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Down the rabbit hole - Pamphylia, Side AR stater with mysterious Sidetic script!


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One of my early fascinations about ancient coins was finding coins inscribed with various extinct languages, the more obscure, the better. My pool of options without dropping some serious cash quickly dried up, so that passion has been more of a back-burner interest for a number of years now.

I was aware of the type and had attempted to win it a few times prior, but to my shock a lowball bid actually stuck for once!

Pamphylia, Side AR Stater 20mm 10.51g

Ca 380-360 BC

Obv: Apollo, nude but for drapery at elbows, holding thin long branch and Patera, sacrificing at altar (off flan), bird at feet, Sidetic legend behind and beneath patera.

Rev: Athena standing left, holding shield and Nike, pomegranate to left.


Sidetic was a member of the Anatolian language family, similar to Lycian, Carian, and Pamphylian. Unlike those, however, it seems to have drawn more heavily from Phoenician in letter design and being written right to left. It may have been a novel invention, no more closely related to Phoenician or Greek than Cherokee is to English. It is extremely poorly attested - only a handful of inscriptions and a few types of coin have survived to the present. Online I read claims that the script is essentially translated, but also that several of the symbols still elude attempts at deciphering. The Sidetic alphabet supposedly has 25 letters, but I haven't found consensus on what they are, or their values. Closest to the coin:


My attempt at transliteration the coin legend, supplementing from Wikipedia's alphabet chart when I was unable to find a match to the above:


Obviously very low confidence in this - I found one Leu auction which transliterated as "siduwais" which I am also not certain is correct.

At any rate, it is a beautiful coin of wonderful Classical style and a welcome addition to my collection!

Any others out there? Let's see 'em if so!

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I have one, though not in the condition of yours:
Side, Pamphylia. Circa 370-360 BC. AR Stater (10.05 gm, 12h, 21mm). Obv: Athena standing left, holding Nike, shield, and spear; pomegranate to left, Rev: Apollo standing left, quiver over shoulder, holding patera and laurel scepter;a raven stands to left at his feet.  A lighted altar on the left, with a Pamphylian letter above it, and several letters to the right;  SNG von Aulock 4771; Atlan 112. 



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I'm  not sure if it helps but Kunker are selling a similar coin which appears to my wholly  untrained  eye to have very similar script, which may be easier to decipher.

The auction house does not attempt to though! They say "With his raised left hand, Apollo grasps his typical laurel staff, alluding to his love affair with Daphne. Behind Apollo, there is a reference to the minting authority of this coin in Sidetic script and language (not in Pamphylian, as is often read), indicating that this coin was issued by Side."



Edited by Deinomenid
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