Ancient Souvenirs from Asia Minor
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
This year I have explored the coins of Asia Minor or the Anatolian peninsula. Anatolia from Greek Ἀνατολή, meaning "The East" is the region east of Greece and Asia Minor roughly synonymous. I use both terms loosely and as synonyms. For me the experience has been both rewarding and also reminded me often of the comment of Francesco Gnecchi from a book published by Spink 1903, referring to those new to ancient coins:
"Among a hundred individuals who begin to collect one can count on ninety at least setting to work on a general collection, and that because nearly all are ignorant of the vastness of the material before them."
- Roman Coins, Elementary Manual by Francesco Gnecchi, translated by Alfred Watson Hands
Here are the souvenirs from my virtual travels in ancient Asia Minor, organized by geography.
Public domain map of Asia Minor with thanks to the University of Texas Austin and the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. Dr. Butler's Atlas of Ancient Geography by Samuel Butler, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1851.
Thrace, Abdera, ΗΡΟΔΟΤΟΣ (Herodotos), magistrate circa 300-250 BC, Bronze Æ
Obv: ABΔHΡITΩN, griffin springing left
Rev: [...]ΔΟΤOY, laureate head of Apollo right Size: 17mm, 4.83g
Kings of Bithynia, Prusias II Cynegos, reigned 182-149 BC, Nikomedia, Bronze Æ
Obv: Draped bust of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath
Rev: BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠΡΟYΣIOY, the centaur Chiron standing right, cloak over shoulder, playing lyre, to lower right, monogram.
Size: 22mm, 6.25g
See Note: Prusias II and the Roman Republic
Mysia, Pergamon, 159-133 BC, Æ (16.6mm,5.36g, 12h)
Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right
Rev: ΑΘΗΝΑΣ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ, military trophy facing, monogram left of trophy and right of legend
See Note: Turning Point to Victory
Phrygia, Laodikeia, 133/88-67 BC
Obv: Diademed and draped bust of Aphrodite or the foundress Laodice right
Rev: Filleted cornucopia to right; filleted kerykeion to left
Size: 20mm, 6.55g
Ref: BMC 40-4, SNG Copenhagen 501-2
See Note: A Phrygian Cornucopia
Paphlagonia, Sinope, 95-70 BC, Struck under Mithradates VI Eupator, AE
Size: 8.00g, 18.7mm
Obv: Laureate head of Zeus right
Rev: SINOPHE, Eagle with head right and wings spread standing left on thunderbolt monogram to left
Pontos, Amisos, 85-65 BC, Time of Mithradates VI Eupator, Bronze Æ
Size: 16 mm, 3.8g
Obv: Wreathed head of Dionysos right
Rev: AMIΣOY, thyrsos, Σ in left field.
Ref: SNG BM Black Sea 1192-1195
King Amyntas of Galatia, 36-25 BC, AE, Uncertain mint in Galatia, Pisidia or Lykaonia
Obv: Draped bust of Artemis right, with bow and quiver over shoulder.
Rev: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ / AMYNTOY, stag standing right.
Size: 5.40g, 18mm
Ref: RPC I 3503
Note: There is discussion that on some or all (?) of these coins Artemis is portrayed with the features of Cleopatra VII of Egypt, apparently as a sign of deference to Antony and the Egyptian queen.
Kings of Cappadocia, Ariarathes VII Philometor, circa 116-101 BC, drachm, Eusebeia-Mazaca, year 6 (C) = 111-110
Obv: Diademed head of Ariarathes to right
Rev: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ APIAPAΘOY ΦΙΛOMHTOPOΣ Athena standing left, holding Nike on her extended right hand and spear and shield with her left; inner left, ΓΑI monogram; in exergue, C
Saitta, Lydia, Pseudo-autonomous, AE17, 1/3 Assarion, time of Septimius Severus, 193-211 AD
Obv: Bust of Mēn Axiottenos on crescent right, wearing Phrygian cap
Rev: CAITTHNΩN, Apollo standing facing, head to left, holding branch in his right hand and leaning left on bow set on ground
Size: 2.26g, 16.3mm
Ref: SNG von Aulock -; SNG Copenhagen -; BMC 17; Lindgren I 789; Asia Minor Coins Online AMCO #6106
Note: AMCO states that the Lindgren coins share the same dies as this coin, as does this one at wildwinds. Although the photo isn't great - 789 dies do look the same to me. I haven't seen a nicer example than my coin, so far. See Lydian Moon God for more information.
Pamphylia, Aspendus, circa 400-380 BC, AE stater (9.47g, 22.5mm)
Obv: Two naked wrestlers grappling
Rev: ΕΣΤFEΔΙΙΥΣ, Slinger in throwing stance right, drawing sling taut over head, triskeles in field before, all within dotted square within square
Note: apparently unique in AE
Islands off Caria, Rhodos, c. 225 BC, Bronze AE
Size: 19 mm, 6.31g
Obv: Laureate head of Zeus right
Rev: P-O, rose with one bud
Lycian League, Masicytes, circa 48-20 BC, AR hemidrachm, Period IV, Series 4
Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right; Λ-Y below
Rev: M-A, cithara (lyre); filleted palm frond in left field, all within incuse square
Size: 16mm, 1.92 g
See Note: From Lycia to the US Constitution
CILICIA, Soloi, Circa 350-330 BC, AR Obol
Size: 9.8mm, 0.53g
Obv: Head of Athena to right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet
Rev: ΣOΛEΩN Bunch of grapes on stalk with leaf and tendrils, AΠ left of grapes
I'll add a "bonus coin" from Cilicia so that there is an AE as well:
Cilicia, Seleukeia ad Kalykadnon, AE, circa 150-50 BC
Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right, torch below chin, monograms behind head
Rev: ΣΕΛΕΥΚΕΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΤΩΙ ΚΑΛΥΚΑΔΝΩΙ, Nike advancing left, holding branch; ΔH under monogram to left
Size: 10.22g, 22mm
Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt, Ptolemy VI Philometor, first sole reign, 180-170 BC, AE Obol, Cyprus mint Obv: . Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right
Rev: Eagle with closed wings standing left on thunderbolt; lotus flower in left field, EYΛ between legs