CIMMERIAN BOSPOROS. Theodoseia. Circa 400-375 BC. Diobol (Silver, 15 mm, 1.44 g, 12 h). Youthful male head to right, wearing slight beard and taenia. Rev. ΘΕΟΔΕΟΣ Head and neck of a bull to right; all within shallow incuse square. Frolova -. HGC 7, 175 var. and corr. (shorter ethnic, and taenia not noted due to the poor condition). MacDonald 88 var. and corr. (shorter ethnic, and taenia not noted due to the poor condition). SNG BM Black Sea -. SNG Stancomb -. Of the highest rarity, apparently the second and finest known example, and the first of this variety. A wonderful coin with an exceptionally fine style head on the obverse. Minor scrapes on the obverse and a few faint scratches on the reverse, otherwise, about extremely fine.
From the Pontos Euxeinos Collection, formed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
MacDonald suggested that the spelling ΘΕΟΔΕΟ on the early coinage of Theodoseia reflects an earlier name form, namely Theodeia, which he believes was changed to Theodoseia circa 375 BC. This seems very unlikely indeed, and the appearance of our coin reading ΘΕΟΔΕΟΣ corroborates that we are simply dealing with different spellings of one and the same ethnic. In fact, the coinage of the city is notable for offering various differing spellings of its name even after the supposed renaming of the city, ending the ethnic indiscriminately on ΘΕΟΔ, ΘΕΟΔΟ, ΘΕΟΔΩ, or ΘΕΟΔΩΣ.
As for the obverse of our coin, it shows an incredibly individual and attractive head of an adolescent wearing a taenia, a moustache, and a short beard. Unfortunately, we don't know who this is, but his appearance on the obverse of the earliest coinage of the city certainly makes him very prominent. The conspicuous taenia bound around his head was a band often worn by priests and victors of games. Judging from the youthful facial features and the short beard, perhaps the coin shows an idealized portrait of a victorious athlete.