Greek Colonies - Dolphin Proto Money

7th - 5th Centuries B.C.
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Please Note: Our items are original artifacts, therefore they cannot be produced to meet demand. For this reason our items tend to sell out quickly, and this item may not be available in the near future.


History of the Artifact

The dolphin proto-currency from Olbia represents one of the most intriguing forms of early monetary exchange in ancient Greece. Olbia, a Greek colony located on the northern coast of the Black Sea (in present-day Ukraine), was known for its unique and distinctive form of currency: small, cast bronze tokens shaped like dolphins. These pieces, often referred to as "dolphin money," date back to the 6th and 5th centuries BCE and reflect the rich maritime culture and the economic ingenuity of the region.

The origins of dolphin currency can be traced to Olbia's strategic location and its strong connections with both Greek and local Scythian cultures. The city's economy was heavily reliant on trade, particularly in grain, fish, and other goods, necessitating a practical and portable form of currency. The dolphin-shaped tokens were an innovative solution, as their distinct design and the symbolic association with the sea made them easily recognizable and widely accepted in trade. This form of currency facilitated economic transactions not only within Olbia but also with neighboring regions and distant trading partners.

Each dolphin token was typically about the size of a small coin, though they varied in size and weight. Their production involved casting in molds, a process that allowed for the creation of numerous pieces relatively quickly. The dolphin shape, beyond its economic function, also held cultural significance. Dolphins were revered in Greek mythology and were considered symbols of good luck, protection, and guidance for sailors, which resonated deeply with Olbia's maritime identity.

Despite their practical uses, dolphin tokens were eventually phased out as Olbia's economy evolved and more standardized forms of currency became prevalent. However, their legacy endures as a testament to the city's creativity and adaptability in addressing economic needs. Today, these tokens are valuable artifacts for historians and archaeologists, providing insight into the economic practices and cultural exchanges of ancient Greece and its colonies. The dolphin currency of Olbia stands as a remarkable example of how form and function can converge in the creation of early money systems, reflecting broader social and economic dynamics of the ancient world.

How do I know these are original Coins?

Ancient Artifacts guarantees the Authenticity of items sold through a three layer system of protection

  1. Ancient Artifacts exclusively sources artifacts from trusted and reputable antique distributors, many of whom have been selling Artifacts for decades.  
  2. Next, the Artifact is inspected by an expert team member, who is professionally trained in counterfeit detection After the artifact passes inspection, the Certificate of Authenticity is signed and the Artifact is packaged. 
  3. Finally, Ancient Artifacts gives an additional layer of protection by promising a full refund with no questions asked, in the extremely unlikely event that a counterfeit slips through our vetting process.

What will my artifact look like?

Your Dolphin Coin will look very similar to the ones shown in the photos. There will always be some variety, given our items are unique historical pieces. The display case included is openable so that you may easily handle and closely observe the artifact. If for whatever reason you get anything that does not fit this description you are entitled to your money back! 

Your order will include:

  • One authentic Proto Money Dolphin Coin
  • Elegant protective case for preservation and display of your artifact 
  • Certificate of Authenticity

Ancient Artifacts relics are guaranteed authentic and have a 100% money back policy. Read more about our Mission and Promise for authenticity. 


05 Sep, 2022

Excellent item. Thank you


31 Aug, 2022

My 1792 French Revolutionary Coin, in it’s individual case, arrived very quickly and well packaged at a great price. I Love It!!


31 Aug, 2022

I Loved that I Received my Bronze Coin quickly and very well packaged, it was exactly as Advertised and at a Great Price. Thank You!


29 Aug, 2022

My nephew was overjoyed with this coin. Loved the history. Thank you!


28 Aug, 2022

Awesome quality! Arrived quickly as well.


05 Sep, 2022

Brilliant service and delivery! Lovely case to put coin in and keep it safe. Would definitely recommend this seller!


25 Aug, 2022

Like holding history in the palm of your hand. Marvelous.


25 Aug, 2022

Absolutely stunning. So much detail. Love it.


23 Aug, 2022

The quality of the item was great

fran gumabon

14 Aug, 2022

I ordered this coin for my grandson, he loves anything Roman history and was thrilled. I didn’t receive the authentic certificate with it, I contacted the seller and asked if he could send one out to him. He responded right away and is sending it right out. I would recommend to everyone. Very good customer service and arrived early.


13 Aug, 2022

They were so helpful and patient with me I couldn’t be more grateful. They gave me such good service and such fast shipping I’m buying another coin when I get paid again!! I’m going to continue buying from these guys, it looks even better in person. It’s everything I was hoping for:) I’m obsessed with it it looks amazing in my collection:)


11 Aug, 2022

Looks great, received it within a week, thank you so much!


04 Aug, 2022

Awesome item- fast shipment- very pleased


04 Aug, 2022

Awesome artifact- very pleased! Will be back


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01 Aug, 2022

Very good and fast service


13 Jul, 2022

The quality of the item , The description of the item ALL met , more than my expectations ! , FRANK . ( AUSTRALIA ) .


10 Jul, 2022

The order was shipped promptly. The product was in immaculate condition.


09 Jul, 2022

Great pin in a wonderful time presentation box!


25 Jun, 2022

Exactly what I was looking for to introduce a 3yo dinosaur enthusiast to paleontology


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