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

Lesbos

Lesbos is the third largest Greek island, located in the northeastern Aegean Sea, separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. Abundant pottery finds and the worship of Cybele suggest cultural continuity of the population from Neolithic times. Greek emigrants, mainly from Thessaly, arrived probably beginning in the Late Bronze Age. When Cyrus defeated Croesus in 546 B.C. the island became subject to Persia, until the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. The island was governed by an oligarchy in archaic times, followed by quasi-democracy in classical times. For a short period it was a member of the Athenian confederacy, its apostasy from which is described in a stirring chapter of Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War. In Hellenistic times, the island belonged to various successor kingdoms until 79 B.C., when it passed into Roman hands. The most powerful cities were Mytilene and Methymna. In addition to the local coins bearing the names of the various Lesbian cities, there were two important coinages, one in billon and another in electrum, both of which doubtless had a general circulation throughout the island. The word lesbian is derived from the name of the island, owing to the poems of the 6th-century B.C. poet Sappho, who was born on Lesbos and who wrote with powerful emotional content directed toward other women.

Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 412 - 378 B.C.

|Lesbos|, |Mytilene,| |Lesbos,| |c.| |412| |-| |378| |B.C.|, |hekte|
Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH95224. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 79, SNGvA 1731, BMC Troas 62; Pozzi 2324, Traité II 2183, HGC 6 1005, VF, fine style, toned, scuff on cheek, marks, weight 2.551 g, maximum diameter 11.0 mm, die axis 180o, Mytilene mint, c. 412 - 378 B.C.; obverse female (muse?) head right, hair in sakkos, wearing a pendant earring and necklace; reverse Kithara with seven strings in linear square, within incuse square; ex Forum (2016), ex Frank L. Kovacs; $930.00 (€837.00)
 


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

|Lesbos|, |Mytilene,| |Lesbos,| |c.| |377| |-| |326| |B.C.|, |hekte|
Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH95232. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 100B (k/ξ); SNG Cop 317; SNGvA 1715; Boston MFA 1718, HGC 6 1026, aEF, fine style, well centered and struck, flow lines, light deposits, weight 2.542 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, coiled snake lower left; reverse head of Artemis right, hair in sphendone, all within linear frame and incuse square; ex Forum (2018), ex Roma Numismatics, auction XV (5 Apr 2018), lot 196; $1000.00 SALE |PRICE| $910.00
 


Methymna, Lesbos, c. 500 - 460 B.C.

|Lesbos|, |Methymna,| |Lesbos,| |c.| |500| |-| |460| |B.C.|, |hemiobol|
Methymna, the prosperous second city of Lesbos, was, According to myth, named after a daughter of Lesbos, the patron god of the island, and Macar, the island's first king. Methymna had a long-standing rivalry with Mytilene and sided with Athens during the Mytilenaean revolt in 428 B.C. All the other cities of Lesbos sided with Mytilene. After Athenians put down the revolt, only Methymna was spared from being made a cleruchy. After 427, Methymna and Chios were the only members of the Delian League to remain self-governing and exempt from tribute, indicating a privileged position within the Athenian Empire. Methymna was briefly captured by the Spartans in summer 412, but quickly retaken by the Athenians. When the Spartan Kallikratidas besieged Methymna in 406, the city stayed loyal to its Athenian garrison and held out until it was betrayed by several traitors.
GA89032. Silver hemiobol, HGC 6 893 (R2), Franke Methymna -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Kayhan -, Traité -, Klein -, Rosen -, BMC Troas -, Mitchiner ATAC -, VF, well centered, toned, etched surfaces, weight 0.287 g, maximum diameter 6.9 mm, die axis 180o, Methymna mint, c. 500/480 - 460 B.C.; obverse head of Nymph right, hair bound in sakkos; reverse chicken hen standing right, MAΘ above, square dotted frame, all within incuse square; very rare; $270.00 SALE |PRICE| $243.00
 







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REFERENCES|

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Bloesch, H. Griechische Münzen In Winterthur, Vol. 2. (Winterthur, 1987).
Bodenstedt, F. Die Elektronmünzen von Phokaia und Mytilene. (Tübingen, 1981).
Brett, A. Catalogue of Greek Coins. Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (Boston, 1955).
Burnett, A. & M. Amandry. Roman Provincial Coinage II: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69-96). (London, 1999).
Forrer, L. Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Greek Coins formed by Sir Hermann Weber, Volume III, Part 1: Asia. (London, 1926).
Franke, P. 'Zur Münzprägung von Methymna" in H. Buchholz, Methymna. (Mainz, 1975).
Hoover, O. D. Handbook of Coins of the Islands: Adriatic, Ionian, Thracian, Aegean, and Carpathian Seas (Excluding Crete and Cyprus), Sixth to First Centuries BC. (Lancaster/London, 2010).
Klein, D. Sammlung von griechischen Kleinsilbermünzen und Bronzen. Nomismata 3. (Milano, 1999).
Kraay, C. M. Archaic and Classical Greek Coins. (London, 1976).
Lazzarini, L. "A Contribution to the Study of the Archaic Billon Coinage of Lesbos" in Obolos 9.
Mildenberg, L. & S. Hurter, eds. The Dewing Collection of Greek Coins. ACNAC 6. (New York, 1985).
Price, M. The Coinage of in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. (London, 1991).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
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Schönert-Geiss, E. Die Münzprägung von Bisanthe, Dikaia, Selymbria. (Berlin, 1977).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 4: Bosporus - Lesbos. (West Milford, NJ, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 19: Troas - Lesbos. (Berlin, 1991).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 1: Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Mysia, Troas, Aiolis, Lesbos, Ionia. (Berlin, 1957).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain IV, Fitzwilliam Museum, Leake and General Collections, Part 6: Asia Minor: Pontus - Phrygia. (London, 1965).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection, Part 5: Lesbos - Cyrenaica. (London, 1949).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Sweden II, The Collection of the Royal Coin Cabinet, National Museum of Monetary History, Part| 3: Attica-Lesbos. (Stockholm, 1991).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Turkey 1: The Muharrem Kayhan Collection. (Istanbul, 2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, United States, Burton Y. Berry Collection, Part 2: Megaris to Egypt. (New York, 1962).
Waggoner, N. Early Greek Coins from the Collection of Jonathan P. Rosen. ANS ACNAC 5. (New York, 1983).
Wroth, W. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Troas, Aeolis and Lesbos. (London, 1894).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
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