• latw-21-1
    Electrum third-stater with Lydian inscription, “KUKALIM”? Reverse. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)
  • latw-21-2
    Electrum third-stater from Ephesus, lion head with Lydian inscription “KUKALIM” (No. 21). (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

Electrum Third-Stater with Lydian Inscription, “kukalim”?

Ca. 630-600 BC, Lydian
Selcuk, Ephesus Museum, 98/43/94
Inventory No.
Object Type
Coin Denomination
Third stater
Coin Mint
Inscription language
Inscription Text
Inscription Translation
Ku]kali[m, “I am of Kukaś”
Inscription Comment
Electrum coin of third-stater weight (Ephesus Excavations Inventory ART 94/K257). Obverse: two confronted lion’s heads, only the left-hand head struck on the coin, the right represented only by a bit of the nose along the right edge. Between the two heads, Lydian inscription, ...]U?KALI[... Reverse: two punches. Weight: 4.74 g.
Like other such inscribed coins (e.g. Nos. 22 and perhaps 20), this was struck using only part of a larger obverse die, whose complete design included two confronting lion’s heads, with the inscription between them. The inscription should most likely be restored KUKALIM: “I am of Kukaś,” “I belong to Kukaś.” Kukaś is very likely the Lydian name that the Greeks wrote as “Gyges.” Although it is tempting to see these as coins of the famous Lydian king Gyges, this seems unlikely for a number of reasons. No coins have yet been found in contexts that can be dated archaeologically as early as Gyges’ reign (although very few coins have ever been found in datable contexts). More decisively, this coin was struck using the same reverse punches that were used for coins bearing the inscription “WALWET,” probably Alyattes, and it is unlikely that a punch used before ca. 644 BC, a probable date of Gyges’ death, would still be in use in ca. 610 BC, a probable date of Alyattes’ succession, as punches broke and wore out easily. It is more likely that this Kukaś was another man named Gyges, living in the later seventh century; perhaps, as Wallace 2006 suggests, a member of the royal family striking coins in a provincial mint. Other readings have been proposed, however, such as KRKALIM, “I am of Krka:” Karwiese suggests that this was the Lydian name of Croesus (Karwiese 2001, 105 n. 47; Karwiese 2008a, 138; Karwiese 2008b, 239). Only four other examples of this type of coin are known (Karwiese 2008a, 137).

From the Artemision at Ephesus, found near the east wall of the sekos of the Archaic marble dipteros of Artemis in a layer predating the temple of Croesus (Kerschner 1997, 104, 181, 225, fig. 2, 3:10, 11–13, “Aufschüttung B”). It covered a dried-out, although occasionally flooded river bed, which had been used as sacrificial deposit during the last third of the seventh century BC. (The fragmentary “Ephesian Ware” stemmed dish No. 115 was found in the uppermost layer of this sacrificial deposit.) At the very end of the seventh century BC, this semi-dry ancient river bed was finally filled up in order to erect a base built of small limestone slabs, which was excavated by Hogarth (Hogarth et al. 1908, 46, atlas pl. 1, square D–E 5; pl. 2 right). Hogarth documented an irregular, obviously partly destroyed structure, and called it a “fragment of foundation.” A. Bammer (Bammer 1993, 156, fig. 7 “Basis B;” cf. Weissl 2002, 330–332, fig. 9, 11, 14; Bammer 2007, 13, fig. 9 “Kultbasis B”), on the other hand, interpreted it as the foundation of a separate small square monument, which he called a “cult basis” and compared to a better preserved limestone structure beneath the north foundation of Croesus’ temple (Bammer 1988, 1–4, fig. 1–3; on the problematic interpretation of these structure: Weissl 2003/04, 177, 184, 188–190). The late seventh century fill beneath this limestone foundation consisted of two parts, which were deposited one immediately after the other. The upper fill (“Aufschüttung A”) was made up by thousands of fragments of a seventh century terracotta roof attributed by Schädler and Schneider (Schädler and Schneider 2004, 41–44) to the early Archaic peripteros (cf. Kerschner 2005, 141–142, proposing a later date). The lower fill (“Aufschüttung B”) contained, in addition to the electrum coin No. 21, pottery fragments (Kerschner 1997, 139–155, cat. no. 58–92, pl. 9–12), animal bones and charcoal dating the deposition to the very end of the seventh century BC. Thus ca. 600 BC is a terminus ante quem for No. 21.

Kroll, “Coins of Sardis”
Bammer, ÖJh 64 (1995) Beih., 8; Karwiese 1995, 119, n. 474; Karwiese 2001, 105 n. 47; Karwiese 2008a, 138, Abb. 102-103; Karwiese 2008b, 238–239, cat. no. 294. On the deposit: Kerschner 1997, 104, 181, 225, fig. 2, 3:10, 11–13 („Aufschüttung B“).