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Thraco-Macedonian tribes in coinage

Some of the nations that inhabited the central and eastern parts of Macedonia are known as Thraco-Macedonian. The history of their past and their geographical distribution have not been clarified precisely, as only a few information are known about them. Sporadic references have been found in Herodotus' texts as well as in other historical resources and, in some cases, very important pieces of information, concerning the Thraco-Macedonian nations, are given by the silver coins they had cut. Some of the Thraco-Macedonian tribes depicted in the coins are the Edonians [image 1], the Ichnaeoi [image 2-4], the Laeaeoi [image 5], the Orreskioi [image 6-7], the Vissaltes [image 8-9] and the Derrones [image 10]. Most of the coins witness the names of the kings of these tribes such as an 8-drachma where the phrase "Yeta king of Edonians" has been inscribed in greek. This is the sole evidence of king Yeta's existence. The name of Mosse, king of Vissaltes, was also inscribed on a silver drachma coin.

The coinage cut of the Thraco-Macedonian tribes began in the end of the 6th century BC (around 520-521 BC) and it lasted until the first decades of the 5th century BC. The mines of Macedonia allowed the cutting of coinage with big face values such as 12-drachmas, 10-drachmas and 8-drachmas.

Discovering such coins in treasures of Near East and Egypt is possibly due to the fact that coinage cutting of the nations was relevant to the taxes paid to the Persian king as well as to the trading exchanges between the nations.

When Darius subjugated Thrace (around 513 BC) he imposed the Persian domination in Macedonia making it paying taxes to the Persians. As Macedonia was rich in silver mines, this metal was extracted in the form of coinage. Some of the coins that have been found nowadays are divided into pieces or deeply graved, probably in order to check their purity.

Scenes derived from agricultural activities, mythology and religion were depicted on the Thraco-Macedonian coins, with a focus on scenes with animals such as cows, horses as well as humans like fighters, or nymphs and centaurs.