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Ephesus Museum Coins
Ephesus Museum Coins

4 – The Hall of New Finds and Coins: Ephesus and its small but precious finds

The Hall of New Finds and Coins offers interesting finds to detail-loving connoisseurs. The exhibit cases here display one of the best-known pieces of the museum, the Eros head, Eros protecting his rabbit from a dog, the masked Eros statuette from a fountain, two Eros reliefs in a niche and small pieces depicting Eros, the god of love. There is also an Eros figure on the bronze wine carafe, i.e., the oinochoe’s handle in front of the wall on the left-hand side of the hall. In the inner section also called the Treasure Hall, examples of Ephesus coins are displayed chronologically. An Eros with dolphin statue, an ivory plaque with an Eros depiction and a golden accessory are also displayed in this section.


Brought together in 2010, in this case exhibited are the latest finds from the Çukuriçi Mound, which shed a light on the oldest settlement in the area. Excavations so far have shown that the initial temporary settlement started circa 8200 B.C., but by the end of 7th millennium B.C. (Late Neolithic / Early Chalcolithic), it was home to permanent accommodation. Ruins of houses with foundations of rock and adobe walls indicate that people settled here permanently. It is known that the next period of settlement in the mound comes 1500 years later, in the 4th century B.C. Uninterrupted until 2500 B.C., settlement ended in the Early Bronze Age.
Great changes prevailed in the Aegean region and Southeast Europe in the Early Bronze Age. As communities ac-quired wealth through mining and trade, what is known as the large Proto-Urban cities began to emerge. In this pe-riod, in the Çukuriçi Mound, many buildings with adobe walls, foundations of large rocks and single or multiple rooms were built. Small finds point out the presence of many special activities in dwelling. In the production of especially important copper objects, it is known that first the mold was cast and then hammered for shaping.
The ceramic pots, spindle whorls, stone weights, lids, pestles, half-processed stone tools and copper needles are dated back to 3000-2600 B.C. The seal and the adjacent single ceramic pot are from 6200-6000 B.C.
The copper and bronze axe are pieces excavated in the 1995 digs. Among the interesting pieces also are the ba-salt axes; obsidian kernel imported from Catkoy, the reconstruction of a reaping hook made of flint stones, ob-sidian and flint stone tools.

Ephesus coins
The museum strives to share with the visitors its rich collection of coins by frequently rotating the pieces on display. As the coins on display signify, until the Roman period, the obverse of Ephesus coins usually feature a bee, the symbol of Ephesus, and the reverse feature the sacred deer of Artemis. In Roman times, the obverse side featured images of the emperor and relatives or their symbols.

Coins are small metal pieces whose weight and metal content are warranted by the government through figures and script on the coin. Herodotos says that the Lydians in Western Anatolia between 640-630 B.C used the first coin. A metallic combination of gold and silver, these oval coins were made of electron. The last king of Lydia, Kroisos (reign 560-546) issued coins of gold and silver, becoming the first person to issue coins of two separate metals. After Lydia, important trade centers such as Ephesus, Miletus, Samos, Kyzikos and Chios issued coins.

The oldest coins of Ephesus found in the foundations of the Temple of Artemis are dated back to 6th century B.C. The obverse sides of these coins are empty and the reverse sides have an anvil.
The oldest scripted coin is an Ephesus electron from 6th century B.C., featuring a deer figure and the script “emi sema” (I am the sign of Phanes). From 6th century B.C. onwards, symbols of cities begin appearing on the coins. In this period, obverse sides of Ephesus coins bear the city’s symbol bee, and the reverse have “quadratum inkusum” (quadrangular indents). Starting with these early coins until Roman times, a deer, the sacred animal of the city’s mother god-dess Artemis, is the unchanging element of Ephesus coins. The bee and deer figures allow for the dating of the coins in a definitive way.

In the Roman period, Ephesus coins have been issued continuously from 43 B.C. until the reign of Emperor Gallianus (253-260 with his father; 260-268 alone). In this period, the obverse side had the portraits of the em-peror of the period and his family while the reverse side had the important buildings, statues or artworks in the city. Starting with the fall of the Roman Empire from 3rd century A.D. on, inflation arose in Ephesus as in the rest of the antique world, and the number of coins increased but the purchasing power declined. In Byzantine Period (5-13 A.D.) as in Late Roman Period, coins are no longer issued in Ephesus, and the city lives on as merely an important religious spot.

Cistophoric treasure

Attributed to “cista mystica” (basket of secrets), a concept of significance in the Dionysos cult, these coins are called basket carriers, i.e. “cistophors.” This cistophoric treasure was found in Tulum Place, the town of Torbalı in Izmir. Entirely made of silver, cistophors were issued in three different weights of tetradrachm, didrachm and drachmae in the Rhodes system. The average weight of these coins is 12.50 grams. Even though the cistophors look and weigh the same and are of the same alloy, they vary in radius. Especially those from earlier times are larger and thin, while those dated back to the late period are smaller and thick. On the obverse of these coins depicted is a serpent coiling out of a “cista mystica” with its lid half-open. On the reverse, an ornate quiver and two serpents with intertwined bodies holding their heads up or facing each other are portrayed. On the reverse, the space on the left side of the cistophor is the first three or four letters of the city or its monogram; and various sym-bols on the space on the right. At times, various monograms, letters and symbols also appear between the coils of the two serpents.

Didrachms weigh half, drachmaes weigh a quarter of the tetradrahms, with a Heracles club on a lion’s hide in a garland of oak leaves on the obverse and a bunch of grapes on a vine leaf on the reverse, where also the city’s monogram or initials and other symbol or letters that vary according to the officer who minted the coin are placed on the space on the left. Didrachms and drachmaes were coined in smaller quantities and most of the surviving examples are from Tralles (Aydın) and Ephesus.

Next : 5 – The Temple Of Artemis

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