• Mykola Nikolaev Doctor of Historical Sciences (Dr. Hab. in History), Professor of the Department of Documentation The Gregory Skovoroda University in Pereyaslav (Pereyaslav, Ukraine)
Keywords: Olbia, coins, “borysphens”, monograms, abbreviations, onomastic, prosopography, chronology, historical context.


The aim of the study is a presentation of the chronological model of minting of a ‘Borysthenes’ of all groups by means of a prosopographic interpretation of their monograms. Research methodology – typical scientific methods in combination with the author’s own scientific work by synchronization of the eponyms catalogue IPE I2 201 (calendar) and Olbia’s prosopography: prosopographic reconstruction, prosopographic dating, prosopographic interpretation. The essence of the proposed tools lies in the study on the chronological basis of the eponyms IPE I2 201 catalogue of an extremely narrow stratum of real historical figures – mostly from the hight elite – who traditionally performed alternate senior government positions. Information about the activity of elite contained in various, almost synchronous epigraphic monuments, in this case, an eponyms catalogue, lapidary inscriptions, magical lists, graffiti, agoranomos stamps and weights, coin monograms and abbreviations. Scientific novelty. For the first time, the historical context for the monograms of a ‘Borysthenes’, that is, the identification with real historical figures have been obtained. Accordingly, a chronological model of minting of a ‘Borysthenes’ was constructed on this basis. Conclusions. The monograms (and/or reductions) of ‘Borysthenes’ did not have of eponyms character. However, approximately 50-60% of them correlate with the eponymous catalogue and indicate persons – monetary magistrates, who according to the ancient tradition in adjacent years held an eponymous position. Similarity of monograms from different groups of ‘Borysthenes’ is a realization of the ancient tradition of generic imitation of names. Accordingly, the similarity monograms (reductions) belong related persons from other generations.
The first group of a ‘Borysthenes’ dates from 330 to 319 BC. The prosopographic dating of this group is exactly the same as the date of P. O. Karyshkovsky. Of the thirteen coin magistrates who produced a ‘Borysthenes’ of the first group, seven or eight also was an eponyms incumbency in 337 (?), 330, 329, 327, 326, 325, 324, 320, 319 BC. The second group dates from 307 to 301 BC. А real historical fact – four of the seven monograms of the second group of a ‘Borysthenes’ are concentrated in the narrow chronological section of the eponyms catalogue for 306, 305, 304, 303 BC. The other three monograms are not identified by eponyms. The hypothesis of P. O. Karyshkovsky about the break between the minting of groups Ι and
ΙΙ is confirmed. This break was about fifteen years. Also, it is possible to narrow down to the end of IV century BC. dating of the second group of a ‘Borysthenes’, which P. O. Karyshkovsky attributed to the end of IV – beginning of III century. BC. The main problem of our further study is the presence of a chronological lacuna in the eponyms catalogue Olbia IPE I2 201 in the range of 290–227 BC. Prosopographic studies in the lacuna may be available through special tools, but they certainly tend to be more hypothetical and lower in chronological accuracy. The implementation of such studies is based on the preserved fragments of the catalogue of eponyms (both in the lower and the upper part), the possibility of reconstruction of fragments of major genera (according to the law of genealogy), the properties of the theoretical model of the urban community (in particular, the inheritance of coin monograms, the eponyms quotas, etc.), the use of prosopographic information from of relatively accurately dated lapidary inscriptions, agoranomos stamps and weights, also finding of correlation with legends of other coins. The historical figures mentioned in these monuments probably performed the functions of eponyms, magistrates and other. An important auxiliary research tool in the lacuna of catalogue is the relative order of the arrangement of the monograms proposed by P. O. Karyshkovsky.
Unfortunately, the third group of a ‘Borysthenes’ has an inaccurate prosopographic dating – terminus post quem – 290 BC, terminus ante quem – 271 BC. It is a problem our chronological model. The fourth and sixth groups of a ‘Borysthenes’ (37-year issues) dating from 270+12 to 234+12 BC. A patronymics of the large group of eponyms 220–208 BC correlate with the monograms of ‘Borysthenes’ of the second half of the issues of the fifth group. It confirming, according to the law of genealogy, their dating in the range of 250–240 BC. e. Also, this provides a fairly reliable chronological benchmark in the dating of ‘Borysthenes’. The reader can not fail to notice that the obtained prosopographical date of a ‘Borysthenes’ groups from the first to the sixth inclusive practically corresponds to the materials of
P. O. Karyshkovsky. According to our working preliminary hypothesis, the seventh group dates from 232+12 to 231 BC, the eighth to the tenth from 228+12 to 219 BC.
When studying the treasure 1978, V. Anokhin established the mass character of the used of two or more monograms with common front stamps. The main conclusion of the researcher was the assumption of the existence of special boards of magistrates, which for groups
I–VI numbered six people, and for the latter groups – two. Accordingly, the duration of the release of ‘Borysthenes’ was not more than two or three decades. In our opinion, the reason for the mass character of the used of two or more monograms with common front stamps should be sought not in organizational forms, but in the application of technology known in ancient coinage. She involved the use of two or three (or even more) identical face stamps located side by side on the anvil. This technology, due to the random nature of use, among other things, provided a relatively uniform wear of several front stamps. As a result, we have the ‘Borysthenes’ with two or more monograms with common front stamps.
Onomastic research is characterized by the multivariate interpretation of monograms without historical context. However, our prosopographic research also faces the existence of two and sometimes three variants of interpretation of monograms. But unlike onomastics, these variants have a historical component. The task is only to overcome the alternative. We have not yet succeeded in overcoming the alternative in interpreting some of the monograms. Prosopographic study of monograms on a ‘Borysthenes’ of all groups done for the first time, so it should be seen as estimated and approximate.
Given the complexity of the task, it is obvious that further research is needed to overcome alternative interpretations, refinements, and to obtain new arguments (in particular, joint consideration with agoranomos stamps and weights) regarding the proposed hypotheses. New variants of monograms on a ‘Borysthenes’ it is necessary to consider, also peculiarities of generic inheritance of monograms, and correlation of a ‘Borysthenes’ with other coins, as well as comparing the results of numismatic researches with prosopographic ones, etc.


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How to Cite
Nikolaev, M. (2020). THE CHRONOLOGY OF OLBIAN ‘BORYSTHENES’. The Ukrainian Numismatic Annual, (4), 14-42.