• latw-25-1
    Electrum third-stater. Obverse. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)
  • latw-25-2
    Electrum third-stater. Reverse. (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

Electrum Third-Stater

Ca. 630-560 BC, Lydian
Istanbul, Archaeological Museum, 1660/2
Inventory No.
Object Type
Coin Denomination
Third stater
Coin Mint
Electrum coin, of one-third stater weight. Obverse: roaring lion head facing right. Reverse: two incuse punches. Weight: 4.71 g.
This coin and No. 26 were found in 1996 during construction at Afyon/Dinar, the ancient Kelainai (later Apamea Kibotos), at the source of the Meander River. This important site was famous for, among other things, its Persian palace and hunting park (paradeisos; Xenophon, Anabasis 1.2). During the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC, the local Lydian noble Pythius, son of Atys, hosted the King and his entire army at his own expense, and offered his fortune to pay for the war; he told Xerxes that his resources included 2,000 talents (52,400-74,880 kg) of silver, and 3,993,000 gold darics (about 33,341 kg of gold), making him the wealthiest man in the world after Xerxes himself (Herodotus 7.26ff). It is often argued that Pythius was the grandson of Croesus himself and the heir to his wealth; he may have been named after the Delphic oracle that had so impressed the Lydian king. The story does not end happily for Pythius, as it did not end happily for Croesus (see inset in Özgen and Öztürk 1996, 24). These coins, of course, date to roughly a century earlier than Pythius, during the period of Lydian rather than Persian rule of the area. Like the hoard from Gordion (Nos. 24.1-24.26, 24.27, 24.28-24.45), another regional capital under the Lydians, they demonstrate the distribution of Lydian electrum coinage and, thereby, Lydian rule in this region of Phrygia (see Kroll, “The Coinage of Sardis”).

A tumulus tomb of the Persian period was located north of Kelainai, at Tatarlı; its wooden chamber was painted with scenes of battles, a procession, and other motifs, and is one of the most interesting monuments of the Persian period in Anatolia (Summerer 2007, Summerer 2008). An archaeological survey of Apamea/Kelainai was begun in 2008 under the direction of Lâtife Summerer and Alexander von Kienlin of Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.

Kroll, “Coins of Sardis”