Civic Badge on Coins of Cyzicus

13 Dec 2017  Wed

Cyzicus was a popular trade centre on the Sea of Marmara under the Persian Empire. It was captured by Alexander in 334 BCE. Electrum staters of Cyzicus were among the most popular Greek coins from the first half of the 6th Century BCE. It was used over a period of several decades for trade purposes. Cyzicus was not restricted by other member states of the Delian League for minting their own currency. They were allowed to continue making beautiful and varied types of coins.

The Cyzicus electrum staters were equal to 24 or 25 Attic drachms. It was also equal to a hekte or almost an Attic tetradrachm. Many such coins feature s “civic badge” to identify the issuer or origin. Civic badges indicate that people were proud of their origins and ancestry. The most popular coins didn’t require an inscription since the elements were unique and self-explanatory. Badges were based on symbols of founding mythology, a pun on the city name, economy, or a diety.

Cyzicus was known for Tuna fishing, which is why the coins featured fishes. Coins issued earlier featured just the tuna fish. Animals or mythological figures were added later on. The reverse remained the same featuring a simple incuse punch.

The featured coin depicts two dolphins around Cyzicus’ tuna. The Dolphins stand for the god of the sea - Poseidon who was the brother of Zeus and a powerful Olympian god.