Archiv der Kategorie: Aeolis

Myrina finally…


No reindeer but a stag from Myrina finally made it into my collection

If you love your family, it is not always a good idea to invest on ebay items which end at strange times. In my case, I had to interrupt our chrismas dinner – I AM sorry, of course – to bid on a rare Myrina Trihemiobol, said to be the second known example. And: I made it and I am still somewhat proud of, what I call my own special chrismas gift!


Trihemiobol of Myrina, depicting the head of Artemis to the left, wearing an artfull hairdress

Unitl about 2008 no early fraction of Myrina occured. Head, the BMC, Sear etc. suspected the first coins of this city to be minted about 300 BC or later. There are only two different types of coins of early Myrina fraction which I know: Obols (two or a few more examples known, check ), depicting a female head  which is frontal on the obverse and a he-goats head on the reverse and the type subsequently presented. While the obols bear the inscription MYPI, the belonging of the Trihemiobol to Myrina is confirmed by the letters MYPINAON.


Reverse showing a grazing stag to the left, legend around

The attribution to Myrina in the Aeolis seems certain to me, although there existed another polis, bearing the same name: The ancient capital of the island of Lemnos was named after a leader of the mythological amazons, Myrine. Both Myrina and the second Lemnian City, Hephaistaia, became Athenian clerouchies in the early fifth century. For stylistic reasons, I assume that the coin was minted between ca. 420 BC and 400 BC. At this time, Lemnos was still under Ahtenian power – that is why Lemnian Myrina issued only small coins of bronze in the later fourth century, depicting the head of Athena on reverse and an owl on reverse – Athens sends its bests!

The later Tetradrachms are inscripted MYPINAION, with an I between A and O, which means „of the Myrinaians“ within the meaning „coin of the Myrinaians“. The genitive plural form implies that Myrina must have had a democratic government in times when the Tetradrachms were struck (second and first century BC according to Head) – legends say that those coins were issued by the peoples decision.

Our present inscription, MYRINAON, therefore only means „of Myrina“ and is little more than the localisation of the issuing mint. But, reading between the lines, this legend excludes a peoples decision, which enables us to come to some interesting conclusion about the political situation in Myrina at that time.


The virgin huntress looking left…

George Bean (Aegean Turkey, p.105-109) says that Myrina is a ‚city without history‘. Although little is know about the early history of this polis, there are still some interesting facts handed down concerning the fate of this town. As most of the Aeolian poleis Myrina paid a phoros of one talent to the Athenian-Delian League. More interesting for understanding the story of the coin is the fact that the Persian king gave Myrina to the Greek commander Gongylos in 475 BC. As a defector, Gongylos helped some Persian noblemen to escape from Byzantion and, when Byzantion was captured by Pausanias in 476, Gongylos had to flee to Persia himself. Persian King, Xerxes rewarded Gongylos for his services – similar to Themistokles, who got Magnesia and some smaller towns – with the dominion over Gambrion and Palaigambrion in Mysia and Gryneion and its close neighbour: Myrina.

With the interruption of the period when Myrina joined the Delian League the city seems to have belonged to Gongylos and his son and successor Gongylos the Younger. According to Xenophon, in 399 Gongylos son Gongylos the Younger ruled over Myrina and Gryneion, another son Gorgion was tyrant of Gambrion and Palaigambrion. While Gorgion strucked coins at Gambrion, bearing his name (Head, p. 528), no coins of the other Gongylids, Gongylos the Elder and Gongylos the Younger are known(yet). At least no coins bearing his name, as the earliest fraction of Pergamon are assumed to be issued by Gongylos II.

Pidasa revisited

Yesterday, I chanced on a coin which may reveal the recently given thoughts to the coinage of Pidasa in a different light. To be honest, it appears to me that the Polis of Pidasa hasn’t struck coins before ca. 300 BC at all.

London Ancient Coins sold the following coin in February 2012 (unfortunately, I wasn’t bidding):

Uncertain Asia Minor fraction, maybe of Pitane?

The similarity to the previously described bronze coin is evident. Both coins have to me minting at the same place – otherwise, as the temporal proximity is given, two different towns would have struck coins with an identical obverse and a reverse referring to two different names, both starting with ΠΙ! Providing, that both coins were produced by the same mints we’ve to reason that either the bronze coin, that I attributed to Pidasa near Milet belongs to Pitane or – even more suprising – Pidasa struck silver fractions as well as bronze coins.

There is no iconographic evidence to give preference to one of both polis. The female head, with the hair bound with a fillet and wearing a sakkos, a hairnet, is a common topic in western Asia Minor in the late fith century and the early fourth century B.C. The portraiture can refer to almost any kind of Goddess,nymph, a local deity – almost every female mythological person except those who were depicted wearing a special headdress or helmet. Athena is pictured on coins as wearing a (mostly konrinthian) helmet, iconagrapic images of Hera are showing the wife of Zeus veiled, Amazons usually are readily identifiable bearing a winged cap… The elaborate hairdress of the here depicted woman wearing a sakkos is generally a lead for a depiction of a nymph, sometimes also for Demeter or Artemis. After all, the sakkos indicates rather a fashion style than an attribute to a special Goddess. Although there seems to be some stylistic affinity to the silver coinage of Antandros in the Troas, showing Artemis Astyrene, the Artemis of Astyra, with a very similar hairdress.

Pidasa – the town which dissolved itself

Reverse of the Pidasa AE

Little is known about the small Polis of Pidasa near the ionian-carian border. As there is a karian town called Pedasa, at the Bodrum Peninsula, it is not quite sure whether all the early history, like the destruction by the Persians and the tributes paid to the Athenians, relates to Pedasa or Pidasa. But it gets even worse – it is possible that most of the Pedaseans were resettled by the Persians after the destruction of their old city to a place they named Pidasa. On top of everything, in archaic and classical times it wasn’t unusual that city ethics were spelled in different ways, so that both Pidasa and Pedasa might refer to the same city…

Obverse of the Pidasa AE

Anyway, there is an uncanny likeness between the reverse of the Pidasa AE and the back sides of the silver fractions from Latmos. This neighboring Polis, later renamed into Herkleia ad Latmos, struck Tetartemoria with the Initials of the city name, formed into a monogram. Konuk suggests to pull this phenomenon – the use of a nonpictorial, just letter-bearing back side – together with the coinage of Themistokles, who also put a single monogram on the reverse of his coins. Be that as it may,  the parallel between the Pidasian coin and the Latmian coinage is obvious.

Small bronze from Pitane, depicting Zeus Ammon

Small bronze from Pitane, depicting Zeus Ammon

This analogy allows the attribution of this bronze fraction to Pidasa – fortunately enough, as there are many other candidates Polis starting with PI, such like Pisye and Pisilis in Karia, Pinara in Lykia or Pitane in the Aeolis. R. Ashton suggested an attribution of the PI-bronzes to Pitana, because he was told that on of this little pieces was said to be found in the Aeolis area. On the basis of the resemblance between Pidasas and Latmos money and the completely different iconographic program on the coins of Pitane this assumption can now be rejected.

Map of Pidasa and its enviroment

Lets return to Pidasa near Milet. The city was situated just on the isthmus of the Milesian peninsula, neighboring Milet as well as Latmos. In ca. 315 B.C. the macedonian satrap in Caria, Asandros, tried to remove the inhabitants of Pidasa to Latmos, for any reasons we don’t know yet this venture failed. 150 years later the Pidaseans asked Milet for sympolity – which ment for Pidasa being absorbed by its far more powerful neighbor. The abandoning of Pidasa hasn’t been explained sufficiently yet. May this break be caused by a shrinking population or due to the quality of life and the comforts of the nearby metropolis of Milet? Be that as it may, due to its size, its style and finally the analogies to the Latmian coins, the present bronze should be coined round about 400 B.C. The obverse show a female head, perhaps a nymph, while the letters PI are depicted on the reverse of the bronze. According to Flensted-Jensen, Further Studies in Ancient Greek Polis, p. 67, population of the civic center of the Polis of Pidasa might reach approximately 2000 inhabitants.