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

Ancient Greek Coins of Cilicia

In antiquity, Cilicia (also spelled Kilikia) was a southern coastal region of Anatolia, extending inland north from the Mediterranean coast, east from Pamphylia, to the Amanus Mountains, which separated it from Syria. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and Byzantine Empire. Cilicia Trachea (rugged Cilicia) is a mountain district formed by the spurs of Taurus, which often terminate in rocky headlands with small sheltered harbors, a feature which, in classical times, made the coast a string of havens for pirates and, in the Middle Ages, outposts for Genoese and Venetian traders. Cilicia Trachea lacked large cities and was covered in ancient times by forests that supplied timber to Phoenicia and Egypt. Cilicia Pedias (flat Cilicia), to the east, included the rugged spurs of Taurus and a large coastal plain, with rich loamy soil, known to the Greeks for its abundance, filled with sesame and millet and olives and pasturage for horses. Many of its high places were fortified. Through the rich plain ran the great highway that linked east and west, on which stood the cities of Tarsos (Tarsus) on the Cydnus (Berdan River), Adana on the Sarus (Seyhan river), and Mopsos (Yakapınar) on the Pyramus (Ceyhan River).


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 164 - 27 B.C.

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The Tyche / Sandan type was the only autonomous silver issue of Tarsos. Sandan was a Hittite-Babylonian sun, storm, or warrior god, also perhaps associated with agriculture. The Greeks equated Sandan with Herakles (Hercules). At Tarsus an annual festival honored Sandan-Herakles, which climaxed when an image of the god was burned on a funeral pyre.
GS86512. Silver drachm, cf. SNG Levante 925; SNG BnF 1295; BMC Lycaonia p. 178, 94; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -, VF, bold strike, iridescent toning, tight flan, light marks, slight porosity, weight 3.918 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 164 - 27 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Tyche right, bead and reel border; reverse Sandan standing right on the back of a mythical horned and winged goat-like animal walking right, he draped and wears a high headdress, bow case and sword on his left side, right hand extended, ax in left hand; two monograms behind (off flan), TAPΣEΩN (downward on right); from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; very rare; $320.00 (€281.60)
 


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D., Tarsus, Cilicia

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The abbreviated Greek inscription A M K Γ B is a boast of this city, Πρωτη Mεγιστη Kαλλιστη, meaning First (A is the Greek number one), Greatest, and Most Beautiful city of the three (Γ is the Greek number three) adjoining provinces (Cilicia, Isauria, Lycaonia). The final B (B is the Greek number two) indicates the city held two neokorie, temples dedicated to the imperial cult.
RP88856. Bronze AE 36, SNG BnF 1737 (same dies), SNG Levante -, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, BMC Lycaonia -, ANS Mantis -, F, dark green patina, full boarders centering, earthen deposits, scattered porosity, weight 17.154 g, maximum diameter 36.4 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 245 - 246 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI IOV ΦIΛIΠΠON EVT EVC CE, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind, Π − Π across field; reverse TAPCOV MHTPOΠOΛEΩC, Athena standing half left, wearing crested helmet, inverted spear in right hand, left hand resting on grounded shield behind, A / M / K on left, Γ / B on right; very rare; $160.00 (€140.80)
 


Trebonianus Gallus, June or July 251 - July or August 253 A.D., Seleucia on the Calycadnus, Cilicia

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Located a few miles from the mouth of the Calycadnus (Göksu) River, Seleucia ad Calycadnum was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the early 3rd century B.C., one of several cities he named after himself. The location up river was safer against attacks from the sea so Seleucia achieved considerable commercial prosperity as a port for this corner of Cilicia (later named Isauria), and was even a rival of Tarsus. Cilicia thrived as a province of the Romans, and Seleucia became a religious center with a renowned 2nd century Temple of Jupiter. It was also the site of a noted school of philosophy and literature, the birthplace of peripatetics Athenaeus and Xenarchus.
RP88857. Bronze AE 33, SNG BnF 1052 (same dies); cf. SNG Levante 783 (same obv. die, rev. var.); BMC Lycaonia p. 140, 51 (same); SNG Cop 221 (same); SNGvA 5848 (same), F, weak legends, a little off center, scattered porosity, a few pits, bumps and scratches, weight 18.147 g, maximum diameter 32.8 mm, die axis 180o, Seleucia on the Calycadnus (Silifke, Turkey) mint, Jun/Jul 251 - Jul/Aug 253 A.D.; obverse AV K ΓAI OVAI TPEBΩ ΓAΛΛOC, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse CEΛEVKEΩN TΩN Π/POC / TΩ KAΛV, confronted draped busts of Apollo, laureate on left, and Tyche, on right, wearing kalathos, laurel branch before Apollo, cornucopia behind Tyche, KA∆NΩ below; huge 32.8mm bronze; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


Livia (Julia Augusta), Augusta, 14 - 29 A.D., Wife of Augustus and Mother of Tiberius, Augusta, Cilicia

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Augusta, Cilicia was founded in 20 A.D., and named for Livia (Julia Augusta). Just over 16 km north of Adana in a loop of the river Seyhan (Sarus), and at the west end of a narrow plain bounded to the north and south by low hills. Represented at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the city probably did not long survive the Moslem invasion of Cilicia in the 7th century. The site, discovered by chance in 1955, was identified by ancient literary references and from the presence there, and in the neighboring village of Gübe, of local semiautonomous coins of Augusta. In the same year Gübe, and with it the ruins of Augusta, disappeared below the waters of the Seyhan dam, but not before the site had been partially surveyed and individual buildings planned. Among these were the foundations of a triumphal arch, two colonnaded streets crossing each other at right angles in the manner typical of town planning in Roman Cilicia, a theater, a civic basilica, some shops, a bath building, and a dam on the river. These structures were all of brick and mortar, and probably dated to the 3rd century.
RP89192. Bronze AE 16, Karbach Augusta 19.6; RPC I 4007; BMC Lycaonia p. 44, 2; SNG BnF 1891; SNG Cop 69; SNGvA 5531; Lindgren 1458; Ziegler 858; SNG Levante -, aVF, a little rough, slightly off center, weight 3.931 g, maximum diameter 16.2 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Augusta (under Seyhan Dam Reservoir) mint, 20 - 29 A.D.; obverse draped bust right; reverse capricorn right, holding globe, star with eight rays around a central pellet above, AYΓOYCTA/NΩN below; $100.00 (€88.00)
 


Nagidos, Cilicia, c. 420 - 280 B.C.

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Nagidos, a colony of Samos, was located in Cilicia on a hill at the mouth of the Sini Cay (Bozyazi Dere) near modern Bozyazi in Mersin Province, Turkey. Nagidos minted coins with a grape cluster as a symbol of the city, some with both Greek and Aramaic inscriptions, and one type bearing the name of the Persian satrap Pharnabazus. Aphrodite appears most often on the coins, indicating her sanctuary was the most important in the city. Alexander the Great conquered Cilicia in 133 B.C. After his death, Cilicia briefly came under Seleucid rule. About 270 B.C., the Ptolemaic Empire conquered Cilicia. When the city of Arsinoe was founded on land claimed by Nagidos, the Nagidians refused to recognize the settlers. To resolve the dispute, Nagidos was designated as the mother city and the citizens of both shared a single citizenship. Cilicia came under Seleucid rule in 197 B.C. Nagidos was abandoned in the middle of the second century B.C., possibly due to attacks by the Cilician pirates.
GS88168. Silver obol, SNG BnF 11, Traité II 1507, Göktürk 3 var. (NAGΓ), SNG Levante 3 var. (types right); Lederer Nagidos -, SNG Cop -, BMC Lycaonia -, VF, toned, obverse off center, die wear, light marks, mild porosity, weight 0.716 g, maximum diameter 9.1 mm, die axis 270o, Nagidos (Bozyazi, Turkey) mint, c. 420 - 380 B.C.; obverse head of Aphrodite left, with hair in sphendone; reverse bearded head of Dionysos left, NAΓI upward on left; ex Triskeles auction 26 (VAuction 334), lot 188; $95.00 (€83.60)
 


Seleukeia Kalykadnos, Cilicia, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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The Cilician Seleukia was founded by Seleukos I on the course of river Kalykadnos and soon became an important city, rivaling Tarsos.
GB85027. Bronze AE 18, SNG Levante 697, SNG BnF 925, SNG Cop 205 ff. var. (monograms), VF, reverse off center, weight 4.078 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia ad Calycadnum (Silifke, Turkey) mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, ΣYM upward behind; reverse ΣEΛEYKEΩN TΩN ΠPOΣ TΩI KAΛYKA∆NΩI, forepart of horse right, complex monogram above, PE and M∆H monograms below; $90.00 (€79.20)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Laertes, Cilicia

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Laerte was on the coast of Cilicia, east of Syedra, and 25 km northwest of Coracesium (modern Alanya, Turkey). The identity of the ruins was confirmed when the name of the town was found on the foot of a statue of Vespasian. A Phoenician tablet found there indicates the town already existed in 625 B.C. Strabo describes Laertes as a fortress on the crest of a breast-shaped hill. Laertes fell under the control of pirates in Hellenistic times. They were expelled in 67 B.C. No Hellenistic buildings have survived; they were completely replaced in Roman and Byzantine times. The heyday of the town was in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. when it was densely populated and retired Roman soldiers would settle there. The town probably declined after the harbor silted up and may have been abandoned after attacks by Arab pirates.
RP88200. Bronze AE 19, SNG Levante 374 (same obv. die); RPC III Online 2751; SNG BnF 594; SNG Leypold 2499; BMC Cilicia p. 91, 4, F, green patina, patina chips, edge chip, light earthen deposits, weight 3.307 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 0o, Laertes (25 km NW of Alanya, Turkey) mint, 11 Aug 117 - 10 Jul 138 A.D.; obverse AY KAI TRA A∆PIANOC, laureate head right; reverse ΛAEPTEITWN, Tyche standing half left, head left, polos on head, grounded rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; ex Alex G. Malloy; $80.00 (€70.40)
 


Korykos, Cilicia, 1st Century B.C.

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Korykos (Corycus) was the port for Seleucia, an important harbor and commercial town. The Romans defeated the fleet of Antiochus the Great near Korykos, in 191 B.C. In Roman imperial times emperors usually kept a fleet there to watch over the pirates.

Hermes was the messenger of the gods and the god of commerce and thieves. He was the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. His symbols include the caduceus and winged sandals.
RP87151. Bronze AE 18, SNG Levante 798 (same dies); Imhoof-Blumer KM II p. 462, 1; SNG BnF 1099 var. (magistrate); SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Lycaonia -, F, dark patina, scrapes, scratches, pitting, weight 3.110 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Korykos (Kizkalesi, Turkey) mint, Roman rule, 1st century B.C.; obverse draped bust of Artemis right, bow and quiver over shoulder, Σ below chin; reverse Apollo standing left, holding laurel branch in extended right hand, leaning with left elbow on column, YB upper left (unstruck?), ME lower left, KΩPYKIΩTΩN downward on right; $70.00 (€61.60)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Demetrius I Poliorketes, 306 - 286 B.C.

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Demetrius I Poliorketes (The Besieger), son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, was given the title king by his father in 306 B.C. after he defeated Ptolemy I at the Battle of Salamis. In 294 he seized the throne of Macedonia by murdering Alexander V. The combined forces of Pyrrhus, Ptolemy and Lysimachus, forced him out of Macedonia in 288. Abandoned by his troops on the field of battle he surrendered to Seleucus in 286 and died in captivity in 283 B.C.
GB88218. Bronze AE 11, Newell p. 50, 40; SNG Alpha Bank -, SNG Cop -, SNG BnF -, SNG Levante -, Weber -, aVF, attractive green patina, rough, weight 1.917 g, maximum diameter 10.9 mm, die axis 270o, Cilicia, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 298 - 295 B.C.; obverse head of Demetrios right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet ornamented with bull horns; reverse prow right, apluster right behind, B A above, AN (ligate) X below; rare; $70.00 (€61.60)
 


Laranda, Lycaonia, c. 324 - 323 B.C.

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Göktürk identifies this type as issued by Laranda, Lycaonia, which issued coins with the same types. Most references attribute the type to an uncertain city in Cilicia and some to Tarsos. Laranda was destroyed by Perdiccas in about 322 B.C. and later became a seat of Isaurian pirates. This type was minted with a progression of reverses, first with an incuse square, then a square border of dots, and finally with a circle of dots. The original archaic punch reverse gradually evolved into a regular die, nearly identical to an obverse die. This variant was struck near the end of that evolution, perhaps for the defense against Perdiccas.
GS89559. Silver obol, cf. Göktürk 59 (rev border single and square), SNG BnF 448 (same, uncertain Cilicia), SNG Levante 223 (single borders, rev square, uncertain Cilicia), VF, well centered, toned, light marks, some die wear, tiny edge cracks, weight 0.459 g, maximum diameter 11.3 mm, die axis 30o, Laranda (Karaman, Turkey) mint, c. 324 - 323 B.C.; obverse Baal seated left on backless throne, holding grain ear in right, long scepter vertical behind in left; within a double circular border of dots; reverse forepart of wolf right, crescent horns downward above, all within a double circular border of dots; $70.00 (€61.60)
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Göktürk, M. "Small coins from Cilicia and surroundings" in MIMAA.
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Catalog current as of Wednesday, July 17, 2019.
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Cilicia