Ancient Greek and non-Greek societies: an interaction seen through the coinage
1 rue Dupanloup
The coinage was born in Lydia (Asia Minor), in the second half of the 7th century BC and was gradually developed into monetary systems that were used in the entire ancient Greek world. It was later borrowed by the ancient non-Greek societies, living at the border or in contact with the Greeks: the Illyrians, Thracians and Celts. These societies are mentioned by the ancient literary sources, where they are defined as “barbarians”, meaning non-Greek. However, the rarity of these sources, makes the study of the relations between Greeks and non-Greeks, very difficult. In this context, the study of the adoption of the coinage and monetization of these non-Greek societies brings new evidence on their interactions.
They were mainly introduced to the coinage by trade/exchange and by the Greek colonies founded in their territory. In the cases where there is historical information, it seems that the adoption of the coinage by these societies is linked to the remuneration of the warriors, especially as Greek mercenaries. Similarities and particularities in the adoption and usage of the coinage by the Illyrians, Thracians and Celts, can be identified through a comparative approach. In this regard, different phenomena can be distinguished: a late appearance of the coinage (particularly among Illyrians and Celts); the borrowing of Greek coin types (visible in the coinages of the three societies) and the use of legend in Greek; an “experimenting” with the typology of the coins (most evident among Thracians and Celts); minting sporadic issues in the name of a tribe/society or king (evident among the three societies); and, imitating/copying coins of other cities (particularly visible among the Thracians). These different forms of the appearance of money among these peoples are revelatory of their way of approaching certain aspects of the Greek civilization, as with the coinage they also adopt images of the Greek gods and follow a certain weight standard and other practices. It is however curious to see how these societies use the coinage in their own original way and according to their own needs..
LE STUDIUM / FIAS research fellow