• latw-19-1
    Electrum twelfth-stater. Obverse. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)
  • latw-19-2
    Electrum twelfth-stater. Reverse. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

Electrum Twelfth-Stater

Ca. 630-575 BC, Lydian
Selcuk, Ephesus Museum, 100/41/86
Inventory No.
Object Type
Coin Denomination
Twelfth stater
Coin Mint
Electrum coin of one-twelfth stater weight (Ephesus Excavations Inventory ART 86/L567). Obverse: roaring lion head facing right, with a round “wart” on top of the muzzle; the wisps of the mane pointing downwards. Reverse: incuse punch. Diameter 0.0073 m; weight 1.1 g.
Found in the Artemision of Ephesus, in trench 423 under the north foundation of the Archaic dipteral temple of Artemis. Its findspot is situated 12 m east of a square base (1.02 x 1.02 m) built of seven layers of small limestone slabs, which is preserved up to a height of 0.37 m. Bammer 1988, 1–4, fig. 1–3, calls it a “cult base” (“Kultbasis,” later labeled “nördliche Kultbasis,” finally “Kultbasis D;” for its location see Weissl 2002, fig. 14; Weissl 2003/04, 174, fig. 2 [“KB D”]; Pülz 2009, map 1–2 showing “Cult Base D” [= “KB D”] and trench 423 east of it). This electrum coin was excavated in an ashy layer that adjoined the limestone base and contained charcoal, animal bones, pottery and numerous small votives (on the stratigraphy: Bammer 1988, 2, fig. 1–2; Weissl 2003/04, 189). The high frequency of precious small finds within this layer is stunning. It contained the largest number of gold objects (altogether 244 pieces) excavated so far in the sanctuary (Pülz 2009, 142, 147, map 1–2), as well as many bronze ornaments, mainly dress pins, earrings and bracelets (Klebinder-Gauß 2007, 198, fig. 1–2), a number of ivory statuettes, faience artifacts, and a few electrum coins (Bammer 1988). The fact that the ashy layer so rich in precious votives lies beneath the foundation of the so-called Croesus’ temple provides a terminus ante quem of ca. 575 BC (on the date of the beginning of the construction of the temple: Kerschner 1997, 88; Weissl 2002, 343; Ohnesorg 2007, 128–129). Neither the stratigraphy nor the pottery finds of this area have yet been studied in detail. Hence it is not possible at the moment to determine whether one single or several subsequent depositions took place in this area of the Archaic temenos. Neither it is possible to assess a precise range of time for the objects comprised in the deposit(s). The statement of the excavator that there was “no later pottery than Early or Transitional Corinthian” (Bammer 1988a, 23) has to be considered as a preliminary assessment, as it omits the much more numerous East Greek pottery finds. Thus, the time span can be narrowed down from ca. 630 to 575 BC.

The function of “Cult Base D” is still disputed. A. Bammer takes this together with three other architectural structures of the same type as sites intended for the “individual cults of autochthonous clans” (Bammer 1988a, 23; Bammer and Muss 1996, 39–40, fig. 39; Bammer 2001, 14–15, fig. 13). This interpretation was, however, doubted by M. Weissl, 2003/04, 177, 184, 188–190, who states that a cultic function of these “cult bases” is not secured by either epigraphic nor by archaeological evidence. Weissl points out that they could be also pedestals for statues or other votives as well as socles for altars or small naiskoi. Thus it is not clear if the finds from the ashy layer including No. 19 belong to the period when “Cult Base D” was in use (Bammer 1988a, 2), or to a leveling measure in the course of some building activity after the square limestone base had been abandoned. In any case it is remarkable that the ashy layer is quite wide, extending more than 20 m to the east; and that the electrum coin No. 19 was found at a significant distance of 12 m from the limestone structure. Thus a functional connection of No. 19 with “Cult Base D” is not assured.

Kroll, “Coins of Sardis”
Bammer 1988, 19, fig. 33; Karwiese 2001, Taf. 3:5; Karwiese 2008b, 239–240, cat. no. 295.