Forgotten Treasure. After 30 Years NMSTU Researcher Unveils Ancient Coins

The NMSTU professor Mikhail Abramzon has published the so far largest collection of ancient Bosporan coins dating back to the 3rd-4th centuries AD, which had been stored at the Anapa Museum of Archeology for 30 years. The treasure of 1,061 coins shed light on certain historical periods, and namely, the rule of the Bosporan kings Radamsades and Rescuporid VI and the process of inflation during the Later Bosporus period.

A detailed research study of the coin collection is published by Mikhail Abramzon and the co-authors Mr. Novichikhin from the Anapa Museum, Ms. Saprykina from the RAS Institute of Archeology and Ms. Smekalova from the Crimean Federal University in a book entitled “Third Gai-Kodzor Treasure of the Later Bosporan Staters”. The study was funded by the Russian Science Foundation under the project “Early History of Money: Transition from Full-Weight Coins to Face Value Notes”.

The precious treasure was discovered back in 1986 around the village of Gai-Kodzor, which is close to Anapa in the Krasnodar Region. By a twist of fate, it was stored at the Anapa Museum of Archeology forgotten by everybody till 2018.

We carried out a large-scale study to understand the chemical composition of the stater metal and it gave us an idea about the currency devaluation in ancient times, in particular, during the time of Bosporan kingdom. At the end of 3rd century AD they stopped using the precious metal in the alloy for coins. Instead the coins were coated with a thin layer of silver. Because of the shortage of this precious metal soon they turned their back on that practice. And at a later stage the alloy gradually lost copper. Scrap of different type was used to make coins – captured copper, old coins, bronze items. Cheaper tin and lead prevailed in the new alloy. This collection clearly demonstrates a degradation of coin alloys and a transition from full-value money to face-value coins. It provides the world’s largest metal base characterizing the Later Bosporan coins,” explains professor Abramzon.

Besides the information about the chemical composition of the coin material, the book features comments by archeologists, historians and economists and a lot of analytical information and illustrations. Additionally, the book features some information about the first and the second treasures discovered in Gai-Kodzor, and it is the first full publication of the pictures of the coins.

The research study conducted by Professor Abramzon, leader of the NMSTU’s Institute of Historical Anthropology and Philology and one of the leading Russian researchers in ancient numismatics, makes a major contribution to the science of ancient numismatics, which is demonstrated by the recently published book.

Svetlana Konstantinova, NMSTU Information Policy Office

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