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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Anatolia ▸ CiliciaView Options:  |  |  |   

Cilicia

In antiquity, Cilicia (also spelled Kilikia) was a southern coastal region of Anatolia, extending inland north from the Mediterranean coast, east from Pamphylia, to the Amanus Mountains, which separated it from Syria. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and Byzantine Empire. Cilicia Trachea (rugged Cilicia) is a mountain district formed by the spurs of Taurus, which often terminate in rocky headlands with small sheltered harbors, a feature which, in classical times, made the coast a string of havens for pirates and, in the Middle Ages, outposts for Genoese and Venetian traders. Cilicia Trachea lacked large cities and was covered in ancient times by forests that supplied timber to Phoenicia and Egypt. Cilicia Pedias (flat Cilicia), to the east, included the rugged spurs of Taurus and a large coastal plain, with rich loamy soil, known to the Greeks for its abundance, filled with sesame and millet and olives and pasturage for horses. Many of its high places were fortified. Through the rich plain ran the great highway that linked east and west, on which stood the cities of Tarsos (Tarsus) on the Cydnus (Berdan River), Adana on the Sarus (Seyhan river), and Mopsos (Yakapınar) on the Pyramus (Ceyhan River).


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Soli-Pompeiopolis, Cilicia

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Aratos was a native of Soli. His chief pursuits were medicine, grammar, and philosophy. He studied with Menecrates in Ephesus, Philitas in Cos and Praxiphanes in Athens. About 276 he was invited to the court of the Antigonus II Gonatas, whose victory over the Gauls in 277 BC Aratus set to verse. There he wrote his most famous poem, Phaenomena ("Appearances"). He then spent some time at the court of Antiochus I Soter but returned to Pella where he died sometime before 240 B.C.
SH58900. Bronze hexassarion, Lindgren I 1605 (same dies); Milne NC 1940, p. 247, 20; BMC Lycaonia -; SNG BnF -; SNG Levante -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -; SNG PfPS -, gF, weight 12.323 g, maximum diameter 32.4 mm, die axis 180o, Soli-Pompeiopolis mint, 245 - 246 A.D.; obverse AYT K IOY ΦIΛIΠΠOC EY CEB, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, Π − Π across field; reverse ΠOMΠHIOΠOΛ IAT (year 311) ς (6 assaria), bare-headed, draped bust of Aratos right; ex Ancient Numismatic Enterprise, comes with an old round coin ticket probably from Seaby 1960's or 1970's,
BIG 32mm bronze; extremely rare; $320.00 (€284.80)
 


Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Anazarbus, Cilicia

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This coin commemorates an Olympic victory by Anazarbus. Agonistic "urns" or "crowns" were awarded to winners at ancient Greek games. They are called "crowns" because they may have been placed on the head of the victor. Beginning about two decades after this issue, the Olympics would begin a long decline. In 267, the German Heruli invaded Greece attacking Athens, Corinth, Argos, and Sparta. Although the invaders probably never reached Olympia, buildings were dismantled for material to build a wall around the Temple of Zeus and the Bouleterion. An earthquake, a failing economy, further invasions, and Christian antagonism probably caused further decline. The record of victors is very patchy after 261, with a gap of nearly a century from c. 277 to c. 369. Events may merely lack documentation or perhaps there was a moratorium. The last known Olympic victor was the Athenian boxer, M. Aurelios Zopyros in 385. In 393, Theodosius I outlawed all pagan festivals, including the Olympics, ending a thousand years of Greek tradition. Source: Eros and Greek Athletics by Thomas F. Scanlon.
RP84934. Bronze triassarion, Ziegler 744 (Vs 2/Rs 2, 4 spec.), SNG Levante 1495, SNG Pfalz 4732, SNG Leypold 2272, SNG BnF -, SNGvA -, F, dark patina, interesting portrait, porous, weight 8.486 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Anazarbus (Anavarza, Turkey) mint, 249 - 250 A.D.; obverse AYT K KVI TPAIAN ∆EKIOC CEB, radiate head right; reverse ANAZA• EN∆OΞ• ET HΞC (glorious Anazarbus, year 268), agonistic prize crown inscribed ∆EKIOC, containing palm frond, Γ − Γ (seat of 3 provinces, holder of 3 neocorates) flanking crown, OIKOVM/ENIKOC (Ecumenical = Olympic Games) in two lines below; very rare; $220.00 (€195.80)
 


Persian Empire, Tarkumuwa (Datames), Satrap of Cilicia & Cappadocia, c. 384 - 362 B.C., Tarsus, Cilicia

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Datames' enemies in Artaxerxes' court accused him, perhaps falsely, of intending to revolt against the Great King. Secretly warned, he then did, in fact, revolt, c. 370 B.C. The revolt appeared to be leading to a breakup of the entire western half of the empire into autonomous states. His own son's desertion to Artaxerxes was, however, the beginning of the end, which came when Datames was assassinated, c. 362 B.C.
GS84906. Silver obol, Gokturk 25; SNG BnF 278; SNG Levante 81; Casabonne series 1, pl. 3, 22, aEF, toned, tiny edge splits, weight 0.611 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 45o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 378 - 372 B.C.; obverse female head right (Aphrodite?), wearing earring, necklace, and diadem; reverse Aramaic legend right, helmeted male head (Ares?) right; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 28 (2 Jul 2016), lot 231; $210.00 (€186.90)
 


Commodus and Annius Verus, Caesars, 166 - 170 A.D., Tarsus, Cilicia

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The brothers Annius Verus and Commodus, sons of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger, were made caesars in 166 A.D. Annius Verus died at age 7 of natural causes in Rome on 10 September 169. His younger brother Commodus became his father's heir and later successor to his father's throne. The portraits are obviously unrealistic - the caesars were small boys when the coin was struck.
RP84085. Bronze AE 17, RPC Online 5035 (17 spec.); BMC Lycaonia p. 191, 166; SNGvA 5993; SNG BnF 1456; SNG Levante 1018 var. (no star); SNG Cop -, F, turquoise patina, tight flan, porous, earthen deposits, weight 3.339 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 166 - 170 A.D.; obverse KOPOI CEBACTOY, confronted draped youthful busts of Annius Verus (on left) and Commodus, star over crossed club and caduceus between them; reverse temple with ten columns, eagle left with head right and wings open in pediment, KOINOC KIΛIKIAC in architrave, TAP-COY across field at center, MHTPOΠ in exergue; rare; $200.00 (€178.00)
 


Persian Empire, Tarkumuwa (Datames), Satrap of Cilicia & Cappadocia, c. 384 - 362 B.C., Tarsus, Cilicia

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In historical times, Tarsos was first ruled by the Hittites, followed by Assyria, and then the Persian Empire. Tarsus, as the principal town of Cilicia, was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 B.C. onward. Indeed, Xenophon records that in 401 B.C., when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch. Alexander the Great passed through with his armies in 333 B.C. and nearly met his death here after a bath in the Cydnus. By this time Tarsus was already largely influenced by Greek language and culture, and as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more Hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers, poets and linguists. The schools of Tarsus rivaled those of Athens and Alexandria.
GS84907. Silver obol, SNG BnF 310, SNG Levante 217, Sunrise 48, Waddington 4567, Traite II 600, Gorturk -, VF, well centered and struck, toned, earthen deposits, light corrosion, weight 0.714 g, maximum diameter 11.1 mm, die axis 135o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, obverse head of female facing slightly left, drapery around neck; reverse draped bust of female (Aphrodite?) right, wearing tainia, hoop earring, and pearl necklace; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 28 (2 Jul 2016), lot 229; $175.00 (€155.75)
 


Hierapolis-Kastabala, Cilicia, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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Hierapolis-Kastabala was an ancient city in Cilicia Pedias, three kilometers north ancient Pyramus. Alexander the Great stopped at Kastabala before the Battle of Issus in 333 B.C. Antiochus IV refounded the city with the name Hierapolis. In the first century B.C., Hierapolis was the capital of a small local kingdom under the rule of the former Cilician pirate Tarcondimotus I, an ally of Mark Antony. Cicero referred to the city as Rome's most loyal ally beyond the Taurus and the best friend of the Roman people. The city was known for its temple of Artemis Perasia. Strabo wrote of her priestesses who, in a trance, would walk barefoot over hot coals without damage.
GY73092. Bronze AE 15, cf. CNG e-auction 250, lot 112; otherwise apparently unpublished; SNG BnF -, SNG Levante-, SNGvA-, SNG Cop -, BMC Lycaonia -, F, well centered, highlighting "desert" patina, some corrosion, weight 2.776 g, maximum diameter 15.4 mm, die axis 90o, Hieropolis-Kastabola, Cilicia mint, 2nd - 1st centuries B.C.; obverse radiate, draped bust of Helios right, dotted border; reverse eagle standing left on torch, wings open, head left, IEPOΠOΛITΩN above, ΠPOΣ TΩI ΠYPA[NA?] below; extremely rare; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


Persian Empire, Tarsos, Cilicia, Pharnabazos, c. 379 - 374 B.C.

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In 377, Pharnabazos was made commander of a Persian attempt to retake Egypt, which had rebelled and had defeated two previous attempts to retake it. Pharnabazos hired Greek mercenaries under the Athenian general Iphicrates to reinforce his army. A dispute with Iphicrates resulted in failure of the expedition.
GS84908. Silver obol, Casabonne series 4, SNG Levante 76, SNG BnF 257, SNGvA 8645 (uncertain Cilicia), SNG Cop -, BMC Lycaonia -, aEF, toned, slightest corrosion, weight 0.740 g, maximum diameter 10.9 mm, die axis 90o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 379 - 374 B.C.; obverse Baaltars seated half left on backless throne, torso bare, himation around hips and legs and over left shoulder and arm, grounded long lotus-tipped scepter vertical before him in right hand, left hand at waist; reverse head of bearded warrior to left, wearing crested Attic helmet with raised ear flap and adorned with tendril; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 27 (28 May 2016), lot 254; $150.00 (€133.50)
 


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Tarsos, Cilicia

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Agonistic "urns" or "crowns" were awarded to winners at ancient Greek games, similar to modern trophies. They are called "crowns" because they may have been placed on the head of the victor. The crowns on this coin and the inscription under the table refer to the Severia Olympia Games celebrated by Tarsos and other cities near the Syrian border at a site called "the Quadrigae" where Septimius Severus defeated Pescennius Niger in 194 A.D.

The inscription A M K Γ Γ is a boast of Tarsos: Πρωτη Mεγιστη Kαλλιστη, meaning First (A is the Greek numeral one), Greatest, and Most Beautiful city of the three (adjoining) provinces (Cilicia, Isauria, Lycaonia). The final Γ indicates a third neokoria, which was received under Valerian.
RP83549. Bronze AE 33, SNG Levante 1185 (same dies), SNG BnF 1820 (same), Klose-Stumpf 262, SNGvA 6077 var. (rev. inscription arrangement), SNG Cop -, BMC Lycaonia -, aF, porous, weak center on reverse, reverse a little off-center, weight 16.511 g, maximum diameter 32.9 mm, die axis 180o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 255 - 260 A.D.; obverse AV KAI ΠOVΛI OVAΛEPIANOC CE, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, Π - Π flanking at sides; reverse TAPCO-V MHTPOPOLEWC, three agonistic prize crowns set on table, CEVHPI OΛV / A∆PIA EKI/XIPIAI / AVΓOVCTI-A / AKTIA , A M K Γ Γ in exergue; ex Alex G. Malloy; $125.00 (€111.25)
 


Nagidos, Cilicia, c. 420 - 380 B.C.

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Nagidos, a colony of Samos, was located in Cilicia on a hill at the mouth of the Sini Cay (Bozyazi Dere) near modern Bozyazi in Mersin Province, Turkey. Nagidos minted coins with a grape cluster as a symbol of the city, some with both Greek and Aramaic inscriptions, and one type bearing the name of the Persian satrap Pharnabazus. Aphrodite appears most often on the coins, indicating her sanctuary was the most important in the city. Alexander the Great conquered Cilicia in 133 B.C. After his death, Cilicia briefly came under Seleucid rule. About 270 B.C., the Ptolemaic Empire conquered Cilicia. When the city of Arsinoe was founded on land claimed by Nagidos, the Nagidians refused to recognize the settlers. To resolve the dispute, Nagidos was designated as the mother city and the citizens of both shared a single citizenship. Cilicia came under Seleucid rule in 197 B.C. Nagidos was abandoned in the middle of the second century B.C., possibly due to attacks by the Cilician pirates.
GS83594. Silver obol, SNG BnF 14, Waddington 4410, Traité II 1505, SNG Cop 176 var. (N left), SNG Levante 3 var. (NAΓI), Lederer Nagidos -, BMC Lycaonia -, gVF, attractive style, toned, small test cut on edge, weight 0.72 g, maximum diameter 10.9 mm, die axis 90o, Nagidos (Bozyazi, Turkey) mint, c. 420 - 380 B.C.; obverse head of Aphrodite right, hair in sphendone; reverse bearded head of Dionysos right, N right; $125.00 (€111.25)
 


Soloi, Cilicia, c. 450 - 386 B.C.

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Soli (or Soloi) was a colony of Rhodes, founded c. 700 B.C. southwest of Tarsus, in Cilicia. It was destroyed in the 1st century B.C., and refounded by Pompey the Great as Pompeiopolis (not to be confused with the Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia).
GS74432. Silver tetartemorion, BMC Lycaonia p. 148, 24; SNG BnF -, SNG Levante -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, Klein -, VF, nice style, well centered, toned, slightly grainy, weight 0.214 g, maximum diameter 6.3 mm, die axis 90o, Soloi mint, c. 450 - 386 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet, earring, and necklace; reverse bunch of grapes within linear circle border, all in shallow round incuse; rare; $110.00 (€97.90)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Monday, June 26, 2017.
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Cilicia