A Coin of Isinda
My coin of interest today is a rare civic issue of a small town from the time of the Roman civil wars, perhaps very near to the time of the naming of Octavian as emperor Augustus. The dating is not definitive, but it is probable that it is connected to Mark Antony's naming of Amyntas as King of Pisidia in 36 BC or the death of the king in 25 BC.
The Pisidian city of Isinda was identified in 1885 by W.M. Ramsay near modern Korkuteli in Turkey. The geography is defined by the Bey Dağ mountains that rise as high as 3070m above sea level with Korkuteli at 1000m above sea level. The mountains cut off access to the sea and the interior of turkey with three access routes that were all used by Roman roads with archeological evidence visible today in the form of milestones and road surfaces.
Where is Isinda?
This 15th century map (Source: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons) shows the mountains, Pisidia and neighbor to the north Galatia. Galatia named for the Celtic Gauls who came from Thrace to Asia Minor.
The climate is dry and although suitable for grazing sheep, farming would have been difficult in these rugged mountain valleys. Here is a view of Modern Korkuteli, Turkey, east view of the city from the dam.
A detail of the photo from "Christian1311", used under license CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.
The snake on my coin today perhaps a common sight in this arid mountain climate.
Strabo mentions Isinda in passing:
“Milya is the mountain-range extending from the narrows at Termessus and from the pass that leads over through them to the region inside the Taurus towards Isinda, as far as Sagalassus and the country of the Apameians.” -Strabo, Geography, Book XIII.4.17
Isinda and Roman Asia Minor
Polybius and Livy both mention Isinda in the context of the Galatian War of 189 BC. In the Seleucid War between Antiochus III and the Roman Republic, the Romans defeated the Seleucids and gained control of Asia Minor in the treaty of Apamea in 188BC. Gnaeus Manlius Vulso, consul, invaded Galatia at the end of the Seleucid war, 189 BC, with the rationale that they had supplied troops to the Seleucids.
“While Manlius was crossing the river Colobatus,envoys reached him from the city of Isinda begging him to help them; for the Termessians, summoning Philomelus to their assistance, had devastated their territory and pillaged their city and were now besieging the citadel in which all the citizens with their wives and children had sought refuge. Manlius, after listening to their request, said he would be very pleased to come to their help; and, looking upon this chance as a godsend, began to march toward Pamphylia.” -Polybius, Histories, XXI.35
“Troops from Termessus were at that time besieging the citadel of the Isiondenses after capturing the town. The besieged, since there was no other hope of relief, sent envoys to the consul asking aid: shut up in the citadel with their wives and children, they were expecting death day by day, to be suffered by either the sword or starvation.” -Livy, XXXVIII.15.3
Manlius ended the siege and fined the Termessians 50 talents.
Pisidia, Isinda, Æ (4.91g, 19.5mm, 2h), dated CY 11 = 15/4 BC (?)
Obv: Laureate head of Zeus right
Rev: Warrior on horse galloping right, preparing to hurl spear; below, coiled serpent to right and IΣINO; IA behind (date)
Ref: DCA 549; RPC I 3512k ; SNG France 1579; von Aulock, Pisidien 627-31
Although this coin can be cited as "Very Rare" with only one specimen cited for RPC 3512k and is in unusually well preserved condition for any of the variants of this type. There are a few additional specimen known more recently in auctions, and with low demand this is a modestly priced coin. There are also similar and more common coins from Pisidia e.g. this one from neighboring Termessos:
Pisidia, Termessos, 1st century BC, Æ 22mm (5.83g, 1h), dated CY 1 (72/1 BC)
Obv: Laureate head of Zeus right
Rev: Horse galloping left; A (date) above
Ref: SNG Copenhagen 291; SNG France 2106
Termessos is about 36km southeast of Isinda
A second coin, of the first type shown above, and different from the one shown for RPC 3512k is found in Volume 3 of the SNG BNF France.
The date of Civic Year 11, possibly the era after the death of Amyntas (15/4 BC) or from the start of the rule of Amyntas. Coin with years between 1 and 23 are known to the authors of Roman Provincial Coins (RPC). An example of year 12 is found in Asia Minor Coins Coin ID #3852.
Mark Antony made Amyntas of Galatia king of Pisidia in 36 BC and when Amyntas died in 25 BC Pisidia was incorporated into the Roman province of Galatia.
David French notes the unusual circulation (and five or six isolated finds) of these coins in Syria observed by Henri Seyrig:
Translation: "Henri Seyrig wrote me in January 1953. I am struck, given the great rarity of Anatolian bronze coins in Syria, to have encountered over five or six years, at least a dozen small Isinda bronzes with the head of Zeus and the rider with the serpent. These are isolated finds, not a hoard."
David French does not comment and I am not sure what to make of this but it adds to the mysteries of this well preserved and rare coin from the late 1st century BC. It also makes me wonder - given the sandy patina - if this coin may have been found in Syria.
References (in addition to those linked above, inline)
French, D., Hall, A., Milner, N., & Mitchell, S. (1994). Isinda and Lagbe. In D. French & D. French (Eds.), Studies in the History and Topography of Lycia and Pisidia: in Memoriam A.S. Hall (Vol. 19, pp. 53–92). British Institute at Ankara.
George Francis Hill 1897 Catalogue Of The Greek Coins Lycia Pamphylia And Pisidia
Forum Bibliography for Pisidia
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothéque Nationale. Vol. 3: Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Galatia. (Paris, 1994).