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Ionia lies in central Western Anatolia (Asia Minor) on the shores of the Aegean Sea. The region is rather small and mountainous unsuited for agriculture but excellent for seafaring. Greek settlement took place in the 11th to 10th Centuries B.C. despite hostilities with the native Luwians (Indo-European people related to the Hittites and Lycians). After resisting fairly well to the Cimmerian invasion, the Ionians were gradually conquered by the Lycian Kingdom, and later by the Persian Empire. Ionia was freed by Alexander but became a contested prize for the Hellenistic kings, until the last king of Pergamum bequeathed his land to Rome. Ionia offered the world countless philosophers and men of science, and a fabulous school of art.
|The image on the reverse resembles sculptures of Artemis, the Lady of Ephesus, including one at the Ephesus Archaeological Museum and another at the Vatican. The Ionians worshiped Artemis as a mother goddess, akin to the Phrygian Cybele. Her cult image was adorned with multiple rounded breast like protuberances on her chest. They have been variously interpreted as accessory breasts, eggs, grapes, acorns, or even bull testes. Excavation at the site of the Artemision in 1987/8 found a multitude of tear-shaped amber beads that once adorned the ancient wooden xoanon.|
|Didyma, on the coast of Ionia, was the largest and most significant sanctuary in the territory of the great classical city Miletus. It contained a temple and oracle of Apollo, the Didymaion. Next to Delphi, Didyma was the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, but an establishment preceding literacy and even the Hellenic colonization of Ionia. The 6th century Didymaion, enclosed its smaller predecessor. Its treasury was enriched by gifts from Croesus. To approach it, visitors would follow the Sacred Way to Didyma, about 17 km long. Along the way, were ritual way stations, and statues of members of the Branchidae family, male and female, as well as animal figures. Some of these statues, dating to the 6th century B.C. are now in the British Museum, taken by Charles Newton in the 19th century. The ruins of Didyma are located at a short distance to the northwest of modern Didim in Aydin Province, Turkey.|