Towards the Origin and Spread of Imitations of Athenian Coins in the East in 5th-6th Centuries ВC

Strelkov Andrey V.

While studying the reasons that caused imitation of Athenian coins in a certain region, one must take into consideration not only the impact of coins minted in Athens, but also the existence of coins of Athenian type issued earlier by other states in imitation of the Athenian ones. In the second half of the 5th с. ВС crews of the ships belonging to the Athenian Sea Power were recruited from allied states and, possibly, from other Greek poleis. This was a kind of mercenary service, and it is most probable that oarsmen were paid in Athenian money. This situation de facto turned Athenian coins into generally received currency for remuneration of mercenaries and made oarsmen's wages on Athenian ships standard for analogous jobs in all Aegeis. Imitations of Athenian coins appear in the final period of the Peloponnesian war in eastern satrapies of the Persian Empire as money intended for paying mercenaries (crews of the Spartan navy). For the same purpose (payments to Greek mercenaries) they began to be used in Egypt, but here their use developed so that they actually became first Egyptian coins. Egyptian imitations were the starting-point for Mesopotamian issues, which most probably influenced the start of Bactrian imitations. It is not improbable that Athenian coins came to be known in Qataban to a great extent through eastern imitations. Only Palestinian issues could have been direct imitations of Athenian models. It is worth noting, though, that if original Athenian coins of the 5th and 6th centuries ВС had not justly had high prestige with the ancient world, they would have never been imitated at all.