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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Greek Coins (Moderators: Dino, Meepzorp)  |  Topic: The Coinage of Ephesus 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Vitruvius
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« on: April 30, 2008, 09:19:27 pm »

One can usually spot a coin of Ephesos by the typical bee symbol on the obverse of the coin.  But it does beg the question: what does the bee represent?  I'd like to illustrate four different interpretations of this symbology in hopes that it may spark a debate and perhaps additional insight on this often overlooked coinage:

1. A great study on the coinage of Ephesus by Macquarie University explains that the bee symbol so often used refers to the Muses, who took the shape of bees, and led Androklos, son of king Kodros, and the Athenians to colonize Ionia where Ephesos is located.

2. An article by William E. Daehn published in The Celator in 1991 explains that the bee relates to the worship of Artemis, the daughter of Zeus.  When asked what gifts she desired from her father, she requested eternal virginity, a bow and arrow.  Because of this unique request she became known as the virgin huntress.  In ancient times, bees were believed to reproduce without mating, and therefore signified virginity and in turn became the symbol of Artemis, Ephesus' patron goddess.

3. A catalog description here at Forum explains that "Ephesos was a producer of honey and the location of a famous temple of Artemis. The bee advertised their most famous product".

4. Some scholars believe Artemis traces back to an earlier Annatolian goddess whom the Hittittes called Hannahanna,who sent a bee to wake up the god Telepinu from sleep or death.

In conclusion, like many ancient coins, interpretations can be varied and widespread concerning symbology.  Considering the significant religious implications of most Greek coinage it stands to reason that the bee may directly represent Artemis, based on it's reference to virginity.  After all, a bee does decorate the side of a first century C.E. statue or Artemis found at her temple residing in Ephesos.

Are there any other possible explanations as to the distinct obverse on these coins?  Can anyone offer good resources or catalogs further illustrating this coinage?  Below is a beautiful example offered here at Forum, found here:
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?param=81795q00.jpg&vpar=592&zpg=25970
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Enodia
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2008, 09:43:20 pm »

i was going to bring up the Telepinus myth, but i see you already have that covered.
it is a fascinating myth, and one which may be an origin of the Demeter myth and the Eleusinian Mysteries.

i also seem to recall that priestesses of Artemis were known as 'Melissae', and melissa means bee (specifically honey bee, if i remember correctly).

this is a very interesting series which i've always been drawn to. i would love to get an good example of an Ephesian tetradrachm someday, but they are a little beyond my means at the moment.
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2008, 12:05:49 am »

And is 'Melissa' related to the -ssos names, themselves pre-Greek and apparently Anatolian?  Some 7c BCE jewelry from Rhodes suggests strongly that the bee is much more than a reference to Ephesus as a honey-producing center (the site is so beautifully situated that like the best parts of California it could, and does, and probably did produce all sorts of good natural products).  The stags, the older authors pointed out, also are associated with a young male god, with which some of the Anatolian cults of Apollo may be identified.  It is too bad that we don't have literature and epigraphy for Ephesos in quantities to equal Athens!  The Anatolian Apollo and Artemis are great deities indeed.
Pat L.
Here is a snapshot of some of the jewelry from Kameiros in Rhodes in the Louvre and Berlin.  I'll see if I can find one of the bee-bodied ones.
Here: the bee-bodied ones I found in Berlin in the Altes Museum.
They all are part of finds from Kameiros in Rhodes, last quarter of the 7c BCE.
CLICK IMAGES TO MAXIMIZE
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esnible
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2008, 05:41:15 am »

Barclay Head describes the goddess and cult saying "She is many-breasted, and from each of her hands hangs a long fillet with tassels at the extremities. On either side stands a stag raising its head to the image of the goddess. The usual symbols of the cultus of this nature-goddess are the Bee and the Stag, and it is noteworthy that the high-priest of the temple of Artemis was called Ηεσσην, ‘the king bee,’ while the virgin priestesses bore the name of Melissae or Honey-Bees."  [ http://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Ephesus ]
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Enodia
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2008, 07:57:25 am »

Quote
Here: the bee-bodied ones I found in Berlin in the Altes Museum.
They all are part of finds from Kameiros in Rhodes, last quarter of the 7c BCE.

these are quite interesting slokind, and very beautiful!


Walter Burkert addresses the "many-breasted Artemis" in his excellent book 'Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual', connecting Her to the very early 'plank goddesses' and claiming that the depiction may not be of breasts at all (or at least not exclusively). he claims that the so-called breasts may actually represent bull testicles, bladders full of offerings (such as fat, grain and even honey), etc. in fact if one looks closely enough the 'breasts' do look slightly different from row to row.
this type of offering is known to have been associated with the prehistoric plank idols, some of which were barely anthropomorphic, if at all.

in fact, going back to Telepinus, when he returned (bringing the fertility of the land and animals with him, hence the possible connection to Demeter), he was propitiated with similar offerings hung from a tall pole.
this may possibly be an early form of the northern European fertility ritual of the Maypole (appropriately enough for May Day!).

~Peter
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Vitruvius
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2008, 02:57:00 pm »

Thank you all for the comments.  Enodia and Slokind those are good points about Artemis' priestesses and the Anatolian influence.  The Ephesian Artemis does seem to be an adaptation of the existing deity being worshipped in the area when the Greeks began to colonize Ionia.  The goddess is often associated with nature, including wild beasts (such as the stag) and an abundant harvest.  The worship of Artemis in this area began as a tree shrine, which may explain the date palm on the reverse of the coin listed below (although some theorize it represents the prosperity of the city).
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slokind
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2008, 05:50:37 pm »

Though I am very much less confident about specifying the beginnings of the Artemis and Apollo cults of the western half of Asia Minor, it is clear that worship there had a somewhat different blend of constituent elements in its substrata from those of the "Helladic" (viz, Greek Peninsula) substrata.  But the word "influence" is especially comical here.  The Neolithic and Bronze Age (pre-Late Mycenaean) equivalent to the internet was the Boat.  True, with increasing population and increasing trade (with more knowledge of where and how to go), interchanges of words, technololgies, raw materials (think of emery and copper, just to name two), and eventually colonies, the intricate complex of interchanges grew and grew, until by the Late Bronze Age the rich miscegenation of culture became so complexly entangled that people, always inclined to the sin of fear, started systematically trying (in their folklore and cults) to define themselves as against each other--always laughable and asinine, even when it doesn't lead to slaughter.
The Greek peninsular Zeus and the Cretan Zeus and the Western Anatolian Zeus (not to mention the cognate names in Sanskrit and Latin) are not different gods, really, only culturally (literarily) differentiable--you might almost call them avatars, not of 'one god' but of different assortments of attributes of a single god complex.  Yes, and toss in Thor as well.
As for Artemis, you can hardly isolate the virginal girl huntess who slays Aktaion from the mistress of wild beasts idea which is more dominant at Ephesos.
Yes, there is a sub-Hittite component more dominant in Asia Minor, where it is more primary, but the Hittites themselves, as their language demonstrates, were as perfect an example of miscegenation as the various peninsular Greeks.  As you can see, I don't think much genetic or cultural purity is to be found in thriving populations and their cultures.  And that's not some mushy pseudo-liberal notion.  Far from it.  It is accumulated evidence.
Pat L.
Someone mentioned the breasts/eggs/bull testicles adorning the images of Ephesian Artemis.  I always have wondered how early these were added.  All the images that we have with them, known to me, are post-Classical, not merely post-original.  Things like that can just get started in cults.  I wonder if anyone can document an answer to this question.  A classical Greek author might call an early image ugly or barbaric either with reference to its unlikeness to a lovely woman or as to its unaccustomed attributes.  Above, someone used the word 'plank'.  OK, wood.  But what is the Greek word that 'plank' translates?
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Enodia
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2008, 06:05:02 pm »

it's true that Artemis as 'Potnia Theron' of the east is quite different than the Arcadian huntress, and even further removed from the Roman Diana.
She was certainly a complex goddess who underwent quite a transformation during the first millenia BC. we can also see this in the separation of Artemis and Hekate, at one time nearly conflated, but by the Hellenistic age totally separte, with Greek Artemis taking the more noble functions, while the 'foriegn' Hekate was relegated to the functions of the underworld and demotic witchcraft.

but i think it is sometimes too easy to define these goddesses as mere Jungian archetypes.
doing so loses their individuality and thereby removes us from understanding their role in the everyday lives of the ancients we would know. the image of deities on ancient coins were not (at least originally) mere statements or propagandas, they were devout dedications.
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2008, 06:11:24 pm »

By all that's truly holy, meaning reasonable, don't even mention Jung!  I mean, he was a human being and as such deserving of compassion, but....!!!!
I took great pains, after thinking this through for days, to avoid all the 19c and early 20c Reigionsgeschichte vocabulary.  After all, it would be wicked to lead 21c people, like innocent Oregonians (whose parents' generation I taught at Eugene, 1962-1973), down those dark alleys and cul-de-sacs. 
You didn't even leave time for my correcting my typing errors.  P.L.
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Enodia
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2008, 06:23:44 pm »

lol!
sorry, sorry!

being an Oregonian myself (although hardly innocent!), i will absolutely agree to disregard Jun... eh, i mean, that "collective unconscience guy" when discussing such matters in the future.

peace?   Wink
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2008, 01:02:03 am »

Jung (and his disciples) is a trip to read, but nothing is rooted, and hardly anything can be pinned down.  For that reason, this material is not of much help in trying to understand antiquity.  Needless to say, I couldn't have an opinion of it had I not read some myself.  Others one may agree or disagree with, Burkert for example, but one will know what evidence one is dealing with.
All I ask is, when I have been at pains to avoid saying 'all one goddess' (or 'all separate goddesses'), not to have 'are different' with an unwarranted accusation of Jungianism thrown back at me in the space of five minutes.
Does that help?
Pat L.
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2008, 06:48:02 am »

Someone mentioned the breasts/eggs/bull testicles adorning the images of Ephesian Artemis.  I always have wondered how early these were added.

Antonia S. Faita (“The Medusa-Athena Nikephoros Coin from Pergamon”, Athena in the Classical World (2001), p. 164) says that the balls are neither breasts nor testicles, but instead the cities of a monetary alliance!  Discussing a tetradrachm of Pergamon she says “Athena Nikephoros ... wears an apron with seven balls, the largest one in the centre.  Her left hand holds a branch with seven leafy shoots.  The balls could not possibly have represented breasts, symbols of a fertility cult, as they lack the most important element of fertility, the nipples.  The absense of these spherical globes from representations of Athena Nikephoros on coins dated to the Roman period clearly indicates that the globes were not depicted on the goddess’s cult statue.  The globes on Athena’s pinafore are placed on an apron tied around her waist far to low to be considered breasts.  The equal number of balls and shoots may well mean they alluded to the same idea.”  ... “The central ball on the goddess’s apron, being the largest, represented the capital Pergamon, the seat of Attalid power; the other six, the remaining cities issuing cistophoroi.”

This makes a lot of sense, except photos of statues of this deity that I've seen in the Leo Mildenberg festshrift have more than seven of the objects, and when uses as a mintmark on cistophoric tetradrachms there are only two.  So I must be cautious about theories requiring there to be seven of the objects!

Slokind is right that there are no really old images with these things, and Faita is I think right that there are no Roman things.  Perhaps they are some kind of Attalid symbol.   I think they make Artemis look like a berry or seed pod.
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Enodia
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2008, 12:54:17 pm »

... All I ask is, when I have been at pains to avoid saying 'all one goddess' (or 'all separate goddesses'), not to have 'are different' with an unwarranted accusation of Jungianism thrown back at me in the space of five minutes.
Does that help?
Pat L.
whoa now! i made no accusations here, nor did i throw anything back at you.

my response was to the topic rather than any particular post, and i was merely speaking in general based on my experience in discussing these matters. so forgive me if i wasn't specific enough, but i think you are being a little overly sensitive here.

anyway, back to the topic, here's a link to the Burkert page i was refering to...

http://books.google.com/books?id=APcX1KKHF9wC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=Upis+%2B+Anatolian+goddess&source=web&ots=9_KAjHybHX&sig=Aep9gerCH9aXe3fYPROcRTWkLwQ&hl=en
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2008, 04:11:37 pm »

Thank you.  I hadn't read that one.  Serves me right for having been in a convent through the 1970s.  Just ordered myself a copy.  As I said, with Burkert we are dealing with scholarship.
Pat L.
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Vitruvius
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2008, 05:04:29 pm »

These discussions and debates have been inspiring.  Thank you Enodia for the link to Berkhert's book (another for the wish list!). 

The stag often represented on this series could certainly refer to at least two different themes.  Sure, the Ephesian Artemis is often associated with the goddess of wild animals and depicted regularly with the stag image, but what about the legend of Aktaion?

Aktaion was well known to have been accused of sneaking a peek at Artemis while she bathed.  When Artemis discovered the lurking fiend, she turned him into a stag which sent the poor Aktaion running wildly from his hunting dogs, which ultimately became his demise as he was soon torn to shreds.  Another legend depicts Aktaion suffering the same fate for boasting of being a better hunter than Artemis.  Whatever the case may be, it certainly looks as though this coin may illlustrate Aktaion running from his hiding place after being transformed.  The wild appearance of the stag as well as a head turned back, perhaps in fear, may support the legend.

The image shown of Artemis as Potnia Theron or "Lady of the Beasts" is from an Attic Black Figure signed by Kleitias from about 570 to 560 BC.
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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2008, 02:12:43 am »

... Aktaion was well known to have been accused of sneaking a peek at Artemis while she bathed.  When Artemis discovered the lurking fiend, she turned him into a stag which sent the poor Aktaion running wildly from his hunting dogs, which ultimately became his demise as he was soon torn to shreds.
this myth always seemed odd to me, at least if we see Artemis in the oriental  form. peculiar behavior for a fertility goddess, no? however it makes much more sense from an Arcadian point of view, and further defines the differences between the two, in my opinion.

Quote
Another legend depicts Aktaion suffering the same fate for boasting of being a better hunter than Artemis.
okay, less ambiguity here.

Quote
Whatever the case may be, it certainly looks as though this coin may illlustrate Aktaion running from his hiding place after being transformed.  The wild appearance of the stag as well as a head turned back, perhaps in fear, may support the legend.
an interesting observation Vitruvius, and one which i had never pondered before. then again, it is probably in the nature of prey animals to act so. still, to depict such behavior on a coin so deliberately is worthy of further consideration.
hmmm...
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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2008, 01:37:23 pm »

This is certainly interresting!  Smiley I've been trying to write an article for FORVM about some of the coins of Ephesus for a long time. These coins are the Ephesian tetradrachms minted between the years of 387-295 B.C.
Personally it's one of my "holy grail" coins. But right now all I have from Ephesus is a small worn copper from Seleukid times. But we all have to start somewhere, right? But, I digress.

Anyways, I have a handful of personal theories as to the symbolism of the stag on the reverse of the coin:

1- That the reverse of this coin represents one of the twelve labors of Hercules (i.e. the Keryneian Hind). I discarded this one because there's not enough evidence to prove that this would be so.

2- It may have something to do with Ephesus' freedom from Spartan control in the early 4th century B.C. There's a bit more evidence for me to work with on this one.

This is just off the top of my head (I don't have my notes and sources with me at the moment).

Vitruvius: That's interresting that you've mentioned Aktaeon, I've never thougt about connecting the symbols on the coins and this particular myth. Smiley

I've had to put this aside because of my schoolwork. But now that the semester at my college is over, I'll finally be able to finish it this summer.
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Enodia
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2008, 04:05:23 pm »

well i for one will be interested in seeing this when you are done Aamil Q.
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Vitruvius
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« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2008, 09:08:16 pm »

I also look forward to reading your article, Aamil Q.

The tree often seen on the reverse of these coins could represent the birth and also the subsequent worship of Artemis as well.  Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo.  It is told that Leto gave birth to Artemis while grasping hold of a sacred palm-tree.  Artemis was also considered a goddess of trees and vegetation, and in Caryae there was an image of Artemis Kapvarts (" the nut-tree goddess").

This particular example illustrates a date palm tree looming over the ever prominent stag.  It is offered for sale here at Forum:

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?param=81614q00.jpg&vpar=592&zpg=24837
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Vitruvius
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2008, 08:47:52 pm »

Here we can see Rome's influence on Ephesus.  The goddess Artemis was soon referrred to as Diana, very similar to the Greek version but the daughter of  Jupiter and Latona, instead of Zeus and Leto.  We see this often as Rome recognizes and respects many of the gods and goddesses of regions it conquered, and subsequently incorporates them into their worship.

The worship of Diana is mentioned in the Bible. In the Acts of the Apostles, Ephesian metalsmiths who felt threatened by Saint Paul’s preaching of Christianity, jealously rioted in her defense and shouted “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28, New English Bible).


HADRIAN, 117-138 AD. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm of Ephesus. Bare head / Temple of Diana Ephesia with cult statue.

Photo courtesy of Pegasi Numismatics
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Vitruvius
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2010, 12:51:44 pm »

I would like to revive this post a bit.  If anyone has yet to discover it, Dr. Tom Buggey has a great section on his site devoted to Ephesus, based on a tour of the restored site in 2004:

http://tjbuggey.ancients.info/ephesus.html

Tom's site is loaded with lots of resources for all areas of ancient numismatics, and was awarded the Forvm Award For Numismatic Excellence in 2004:

http://tjbuggey.ancients.info/

Enjoy!
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« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2018, 12:50:00 pm »

Hadrian, Cistophorus IONIA Ephesus mint 128-38 AD Asclepius standing
Reference.
RPC III, 1348; RIC II 481a; Metcalf, Cistophori type 20 (unlisted dies); RSC 290.

Obv. HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS P P
Bare head right

Rev.   COS III
Asclepius standing front head l. holding serpent-wreathed rod in r., l. arm at side.

11.06 gr
28.50 mm
6h

 Grin Grin
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« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2018, 12:51:32 pm »

IONIA, Ephesus Hadrian Æ 23 Kenchrios riclining
Reference. very rare
RPC 3, 2065; Type reference   K 182; Helios 3, 29 April 2009, lot 375

Obv.   ΑΥ ΚΑΙ ΤΡΑ ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟС СΕ
Laureate head of Hadrian right

Rev.   ΕΦΕСΙΩΝ, ΚΕΝΧΡΙΟС (in exergue)
River-god Kenchrios reclining, l., holding branch in his r. hand, cornucopia in his l., his l. arm on an inverted vase from which water flows.

11.45 gr
23 mm
12h
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« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2018, 12:52:45 pm »

Great coin both,

 Thumbs Up Smiley Wink

Q.
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« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2018, 12:56:54 pm »

seemed worthwhile for a nice topic
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