Archiv für den Monat April 2015

Why not Myonnesos?

Anhang 3MY is a common beginning of greek city names, especially in Asia Minor. Coins bearing the legend MY… are in many cases attributed to Myous in Ionia, mostly because of the meander pattern. Others, like early Poseidon/Dolphin bronzes, seem to belong to either Myndos (Sear, Aulock) or Mygissos (SNG Tübingen, Klein), an obscure, almost unknown town in Caria. Furthermore, an attribution to Myrina, Mylasa or even Mykale (if it was an independent Polis in early times) is possible as well, also highly unlikely for historical and stylistic reasons.

Anhang 4Now a new typ occured, depicting a female head (it seems to be female to me because of the hairdress and the necklace) on the obverse and bow, arrow and the legend MY on the reverse. Because of the completely different iconography I am tempted to atrribute this coins to a different, further mint. Unfortunately, there are allmost no usefull hints. The head on the obverse show more or less certain Artemis, the hair typically pushed up, wearing a necklace. The huntress is further charaterized by bow and arrow on the reverse. Otherwise, bow and arrow can also stand for Herakles or Apollon. In case of Apollon, bow and arrow can be interpretated as divine weapons against any kinds of parasits, like locusts and mice. SmintheusAs protector against mice, Apollon bore the epithet Σμινθεύς, Smintheus („Mice-destroyer“). Imperial bronzes from Alexandreia Troas show the statue of Apollon Smintheus who still was worshipped in roman times (see right).

The small town of Myonnessos in Ionia, situated on a promontory between Teos and Lebedos, was discribed as an independent Polis by Hekataios in the 6th century BC (cited Steph. Byz.). In the second century BC the Teians persuaded Rome to prevent the fortification of Myonnesos (Strabo XIV.643), which implies the independence of the town in this time. As Myonnesos means Mice-Island, it seems very well possible to me that this city, like Airai near Teos, minted a small series of bronze coins which depicts the attributes of the local Apollon cult – Apollon, the „Mice-destroyer“. This is a vague speculation of course, but perhaps, as long as there is no other evidence or hint, not the worst one…

Magnesia – of heroes and horses

UnbenanntRecently acquired, I believe this tiny coin to be one of the first emissions of the Ionian city of Magnesia. While the coin dealer presumed the fraction to have originated in Olynthos in Makedonia, the obverse has a strong connection to the later Magnesian coins, depicting an armed horseman attacking. Wheihing 1,22 grams, the fraction might be considers as a Phokaian standard Diobol.The obverse shows a well built man on the right, standing in a frontal position, leading a frontal standing horse on the left.

Unbenannt2On the reverse we find the flying eagle, apparently the heraldic animal on early Magnesian coins (just compare the various eagle and eagle-head depictions on the Themistokles coins), as a symbol for Zeus. Beyond the eagles head might appear the rest of the coins legend, but the letter is far to worn to be identified. Only one similar Obol (0,88 grams) was sold at CNG, showing Leukippos pulling his horse right even stronger ( The muscular chest and the strong calves are remarkable and clearly characterize the person as a (mythical) hero. Both nominals must be parts of an early series of Magnesian fraction, for stylistic reasons issued by the Polis even before Themistokles takeover (soon after 470 BC).


Picture courtesy of CNG

In my opinion, the man leading the horse – in association with the eagle as the Magnesian emblem – depicts Leukippos, the mythical founder of Magnesia. First of all, he bears a speaking name: Leukippos consists of the two components Λευκὴ (leuke, „white“), and Ἵππος (Hippos, „horse“), meaning „the one/man with the white horse“. According to a scholion to Apollonios of Rhodos, Leukippos was a Karian from Crete, a successor of Bellerophon. Drachms and further nominals from the time about 300 BC show Leukippos, riding right, attacking, wearing a helmet and cuirass, holding couched lance. This early impression of the Magnesia Hero show him rather peacefully, guiding or perhaps taming his horse, similar to early Euboian coins. Perhaps the taming of a wild, white horse was part of a lost Magnesian foundation legend…