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Author Topic: Coins of mythological interest  (Read 473309 times)

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #450 on: January 27, 2021, 07:01:25 am »
Artemis Anaitis

We know that Phrygia in particular was exposed to the influences of Eastern cults. Artemis Anaitis is an excellent example of this.

Coin #1:
Phrygia, Apameia, 88-40 BC.
AE 22, 7.52g, 21.59mm, 0°
struck under the magistrate Heraklei Eglo
Av.: laureate head of Zeus n.r.
Rv.: r. from top to bottom AΠAM[E]
        l. in 2 lines from top to bottom HPAKΛEI / EΓΛO
        Cult statue of Artemis Anaitis wearing floor-length veil and polos
        standing frontal
Ref: SNG by Aulock 3470; BMC 67-71; Weber 7028; SNG Copenhagen 183;
         Mionnet VII, 127; SNG Munich 123; HGC 772
60.-, SS+, fine sand patina
Mionne writes "Junon Pronuba!"

Eglo(...) probably stands for Eklogistes, the title of the municipal financial supervisor.

Anaitis is the Greek translation of Anahita, the name of an Iranian goddess. So if we want to get at the meaning of Anaitis, we have to start with Anahita.

(1) Origin and meaning
The worship of Anahita goes back to the 4th millenium BC. Chr. In an Avestic Yasht she is called Ardvi Sur Anahita. This name seems to be compound and originally meant 2 different deities. Ardvi Sura is the Iranian name for the celestial river goddess of fertile water, called Sarasvati in the Rigveda. This is the Indus, the world river from which everything originates. But it is also said of her that she "flows mightily from Mount Hukarya to Lake Vorukasha" and that she "has a thousand arms and a thousand channels" (Roscher), a description that only fits the Pamir Mountains and the Oxus (today Amudarya) (Geiger). In any case, it is the immense mountains and the waters flowing from them that became the origin of these nature deities,

The other deity is Anahita. Her cult was particularly widespread in north-eastern Persia, but her origin is uncertain. Her name means "untouched, pure", both in the moral and physical sense. In the yashts, she is portrayed in detail, especially with regard to her clothing and jewellery, as if there had been a cult of dress. The emphasis on dressing in beaver fur is unusual. In any case, each of their places of worship included a water source. Thus, for a long time, their largest temple was considered to be the one in Kangavar in Kermanshah province. However, this is now questionable as, among other things, there is no water basin, which would be mandatory for an anahita temple.

The 21 Yashts form the 3rd section of the Avestas, the sacred scripture of the Zoroastrians. They contain hymns to ancient Iranian deities and found their way into the work of the Persian poet Firdausi (940-ca. 1020 AD). The 5th Yasht (Aban Yasht) consists of hymns to water and Anahita.

(2) Reformed by Zoroastrianism:

Zoroastrianism was a very abstract religion, without images or statues. Of all the pre-Zoroastrian deities, only Anahita survived the religious reforms of Zoroaster (c. 1500-1000 BC), but as an emanation of Ahura Mazda rather than the goddess she had been before. But she was also passed off as his daughter. This is evidence that in the religious, believers also want a sensual experience and not just the bloodless theory. This is also known, for example, from Christianity, especially Catholicism with its cult of Mary and the many saints.

(3) Spread by the Achaemenids
It is known that the Achaemenid king Artaxerxes II (404-358 B.C.), after conquering Babylonia, made sure that she spread throughout the Persian Empire. He had many images of her produced and distributed throughout the empire (Berosus). Important
temples were built in Susa, Ekbatana and Babylon. There will have been borrowings from the Mesopotamian Ishtar and there will also have been relations with the Sumerian Inanna. Ishtar and Anahita had similarities: Ishtar was the protector of the palace and Anahita was closely associated with kingship, especially in the post-Achaemenid period.

Berosus, also Berossos, (c. 290 BC), was a Chaldean priest of Bel in Babylon who wrote 3 books in Greek on the history and culture of Babylon and dedicated them to Antiochos I (324-261 BC). They were important for the knowledge of the Greeks about the origins of Babylon and were used e.g. by Eusebius of Caesarea or Josephus.

(4) The Parthians and the Sassanids
Under the Parthians, the character of Anahita changed. From a goddess of fertility, water and wisdom, she became a goddess of war, to whom sacrifices were made before the beginning of a war campaign. Since the Parthians did not rule their empire as strictly centralised as the Achaemenids, she became the goddess who symbolised the unity of the empire instead of a central power..She then played this role under the Sassanids as well.

Coin #2:
Kushan-Sassanid, Hormizd I Kushanah, ca, 265-295 AD.
AE 15, 1.85g, 15.15mm
Mint of Harid
Obv.: Crowned bust.r., with lion scalp on head, crescent moon in upper l. field
Rev.: Hormizd standing r., holding coronation wreath in r. hand over altar and
          has raised his left hand in a gesture of blessing to Anahita, who is rising to the l.
        from the throne, the coronation wreath in her raised right hand and the sceptre in her left hand (so-called investiture scene).
Ref.: Carter 10; Cribb 23; Mitchiner ACW 1269; Göbl KM 1044, Zeno #30921
rare, VF+

The Kushano-Sassanids were Sassanid princes who ruled the ancient Kushan country in Bactria, the Kabul Valley and Gandhara, as Sassanid vassals. For a time these Kushan shahs were more or less independent, such as this ruler, Hormizd I Kushanshah, who ruled c. 295-325 AD (or 270-295 according to Cribb). The mint will have been the Kabul Valley. The depiction on the reverse shows the close connection of Anahita to royalty and the Shah.

(1) M. L. Carter; "A numismatic reconstruction of Kushano-Sasanian history", 1985 (2) Joe Cribb; "Numismatic evidence for Kushano-Sasanian chronology".

(5) Spread in the West
Due to the expansion of the Persian Empire, the cult of Anahita spread further west. Numerous temples and places of worship were built, especially in Phrygia, Lydia, Pontus and Armenia. It should be noted that the development of her cult was subject to strong local influences. In Lydia and Cappadocia she was equated with Artemis Tauropolis, through which the Taurobolium came to Europe. In Philadelphia and Hypaipa, her cult was associated with games. The notorious temple prostitution, unknown in Persia, is described only for Armenia. Strabo tells: "If the girls had devoted themselves to her service for a time in the temple of the goddess, they would be married, and no one would think it shameful to choose such a girl, who for years had given herself up to anyone, as a wife."

When the Greeks met Anahita, they tried, as was customary, to identify her with a goddess of their own pantheon. This does not seem to have been easy. There are designations such as Aphrodite Anaitis, which indicates that she must have borne characteristics of Ishtar or the Phoenician Astarte. Mionnet calls her Junon Pronuba. Tacitus (Annals 62) refers to the syncretic goddess simply as "Persian Diana" who had a temple in Lydia "dedicated during the reign of Cyrus" (probably Cyrus the Great).

Finally she became Artemis. Her character as a virginal and warlike goddess had prevailed over the erotic fertility goddess. The depictions on the Greek coins are obviously modelled on Artemis Ephesia. That is why the lower sections of her floor-length veil often look like the supports of Ephesia. The interpretation as a moon goddess is thus also ruled out. However, she has never experienced the importance and spread as Mithras.

I have attached
(1) A picture of the so-called Anahita temple in Kangavar.
(2) A picture of the head of Aphrodite Anahita from a bronze cult statue from Satala, Armenia minor, Hellenistic, c. 200- 100 BC, now in the British Museum in London. It was found in a Roman legionary camp near Satala in Armenia minor, but probably came from Artaxata, the capital. She is depicted here in the figure of Aphrodite. This shows that in Armenia the (erotic/sexual) reference to the fertility goddess was predominant.

(1) Tacitus, Annales
(2) Strabon, Geographia
(3) Pausanias, Periegesis
(4) Plutarch, Parallel lives
(5) Plinius, Naturalis Historiae

(1) Der Kleine Pauly
(2) Vollmer's Mythologie aller Völker
(3) Realenzyklopädie
(4) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(5) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Vollständiges Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie
(6) Wilhelm Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Altertum, 1882
(7) Payam Nabarz, Anahita: Ancient Persian Goddess and Zoroastrian Yazata, 2013
(8) Manya Saadi-nejad, Anahita: Transformations of an Iranian Goddess, Dissertation 2019

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

Best regards


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