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HOME : Greek Coins : Greek City States : Illyrian Silver Drachm of Dyrrachium Issued Under the Moneyer Xenon
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Illyrian Silver Drachm of Dyrrachium Issued Under the Moneyer Xenon - C.5515
Origin: Minted in Dyrrhachium
Circa: 229 BC to 100 BC

Collection: Numismatics
Medium: Silver

Location: United States
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Obverse: Cow Standing to the Right, Suckling Calf Under Kneeling to the Left, Eagle Above

Reverse: Double Doors with Floral Stellate Pattern

The ancient city known to the Romans as Dyrrachium (present day Durres, Albania) was actually founded as Epidamnos by Greek colonists from Corinth and Corfu in 627 B.C. The site was chosen no doubt for its natural rocky harbor and high cliffs, making the city difficult to attack either from land or sea. Although the city was fought over by Corinth and Corfu, it was seized by the Illyrians under King Glaukias in 312 B.C. Eventually, in 229 B.C., following a major defeat at the hands of the Roman Republic, the city came under domination by the Romans who rechristened it Dyrrachium, meaning “difficult ridge” in Greek, possibly referring to the imposing cliffs near the city. Under the Romans, the city became a major naval and military base. The city also benefited as one of the western termini of the Via Egnatia, the road that connected the Adriatic ports with Thessalonica and Byzantium in the east. During the Roman Republic, moneyers were in charge of minting coinage. Controlling what legends were branded on the coins, some moneyers used this position to promote themselves and their political ambitions, as did the one named on this coin, Xenon.

How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether currency in the age we live or an artifact of a long forgotten empire. This ancient coin is more than an artifact; it is a memorial to an ancient city passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation. - (C.5515)


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