Victor Cojocaru

‘Arrow-money’ and ‘Scythian’ coins as medium of exchanges between money and prestige economy in the North-western Black Sea area

In the first part of the study, the research focuses on arrowheads valued as money, especially on aspects related to the origin and early functionality of ‘arrow-money’ within the context of an emerging common market for the Greeks and ‘Barbarians’ in the north-western Black Sea area. Despite the different geo-political circumstances valid for each Milesian apoikia, the extensive circulation of ‘arrow-money’ and cast copper coins generally from Apollonia to Kerkinitis allows us to presume that the whole region had one united market; this was connected to the sacred sphere of the Greek colonists’ lives, from early colonization to the Classical times. In the second part, the research is centred on another particular aspect of numismatic evidence in the context of long-term relations between the Greeks and non-Greeks in the western and north-western area of the Pontus Euxinus – coin recognition as symbol of legitimate power by some ‘barbarian’ dynasts. Chronologically, this spans the 2nd century BC, when in the territory of Scythia Minor (current Dobrudja) six dynasts with Iranian names are recorded to have used coinage with Greek iconography and legends. Archaeological and written sources (especially inscriptions) provide a basis for a simplified model describing money functions in the north-western Black Sea area on various levels in the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. The author believes that there were at least nine means by which coinage flowed from the Greek cities on the coast to their chorai and further to inland populations: 1. Money as medium of exchange. 2. Individual finds of the lost or intentionally deposited pieces as a result of peoples’ mobility. 3. Annual tribute. 4. Diplomatic gifts. 5. Payment to mercenaries. 6. Ransoms for prisoners. 7. Occasional spoil of the poleis by certain barbarian dynasts. 8. Money hoarding (accumulation) for various purposes. 9. Monetary-signs and Greek copper money also seems to have played a role in rites of passage as funeral offerings. Compared to circumstances in other peripheral societies, it is possible to imagine that ‘arrow-money’ and subsequent small copper coins would be most easily accepted as standard value, acting as an intermediary and convertible factor in various transactions between the Greek money economy and the prestige economy of Thracian and Iranian ‘Barbarians’.


North-western Black Sea area; Greco-‘Barbarian’ relations; ‘arrow-money’; ‘Scythian’ coins; money functions.