Lydian Moon God - Meis Axiottenos
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Mēn, illustrated in this marble Roman relief from the 2nd Century AD, is the Moon god of Roman Anatolia, perhaps connected with the Mesopotamian moon god Sin which was also a male lunar god. The Roman Luna was female. The deity is portrayed with a crescent moon behind his shoulders and wearing a phrygian cap. Strabo describes a temple of Mēn of Pharnaces:
"And the kings revered this temple so exceedingly that they proclaimed the "royal" oath as follows: "By the Fortune of the king and by Mēn of Pharnaces." And this is also the temple of Selenê, like that among the Albanians and those in Phrygia, I mean that of Mēn in the place of the same name and that of Mēn Ascaeus near the Antiocheia that is near Pisidia and that of Mēn in the country of the Antiocheians."
Meis Axiottenos is the local Lydian manifestation of this deity. The Roman province of Lydia was in western Asia minor in modern Turkey. The map below shows roughly the location of ancient Axiotta where there was a sanctuary of Meis Artemidorou Axiottenos and his mother, "Great Mother".(*)
Stelae, inscribed stone slabs or columns, have been found that “both advertise a divinity’s power and warn others either explicitly or implicitly against committing a religious transgression, which is accomplished by recounting how a worshiper had suffered an ailment that was believed to be linked to an offense against the god or goddess, and which only had disappeared after proper amends had been made”(*).
This rare coin from Saitta, Lydia (near modern İcikler, Turkey) located between the River Hermus and its tributary Hyllus, depicts Mēn Aziottenos on the obverse and Apollo on the reverse. Saitta (CAITTHNΩN) is the only city to use Axiottenos (AΞIOTTENOΣ) together with the god's bust on its coins (*).
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.