Schlagwort-Archive: Ionia

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 (www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=84501). 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).

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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…

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.