Silver Coinage, Symmachia, and Interstate Society

Byzantion and Athens in the Classical Age

  • Nicholas D. Cross (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Byzantion was one of the few Greek cities that did not issue its own silver coinage until late into

the Classical period. There is considerable debate over the dating of the first issues (late fifth

century or early fourth century BCE), a debate with consequences for the interpretation of the

politico-economic relationship between Byzantion and Athens. The first section of the article

reviews the conditions under which Byzantion was an ally of Athens before the appearance of

its silver coinage. The second section examines the numismatic evidence which points to an

early fourth-century BCE context for the coinage. This later date is supported by epigraphic and

literary evidence for the reestablishment of alliance (symmachia) ties with Athens, the subject

of the final sections of the article. This historical context for Byzantion’s silver coinage suggests

a period of close relations with Athens. This case study generates material for the interpretation

of the Classical Greek interstate society.