Sunday, 20 December 2015

A small obol from Neandreia

I have a perverse pleasure in very small Greek silver coins, the smaller the better. I happened across this one and, whilst I already had an example of it, the state of preservation of this one made me buy it. On a coin only 7mm and weighing in at only 0.4 grammes the artistry of the head of Apollo on one side combined with the goat on the other make this a thing of wonder.

It is a silver obol from the city of Neandreia in the Troas in Anatollia, Turkey, dating from around 400 BC.

We do not know the circumstances of Neandreia's foundation in the Archaic period. A tradition known to the author of the 4th century CE work Dictys Cretensis Ephemeridos belli Trojani claimed that Neandreia had been the home of the legendary king Cycnus who was killed on the first day of the Trojan War by Achilles and his city sacked.

In the 5th century BCE Neandreia was a member of the Delian League and is recorded paying a tribute to Athens of 2,000 drachmas as part of the Hellespontine district from 454 to 410 BC. Soon after this latter date, perhaps following the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War in 404, the city of Neandreia came under the influence of Zenis, the dynast of Dardanus, who controlled the Troad on behalf of the Persian satrap Pharnabazos.