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Ephesus & Arados

The Phoenician city of Aradus issued attic weight drachms closely imitating the Ephesian types from 171/0 BC (year 89) to 110/09 BC (year 150) and several hoards confirm that Aradian and Ephesian drachms circulated together (Kinns).

Phoenicia, Arados, AR drachm, circa 160-159 (year 100), AR 15.0mm, 4.10g

Obv: Bee with straight wings, P (date) to left, ΔI (magistrate) to right

Rev: Stag standing right, palm tree in background

Ref: BMC 158. HGC 10, 73

Note: Old cabinet tone and Good Very fine From the collection of a Mentor

For comparison, here is a coin of Ephesus:

Ionia, Ephesus, AR Drachm circa 202-150, AR 18.00 mm., 4.01g, Parmenissos magistrate Obv: Bee between E-Φ, border of dots

Rev: ΠAPMENIΣΣOΣ, Stag standing right; palm tree in background

Ref: Kinns, Attic p. 89 ; SNG Copenhagen 296

Note: All examples seen are from the same reverse die, with double sigma. Published reports giving a single sigma have not been confirmed.

I will also share this AE coin with stag and bee from Ephesus:

Greek Coins IONIA, Ephesos. Ae 4g 17mm, Circa 320-300 BC, Kapol[...], magistrate.

Obv: Ε - Φ. Bee. Rev: KAΠ[...]

Rev: Stag kneeling left, head reverted; quiver above.

Ref: SNG Copenhagen 260-1 var. (magistrate)


The distance between these two cities is ~800 miles. Why would Arados (Syria) imitate the bee and stag coins of Ephesus (western edge of Asia minor)? Trade with the Attalid empire made these drachms recognizable at a time when then Ephesian drachms were diminishing. These may have also been issued to support war efforts.

The Fifth Syrian War (202-195 BC)

The death of Ptolemy IV in 204 BC, and the child-successor Ptolemy V, led to a conflict over regency a in Egypt. This left and opening for Seleucid King Antiochus III to conquer Syria in the Fifth Syrian War with Egypt.

The Treaty of Apamea (188 BC)

Then the war with the Roman republic (192–188 BC), resulted in the treated of Apamea where Antiochus III ceded territories north and west of the Tarsus mountains (see Polybius 21.45 for an overview). Regular issues of "palm tree Alexanders" ended with the last issue circa 167/68 BC. As Aradus was no longer a border town after this war, it's strategic importance was diminished. This example from Aradus was issued in 190BC. Antiochus III died in 187 BC in Elymais.

In the name of Alexander III ‘the Great’, Tetradrachm (Silver, 29 mm, 17.11 g, 1 h), Arados, CY 69 = 191/0

Obv: Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress

Rev: AΛEΞANΔPOY Zeus seated left on low throne, holding long scepter in his left hand and eagle standing right with closed wings in his right; to left, palm tree; below throne, monogram of AP; in exergue, ΞΘ

Ref: Price 3401

"Pseudo Ephesian" bee-stag drachms

Starting circa 172 BC Aradus initiated a new series which continued until 110/9 BC. This was the first civic drachm for Arados, imitating the bee/stag drachms of Ephesus (Duyrat Series VI). These "pseudo-Ephesian" drachms, have an unusual obverse/reverse die ration (more obverse dies than usual) which is probably explained by relatively modest output and the obverse date and control marks which required discarding the dies at the end of each year.

The increased output of drachms between 162/1 and 160/59 BC and could reflect both support for Demetrius I and utility in trade. Demetrius I escaped from Rome where he was hostage under terms of the treaty of Apamea, and reached Syria in the fall of 162BC. He was welcomed by the Syrians, killed Antiochus V and his regent, and then was confronted by Tiridatus in the east. By 160 BC, Rome reluctantly recognized Demetrius I Soter as the king of the Seleucid Empire.

The broad circulation from Smyrna to Tehran and Baghdad also suggest that these were used in commerce and may have been minted to substitute for the diminishing numbers of Ephesian drachms which were well recognized within the Seleucid.

Why did Ephesians use the bee & stag?

Statue of the type of the Artemis of Ephesus, Naples National Archaeological Museum, image CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons. Artemis, the patron goddess of Ephesus, was tightly connected with deer.

"The deer is an animal sacred to Artemis, and Artemis was Ephesus' patron goddess just as Athena held this role at Athens. The popular Greek image of Artemis was as a huntress, and she can be shown riding a deer in a chariot drawn by deer, subduing a stag with her bare hands or with a little deer at her feet."
-The Coinage of Ephesus at Macquarie University

The bee had several associations for the Ephesians.

There is a founding myth of the colonies, that the Muses in the form of bees led the Athenians to Ionia

"Why do the Muses come hither? Why are they present at the source of the Meles? When the Athenians set out to colonize Ionia, the Muses in the form of bees guided the fleet; for they rejoiced in Ionia, because the waters of Meles are sweeter than the waters of Cephisus and Olmeius."
-Philostratos, Imagines 2.8 

Bees were closely associated with Ephesian Artemis, and Artemis' priestesses were called melissai or "bees" of the goddess (Inschriften von Ephesus 2109), and were directed by "king bees" (essenes).

It is the custom for these (priests) to live their whole lives in purity, not only sexual but in all respects, and they neither wash nor spend their lives as do ordinary people, nor do they enter the home of a private man. I know that the “entertainers” of the Ephesian Artemis live in a similar fashion, but for a year only, the Ephesians calling them Essenes.
-Pausanias 8.13.1 

Ephesian Artemis is traced back by some scholars to an earlier Anatolian goddess whom the Hittites called Hannahanna. When the fertility god, Telepinu, fell asleep, and the world and gods were suffering his absence, Hannahanna sent a bee to wake up the Telepinu from sleep/death.

"Seeing that her son was despondent over his failure, Hannahanna came to him and said, “Be calm, Taru. I have a solution. Send for the bee. I believe it will be able to find Telepinu.”"
-The Myth of Telepinu, 13-15th Century BC 


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