallic standard that allowed for coins of pure gold and pure silver to be struck and traded in the marketplace. The Greek world was divided more than two thousand self-governing city-states, and more than half of them issued their own coins. As such coins circulated widely, other cities began to mint coins to this Aeginetan weight standard of. Athenian coins, were struck on the Attic standard, over time, Athens plentiful supply of silver from the mines at Laurion and its increasing dominance in trade made this the pre-eminent standard. These coins, known as owls because of their central design feature, were minted to an extremely tight standard of purity.
This contributed to their success as the premier trade coin of their era, tetradrachms on this weight standard continued to be a widely used coin through the classical period. By the time of Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors, the Classical period saw Greek coinage reach a high level of technical and aesthetic quality. Larger cities now produced a range of silver and gold coins, most bearing a portrait of their patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side. Some coins employed a visual pun, some coins from Rhodes featured a rose, the use of inscriptions on coins began, usually the name of the issuing city. The wealthy cities of Sicily produced some especially fine coins, the large silver decadrachm coin from Syracuse is regarded by many collectors as the finest coin produced in the ancient world, perhaps ever
The danake or danace was a small silver coin of the Persian Empire, equivalent to the Greek obol and circulated among the eastern Greeks. Later it was used by the Greeks in other metals, the 2nd-century grammarian Julius Pollux gives the name as danikê or danakê or danikon and says that it was a Persian coin, but by Polluxs time this was an anachronism. The term as used by archaeologists is vague in regard to denomination, a single coin buried with the dead and made of silver or gold is often referred to as a danake and presumed to be a form of Charons obol. Numismatists have found the danake an elusive coin to identify, in Persia, the danake was originally a unit of weight for bulk silver, representing one-eighth of a shekel. This use of the word became obsolete, in the Hellenistic period and it designated the silver Attic obol, which originally represented the sixth part of a drachma, in New Persian dâng means one sixth. Charons obol is sometimes called a naulum. In literary sources, the smallness of the denomination was taken as a reminder that death is an equalizer of rich, the coin, was customarily a drachma.
In his entry on the δανάκη, Hesychius implies that the coin was mentioned by Heracleides of Cyme in his lost work Persica around 350 B. C. placing its use in the Achaemenid period, gold danakes are frequently found in graves. In a Thessalian burial of the 4th century B. C. a gold danake had been placed on the lips of a woman, the coin was stamped with a Gorgons head. In archaeological investigations of Greece since the mid-1990s, danakes have tended to be found in cemeteries, at a necropolis at Hephaisteia on Lemnos, exploration of which began in 1995, the many finds in unlooted graves included a gold danake. A gold danake of Geta dating 199–200 A. D. was among objects — including potsherds, animal bones and shells, the well was surrounded by a paved floor and housed by a stone structure. It is thought that the deposition followed funerary meals and offerings to the dead, in investigations reported 2004–2005, a single gold danake was found along with bronze coins and glassware in an Achaian cemetery where both adults and children had been buried in wooden coffins.
Graves in Euboia yielded pottery and glassware, small tools, iron strigils. The items dated from the 4th to the 2nd century B. C, the word danake continued in use into the Middle Ages as Arabic daneq, Persian dangh or daneh, and post-classical Sanskrit tanka. The name has connected to the silver tangka of India
Legacy of the Indo-Greeks
The Kushans founded the Kushan Empire, which was to prosper for several centuries. In the south, the Greeks were under the rule of the Western Kshatrapas and it is unclear how much longer the Greeks managed to maintain a distinct presence in the Indian sub-continent. The 36 Indo-Greek kings known through epigraphy or through their coins belong to the period between 180 BCE to 10–20 CE, there are a few hints of a Indo-Greek political presence in the Indian subcontinent. Theodamas, known from an inscription on a signet, may have been an Indo-Greek ruler in the Bajaur area in the 1st century CE. In the 3rd century, the Scythian Western Satraps seem to have relied on Greeks, such as Yavanesvara, some sort of Greek political organization is thought to have existed in the first half of the 4th century after the rule of the Satavahanas. As far as this place the land is under the rule of the Parthians, the city of Alexandria Bucephalus on the Jhelum River is still mentioned in the 1st century Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, as well as in the Roman Peutinger Table.
Around 200 CE, the Manu Smriti describes the downfall of the Yavanas, as well as others,43. But in consequence of the omission of the rites, and of their not consulting Brahmanas. The Paundrakas, the Chodas, the Dravidas, the Kambojas, the Yavanas, the Shakas, the Paradas, the Pahlavas, the Chinas, the Kiratas, the Daradas and the Khashas. There are important references to the warring Mleccha hordes of the Yavanas, Kambojas, the time frame for these struggles is 2nd century BCE downwards. Dr Raychadhury fixes the date of the present version of the Valmiki Ramayana around/after 2nd century CE, the invading hordes of the Sakas, Yavanas, Abhiras, etc. There is a distinct prophetic statement in the Mahabharata which says that the Mlechha kings of the Sakas, Kambojas, Abhiras, ray Chaudhury, this is too clear a statement to be ignored or explained away. This statement, couched in the form of prophecy in true style, alludes to a historical situation which followed the collapse of Maurya. The dedication mentions vaga stratego puyaite viyayamitro ya i.
e, the Lord Commander Viyayamitra is honored too. It is difficult not to associate Kanishkas emphasis here on the use of the Aryan language with the replacement of Greek by Bactrian on his coinage, the numismatic evidence shows that this must have taken place very early in Kanishkas reign. The Greek script was used not only on coins, but in manuscripts, a Greek Yona calendar era seems to have been in use in Northwestern Indian for several centuries following the foundation of the Indo-Greek kingdom. The inscription would date to c.15 CE, a second inscription, called the Maghera inscription, found in the Mathura district, is dated to the year 116 of the Era of the Greeks, which would correspond to 70 BCE. The names of the months belonging to the Ancient Macedonian calendar remained in use under the Indo-Scythians, for example the Indo-Scythian Taxila copper plate inscription uses the Macedonian month of Panemos
The cistophorus was a coin of ancient Pergamum. It was introduced sometime in the years 175-160 BC at that city to provide the Attalid kingdom with a substitute for Seleucid coins and it was used by a number of other cities that were under Attalid control. It continued to be minted and circulated down to the time of Hadrian and it owes its name to a figure, on the obverse, of the sacred chest of Dionysus. It was tariffed at four drachmas, but weighed only as much as three Attic drachmas,12.75 grams, in addition, the evidence of hoards suggests that it did not travel outside the area which Pergamum controlled. It is therefore suspected that it was overvalued in this area, article in Smiths Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
The stater was an ancient coin used in various regions of Greece. The term is used for similar coins, imitating Greek staters. The stater, as a Greek silver currency, first as ingots, the earliest known stamped stater is an electrum turtle coin, struck at Aegina that dates to about 700 BC. It is on display at the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, the silver stater minted at Corinth of 8.6 grams weight was divided into three silver drachmas of 2.9 grams, but was often linked to the Athenian silver didrachm coin weighing 8.6 grams. In comparison, the Athenian silver tetradrachm was weighing 17.2 grams. There existed a gold stater, but it was minted in some places, and was mainly an accounting unit worth 20–28 drachmas depending on place and time. The use of gold staters in coinage seems mostly of Macedonian origin, the best known types of Greek gold staters are the 28 drachmas Kyzikenos from Cyzicus. Celtic tribes brought the concept to Western and Central Europe after obtaining it while serving as mercenaries in north Greece.
Gold staters were minted in Gaul by Gallic chiefs modeled after those of Philip II of Macedonia, some of these staters in the form of the Gallo-Belgic series were imported to Britain on a large scale. These went on to influence a range of staters produced in Britain, british Gold staters generally weighed between 6.5 and 4.5 grams. Celtic staters were minted in present-day Czech Republic and Poland. The conquests of Alexander extended Greek culture east, leading to the adoption of staters in Asia, Gold staters have been found from the ancient region of Gandhara from the time of Kanishka
Silver stater with a turtle
The silver stater with a Turtle is a coin from the 6th century BC Greece. The front has a sea turtle design, while the back has a punch mark, the earliest coins were made of electrum, a mix of gold and silver. The coins were first made in the island of Aegina off the south east side of Greece, some historical sources say the first coins were made by the king off Argos, Pheidon. The coins with turtle design are considered an important early trading currency
Philippeioi, called Alexanders, were the gold coins used in the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia. They had the value of one gold stater each, in the first issuing, Apollo was depicted with long hair, but after that the design was altered permanently to one in which Apollos hair was shorter. The coins were intended primarily for large purchases outside of Macedonia, the vast majority of these were actually struck by Philips successor, Alexander the Great. The philippeioi issued by Alexander after Philips death continued to use that name officially, considered the most famous coins to be struck by king Philip II, the philippeioi continued to be highly influential even after they were no longer in circulation. Their design was widely mimicked or replicated by currencies outside of Greece, the Gaulish gold staters, whose design closely mimicked that of the philippeioi, continued to be minted up until the end of the Gallic Wars three centuries later. The coins were so widespread that in many ancient Roman texts, ancient Macedonian coins, Numismatic Museum of Athens
The obol was a form of ancient Greek currency and weight. Obols were used from early times, according to Plutarch they were originally spits of copper or bronze traded by weight, while six obols make a drachma or a handful, since that was as many as the hand could grasp. Heraklides of Pontus in his work on Etymologies mentions the obols of Heraion and this is confirmed by the historian Ephorus on his work On Inventions. Excavations at Argos discovered several dozen of these early obols, dated well before 800 BC, Plutarch states the Spartans had an iron obol of four coppers. They retained the cumbersome and impractical bars rather than proper coins to discourage the pursuit of wealth, in Classical Athens, obols were traded as silver coins. Six obols made up the drachma, there were coins worth two obols and three obols. Each obol was divisible into eight coppers, during this era, an obol purchased a kantharos and chous of wine. Three obols was a rate for prostitutes. Legend had it that those without wealth or whose friends refused to follow proper burial rites were forced to wander the banks of the river for one hundred years.
The obol or obolus was a measurement of Greek, Roman, in ancient Greece, it was generally reckoned as 1⁄6 drachma. Under Roman rule, it was defined as 1⁄48 of a Roman ounce or about 0.57 grams, the apothecaries system reckoned the obol or obolus as 1⁄48 ounce or 1⁄2 scruple. The obolus, along with the mirror, was a symbol of new schismatic heretics in the short story The Theologians by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. The currency of the United States of the Ionian Islands was called the Obol The British halfpenny, known as the obol Obelisks. I of the Loeb Classical Library edition,1914 Plutarch, Lycurgus,9 A History of Measures The Use of Obeliskoi How we came to know about the iron obols, the antecedents of the drachma