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Ephesos, on the west coast of Anatolia, was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. It was famous for its Temple of Artemis, completed around 550 B.C., one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The cult image of the Ephesian goddess has a mummy-like body with the feet placed close together, is many-breasted, and from each of her hands hangs a long fillet with tassels at the ends. At her side stands a stag raising its head to the image of the goddess. The usual symbols of this nature-goddess are the torch, stag, and the bee. Coins of Ephesos most frequently depict a bee on the obverse. The high-priest of the temple of Artemis was called the King Bee, while the virgin priestesses were called honey-bees (Melissae). Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the Book of Revelation and the Gospel of John may have been written there.
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Forrer, L. Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Greek Coins formed by Sir Hermann Weber. (1922 - 1929).
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Lindgren, H., and F. Kovacs. Ancient Bronze Coinage of Asia Minor and the Levant. (San Mateo, 1985).
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Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
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Ephesus occupied the alluvial plain of the lower Cayster, but it owed its chief wealth and renown less to the produce of its soil than to the illustrious sanctuary of the old Asiatic nature-goddess, whom the Ionian Greeks (when, under Androclus, the son of Codrus, they effected a settlement in those parts) identified with the Greek Artemis. The Ephesian goddess is represented as a female figure, the body a mummy-like trunk with the feet placed close together. 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. The coinage of Ephesus falls into the following periods:—
|ΑNΟSΜΙSΜΑ (φηνοσεμισημα) Stag to right with head lowered. [BMC Ionia, Pl. III. 8.] (Fig. 294.)||Three incuse punches, that in the center oblong, the others square. |
EL. Stater, 216.5 grs.
This is the most ancient inscribed coin at present known. Unfortunately it is unique, and the third letter of the first word is obscure. It may be either or N. The interpretation of the remarkable inscription has given rise to much controversial discussion, for a résumé of which see Babelon, Traité, ii. I, 62. The weight, the type, and the Ionian character of the incuse reverse, all indicate Ephesus as the place of mintage rather than Halicarnassus, to which Doric city P. Gardner once attributed it,
On various grounds, as Babelon (op. cit.) has pointed out, this attribution is unacceptable. The coin is certainly Ephesian, as the stag is the symbol of the great goddess of Ephesus. The relation of the inscription to the type is in so far certain that it seems to mean ‘I am the signet of Phanes’. The doubtful word in the genitive case Φαενος, Φαννος, or Φανος, has been differently explained. Newton (Num. Chron., 1870, p. 238) regarded it as referable only to the type and to the cultus of the goddess Artemis; and he suggested as a translation ‘I am the sign of the Bright one’. Such an interpretation of the inscription would imply that the coin was a hierarchical issue from the temple treasury. It is, however, far more probable that Φηνος or Φαννος is not an epithet of Artemis, but the name, in the genitive case, of some prominent citizen of Ephesus, it may be of a despot, or of a magistrate, or of a member of one of the wealthy Ephesian families of bankers and money-lenders (see Babelon, Traité, l. c.).
|Bee in linear square.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. III. 9, 10.]
|Oblong incuse divided into two squares. |
EL. Trite 71.2 grs.
|Forepart of stag, head turned back; in front [Ibid., Pl. III. 11.]||Incuse square. |
EL. Hecte 36 grs.
|Id. [Head Ephesus, Pl. I. 4.]||Incuse square. |
EL. Hemihecton, 18 grs.
The following drachms seem to belong to the period of Persian dominion under Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius I, down to the Ionian revolt, B.C. 494:—
[BMC Ionia, Pl. IX. 1.]
|Incuse square quartered. |
AR Drachm, 50.3 grs.
|Bee with curved wings; with volute in field to l. of its head.|
[Ibid., Pl. IX. 2.]
AR Drachm, 49.4 grs.
|Bee with curved wings; with volute on either side of head.|
[Imhoof, Kl. M., p. 49, 1.]
|ΕΦ and Eagle’s head r. within incuse square. |
AR 4 grs.
To the period between the Ionian revolt and the sack of Miletus, B.C. 494, and the battle of Eurymedon, B.C. 469, which marked the commencement of the Athenian hegemony, the following coins may be assigned:—
|ΕΦΕΣΙΟΝ or ΕΦ Bee with curved wings. [BMC Ionia, Pl. IX. 3, 4, and Head Ephesus, Pl. I. 11-14.]||Incuse square quartered.|
Whether coins of these types continued to be struck during the Athenian hegemony, B.C. 469-415, is doubtful.
In this period Ephesus, which had revolted from Athens after the Sicilian disaster, and had become dependent first upon the Persians and then upon the Spartans, struck silver with types similar to those of the preceding period, but on a somewhat heavier standard, identical with the so-called Rhodian standard. Didrachms 117 grs. and smaller denominations. These coins usually bear a magistrate’s name either on the obverse, beneath the bee, or on the bar which divides the incuse square (Head Ephesus, Pl. I. 15-21).
In B.C. 394 the Athenian Conon expelled the Spartan oligarchies from most of the Asiatic coast-towns. Among other cities Ephesus and Samos are mentioned as having then shaken off the Spartan yoke. We have accordingly no difficulty in assigning to this period the federal (?) coins issued by Rhodes, Cnidus, Iasus, Samos, Ephesus, and Byzantium, each with its own distinctive type on the reverse of the coin, while on the obverse is the infant Herakles strangling two serpents, and the inscr. ΣΥΝ for Συνμαχικον. On this group of coins see Regling, Z. f. N., xxv, p. 207 ff.
|ΣΥΝ Infant Herakles strangling two serpents.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. IX. 6.]
|Ε Φ Bee with curved wings: beneath Π Ε (magistrate’s name). |
AR Rhodian tridrachm, 176.6 grs.
In addition to this federal (?) coinage Ephesus began, about B.C. 394, or possibly a little earlier, the issue of the long series of tetradrachms of Rhodian weight (236 grs.) which lasted for no less than a century.
|Ε Φ Bee. (Fig. 295.)|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. IX. 8.]
|Forepart of stag with head turned back; behind it, a palm-tree, and, in front, a magistrate’s name in nom. case. |
AR Tetradrachm, 236 grs.
Smaller denominations weighing 88 grs., and drachms of 57 grs., with similar types, as well as pieces of 14 grs. also occur (Head Ephesus, Pl. II. 6-10), together with bronze coins, obv. Bee, rev. Stag kneeling. tho magistrates’ names on some of which prove that they are contemporary with the tetradrachms (Head Ephesus, Pl. II. 11-13; III. 12-13).
In B.C. 295 Lysimachus made himself master of Ephesus, the name of which he shortly afterwards changed to Arsinoeia (Ath. Mitth., xxv, 1900, p. 100 ff.) in honour of his wife.  This period is marked by the issue of regal money at Ephesus bearing the usual types of Lysimachus, symbol Bee, and inscr. ΕΦ or ΑΡ in monogram (Head Ephesus, pp. 42-45). The series of autonomous tetradrachms now came to an end, but the pieces of 88 grs., with halves and quarters, continued to be struck, probably because they passed as thirds, &c., of the Attic tetradrachms of Lysimachus.
|Head of Artemis.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. X. 4.]
|ΕΦΕ Bow and quiver. Symbol: Bee. Magistrate’s name. |
AR 88 grs.
|Ε Φ Bee.||Stag standing. |
Æ Size .7
|Head of Queen Arsinoë, veiled.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. X. 5.]
|ΑΡΣΙ Id. |
AR 82.1 grs.
AR 42 grs.
AR 19 grs.
|Id. [BMC Ionia, Pl. X. 6.]|| „ Stag kneeling. |
Æ Size .7
|Id.|| „ Forepart of stag. |
Ephesus during this interval was probably left by the contending royal houses in the enjoyment of autonomy. The coinage consists of Attic octobols and bronze:—
|Head of Artemis.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. X. 8.]
|Ε Φ Forepart of stag and palm-tree. Magistrate’s name. |
AR 75 grs.
|Ε Φ Bee, often in wreath.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. X. 10.]
|Stag drinking. Magistrates’ names. |
Æ Size .7
1 At the same time he appears to have conferred upon Smyrna the name Eurydiceia in honour of his daughter Eurydice (see infra, p. 592).
During this period Ephesus was for the most part attached to the dominions of the Ptolemies. The coinage consists (α) of Ptolemaic coins (cf. the gold octadrachm of Berenice II, BMC Ptolemies, Pl. XIII. 2, with the Ephesian Bee in the field); (β) of didrachms and drachms of reduced Rhodian weight (102 and 50 grs.);
|Bust of Artemis.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 1.]
|Ε Φ Forepart of stag, without palm-tree. Magistrates’ names. |
AR 102 grs. and AR 50 grs.
and (γ) of bronze coins of similar types; size .6 (BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 3). For Æ of Seleucus II, possibly struck at Ephesus, see Imhoof, Kl. M., p. 53.
In B.C. 202 Aradus in Phoenicia began to strike Alexandrine tetradrachms (Müller, Cl. V) bearing dates in Greek characters. Similar coins without dates began to be issued at Ephesus about the same time. This coincidence seems to indicate that Ephesus and Aradus, two great commercial cities of the coasts of Asia Minor and Phoenicia respectively, may have found it to their mutual advantage about this time to conclude a monetary treaty, according to which each city might secure a free circulation for her coins on the markets of the other. This, of course, is only a conjecture, but it is remarkable that, at both cities, the Alexandrine tetradrachms of Müller’s Class V merge into those of Class VI (Müller, Nos. 1018-1024) about B.C. 198, and that the autonomous drachms of Attic weight issued at Ephesus during the greater part of the second century are also identical in type with the drachms of Aradus dated 174-110 B.C.
|Ε Φ Bee. [BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 4, 5.]||Stag standing before a palm-tree. Magistrates’ names. |
AR Attic drachm, 64 grs.
|Id. [BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 6.]||Id. |
Æ Size .7
The Alexandrine tetradrachms of Class V (B.C. 202-196) and of Class VI (B.C. 196-189) were superseded by tetradrachms of Eumenes II of Pergamum, also struck at Ephesus B.C. 189-159 (Head Ephesus, pp. 55-60).
At this time, too, or perhaps earlier, the series of Ephesian cistophori begins. These are at first undated; but from the period of the constitution of the Roman Province of Asia (Sept. 134) they bear dates referring to that era, and are likewise distinguished by the subordinate symbol of a long torch in the field to the right of the serpents on the reverse. An exceptional coin, dated ΙΓ (= B.C. 121), bears the signature of a Roman official C · ASIN · C · F.  These dated cistophori extend in an
1 I have seen only a photograph of the coin, and I do not know into what collection it has now passed. The date and the early style of this cistophorus make it quite impossible to identify the magistrate whose name it bears with C·ASIN·C·F· (Gallus), Proconsul of Asia in B.C. 6-5.
|Bust of Artemis. [Head Ephesus, Pl. V. 2-6.]||ΕΦΕΣΙΩΝ or Ε Φ Cultus image of the Ephesian Artemis. Stag, bee or other symbols in the field. AV Stater, 132 grs.|
|Id.||No inscription. |
Similar AV 84.5 grs.
In B.C. 48 Caesar visited Ephesus and reformed the constitution of the Province of Asia. From this time onwards there is no autonomous Ephesian silver money. The chief bronze coins which are known are:—
|Bust of Artemis. [BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 7.]||Ε Φ Long torch and forepart of stag. Magistrates’ names. |
Æ Size .9
|Id. [BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 8.]||Ε Φ Long torch between two stags. Magistrates’ names. |
|Ε Φ Artemis huntress with hound.|
[BMC Ionia, Pl. XI. 9.]
|Cock with palm across wing; the whole in wreath. Magistrate’s name. |
From the time of the Triumvirate, B.C. 43, to that of Gallienus, the coinage extends in an unbroken series. The earlier issues down to the reign of Claudius bear the names of local magistrates, Grammateus, Archiereus, or Archiereus Gram., Hiereus, Episkopos (Z. f. N., vi. 15), but never Archon or Strategos, as do the coins of most other Asiatic cities. The names of Roman Proconsuls are also met with, viz. M’. Acilius Aviola, A.D. 65-66; Ρ. Calvisius Ruso; L. Caesennius Paetus; ... Rufus, under Domitian; and Cl. Julianus, A.D. 145-146. It is an unexplained fact that after the time of Claudius hardly any names of local magistrates occur on Ephesian coins. In Imperial times Ephesus was one of the few mints where AV and AR were issued, the AR with both Greek and Latin inscriptions, viz. Cistophori with DIANA EPHESIA, denarii of the Flavians, and didrachms and drachms of Nero (112 and 56 grs.) inscribed ΔΙΔΡΑΧΜΟΝ and ΔΡΧΜΗ. For AV see Imhoof Zur. gr. u. röm. Münzk., pp. 5 f., and for Æ of the earlier emperors Kl. M., pp. 55 ff. The ethnic ЄΦЄCΙΩΝ from the time of Trajan onwards is frequently, accompanied by an honorific title. e.g. Ο ΝЄΩ[κορος] ЄΦЄ[σιων] ΔΗ[μος]
Remarkable inscriptions and types. ΘΕΟΓΜΙΑ, Heads of Claudius and Agrippina face to face; ΡΩΜΗ Bust of Roma, Nero; ΖЄΥΕ ΟΛΥΜΠΙΟC seated, Domitian; ΚΛΑCЄΑC and ΜΑΡΝΑC, River-gods, the latter recumbent against a shield, Domitian; ΝЄΙΚΗ ΔΟΜΙΤΙΑΝΟΥ, Domitian; ЄΦЄCΙΑ Cultus-statue of Artemis, Trajan; Captive Parthia seated, Trajan; ΑΡΤΕΜΙC ЄΦЄCΙΑ Cultus-statue, Hadrian; ΑΝΔΡΟΚΛΟC the Founder, with wild boar, in reference to the oracle which bade him found the city on the spot where he should meet a boar; Antinoüs; ΚΟΡΗCΟC and ΑΝΔΡΟΚΛΟC Two heroes joining hands; ΚΑΥCΤΡΟC, ΚЄΝΧΡЄΙΟC, Rivers recumbent separately or together with Artemis between them, Ant. Pius; ΠЄΙΩΝ in connection with the type of Zeus υετιος enthroned above Mt. Pion, and pouring rain upon the city of Ephesus (Paus. vii. 5. 10; cf. Steph. s. v. Εφεσος). On other coins Mt. Pion appears recumbent, holding cultus-statue of Artemis beneath mountain on which runs a boar pierced by a spear (Imhoof, Jahrb. d. Inst., 1888, Pl. IX. 25); ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝ ΙΚЄCΙΟC and Greek Artemis standing face to face (BMC Ionia, Pl. XIII. 10); ΑΡΤЄΜΙC ЄΦЄCΙΑ between stags; Artemis ΠΑΝΙΩΝΙΟC (Imh., Kl. M., Pl. II. 22, and Zur gr. u. röm. Münzk., p. 65); ΛΗΤΩ fleeing with her children (Imhoof MG, 285); Leto standing with child on each arm and worshippers at her feet (Z. f. N., xvii, Pl. i. 18); Herakles ЄΠΙΝЄΙΚΙΟC; ΑΠΗΜΗ ΙЄΡΑ or ΙЄΡΑΠΗΜΗ (J. H. S., 1897, p. 87), the sacred mule-car (απηνη) used in processions; ΩΚЄΑΝΟC recumbent; ΗΡΛΚΛЄΙΤΟC the Ephesian Philosopher (see H. Diels, Herakleitos von. Ephesos, Berlin, 1901); ЄΙΡΗΝΗ; ΤΥΧΗ; ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ ΝЄΙΚΗ; ΤΥΧΗ ЄΦЄCΙΩΝ (Imhoof KM, p. 61); ΔΙΚΑΙΟΕΥΝΗ; ΒΩΤΑ (= Vota) sacrifice of bull before temple of the Emperor (BMC Ionia, Pl. XIV. 4); ΝЄΟΙ ΗΛΙΟΙ beneath busts of Caracalla and Geta.
Games and agonistic types. ΟΛΥΜΠΙΛ ΟΙΚΟΥΜЄΝΙΚΑ ΚΟΙΝΟΝ ΑCΙΑC; ΤΟ ΑΓΑΘΟΝ ЄΦЄCΙΩΝ Naked boxer (BMC Ionia, Pl. XIV. 15); [ΓΥΜ]ΝΑCΙΑΡΧΙΑ Gymnasiarch holding bowl (Invent. Wadd., 1639, cf. B. M. C., Cilicia, p. xxxiv).