Schlagwort-Archive: Tetartemorion

Iasos – of prawns and boars…

Actually my rarest coin is a Tetartemorion, which took me quite a couple of rainy weekends of research to get identified.

Iasos, obverse of the Tetartemorion

The obverse of the tiny coin bears a head of an animal, which is described in the literature as the head of a boar. To be honest, for a boar I am missing the tusks. The similiarity with boars on coins of the same time, even from the same region, like Euromos (see below) is limited. Any suggestions what kind of animal the stamp cutter had in mind? Might this be a wolf? Howbeit the snout looks piggish anyway....



The revers of the Tetartemorion

Although parts of the coin are covered by a dark film of horn silver, the sea dweller on the revers is determined easily as a prawn or shrimp. As Iasos was famous for its seafood, especially for its big prawns in ancient times it is not suprising that the city authorities decided to put this merchandise on the coins. Noteworthy enough, as there is only one other Polis in Asia Minor bearing the prawn on its coinage, the town of Priapos in Mysia.

This fraction can be ascribed to Iasos with confidence as there are to very similiar coin, Tetartemoria too, bearing the ehnic ΙΑΣ for Iasos (published by K. Konuk, see below). As usual for late fifth century B.C. coins of northern Caria, the Tetartemoria were struck in the reduced milesian weight standard. According to Konuk, this coin is the fifth know Tetartemorion from Iasos, even the third known without inscription – even though I’d rather hold an inscripted one…

swinish hemiobols from Euromos and Kyzikos

Referring to the just mentioned boar, here is a picture of a hemiobol from Iasos neighbouring city of Euromos. Bearing the head of Zeus on the front side, the revers shows a protome (the foreparte of an animal) of a boar, the stiff-bristled crest is clearly visible. The boar is joined by another pig, pictured on a ca. 450 B.C. hemiobol form Kyzikos in Mysia. If the iconographic programme on this Tetartemorions obvers referrs to the civic issues of Euromos – and there is some evidence for this assumption – this would characterize both cities as tied together somehow. If the boar on the Euromos coins is related with Zeus, who is depicted on the obverse, this animal could be an attribute of this God. The local surname of Zeus at Euromos was Lepsynos, a pre-greek name which cannot be translated satisfyingly yet.

For further informartion about the coinage of Iasos see

Magnesia on the Maeander, Tetartemorion – the tiny one

The first coin I’d like to introduce is a Tetartemorion, minted in Magnesia on the Maeander, my favourite mint!  According to its style I assume the coin to minted at about 400 b.C.

The obverse of the Tetartemorion

The obverse of the Tetartemorion

The male, youthful head on the obverse is usually interpreted as head of Apollon. Unfortunately its not clearly visible on the worn piece whether the God is wearing a laurel wreath. The avers shows a raging bull, runnig to the right, lowering his head. While the M is outside of the coin, the legend is red (M) A on the obvers, continuing G N H on the reverse, meaning MAGNEton in ancient greek. The term Magneton refers to second person genitiv, which means „of the Magnetians“ and declares the coin to be part of the official currency of the state of Magnesia on the Maeander.

The revers of the Tetartemorion

The buttin bull on the revers is a bit more challenging to interpret. Homer describes the river Skamandros, which rans through the territory of Troja, as a roaring, angry bull, rolling through the meadows of Ilion. For assuring the fertility of the Troian fields, the river was ennobled to a demigod, with an own cultus and own priest. Everywhere across the ancient greek world river gods were depicted as buttin bulls, sometimes with a bearded human face. Beeing symbolized as an attacking bull the personification of a river god also tells us about the fear of drought and crop failure: the small, dry summertime streamlets of Asia Minor have very few in commom with the watering, rolling rivers that the people longed for. After thunderstorms and snowmelt, during the winter month, the creeks are in fact transformed into torrentials rivers, whose power and speed for the ancient Greeks seemed to be only comparable with one of the most powerful animals of their time – the bull.

The Tetartemorion from Magnesia vis-à-vis Twenty Pence

The Tetartemorion from Magnesia vis-à-vis Twenty Pence

Same at Magnesia: the butting bull is the iconographic depiction of the personification of the Maeandros River. By displaying the rivergod on their coins, the Magnesians showed everybody the considerable local value of this deity and, by doing this, worshiped him. Introducing two major gods. a local river and the first letters of the City on hardly 0,24 inch – a remarkable message for such a small medium.