The Bisaltai tribe were of Thracian or Pelasgian origin and inhabited the region between the Axios and Strymon rivers (see Herodotus 7.115) in eastern Macedonia. A mountain range separates Bisaltia and Paeonia from Chalkidike which included Mount Dysoron, the location of the silver mines used by the Bisaltai which is reported to have later produced a talent of silver a day for Alexander I of Macedon (Herodotus 5.17). During the invasion of Greece by Xerxes in 480 BC the Bisaltai refused to assist the Persian army. Following the Persians’ defeat and retreat, the area was overcome by Alexander I who, having previously submitted to Persian suzerainty, took advantage of the vacuum created by their retreat and extended his kingdom as far as the Strymon (Thucydides II.99). He was thus able to take control over the rich mines of the Pangaean district and issue the first royal Macedonian coinage, adopting the Bisaltian iconography but substituting his own name for the tribe’s. Bisaltai oktadrachms were not found in the Asyut hoard but an example was found in the Jordan hoard dated to the mid fifth century, therefore, Price and Waggoner suggest that the coins should perhaps be dated to circa 475-465 BC (Archaic Greek Silver Coinage The “Asyut” Hoard, pp. 39).
It has been argued that the warrior depicted on this coin is Rhesos, the son of the river god Strymon and one of the Muses (see Svoronos, L’hellénisme primitif de la Macédoine, prouvé par la numismatique et l’or du Pangée). The legend of Rhesos, King of the Thracians is first recorded in Book X of the Iliad, where, as an ally of the Trojans, Rhesos was killed by Diomedes and Odysseus in a night raid on the Trojan camp. A retelling of the story is also recorded in an Athenian tragedy, possibly by Euripides. Rhesos arrives at the Trojan camp with great pomp, wearing golden armour and driving a chariot wrought with gold and silver being pulled by the finest horses as white as snow (Iliad 10.435-441). He boasts that now that he has arrived, he will storm the Greek camp and slay the Achaeans. However, during the night Diomedes and Odysseus make a stealth attack on the Trojan camp and kill Rhesos and twelve other Thracians, leading away his famed horses. This coin perhaps displays Rhesos and one of his horses, symbols of the legendary history of the Thracians.
Horse walking to right, bridle held by warrior wearing petasos and holding two spears
ΒΙΣΑΛΤΙΚΩΝ (partially retrograde or inverted)
Quadripartite incuse square, amphora with high handles in bottom left compartment
A perfect choice for Numismatists, Historians, Military Veterans, Collectors.