Jump to content

A mysterious coin


Recommended Posts


CYCLADES. Syros. Ca. 150-145/38 BC. AR tetradrachm (31mm, 16.31 gm 11h). ANACS XF 40. Stephanophoric type. Head of Demeter right, hair braided with small chignon at back of head, some strands flowing loose below, wreathed in grain ears / ΘEΩN / KABEIPΩN, two Kabeiroi, nude but for cloak tied at their necks, standing facing, each wearing wreath and pileus surmounted by stars; with grounded spear in outer hands; XAP monogram in lower right field, ΣYPIΩN in exergue; all within wreath. HGC 6, 709. Very rare type, struck on a lustrous flan with attractive toning around the devices.



Syros?  A tiny place  minted its own coins?  Just another name for a place somewhere else that had the divine Kyberoi for worshipping?  Not so tiny places did mint their own coins...in the great transformation Smyrna, Magnesia, Kyme, Myrina, Kyzicius, Tenedos,,Aegae, Heraclea, Kos,Lebedos, Mytilene etc.all minted the refreshing stephanophores, so why not Syros? Meadows is unconvinced.  At this time other small issues were produced like the  coins of the artists of Dionysos.  A most intriguing time.  Read The Great Transformation by Andrew Meadows on academia.edu

And lets not forget maybe the fore-runner  ATHENS NEWSTYLE? The wreathed coinage, par excellence! It is interesting that the heritage auctions have barely any NewStyles!



  • Like 14
  • Cookie 1
  • Popcorn 1
  • Mind blown 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


The coin of the Artists of Dionysos


An unpublished tetradrachm Issued by the Artists of Dionysos by Lorber and Hoover  available on academia.edu  under Lorber.



Maybe the SYROS coin above should have been called...a MytSYROS coin ?  

Edited by NewStyleKing
  • Like 7
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

not only very rare, but lso very beautiful. I don't know much of this period, but the Kabeiroi were worshipped  in the Cyclades and Asia Minor. The coin indicates clearly : The gods Kabeiroi ( theoon kabeiroon), from Syrioon : genitive of Syros, as usual.

You have also o check the political situation at that time. Caesarea was producing lots of drachms with Ariobanos and his successors for the Romans, so maybe here is the same explication. It is only a supposition.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some think  it was a coin minted in Syros the coin states the divine kyberoi, but Syros is a tiny island I believe in the Cyclades and too small to have a mint, yet Mesembria was a small place , now called Nesebar in Bulgaria which had a large active mint and that island type place Cyzicus  had mints for its own coinage into Greek and Roman times.  Some think the divine Kyberoi was  placed in asia minor proper.     Its a mysoros!  Look at the coin of the artist guild of Dionysos  and the portrait coin of Eumenes ll. Small issues but they had a purpose.  I love these hellenistic mysteries, the coins are beautiful and rare!  Read "the great transformation " on academia.edu by Andrew Meadows.


  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting type! I was unaware of it. The political / economic transformation of Greece in the decades following 167 BCE / Third Macedonian War, makes for very interesting coinage, well deserving of study.

So, you may ask, "How is your Roman Provincial Coin with a Temple from > 400 years later related?"

I have a LOT more to say about the coin below, so I'll share my full writeup at some point.

The coin celebrates the second Kabieric Pythiad in Thessalonica in 246 CE -- the Pythian Games in honor of local patron deity, Kabeiros. (I've never quite figured out the relationship between Kabeiros, the singular deity, and the Kabeiroi, plural. Much less their all their relationships with Dionysus & his maenads, Apollo, et al.)

Similar issues from Thessalonica under Gordian III and the Phlippi (even their successors/overthrowers the Decii) sometimes depict Kabeiros inside the same temple shown on the reverse (usually with hammer and rhyton, a drinking horn) or Apollo holding Kabeiros. The message of the latter is that Apollo sanctions the local Pythiad, just as he sanctions the primary Pythian Games in Delphi.

I have never seen the temple named in numismatic literature, commercial or scholarly (though I have yet to read Touratsoglou), but I'm of the strong opinion that this is likely a local temple of Kabeiros. I believe the curved features at the corners of the roof (only one clearly visible on this example, plus those on the apex) are "rhyta" (drinking horns, which are symbols of Kabeiros); on the apex, I believe the decoration to be crossed rhyta and hammer.

When people talk about the Cult of Dionysus in ancient Thessalonica, I think there's a strong chance they meant the related Kabeiric worship. More to come, soon enough, in a different post ...


Roman Provincial / Greek Imperial. Philip II (Caesar), under Philip I (Augustus). Macedon, Thessalonica AE Tetrassarion (26.5mm, 11.23g, 7h). Second Pythian Games issue, struck circa 246 CE.
Obverse: · ΜΑΡ · ΙΟΥΛΙΟϹ · ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟϹ · ΚƐ (·) – Mar(cus) Julius Philippus Ca(esar). Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Philip II facing right, seen from rear.
Reverse: ΘƐϹϹΑΛΟΝΙΚƐΩΝ ΝƐΩ / ·ΠΥΘΙΑΔΙ· / ·Β· – Of the Thessalonians, Neo(korate) / Pythian Games / #2. Temple (of Kabeiros?) with four side columns, on podium, to right, seen in 3/4 perspective.
References: RPC VIII (Temp.) 69113 (this coin illustrated) ; Touratsoglou (Thessaloniki, 1988) 62 (Philip II); Varbanov (vol III, 2007) 4740; Moushmov –.
Provenance: Ex-Dix, Noonan, Webb A7 (17 Mar 2009), Lot 1235; Pegasi MBS 22 (20 Apr 2010) Lots 383 (and later Pegasi/VAuctions sales through 2020); CNG e-Auction 489 (7 Apr 2021), Lot 272.

  • Like 6
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...