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

Ancient Greek Coins of 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).


Kelenderis, Cilicia, c. 410 - 375 B.C.

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Kelenderis was a port town, one of the oldest in Cilicia, described in Hellenistic and Roman sources as a small, but strong castle. The rider on the obverse may be Castor, who was not only a horse trainer but also the protector of sailors, an appropriate type for a port town.
GS86211. Silver stater, Casabonne type 4; BMC Cilicia p. 55, 25 & pl. X, 3; cf. SNG BnF 75 (KEΛEN); Celenderis Hoard-; SNG Levante -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, aEF, attractive style, centered on a tight flan, die wear and minor die cracks, marks, weight 10.800 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 30o, Celenderis mint, c. 410 - 375 B.C.; obverse young man riding sideways on horse galloping right, preparing to dismount(?), nude, whip in right hand, bridle in left hand; reverse goat crouching left on dotted exergue line, head turned looking back right, KEΛ[E?] above; very rare late issue with rider right and goat left; $1200.00 (€1020.00)
 


Olba, Cilicia Tracheia, Marcus Antonius Polemo, King, c. 64 - 74 A.D.

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All three references listed, refer to the exact same coin, plus RPC identifies a second example. We were unable to find another, making this is only the the third specimen of this type known to Forum. In 63 A.D., the Pontic part of the Polemon lands was made part of Roman Galatia. Sometime afterward, Marcus Antonius Polemo (III?) ruled as king over part of Cilicia including Olbia and, from this coin, also Lalassis and Kennatis. In the late 60's, he struck coins as king with portraits of Nero and Galba. RPC I notes similarity between this coin type and a Domitian caesar type and dates this coin early in the Flavian period. Certainly it dates before 74 A.D. when Vespasian absorbed part of Cilicia Tracheia, likely including Lalassis and Kennatis, into Roman Cilicia.
GB85938. Bronze AE 18, RPC I 3742, SNG Levante 644, Staffieri Olba 36, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Lycaonia -, VF, green patina, very light marks, earthen deposits and corrosion, some legend weak, reverse off center, weight 2.873 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Olba mint, c. 70 A.D.; obverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ M ANT ΠOΛEMΩNOΣ, club; reverse KOINON ΛAΛAΣΣEΩN KAI KENNATΩN, harpa on globe; only the 3rd known to Forum; extremely rare; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


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; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Myriandros, Cilicia, Mazaios, Satrap of Cilicia, 361 - 334 B.C.

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In "Two Persian Pharaonic Portraits," JNG (2000) pp. 55 - 60, Frank Kovacs first identified the crown worn by both figures as the Pharaohs' Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. This dates the type to the Egypt's 31st Dynasty (343 - 332 B.C.) when Egypt was ruled by the Achaemenid Persians following the overthrow of Nektanebo II, the last native pharaoh. Kovacs suggests the figure on the obverse is Artaxerxes III Ochos, and that on the reverse is Artaxerxes IV Arses.
GS85915. Silver obol, Göktürk 35, SNG BnF 429, Winzer 4.2, SNG Levante -, gVF, toned, fine style, scratches, porosity, off center, weight 0.619 g, maximum diameter 10.7 mm, die axis 0o, Myriandros (near Iskenderun, Turkey) mint, 343 - 334 B.C.; obverse King of Persia (Artaxerxes III?) enthroned right, bearded, wearing the Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, back of throne terminating with a griffin head, lotus flower in right hand, long lotus-tipped scepter vertical in left hand; reverse head left of young beardless Persian prince (Artaxerxes IV?), hair in curls, wearing hoop earring and the Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt; ex Savoca Numismatik auction 15 (28 May 2017), lot 299; rare; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


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; $185.00 (€157.25)
 


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; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


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; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


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; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Seleukeia Kalykadnos, Cilicia, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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The Cilician Seleukia was founded by Seleukos I on the course of river Kalykadnos and soon became an important city, rivaling Tarsos.
GB85027. Bronze AE 18, SNG Levante 697, SNG BnF 925, SNG Cop 205 ff. var. (monograms), VF, reverse off center, weight 4.078 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia ad Calycadnum (Silifke, Turkey) mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, ΣYM upward behind; reverse ΣEΛEYKEΩN TΩN ΠPOΣ TΩI KAΛYKA∆NΩI, forepart of horse right, complex monogram above, PE and M∆H monograms below; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Soloi, Cilicia, c. 100 - 30 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).
GB57540. Bronze AE 26, cf. SNG BnF 1197, SNG Levante 872, SNG Cop -, aVF, weight 9.225 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Soloi mint, c. 100 - 30 B.C.; obverse aegis with winged gorgoneion in center; reverse ΣOΛEΩN (below), Aphrodite riding bull right, owl before, monogram above left; rare; $90.00 (€76.50)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Winzer, A. Antike portraitmünzen der Perser und Greichen aus vor-hellenistischer Zeit (Zeitraum ca. 510-322 v.Chr.). (March-Hugstetten, 2005).
Ziegler, R. Kaiser, Heer und Städtisches Geld : Untersuchungen zur Münzprägung von Anazarbos und Anderer Ostkilikischer Städte. (Vienna, 1993).

Catalog current as of Monday, December 18, 2017.
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Cilicia