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Astragaloi on Greek Coins of Asia Minor

Abstract : Astragaloi appear frequently on Greek coins as one of a range of subordinate symbols, which demarcate individual issues within larger series. More significant are the rarer cases where astragaloi appear as the main type, or as an invariable or regular sub-type. Within Asia Minor such cases are confined, with few exceptions, to a region stretching from Cilicia/Cyprus to Lycia, and to a cluster of cases in and near western Ionia, where the common denominator seems to be proximity to the oracle at Claros. In both regions astragalomancy is attested in other sources. Most of the coins concerned date from the late fifth to the early third centuries BCE, especially the first half of the fourth century; then there is a gap until the Severan period and later when several cities depict on coins children playing astragaloi before a cult-statue. In both regions astragaloi usually appear as main types on small silver denominations and on bronze coins, and not on larger silver denominations. Both phenomena at present elude convincing explanation. At Kalchedon on the Bosporus, which had an oracle of Apollo, an astragalos appears as the main obverse type on some small, rare, fourth century bronzes. In general, given that almost all occurrences of astragaloi on coins as main types or invariable symbols belong to regions where astragalomancy is attested from other sources, in the much rarer cases where astragaloi feature prominently on coins of cities (e.g. Antandros in the Troad) where there is no other evidence for astragalomancy, it could be profitable for historians and archaeologists to keep an alert eye open for it.
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Richard H.J. Ashton. Astragaloi on Greek Coins of Asia Minor. Archimède : archéologie et histoire ancienne, UMR7044 - Archimède, 2019, pp.113-126. ⟨halshs-02895550⟩

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