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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, Kelenderis (Aydincik, Turkey) 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; $1000.00 (€850.00)
 


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 420 - 410 B.C.

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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.
GS87796. Silver stater, Casabonne Type D3 var. (horseman right, no palm etc.); SNG Ash 1838 var. (same); Kraay 1036 var. (same); SNG BnF- ; SNG Levante –; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -, VF, dark toning, crowded flan, die wear, test cut, weight 10.719 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 330o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, c. 420 - 410 B.C.; obverse horseman walking horse left, flower in right hand, reigns in left hand, ankh under horse; reverse warrior standing right, wearing Persian dress, lance vertical in left hand, bow in right hand, palm tree behind, all in dotted square within incuse square, Aramaic inscription on right; extremely rare, only the 2nd known, the only other specimen known to Forum is CNG e-auction 431 (24 Oct 2018), lot 241; $1000.00 (€850.00)
 


Kelenderis, Cilicia, c. 430 - 420 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.
GS87797. Silver stater, Celenderis Hoard, series II, 9 (O5/R5); SNG BnF 52 (same dies); SNGvA 5621 (same dies); BMC Cilicia -; SNG Levante ; SNG Delepierre -; Hunterian -, gVF, well centered, fine style, attractive dark toning, flow lines, highest points flat, weight 10.807 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 135o, Kelenderis (Aydincik, Turkey) mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse nude young male dismounting from horse rearing left, whip in left hand, bridle in right hand, Π below horse's belly; reverse goat crouching left on dotted exergue line, head turned looking back right, KEΛE above, all within a shallow round incuse ; $750.00 (€637.50)
 


Persian Achaemenid Empire, Carian Satrapy, Synnesis, c. 425 - 401 B.C.

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Syennesis was a Persian satrap of Cilicia in the late 5th century B.C. In 401 B.C., Cyrus the Younger, marching against Artaxerxes, arrived at the borders of Cilicia. Syennesis was guarding the passes but when he received intelligence that Cyrus' advanced forces under Meno had already entered Cilicia, he withdrew and allowed Cyrus to pass. When Cyrus reached Tarsus, the Cilician capital, he found that Meno's soldiers had already sacked the city. Cyrus commanded Synnesis to appear before him. Syennesis had fled for refuge to a stronghold among the mountains, but he was induced by his wife, Epyaxa, to obey the summons. Synnesis received gifts of honor from the Cyrus, whom he supplied in his turn with a large sum of money and a considerable body of troops under the command of one of his sons. At the same time, however, Syennesis sent his other son to Artaxerxes, to represent his meeting with Cyrus as having been something he'd been forced to do, while his heart all the time was with the king, Artaxerxes. From Xenophon's telling it appears that Syennesis, although a vassal of Persia, affected the tone of an independent sovereign.
GA87789. Silver stater, Hunterian III p. 546, 4 & pl. LX, 7; cf. Casabonne D2, pl. 2, 10; SNG BnF 213; Traité II 523; BMC -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -; SNG Levante -, aVF, dark toning, well centered, struck with a worn obverse die, light scratches, weight 10.561 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 420 - 410 B.C.; obverse Horseman (Syennesis?) walking horse left, wearing kyrbasia, lotus flower in right hand, reins in left hand, bow in bowcase on saddle, Aramaic TRZ (Tarsos) in exergue (off flan); reverse Archer kneeling right, drawing bow, quiver over shoulder, ankh behind, all within dotted square border within incuse square; very rare; $650.00 (€552.50)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Demetrius II Nikator, 146 - 138 and 129 - 125 B.C.

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Demetrius II ruled for two periods, separated by years of captivity in Parthia. He gained the throne with the help of Egypt, but general Diodotus rebelled, took Antioch and made Antiochus VI Dionysus his puppet king. Demetrius then ruled part of the kingdom from Seleucia. In 38 B.C. he attacked the Parthians but was defeated and captured, ending his first reign. The Parthians released him in 129 B.C. when his brother, Antiochus VII Sidetes, marched against Parthia. They hoped the brothers would fight a civil war but the Parthians soon defeated Sidetes, and Demetrius returned to rule Syria. His second reign portraits show him wearing a Parthian style beard. His second reign ended when he was defeated and killed by yet another usurper set up by Egypt, Alexander II Zabinas.
GY87637. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton Tarsus p. 114 group D, A4/P15 (unlisted die combination), Houghton-Lorber II 2156(3), HGC 9 1117a (S), VF, small areas of corrosion, weight 15.116 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 0o, Royal workshop, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, 129 - 125 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of bearded Demetrios II right, hair combed smooth on the crown of head, diadem ends fall straight, fillet border; reverse Zeus seated left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, Nike holding wreath in Zeus' right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ∆HMHTPIOY in two downward lines on right, ΘEOY / NIKATOPOΣ in two downward lines on left, PHA monogram over PHA monogram outer left; scarce; $440.00 (€374.00)
 


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)
 


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; $80.00 (€68.00)
 


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, Cilicia, Hieropolis-Kastabala 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; $80.00 (€68.00)
 


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; $80.00 (€68.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Monday, December 10, 2018.
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Cilicia