Thrace (Abdera), c.a. 400 AC


ID Number: AC03-0602
Category: Ancient Coins
Description: Thrace (Abdera), c.a. 400 AC
Period: c.a. 400 AC
Head of State/Ruler:  
Currency: Stater
Face Value:  
Obverse: Griffin seated to left, his wings slightly spread; to left, cicada seen from above
Obverse Legend: ABΔH
Obverse Designer:  
Reverse: Herakles seated half-left, on rock covered by a lionskin, his torso facing; holding club resting on his right knee with his right hand and resting his left on his left thigh; all within shallow incuse square
Reverse Legend: EΠIΦIΛA / ΔOΣ
Reverse Designer:  
Edge: Irregular
Note: The figure of Herakles on the reverse of this coin is considered to be one of the finest depictions of him in Greek coinage. The composition, although showing him at rest, clearly illustrates his power and strength. The griffin on the obverse is shown as if it is at the moment of landing, as its wings are slightly open giving the impression that they are still lightly fluttering.
Mint Mark:  
Composition: Bronze
Diameter: ~25.0 mm (irregular)
Weight: 11.2 grams
Krause & Mishler Number:  
Other Catalog Number: AMNG II, 105, pl. II, 40; SNG Lockett 1132; Gulbenkian 447
State of Conservation: Extremely Fine (XF)

Proof (Prf) € -
Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) € -
Mint State/Mint Condition (MS) € -
Uncirculated (Unc) € -
Extremely Fine (XF) € -
Very Fine (VF) € -
Fine (F) € -
Very Good (VG) € -
Good (G) € -


Abdera was a wealthy ancient coastal city in Thrace traditionally founded in 654 B.C. Abdera was located near the mouth of the Nestos River. Abdera was conquered by the Persians and later joined Athens in the Delian League.

Its mythical foundation was attributed to Heracles (on behalf of his fallen friend Abderus), its historical one to a colony from Klazomenai. This historical founding was traditionally dated to 654 BC, which is unverified, although evidence in 7th century BC Greek pottery tends to support it. But its prosperity dates from 544 BC, when the majority of the people of Teos (including the poet Anacreon) migrated to Abdera to escape the Persian yoke (Herodotus i.168). The chief coin type, a griffon, is identical with that of Teos; the rich silver coinage is noted for the beauty and variety of its reverse types.

In 513 BC and 512 BC, the Persians conquered Abdera. In 492 BC, the Persians again conquered Abdera, this time under Darius I. It later became part of the Delian League and fought on the side of Athens in the Peloponnesian war.

Abdera was a wealthy city, the third richest in the League, due to its status as a prime port for trade with the interior of Thrace and the Odrysian kingdom.

A valuable prize, the city was repeatedly sacked: by the Triballi in 376 BC, Philip II of Macedon in 350 BC; later by Lysimachos of Thrace, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, and again by the Macedonians. In 170 BC the Roman armies and those of Eumenes II of Pergamon besieged and sacked it.

The town seems to have declined in importance after the middle of the 4th century BC. The air of Abdera was proverbial in Athens as causing stupidity, but the city counted among its citizens the philosophers Democritus, Protagoras and Anaxarchus, and historian and philosopher Hecataeus of Abdera.

The ruins of the town may still be seen on Cape Balastra; they cover seven small hills, and extend from an eastern to a western harbor; on the southwestern hills are the remains of the medieval settlement of Polystylon. Abdera is a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church in the province of Rhodope on the southern coast of Thrace, now called Bouloustra.