During Classical-Hellenistic times (5th-1st cent BC) Kissamos was a small coastal settlement under the rule of the powerful city-state of Polyrrhenia. The period of greatest cultural and economic growth for the ancient town of Kissamos was obviously the Roman era (1st cent. BC.-4th cent. AD.), due to the Pax Romana. An important chronological terminus is the earthquake of 365 AD, after which Kissamos gradually enters the Early Christian Period, as it was already a bishop’s seat.
The excavations in the town of Kissamos (Kastelli) have revealed impressive ruins of buildings, public and private, very often decorated with elegant mosaic floors.
This article will present some numismatic finds from one relatively recently excavated site (Georgakakis-Skounakis property/ 2001-2008). The ruins belong to buildings of the Roman period, especially shops, workshops and auxiliary spaces, organized along a Roman road (cardo) according to the Hippodamean system. Two main building phases are discerned (1st -2nd cent. AD and 4th cent. AD), with further architectural modifications in late antiquity.
In this particular excavation a total of 281 bronze coins have been found. Most are worn or not yet conserved, so few are recognizable. Presented here are only 23 representative bronze coins. A few are categorized as autonomous Cretan (mainly of Polyrrhenia), whereas the majority derive from the Roman period (especially 3rd-4th cent. AD). Among them will be mentioned a small coin hoard dated in the 4th cent AD. The rarity of identifiable coins datable to the 1st -2nd cent. AD from this particular excavation is difficult to explain.
The coin finds provide useful information on numismatic circulation in West Crete, particularly during the Roman period. Most of the coins were struck outside Crete, therefore economic networks of the Empire brought them to the island, to play an essential role in the daily transactions of the local people in Roman Kissamos.