Exhibition “Cretan Cities. The Testimony of Coins”
The exhibition “Cretan Cities. The Testimony of Coins” showcases 124 Cretan coins from the classical to the Hellenistic period. Most of the coins come from the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection and are presented for the first time in Crete. There are rare samples of the coinage of Cretan cities, as well as foreign coins that circulated on the island. They bring to light unknown information about society in ancient Crete.
Bringing an unknown period into light
The exhibition is structured in 2 sections:
- The domestic coinage of Cretan cities during the classical and the Hellenistic periods.
- The coin circulation, i.e. all the coins put into circulation in the Cretan economy during these periods.
As far as Crete is concerned, this period has not been studied enough and has not received the attention it deserves. The exhibition “Cretan Cities. The Testimony of Coins” sheds light on unknown aspects of the history of Cretan cities.
Coins telling stories
Coins are undeniable witnesses of social developments.
The study of Cretan coin iconography brings to light important historical elements such as:
- Religion and religious practices.
- Economy and commercial contacts.
- Alliances developed among Cretan cities, as well as with the rest of the Mediterranean and the world.
Studies also show that during the historical times, city-states could be found in Crete. Their main features were: exclusively indigenous population, self-sufficiency and local identity.
Iconography with a distinctive Cretan character
The iconography of Cretan coins reveals the rich local mythology and ancient traditions, the contacts of Cretans with all the known world of the time, but also their eagerness to maintain an autonomous and distinct identity.
A typical example of a Cretan coin is the silver stater of Phaistos. This is one of the most beautiful coins in the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection.
The exhibition showcases 124 unique coins of ancient Cretan cities from the classical and the Hellenistic times.
It includes coins minted by the cities of Aptera and Kydonia in today’s prefecture of Chania, the cities of Rithymna and Eleutherna in the prefecture of Rethymno, the cities of Gortyn, Knossos, Phaistos in the prefecture of Herakleion, and the cities of Itanos, Praissos and Ierapytna in the prefecture of Lasithi.
Most of the exhibits come from the Alpha Bank Collection. It is the first time they are displayed at their place of origin, Crete.
The remaining exhibits come from the 4 Ephorates of Antiquities in Crete: Herakleion, Lasithi, Rethymno and Chania.
Multimedia and digital projections
The exhibition includes Coin-o-rama, a multimedia application created by the Institute of Computer Science of the Foundation for Research and Technology. Visitors can see enlarged images and get detailed information on the exhibits. They also get the chance to make their own coin.
The exhibition also provides a digital projection of coin circulation on the island, created by Tasos Belas / Radiant Technologies.
The scientific team
- Nicholas Chr. Stampolidis, professor of Archaeology, University of Crete, director of excavations / Study Centre, Museum of Ancient Eleutherna.
- Dr Dimitra Tsangari, numismatist, curator of the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection.
- Dr Mimika Giannopoulou, archaeologist, executive Board member, Head of Cultural Products, Archaeological Resources Fund.
Artistic and architectural design: Stamatis Zannos.
Guided tours for the general public are also available. Visitors get the chance to learn about ancient coinage and the historical context surrounding the exhibits.
The exhibition is accompanied by the scientific catalogue Cretan Cities. The Testimony of Coins. The publication has a wealth of photographic material and is available in Greek and English. It was edited by Nikolaos C. Stampolidis, Dimitra Tsangari, Mimika Giannopoulou.
Buy the publication Cretan Cities. The Testimony of Coins on the Alpha Bank e-shop.
For more information about the exhibition “Cretan Cities. The Testimony of Coins” you may read the relevant Press Releases issued by Alpha Bank: