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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; $1080.00 (€918.00)
 


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 27 B.C.

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The Tyche / Sandan type was the only autonomous silver issue of Tarsos. Sandan was a Hittite-Babylonian sun, storm, or warrior god, also perhaps associated with agriculture. The Greeks equated Sandan with Herakles (Hercules). At Tarsus an annual festival honored Sandan-Herakles, which climaxed when an image of the god was burned on a funeral pyre.
GS86512. Silver drachm, cf. SNG Levante 925; SNG BnF 1295; BMC Lycaonia p. 178, 94; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, VF, bold strike, tight flan, iridescent toning, light marks, slight porosity, weight 3.918 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 164 - 27 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Tyche right, bead and reel border; reverse Sandan standing right on the back of a mythical horned and winged goat-like animal walking right, he draped and wears a high headdress, bow case and sword on his left side, right hand extended, ax in left hand; two monograms behind (off flan), TAPΣEΩN (downward on right); from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; very rare; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


Olba, Cilicia, under Ajax, High Priest and Toparch, c. 10 - 16 A.D.

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Perhaps this dynasty of high priests claimed decent from the Ajax or Teucer, heroes of the Trojan war. Teucer was a prince of the Salamis, son of King Telamon and Queen Hesione, half-brother to Telamonian Ajax (Ajax the Greater). Ajax was the son of Telamon's first wife, Periboea. Ajax and Teucer worked in tandem during the Trojan War - Teucer unleashed his arrows from behind the mighty shield of Ajax. Arrow after arrow would find its mark amongst the Trojan ranks but every time that Teucer would fire at Hector, the mightiest of all the Trojan defenders, his arrow would be deflected. Unknown to Teucer, Apollo was at that time protecting Hector from death.
RP85939. Bronze AE 22, RPC I 3725; Staffieri 7; BMC Lyconia, p. 119, 2; SNG BnF 798; SNG Cop 186; SNG Levante 630; SNGvA 5783; Waddington 4418, EF/aVF, green patina, attractive obverse, reverse encrusted, bumps and marks, areas of porosity, weight 7.481 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 0o, Olba (Mersin Province, Turkey) mint, c. 10 - 11 A.D.; obverse AIANTOΣ TEYKPOY (Ajax, son of Teucer), draped bust of Ajax (as Hermes) right, wearing close fitting cap, earring, and chlamys on shoulders, kerykeion (caduceus) before; reverse triskeles in center between ET - A (year 1), APΞIEPEΩΣ / TOΠAPXOY / KEN-NAT / ΛAΛAΣΣ (high priest (archiereos) [of Olba] and governor (toparch) of Lalassis and Cennatis) in four lines, the first two lines above, the third under the date divided by the triskeles, and the last line below; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Octavian, Triumvir and Imperator, c. 31 - 30 B.C., Colonia Julia, Cilicia

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The location of this mint has been the subject of some debate. The monograms on the reverse abbreviate the names of the two duovirs.
RP85834. Bronze AE 20, RPC I 4083 (21 spec.), SNG Levante 597 (Ninica), SNG BnF 778(Ninica), Lindgren-Kovacs 1553, VF, tight flan, bumps and scratches, light deposits, weight 5.626 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 135o, Colonia Julia mint, c. 31 - 30 B.C.; obverse PRINCEPS FELIX, bare head of Octavian right; countermark edge upper right: capricorn (or Pegasos?) right in a rectangular punch; reverse two humped oxen pulling plow left, COLONIA / IVLIA in two lines above and lower right, IIVIR (duovirs) in upper right field, VE and TER monograms in left field; countermark edge lower left: branch(?) in an oval punch; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


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; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


Olba, Cilicia, Ajax, High Priest and Toparch, c. 10 - 15 A.D.

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Octavian divided rule of Cilicia between Amyntas of Galatia and the principality of Olba, which was ruled by Teucrid high priests. Ajax ruled Olba and its territories as high priest and toparch under Augustus and Tiberius, c. 10 - 15 A.D.
RP85942. Bronze AE 17, RPC I 3726, Staffieri Olba 9; SNG BnF 801; SNG Levante 631; SNG Cop 187; BMC Lycaonia p. 119, 3; Waddington 4414, VF, green patina, bumps and marks, a little off center, weight 4.064 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 0o, Olba (Mersin Province, Turkey) mint, c. 10 - 11 A.D.; obverse TOΠAPX / KENNAT / ΛAΛAΣ / ET A (governor (toparch) of Lalassis and Cennatis, year 1) in 4 lines; reverse triskeles, flanked by ET - A (year 1), APXIEPE / AIANTOΣ / TEYKPOY (high priest (archiereos) Ajax, son of Teucer) in 2 lines above and one below; rare; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


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; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


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, Cilicia, Olba 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)
 


Korykos, Cilicia, 1st Century B.C.

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Korykos (Corycus) was the port for Seleucia, an important harbor and commercial town. The Romans defeated the fleet of Antiochus the Great near Korykos, in 191 B.C. In Roman imperial times emperors usually kept a fleet there to watch over the pirates.

Hermes was the messenger of the gods and the god of commerce and thieves. He was the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. His symbols include the caduceus and winged sandals.
RP87151. Bronze AE 18, SNG Levante 798 (same dies); Imhoof-Blumer KM II p. 462, 1; SNG BnF 1099 var. (magistrate); SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Lycaonia -, F, dark patina, scrapes, scratches, pitting, weight 3.110 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Korykos (Kizkalesi, Turkey) mint, Roman rule, 1st century B.C.; obverse draped bust of Artemis right, bow and quiver over shoulder, Σ below chin; reverse Apollo standing left, holding laurel branch in extended right hand, leaning with left elbow on column, YB upper left (unstruck?), ME lower left, KΩPYKIΩTΩN downward on right; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 37 B.C.

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Sandan was a Hittite-Babylonian sun, storm, or warrior god, also perhaps associated with agriculture. The Greeks equated Sandan with Herakles (Hercules). At Tarsus an annual festival honored Sandan-Herakles, which climaxed when, as depicted on this coin, an image of the god was burned on a funeral pyre.
GB71448. Bronze AE 21, cf. SNG BnF 1307 ff.; SNG Levante 933 ff.; SNG Cop 333 ff.; BMC Lycaonia p. 180, 107; BMC Lycaonia p. 180, 107; SGCV II 5672 (none ∆I only), aVF, weight 8.034 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 164 - 37 B.C.; obverse veiled and turreted head of Tyche right; countermark: radiate head of Helios within oval punch; reverse TAPΣEΩN, Statue of Sandan standing right on horned and winged animal, on a garlanded base and within a pyramidal pyre surmounted by an eagle, ∆I upper left; $80.00 (€68.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Friday, August 17, 2018.
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Cilicia