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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Anatolia ▸ LesbosView Options:  |  |  | 

Lesbos

Lesbos is the third largest Greek island, located in the northeastern Aegean Sea, separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. Abundant pottery finds and the worship of Cybele suggest cultural continuity of the population from Neolithic times. Greek emigrants, mainly from Thessaly, arrived probably beginning in the Late Bronze Age. When Cyrus defeated Croesus in 546 B.C. the island became subject to Persia, until the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. The island was governed by an oligarchy in archaic times, followed by quasi-democracy in classical times. For a short period it was a member of the Athenian confederacy, its apostasy from which is described in a stirring chapter of Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War. In Hellenistic times, the island belonged to various successor kingdoms until 79 B.C., when it passed into Roman hands. The most powerful cities were Mytilene and Methymna. In addition to the local coins bearing the names of the various Lesbian cities, there were two important coinages, one in billon and another in electrum, both of which doubtless had a general circulation throughout the island. The word lesbian is derived from the name of the island, owing to the poems of the 6th-century B.C. poet Sappho, who was born on Lesbos and who wrote with powerful emotional content directed toward other women.


Lesbos, c. 550 - 440 B.C.

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In 570 B.C., Lesbos took part in the founding of Naucrate, the Greek Colony in Egypt. This coin, depicting an African, and others with Egyptian related types, likely boast of Lesbos' role at Naucrate.
GA84173. Billon 1/12 stater, SNG Cop 296; SNGvA 7715; BMC Troas p. 153, 42 - 44; SNG Munchen -, VF, dark toning, weight 0.473 g, maximum diameter 7.4 mm, uncertain Koinon of Lesbos mint, c. 550 - 440 B.C.; obverse head of a Nubian right; reverse rough incuse square punch; rare; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


Lesbos, 550 - 440 B.C.

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Apotropaic magic is a ritual observance that is intended to turn away evil. Curiously, eyes were often used to ward off the "evil eye".
GA71546. Billon 1/48 stater, BMC Troas, p. 152, 27; SNG Cop 292; SNGvA 7716; SNG Munchen 650; Rosen 548; HGC 6 1074 (R1), VF, weight 0.207 g, maximum diameter 5.8 mm, Lesbos mint, 550 - 440 B.C.; obverse two apotropaic eyes (or two barley kernels); reverse quadripartite incuse square; rare; $140.00 (€124.60)
 


Methymna, Lesbos, c. 500 - 460 B.C.

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Methymna, the prosperous second city of Lesbos, was, According to myth, named after a daughter of Lesbos, the patron god of the island, and Macar, the island's first king. Methymna had a long-standing rivalry with Mytilene and sided with Athens during the Mytilenaean revolt in 428 B.C. All the other cities of Lesbos sided with Mytilene. After Athenians put down the revolt, only Methymna was spared from being made a cleruchy. After 427, Methymna and Chios were the only members of the Delian League to remain self-governing and exempt from tribute, indicating a privileged position within the Athenian Empire. Methymna was briefly captured by the Spartans in summer 412, but quickly retaken by the Athenians. When the Spartan Kallikratidas besieged Methymna in 406, the city stayed loyal to its Athenian garrison and held out until it was betrayed by several traitors.
GA84909. Silver diobol, Franke Methymna 5; SNG Cop 347; SNG Lockett 2778; SNGvA 7746; BMC Troas p. 177, 5; HGC 6 888, F/VF, well centered, dark toning, scratches, weight 1.288 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 45o, Methymna mint, c. 500 - 460 B.C.; obverse gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), coiled snake hair, protruding tongue; reverse head of Athena left, wearing a Corinthian helmet, dotted square border broken by crown of helmet and neck, all within incuse square; rare; $125.00 (€111.25)
 







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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Saturday, September 23, 2017.
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Lesbos