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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Greek Coins (Moderators: Dino, Taras)  |  Topic: Bees on coins 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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David Atherton
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The meaning of life can be found in a coin.


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« on: April 27, 2004, 03:19:32 am »

I have an interest in bees and beekeeping, so I was delighted to find out that Ephesos used a bee as a symbol on it's coinage.

I know very little about Greek coins (most of my library is Roman), and was wondering if someone could tell me about these bee coins, such as: When were they minted, what demoniations are they, why did the city choose the bee, how much do these coins generally cost, ect...

Any info would be very helpful. Smiley
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Salem Alshdaifat
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I am coincoholic ,I need help plzzzzz.


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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2004, 04:58:24 am »

i have tow coins with bees,for aleexander the greet,but realy i havent any idea about them???
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esnible
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2004, 05:18:23 am »

I have three coins with bees.  Two are from the city of Ephesus.  I think I paid $30 for a charming small bronze and a bit more for a beat-up silver drachm.  I also have a lion hemidrachm from Cherronesus with a bee as the reverse symbol.

Many of the coins of Ephesus feature the bee.  If you like bees look up coins of this city.  Artemis was the goddesss of Ephesos and her Ephesian temple was one of the Seven wonders of the world.  According to Historia Numorum, the high priest of the temple was called 'the king bee' and the virgin prietesses were called 'Melissae' (= Honey-bees).  The most lovely bee coin are the silver tetradrachms of this city, which cost $500-$1000.

Find out more about ancient coins of Ephesus
http://www.snible.org/coins/hn/ionia.html#Ephesus

Auction records for coins of Ephesus
http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/ionia/ephesos/i.html
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David Atherton
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2004, 06:09:36 am »

Thanks for the links esnible. Greek coins are not my strong suit, so this helps immensely.
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Robert_Brenchley
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2004, 10:59:27 am »

Nice to find another beekeeper on the list! I don't know anything about bee coins, but perhaps those who have them could post pics?
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Salem Alshdaifat
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2004, 03:46:29 pm »

this is alexander with bee,but sorry it is not mine any more.have another on in VF+ but in canada and i cant poast it now ,but will after.
salem
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David Atherton
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2004, 04:53:57 pm »

Yes, some pictures of bee coins would be wonderful.

Thanks for the picture salem, never seen that type before.
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2004, 08:21:14 pm »

Here is my bee coin from Cherronesos.

Most Cherronesos coins of symbols or monograms.  No one knows what they signify.

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BeeCoin
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2012, 05:26:34 am »

Hi David,

I'm a little bid late to respond, but still I try it, because, I think, I have good information for you.  I’m also a beekeeper and coin collector.  I collect coins with bees on it.
Artemis is the goddess of Ephesos and is worshiped as the goddess of hunting (stag) and fertility (bee). That is why you see a bee and a stag on the coins of Ephesos. But there are much more ancient coins with bee on it.
The ancient coins are my biggest interest. I keep a database on my computer with coins with bees and beehives (all with pictures).  I have in this database 1765 ancient coins with bees and about 985 coins and medals from the renaissance till these days. Every day I find on internet new items that I put in this database.  I’ve made a list of ancient coin with bees, very interesting and you will see there are many ancient city’s who has bees on their coins. The list is a pdf-list, it will take a time to download, because it is big (there are many pictures on it).  You can find the list here: http://www.beecoins.com/list/listancientbeecoins120505.pdf If you have more information about "bee coins" I'm always interested.  If you like more information about "bee coins" I'm always helpfule. It is always good to exchange information to each other. My English is not so good, but I hope I make to to big mistakes :-)
Best regards, Piet

PS: I have also a website, but it is not updated it is a site from I think 2004 :-) very old for internet-sites see www.beecoins.com
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 06:08:59 am »

Other very interesting ancient “bee coins” are some coins of Crete like this one:

Zeus (the Father of Gods) is born on Crete and the first years of his live he has lived in a cave in the Dikti mountains of Crete.  He was nurtured by the nymphs with milk from the goat Amalthea and honey from the bees. That is why you see the goat Amalthea on one side of the coin and a bee on the other side.  This coin is from Elyros (Crete), there are different cites on Crete who have a bee on there coins.
Best regards, Piet
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 06:14:08 am »


This one is from Gortina (Crete) the bee is under the bull (Zeus?)
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David Atherton
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2012, 06:34:56 am »

Piet V, thank you for the link to your informative webpage.

Sadly I no longer can keep bees but I still enjoy looking at the coins with bees on them! A truly wonderful way to marry two hobbies together.
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Enodia
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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 08:42:14 pm »

we've had a couple of fun threads on this topic, with detours into discussions about Artemis and the milissae, etc.

in you're interested, the trail starts here...   Wink
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=53714.0

~ Peter
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slokind
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2012, 03:03:38 pm »

I did this time find the jewelry of the 7th century, so Archaic as the first coins of Ephesos are, from Kameiros on Rhodes.  Both the Berlin Staatliche Museen and the Louvre have some of this, and for teaching I took snapshots of it lying in the display cases.  The little bee-bodied goddesses are about an inch, or a couple of centimeters, tall.  We don't really know to what they were attached, since some of them would not easily be strung in necklaces. 
They date from the end of the seventh century BCE and pretty surely refer to the form of Artemis that the bees on Ephesian coins refer to, the goddess who also is shown as mistress of wild beasts.
•• Gold repousse jewelry from Kameiros Rhodes with Bee Artemis and Artemis Potnia Theron, obviously Ephesian.
(so reads my File Info for my students)
You can CLICK to zoom, though bearing in mind that the photos were taken through glass with a 2MP digital camera.
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gallienus1
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2012, 06:55:03 am »

It is interesting to look at the bees on ancient coinage from a biological point of view.  They all look to me quite different to the modern forms and I don’t think it is simply due to the artistic conventions of their age. I think it is because they are different in the same way other domestic animals from the time would look different to modern forms.

I believe what we see is a kind of “fossil” representation of ancient varieties of bee that no longer exist. In an old thread concerning the silphium plant on the coins of Kyrenaica I suggested the name “synthetic fossil” for such coin images. They are fossils in that they bear an image of an ancient life form, and of course synthetic because they are created by human technology. Another example would be the wild roses on the coinage of Rhodes.

Looking at some of the representations such as the one on my own drachm from Arados, with its long tapering abdomen, makes me think it is meant to depict a queen bee (the ancients thought they were “kings” I believe). 
The image on my tetradrachm from Ephesos looks more like a worker bee to me.

Best regards,
Steve
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gallienus1
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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2012, 06:56:58 am »

Forgot to add the worker bee!

Steve
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