I type hemidrachm
Type: I type hemidrachm

Description, picture:
Silver. The weights range from 1,7 to 2,6 gr.

d=11/12-12/13 mm.

Obverse: Lion’s head to the right/left, showing teeth.

Reverse: Lioness’ protome to the right in quadratum incusum.

Scholarly commentary:    
    “Colchian tetri” is a name of a coin group. Initially, the name “Colchian tetri” was attributed to the II type hemidrachms (the same triobol. Obv. Archaic female head to the right/left within the linear circle or in border of the dots; Rev. Bull’s head to the right within the linear circle). They are abundantly represented in West Georgia and are without doubt of the Colchian origin.
    There are only 4 samples of the I type hemidrachm. All of them were found in West Georgia (Akhalsopeli and Kobuleti).
    The lion’s head depicted on the obverse of the I type hemidrachm is typologically and stylistically identical with the lion’s head depicted on the obverse of the I type didrachm (Obv. Lying hermaphrodite lion to the right/left with a head turned back; Rev. Kneeling female figure with a bull’s head to the right/left in quadratum incusum.). 5 out of 9 pieces of the I type didrachm were found in West Georgia, 3 of which – in Colchian coin hoards of Poti and Akhalsopeli (Zugdidi District). The majority of the coins found in these hoards represent the II type hemidrachm (Obv. Archaic female head to the right/left within the linear circle or in border of the dots; Rev. Bull’s head to the right within the linear circle). The genesis of the latter is undoubtedly Colchian. The topography (West Georgia) of findings of the I type didrachm indicates exactly to its Colchian provenance. The lion’s head depicted on the obverse of the I type hemidrachm is identical with the lion’s head depicted on the obverse of the so-called tetradrachm (Obv. Exceptionally depicted lion’s head to the left/right; Rev. Winged Pegasus to the right in quadratum incusum.).
    Despite the fact that the lion’s an face depiction on the obverse of the so-called drachm (Obv. Lion’s head facing; Rev. Bull’s head to the right in quad-ratum incusum) is without analogy, still it is stylistically associated with the lion iconography of the I type hemidrachm. Although the exact place of finding of the so-called drachm held in the Kutaisi Museum is unknown, still, most probably, it was found somewhere in West Georgia, since, otherwise, this unique piece could not get into a local museum.
    The reverse iconography of the I type didrachm is typologically identical with the bull heads depicted on the reverses of the so-called drachm, III type didrachm (Obv. Archaic female head to the right within the linear circle; Rev. Two bulls’ heads facing each other each in quadratum incusum. The obverse is typologically and stylistically identical with the depiction of the three archaic female heads on the II type didrachm (Obv. Archaic female head to the right within the linear circle (the same as on the II type hemidrachm); Rev. Two identical archaic female heads facing each other each in quadratum incusum)), and II type hemidrachm. The II type hemidrachms were found in their thousands in West Georgia (ancient Colchis), both in the seabord as well as inner territories. One part of the II type didrachms was found in Colchis as well as the III type didrachm. Typological, stylistic, semantic connections and the topography of findings indicate to the coins’ common Colchian genesis.
    Within the Colchian tetri coin group eight types can be distinguished. The question of the local genesis of all the types should be answered in the following manner:
    1) II type hemidrachm (Obv. Archaic female head; Rev. bull’s head) was issued in Colchis. The topography of findings attests to this fact – they were found in their thousands in West Georgia, whereas beyond the territory only several dozens.
    2) III type didrachm (Obv. Archaic female head; Rev. bull heads each in quadratum incusum) is a typological prototype of those coins with female and bull heads, whereas hemidrachm is a much simpler variant with only a bull head. Archaic style of both types links them to each other and makes it the product of the Hellenic political organization of the Colchian economic-geographical region.
    3) II type didrachm (Obv. Archaic female head; Rev. identical heads in two quadratum incusum) resembles the previous type. Reverses might seem different, however below we will stress a typological synthesis of a female figure with a bull on the reverse of the I type didrachm. This means these two figures are synonymous categories. The typology of archaic female head and the topography of findings again draw our attention to the Hellenic poleis of Colchis.
    4) Hemitetartemorion from Pichvnari (Obv. Archaic female head; Rev. crane) is in thematic harmony with other nominals, and here is that is why:
    a) II type didrachm shows triomorphic Hecate (see below).
    b) III type didrachm shows triomorphic and zoomorphic Hecate.
    c) II type hemidrachm’s typology is also identical.
    Thereby everywhere is the moon attribute.
    As to the typology of hemitetartemorion, very symptomatic is a long-feet bird’s and lotus’ Cypriotic (depicted on ceramics) synthesis; the latter is the attribute of the goddess of fertility, whereas the crane was its synonym. The goddess of fertility in Colchis was at the same time the goddess Hecate.
    5) The iconography of this functional synthesis is represented on the reverse of the I type didrachm:
    a) naked female figure is associated with the cult of fertility;
    b) bull’s head is an attribute of the Moon;
    c) ὁ Μείς cult was popular in the hinterland, whereas in the seaboard territories – ἡ Ἑκάτη cult. The variant of the bilingualized Phasis is a hermaphrodite synthesis – here the Moon has two genders, one, as the Greeks think about the Moon, next, the Colchian perception. The typological peculiarities, topography of findings, astral thematics (Obv. lion as a symbol of Apollo/Helios; the latter’s hermaphroditization is another aspect of Apollo’s merge with the local female Sun. The lion is indeed a hermaphrodite – with the mane and the tits.   These two gender categories are iconographically realistically depicted on, for example, the I type Colchian hemidrachm or the Milesian numismatics) link this type to the above-mentioned material.
    6) The so-called Colchian drachm (without the indication of the place of discovery) (Obv. Lion’s head facing; Rev. bull’s head) held in the Kutaisi Museum is typologically and thematically linked to the very didrachm.
    7) The same can be said about the I type hemidrachm (Obv. Lion’s head; Rev. lioness’ protome), where the sun’s hermaphrodite perception is depicted. The topography of findings attributes this piece to the Colchian genesis.
    8) We do not know about the places where the tetradrachms were found. However, the typological parallels with the I type hemidrachm are quite evident; the theme is traditional: Apollo-lion-Sun/Pegasus-Moon.
    The iconography of the I type hemidrachm has a direct analogy in the Milesian (city in the Asia Minor) numismatics. The lion depicted on this coin repeats in every detail the lion’s head depicted on the Milesian coin. Analogous are also the lions’ heads depicted on the so-called tetradrachm and the I type didrachm.
It is well known that Miletus’ main deity was Apollo (many-faceted deity, but for the moment we are more interested in the fact that he was a protector of the roads, merchants and sailors). Also quite well known fact is that the colony was linked to its metropoly primarily through a religious cult; the same deity was worshipped in both colony and metropoly. Lion is Miletus’ state emblem and is depicted on local coins. The depiction of lion is very characteristic to the Greek numismatics and in different geographical location it has various functions. But in Milesian numismatics, as scholars unanimously agree, lion’s figure is linked to the Apollo’s cult. Moreover, the coins from Miletus’ colonies too depict lion’s figure (for example, coins from Panticapaeum – modern Kerch).
    The lion depicted on the I type didrachm, as it was numeral times mentioned in Georgian scholarly literature, repeats in every detail the lion on Milesian numismatics. Identical are the lion heads on the so-called Colchian tetradrachm and the I type hemidrachm.
    In 1899 near the Kuban river in Zubovka village a silver cup with the following inscription was found: “I belong to Apollo-Hegemon, which is in Phasis“. The inscription dates to the 5th c. B.C., or the beginning of the 4th one. All the scholars unanimously agree that the cup was dedicated to the Apollo’s temple which presumably existed in Phasis. Therefore in Phasis, as in all other colonies, the Milesians introduced Apollo’s cult. It should also be emphasized that it was Apollo-Hegemon’s temple meaning it was the colonists’ deity.
    Although lions’ head depicted on Colchian tetri are most undoubtedly associated with the Apollo cult, we should not forget that the main deity of the Georgian pagan pantheon was the Sun. Lion is generally considered as the Sun’s symbol. At the same time, in the beliefs of the Georgian tribes the Sun is considered as female. If we remember that a hermaphrodite lion is depicted on the I type Colchian didrachm, then it is possible to propose yet another hypothesis: did the Greeks strike the coin type with the obverse depiction meeting the two ethnic groups’ (Colchian and Greek) interests, because the depiction of lion is semantically linked to Apollo and one of the main deities of the Georgian tribes – the Sun cult.
    Coins with the depiction of a hermaphrodite lion initially were struck as staters of the Persian system. Siglos, the so-called drachm, belongs to this very emission. The next emission is a Persian stater with the depiction of female heads. The restoration of a hermaphrodite lion depiction is associated with the use of the Attic system – didrachm is struck along with lion-depicted hemidrachms. This was followed by coins with the depiction of female heads representing Attic standard’s didrachm. The II type hemidrachm (Obv. Archaic female head; Rev. bull’s head), on the one hand, is struck according to the Attic system, on the other, it represents a simplified variant of the III type didrachm (Obv. Archaic female head; Rev. bulls’ heads).  Considering the above-mentioned, the following conclusion can be drawn – the III type didrachm should be regarded as a large nominal of the Attic system. The latter type together with the hemidrachms (with the depiction of female head) creates one unified emission. Afterwards, the hemidrachms with the effigy of the female head form very long series of money.
    According to stylistic, technological and metrologic data, the above-given I type hemidrachms can be dated by 5th c. B.C.

Mint: Phasis.
Nominal: Attic system hemidrachm
Date: 5th c. B.C.
Collection: Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia – 3 samples, GF. (Fund of Treasury, Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia.) №4810, №4811, №10587.
G. Dundua. About the Genesis of Lion’s Type Colchian Money (“Kolkhidki”). “Matsne”. Series of History, Archaeology, Ethnology and Art History. №1. Tb. 1972 (in Georg.); Issues About the Genesis of the Colchian Money (“Kolkhidki”). “Matsne”. Series of History… №4. Tb. 1978, “Matsne”. Series of History… №2. Tb. 1979 (A. Kakhidze as co-author) (in Georg.); Numismatic Material from Guria. Guria I. Tb. 1996 (in Georg.); Hoards of Imported Antique Coins (the 6th c. B.C.-4th c. A.D.) from Colchis. Guria II. Tb. 1997 (in Georg.); Colchian Money (“Kolkhidki”) (General Survey). “Iberia-Colchis”. Archaeological Researches of Antique Georgia – Selected Articles. №1. Tb. 2003 (in Georg.); Georgian Numismatics. I. Tb. 2006 (T. Dundua as co-author) (in Georg.); Georgian Numismatic Dictionary. Tb. 2009 (Ir. Jalaghania as co-author) (in Georg.).

T. Dundua. Colchis, Iberia and the Kingdom of Pontus According to Numismatic Material. Tb. 1993 (in Georg.); Georgia and the West According to Numismatic Material. Book I-II. Tb. 1995 (in Georg.); Georgian Ethnocultural Evolution and the West According to Numismatic Material. Tb. 1997 (in Georg.); Colchian Money (“Kolkhidki”) and Some Questions of Colchian History. Tb. 2002 (in Georg.); Money in Georgia (Georg. and Engl. parallel texts) (G. Dundua, N. Javakhishvili and A. Eristavi as co-authors). Tb. 2003 (2nd Edition).

Iv. Javakhishvili. Georgian Numismatics and Metrology. Tb. 1925 (in Georg.).

D. Kapanadze. Notes on the Numismatics of Ancient Colchis. Bulletin (“Moambe”) of the State Museum of Georgia. Vol. XV-B. 1949 (in Georg.); Georgian Numismatics. Tb. 1969 (in Georg.).

O. Lordkipanidze. About the Iconography of the II Type Colchian Didrachm. Researches (“Dziebani”). №3. Tb. 1999 (in Georg.).

S. Makalatia. Colchian Didrachm. Bulletin (“Moambe”) of the State Museum of Georgia. Vol. VII. Tb. 1933 (in Georg.); Discovery of a New Type of the Colchian Coins. Bulletin (“Moambe”) of the State Museum of Georgia. Vol. XIV-B. Tb. 1947 (in Georg.).

К. В. Голенко. Клад синопских и колхидских монет из Кобулети (1948 г.). Вестник Древней Истории (ВДИ). № 1. 1961; Четыре клада Колхидок. Нумизматика и Эпиграфика (НЭ). VI. 1966 (D. Kapanadze as co-author).

И. А. Джавахишвили. Е. А. Пахомов. Монеты Грузии. Христианский Восток. т. I. СПб. 1912.

Г. Ф. Дундуа. Нумизматика античной Грузии. Тб. 1987.

А. Н. Зограф. Распространение находок античних монет на Кавказе. Труды Отдела Нумизматики Государственного Эрмитажа (ТОНГЭ). т. I. Л. 1945.

Д. Г. Капанадзе. Грузинская нумизматика. М. 1955.

Б. А. Куфтин. Материалы к археологии Колхиды. II. Тб. 1950.

Е. А. Пахомов. Монеты Грузии. ч. I. СПб. 1910; Монеты Грузии. ч. I-II. Тб. 1970.

G. Dundua. Les Kolkhidki. Dialogues d’histoire Ancienne. № 8. 1982; Les relations économiques de la Colchide aux Époques Archaïque et Classique d’ après le matériel numismatique. La Mer Noire Zone de Contacts (Actes du VIIe Symposium de Vani – 26-30. IX. 1994). Presses Universitaires Franc-Comtoises. Paris. 1994 (T. Dundua as co-author); Hoards of Foreign Coins of the Classical Period from Colchis (6th century B.C.-4th century A.D.) Georgian Journal of Archaeology. Tb. 2004.

T. Dundua. Georgia within the European Integration as Seen in Coinage. Small Catalogue the Georgian Coins. Tb. 1999; Georgia within the European Integration. Graeco-Roman World, Byzantine Commonwealth, Orthodox Alliance and the Georgians. Tb. 2013.

D. M. Lang. Studies in the Numismatic History of Georgia in Transcaucasia. New York. 1955; Notes on Caucasian Numismatics. The Numismatic Chronicle (N.C.). Vol. XVII. London. 1957.
Imported coins found in Georgia:
Imported coins of the 6th-4th cc. B.C. (struck before Alexander the Great) found in Georgia

Coins from Asia Minor

a) Lydian coins:
1. Found in 1990 in Sulori, near Vani, a hoard of the Colchian hemidrachms included two (?) Lydian silver pieces. One of them was early croeseid (Ar.) (Obv. Lion and bull protomes facing each other. Rev. two incuse squares). And the other one was issued, perhaps, in the first half of the 6th c. B.C. (Obv. Lion’s head. Rev. quadratum incusum), but the style is still Rhodian.

b) The Cyzicene electrum staters:
2. A hoard of Colchian money with the single Cyzicene stater of Nike-type issued in 500-460 B.C. was unearthed by chance in 1952 in Pichvnari village near Kobuleti on the Black Sea coast.
3. The Triton-type Cyzicene stater dated by the end of the first half of the 5th c. B.C. was found again in Pichvnari in the burial №15 of the Greek necropolis during the excavations of 1968.
4. One more Cyzicene stater struck in 460-440/30 B.C. with the effigy of a Nymph was discovered in 1967 at the same necropolis in the burial №6.
5. Discovery of the same category must be presumed also in Central Colchis, namely in Vani/Surion in 1895.

c) The Sinopean drachms:
6. The Sinopean drachm of the 6th-5th cc. B.C. (Obv. Dolphin; Rev. quadratum incusum) was fixed in 1967 in Pichvnari at the Colchian necropolis.
7-8. The Sinopean drachm dated by the 4th c. B.C. (the upper chronological limit of the issue is 370 B.C.) was found by chance in Ureki on seashore. The synchronous drachm, or, at least, the one struck before 360 B.C. was also discovered by chance in Ureki in 1966. Here is a general description: Obv. Head of a nymph to the left. Rev. Sea-eagle upon a dolphin. Legends: ΣΙΝΩ and a name (in abbreviation form) of a magistrate.
9-12. Next four examples were found in the beginning of the 20th century in the outskirts of Batumi, one of the most important Georgian ports. All of them were issued in the first half of the 4th c. B.C. (the same type as for №7-8).
13. A hoard weighting some 13-17 pounds was unearthed by chance in Pichvnari in 1948. Only 158 examples became the subjects of a scientific attribution. The Sinopean drachms (110 specimens, the same type as for № 7-8) and the Colchian hemidrachms (the rest) turn out to be the composites of this numismatic complex. The Sinopean coins are dated by 360-320 B.C. in general.
14. Towards the end of the 19th c. the 4th c. B.C. Sinopean drachm (the same type) was found in Sukhumi.

d) Amisus’ sigloi
15. The silver coin of Amisus struck in the 4th c. B.C (before Alexander the Great) with the type of woman’s head and an owl was discovered by chance in Kobuleti in 1966.
16. The identical specimen was found again by chance on the territory of the Sukhumi fortress.

North Black Sea Coast coins:

a) Panticapaeum.
17. The silver piece of Panticapaeum (Obv. Dolphin’s head; Rev. quadratum incusum) dated by 475-450 B.C. was found in the burial №5 in 1967 at Pichvnari’s Greek necropolis.
18. Panticapaeum’s copper of 370-340 B.C. was discovered in 1926 in Tsikhisdziri, near Kobuleti.

b) The diobol (1/3 drachm) of Nymphaeum.
19. The diobol of Nymphaeum struck in the last quarter of the 5th c. B.C. (Obv. Head of a nymph; Rev. quadratum incusum with effigy of vine) was found in the burial №8 at Pichvnari’s Greek necropolis in 1968.

The Achaemenid sigloi:

20. In the above-mentioned Sulori hoard (№1) there was also the Achaemenid siglos of the 5th c. B.C. (Obv. Crowned figure, bearded, running right, with quiver at shoulder, holding transverse spear and bow).
21. According to certain information, in 1856 in the vicinity of Surami (East Georgia) Achaemenid siglos was found along with the Colchian hemidrachms.

Athenian tetradrachms:

22.  The Athenian tetradrachm of the 5th-4th cc. B.C. was found in Green Cape (near Batumi) environs towards the end of the 19th c.
23. The Athenian tetradrachm was unearthed by chance in Sakire village (Dmanisi District) in 1939. Russian savant E. Pakhomov dated it by 5th-4th cc. B.C.


24. The stater of Philip II was found in the burial of the Colchian warrior during the excavations of 1969 in Vani. Obv. Apollo – head to the right. Rev. Two-horse racing car to the right and the name ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ. Lion’s head an face as an adjunct symbol.