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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Map of the Hinterland of Ephesos?

CNG 97, Lot: 177. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $30000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IONIA, Achaemenid Period. Uncertain satrap. Circa 350-333 BC. AR Tetradrachm (23mm, 15.06 g). Persian king, wearing kidaris and kandys, in kneeling-running stance right, holding spear in right hand, bow in left / Incuse rectangle, containing pattern possibly depicting relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos. Johnston, Earliest 5–17; Mildenberg, Münzwesen pp. 25–6 and pl. XII, 110; BMC Ionia p. 324, 3 and 6; Jameson 1787; Pozzi 3138. Near EF, dark toning, a little flat on head of king. Struck from fresh dies.

Johnston has interpreted this remarkable reverse design as a relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos, which would make it the earliest Greek map and first physical relief map known. On the right (north) are the mountains Tmolos and Messogis between the river valleys of the Caÿster and Maeander, to the left of which are three mountain ridges (Madranbaba Dagi, Karincali Dagi, and Akaba Tepesi). Johnston follows Six in suggesting that the coins were probably struck under the Persian general Memnon at Ephesos, circa 336-334 BC, in order to pay his army after he had captured the city, but before his defeat by Alexander at the Battle of Granicus in 334. However, Johnston’s theory has been the subject of some doubt, most recently by Leo Mildenberg.