The other Bosporus. Coins of Panticapaeum
The famous "Bosporus strait" is the narrow waterway between Constantinople/Istanbul and the Black Sea. The other "Bosporus" is the "Cimmerian" Bosporus, the narrow waterway between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. On its west side are the Crimean peninsula and Panticapaeum (also spelled "Panticipaion," now Kerch), the city which controlls the strait. In the 6th-2nd century BC Panticapaeum was a Greek city-state that issued highly artistic coins with Pan on the obverse and the city name "ΠANTI" or "ΠAN" on the reverse.
Coin to the right: 28 mm (4 mm larger than a US quarter) and 12.73 grams. Left-facing head of Pan, bearded, with ivy wreath with grapes, c. 340-325 BC (more about it below).
At the top of Crimea on the maps the dashed line is the political border of 2020 which divides Crimea from Ukraine. On the maps Crimea almost looks like it is an island with water all around the north, but Crimea is connected to the mainline by a land bridge 3 or 4 miles wide. The only outlet of the Sea of Azov is the narrow strait commanded by Panticapaeum. It and its modern bridge are on the next map.
Early and rare silver issues of Panticapaeum begin c. 438 BC. By c. 380 it began to issue some of the most splendid ancient gold coins (one off site, another one 3/4 facing). The gold coins are extremely expensive. However, artistic bronze coins in much the same high style began to be issued c. 340 and are very collectable. Some common types are illustrated next. An annotated list of reference works is at the end, including a link to an web site with all the types.
22 mm. 6.73 grams.
This type has splendid artwork. What a face! The griffin and sturgeon are wonderful!
20 mm. 5.40 grams.
Later this type was countermarked.
16 mm. 3.66 grams.
Head of young Pan, unbearded, right
Forepart of Pegasus
MacDonald 71 (His photo is, unintentionally, reduced in size to 14-13 mm.) "c. 310-304/3 BC"
MacDonald, David. An Introduction to the History and Coinage of the Kingdom of the Bosporus. 2005. 141 pages. The first 30 pages cover types like these from the city before the Kingdom of the Bosporus began.
Anokhin, B. A. MOΗETHOE ΔEΛO bOCΠOPA, 1986, in Russian. "Coins of the Bosporus." 179 pages and 40 plates, with the first 192 types from Panticapaeum among 777 types, most from "The Kingdom of the Bosporus." A 2011 version updated it and gave the types new ID numbers. Both old and new numbers are on this exhaustive website:
https://bosporan-kingdom.com/coins_catalog.html (Coins of the types on this page are about 25 pages in. The ID numbers there are hyphenated like "111-3141" which gives both the first edition and second edition Anokhin numbers.) With that website there is no need to have the Anokhin book. For example, the Pan/griffin type is here: https://bosporan-kingdom.com/111-3141/
Greek cities (including Panticapaeum) around the northern edge of the Black Sea are in the "Black Sea region." Several reference works emphasize coins from the region. Be aware that "SNG" abbreviates "Sylloge Numorum Graecorum," a series of books in a format in which the intent is to make the images available without more than the most minimal identification and with almost no discussion.
Stancomb, William. SNG XI: The William Stancomb Collection of Coins of the Black Sea Region. 2000. 1092 examples. An outstanding private collection.
Price, Martin. SNG IX: The British Museum: 1 The Black Sea. 1642 examples. An outstanding public collection.
Kovalenko, Sergei. SNG: State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts: Coins of the Black Sea Region. 1870 examples, many in low quality and very many duplicates which I imagine are multiple examples from the same hoard. This book is not worth having unless you have the other two SNGs and are striving for reference-work completeness.
Shelov, D. B. Coinage of the Bosporus VI-II Centuries B.C. translated from the Russian by H. Bartlett Wells. BAR International Series (Supplementary) 46. 1978. 115 types illustrated and discussed at length. This book is very difficult to find.
Dittrich, K. with photos by Hrbas and Marco. Ancient Coins from Olbia and Panticapaeum. 168 pages, almost all of which are hugely oversize B&W photos of single sides of coins, with a small image below showing the actual size of the coin. In my opinion, images of half-inch coins enlarged to six inches across are too large. Some examples are extremely nice but many are not of the very high quality required to be enhanced by such enlargement. Only three pages of general discussion of coins of Panticapaeum.