Olbia, a Milesian colony in what is now Ukraine, was settled in the late 7th century B.C. and endured for a millennium. At the convergence of two rivers, about 15 miles inland from the Northwest coast of the Black Sea, it was well located for trade. Olbia was a prosperous trading city and major grain supplier when it was visited by Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. By the end of the 3rd century, the town had declined and accepted the hegemony of King Skilurus of Scythia. It flourished under Mithridates Eupator, but was sacked by the Getae under Burebista, abruptly ending its economic prominence. Olbia was restored by Rome, but on a small scale, and incorporated into the province of Lower Moesia. After being burned at least twice during the Gothic Wars, the town was abandoned in the 4th century A.D.
The name ‘Eminakos’ is known to history only from numismatic evidence. Scholars have debated the role of this elusive character; some assert that he was a Skythian king or governor at Olbia, part of the framework of the Skythian protectorate for the city. Others believe that he was a native Olbian with no prominent role as there is no evidence of him in any other historical source.
The dating for this coin given here and by William Stancomb as 450-425 BC, has been questioned by Mariusz Mielczarek who thinks that the range given is too large and that the coin should be dated firmly in the middle of the 5th century only. His theory is based on a coin of this type which was found in an archaeological exploration of Olbia which exposed other items clearly from this period. This suggestion of an earlier date holds if we assume that Eminakos is part of the Skythian rule of Olbia. It is suggested that the city joined the Delian league after 437 BC (Karyshkovskij, ‘Ol’viya i Afinskij soyuz’, Materialypo arkheologii Severnogo Prichernomor’ya, 1959) and would therefore have had no Skythian ruler past this time. The 437 date is no doubt taken from Perikles’ expedition to the Black Sea region, where he journeyed to strengthen trading ties (Plutarch, Pericles 20), however this date and even the trip itself is strongly disputed by academics as no other source aside from Plutarch mentions it. We are left with no definitive conclusions for the dating of this coin beyond the date range given above.
Herakles, wearing lion skin, kneeling right, drawing a bow
Studded wheel with four spokes, four dolphins swimming clockwise around and all within incuse square
A perfect choice for Numismatists, Historians, Military Veterans, Collectors.