Online English-Georgian Catalogue of Georgian Numismatics
Municipal copper coins of Dioscurias with the effigies of Dioscuri’s caps and thyrsos
Type: Municipal copper coins of Dioscurias with the effigies of Dioscuri’s caps and thyrsos

Description, picture:
The weight range: chalkos ex. – 1,3-3,1 gr., dichalkon ex. –  3,7-5 gr., tetrachalkon ex. – 6,1 gr. d≈14 mm.

Obverse: Caps of Dioscuri, surmounted by six, or eight-pointed stars.

Thyrsos of Dionysus, i.e. of Mithridates Eupator in the center of the coin, the Greek three-line legend on both sides ΔΙΟΣ/ΚΟΥΡΙΑ/ΔΟΣ.

Scholarly commentary:
    Pontic coins issued during the rule of Mithridates VI (120-63 B.C.) discovered in Western Georgia indicate to intensive political and economic relations between Pontus and Colchis. The coins issued locally are far more important. Municipal copper coins of Dioscurias with the inscription ΔΙΟΣ/ΚΟΥΡΙΑ/ΔΟΣ  are among them. To know the time of their issue, that means to know exactly when Pontus annexed Colchis. This story is narrated in the sources, however, without the indication of specific date. The coins typologically are connected to the municipal copper coins of Pontus – obverse type (two Phrygian caps) are taken from Amisus’ coins, issued in 120-111 B.C. and reverse type (thyrsos) is borrowed from municipal numismatics of Southern and Northern  Black Sea coasts, from the coins, struck in 105-90 B.C. To sum up, the coins minted in Dioscurias should be undoubtedly dated back to the end of 2nd c. B.C. and the beginning of the 1st c. B.C. Accordingly, Mithridates VI annexed the Black Sea Eastern coast exactly in those times.  The Dioscurians, subjugated to Mithridates, preserved  their municipal structures and struck their own copper money. Also, it seems that Mithridates’ garrison was located in Dioscurias and the official appointed by him controlled the mint.
Mint: Dioscurias.
Nominal: Chalkos ex. – 1,3-3,1 gr., dichalkon ex. – 3,7-5 gr., tetrachalkon ex. – 6,1 gr.
Date: The verge of the 2nd-1st cc. B.C.
Collection: Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia – 12 samples, QF. (Main Fund of the Georgian Coins, Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia) №51, QF. №№1701-1703, QF. №3149, QF. №3766, QF. №4029, QF. №№4030-4034; Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg – 11 samples, Numismatic Department of Hermitage, №1, №2, №3, №4, №5, №6, №6а, №7, №9, №10, №11; Moscow Historical Museum – 11 samples, Numismatic Department of Moscow Historical Museum, book-case №8, shelf №36.
G. Dundua.
Money in Georgia (Georg. and Engl. parallel texts). Tb. 2003 (2nd Edition) (T. Dundua, N. Javakhishvili and A. Eristavi as co-authors); Georgian Numismatics. I. Tb. 2006 (T. Dundua as co-author) (in Georg.);  Georgian Numismatic Dictionary. Tb. 2009 (I. 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. Vol. I-II. Tb. 1995 (in Georg.).

D. Kapanadze. Georgian Numismatics. Tb. 1969 (in Georg.).

К. В. Голенко. Монеты из случайных находок в Патрэе (1947-1950). Вестник Древней Истории (ВДИ). №3. 1952; К датировке  монет Диоскуриады. Нумизматический сборник. Тб. 1977.

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

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

Г. А. Лордкипанидзе. К некоторым вопросам истории Колхиды II-I вв. до н. э. “Matsne”. Series of History, Archaeology, Ethnology and Art History. №2. Tb. 1965; К истории древней Колхиды.  Тб. 1970.

K. Golenko. Kolchis. Chiron. №2. München. 1972.

Imported coins found in Georgia:

The 3rd-1st cc. B.C. foreign coins from West Georgia

There are two regions in money circulation of Colchis in the 3rd-1st cc. B.C.: the coastal region and the hinterland. In the first case, as an example, coins from Dioscurias and the neighbouring territories are taken, whereas in the second one, mainly, coins from Vani.

Dioscurias and the neighbouring territories:

1.    During archaeological excavations in Eshera, the 3rd c. B.C. Sinopean hemidrachms were found: a) Obv. Head of Nymph Sinope; Rev. Eagle – 1 sample (identical coins were found in Pichvnari (3 samples), and Dapnari (1 sample)); b) Obv. Head of Nymph Sinope; Rev. Prow.
2.    In 1939 late 3rd c.-early 2nd c. B.C. Amisus’ siglos was found on the territory of the Sokhumi fortress.
3.    On the same territory was found one Roman republican denarius struck in 171-151 B.C.
4.    On the same territory was found one silver piece of Panticapaeum dated by the first half of the 2nd c. B.C. (Obv. Satyr; Rev. Cornucopia placed between two caps of the Dioscuri).
5.    In 1949 in Sokhumi, nearby the seaboard, the so-called “new style” Athenian tetradrachm (its emission began in Athens at the end of the 3rd c. B.C. (Obv. Athena’s head in helmet to the right, which is the copy of the work of the 5th c. B.C. Greek sculptor Phidias; Rev. Owl sitting on an amphora, date and name of the city, magistrates etc.)) was found dated by 130-129 B.C.
6.    Roman republican denarius struck in 99-94 B.C. in the name of Marcus Sergius Silus was found in Sokhumi.
7.    In 1942 tetrachalkon of Panticapaeum struck in 100-75 B.C. was found by chance on the territory of the Sokhumi fortress (Obv. Apollo; Rev. Scepter on a tripod).
8.    During archaeological excavations in Eshera, tetrachalkon and dichalkon of the times of Mithridates VI Eupator (dated by 111-105 B.C. or 105-90 B.C.) were discovered. One of them is struck in Amisus (Ares – sword).
9.    Another 7 copper coins (dated by 105-90 B.C. (Gorgon-Nike)) of the Pontic cities are found in the same territory. Although the coins are badly preserved, one of them is definitely struck in Amisus, and another, probably, in Amastris.
10.    In 1886 in Sokhumi during archaeological excavations copper coin struck in Amisus in 105-90 B.C. was found.
11.    Tetrachalkon was  found in Eshera in 1971 dated by the reign of Mithridates VI Eupator and struck in the city of Pharnacia (Tyche – Zeus).
12.    In 1972 in Eshera dichalkon was found of the same date struck in Neocaesarea (Obv. Dionysus’ head; Rev. Thyrsos).
13.    Tetrachalkon struck in Amisus in 80-70 B.C. was found in Eshera (Zeus – Eagle).
14.    In 1936 in the outskirts of Sokhumi, Mithridates VI Eupator’s two tetradrachms were found dated by 74 B.C.
15.    In the seaboard of Sokhumi Roman republican denarius was found dated by 87 B.C.
16.    On the territory of the Sokhumi fortress Roman republican denarius was found dated by 83 B.C.
17.    In Eshera Roman republican denarius was found struck in Sicily and dated by 49 B.C.
18.    In the outskirts of Sokhumi Roman republican denarius was found struck in 48 B.C.


1.    Three copper coins of the 2nd-1st cc. B.C. (?)
2.    The so-called “new style” Athenian coins: a) drachm struck in 146/5 B.C.; b) tetradrachm dated by 125/4 B.C.
3.    Small-size silver coin, struck in Rhodes in 166-88 B.C. with the depiction of Helios and a rose. This is the only case of finding a Rhodean coin in Georgia.
4.    Drachms of the Cappadocian kings: a) Ariarathes VI (130-116 B.C.) – 1 sample; b) Ariarathes VII (116-101 B.C.) – 1 sample; c) Ariarathes IX (101-87 B.C.) – 2 samples; d) Ariobarzanes I (96-63 B.C.) – 3 samples.
5.    Roman republican denarii – 2 samples (one struck either in 119-110 B.C. or in 90-80 B.C., the other – 64 B.C.); quinarius (half denarius) – 1 sample, dated by 102 B.C.
6.    Copper coins of the Pontic cities struck in Mithridates VI Eupator’s reign:
a)    Dated by 111-105 B.C. Type: Ares – Sword; 1 sample;
b)    111-105 B.C. or 105-90 B.C. – 14 samples, type – identical. Amisus’ mint – 5 samples, undecipherable – 9 samples;
c)    105-90 B.C. – 1 sample. Type: Athena – Perseus, Amisus’ mint;
d)    105-90 B.C. Type: Gorgon – Nike, Amisus – 7 samples, Amastris – 3 samples, unidentified mint – 14 samples. Altogether 24 samples;
e)    90-80 B.C. – 1 sample. Type: Dionysus – cista (sacrificial chest); Amisus;
f)    80-70 B.C. – 5 samples. Type: Zeus – Eagle, Amisus – 2 samples, unidentified mint – 3 samples;
g)    Badly preserved copper coins, but, undoubtedly struck in the Pontic cities during the reign of Mithridates VI – 9 samples.
Thus, there are 55 samples, out of which: 47 samples – tetrachalkon; 6 samples – dichalkon; 1 – obol (nominal of copper coins).
7.    Mithridates VI Eupator’s tetradrachm dated by 74-3 B.C. Obv. Mithridates Eupator’s head with hair loose to the right (his face resembling Alexander the Great’s); Rev. Grazing deer to the left. Above the deer the emblem of the Mithridatic dynasty – crescent and a star. Inscription – BΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΙΘΡΑΔΑΤΟΥ ΕΥΠΑΤΟΡΟΣ – “of king Mithridates Eupator”, date and monogrammes.
8.    Another tetradrachm of Mithridates VI Eupator was found during Vani archaeological excavations. The only difference is the depiction of a winged Pegasus on the reverse.
9.    Parthian drachms: Sinatruces (77-70 B.C.) – 1 sample; Orodes II (57-38/7 B.C.) – 1 sample.
10.    Cistophorus (large-size silver coin. It owes its name to a figure on its reverse: cista) struck in Pergamon in 50-49 B.C.

Other parts of the hinterland:

11.    In 1914 in Zugdidi District, tetradrachm of the Armenian king Tigranes II (95-55 B.C.) was found by chance.
12.    In the vicinity of Chiatura a tetradrachm (struck in Antioch in 83-69 B.C.) of  Tigranes II was found.
13.    In 1930 in the Ghumuri village of the Gali District three silver coins were found by chance. According to A. Zograff, one of them, denarius of Titus Carizius, was struck in 45 B.C.
14.    In 1897 in the Sazodelavo village, Senaki District, the 1st c. B.C. hoard of 23 Roman denarii was found by chance.