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Pergamon (A "too" brief history of coins.)


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Pergamon was a hilltop city in Mysia (Asia Minor) about 25 miles from the Aegean Sea.


Akropolis of Pergamon. (source Wikipedia)


The numismatic history of Pergamon starts in the 5th century under Persian rule. The first coins show a youthful Apollo on the obverse and the bearded head of an satrap on the reverse.


Mysia, Pergamon
AR Diobol (ca. 450 BC).
Obv.: Laureate head of Apollo right.
Rev.: ΠΕΡΓ, Bearded head of satrap right, wearing Persian tiara, crescent above, all within incuse square.
Ag, 1.53g, 10mm
Ref.: BMC Myisa 1

With the rise of Alexander, Pergamon minted coins with Hercales on the obverse and Athena on the reverse, later under Lysimachos the coins show the head of the now  deified Alexander and a seated Athena. On bronze coins Athena appears mainly with bull heads or with Heracles on the reverse. 



Mysia, Pergamon
Diobol, 330-284 BC
Obv.: head of Herakles right, clad in lion's skin
Rev.: ΠEΡΓAM, cult statue of Athena standing facing, holding spear and shield
Ag, 1.27g, 11mm
Ref.: SNG Paris 1558



Mysia, Pergamon
AE17, 310-282 BC
Obv.: Helmeted and laureate head of Athena left
Rev.: ΠΕΡΓΑ, Confronted bull heads.
AE, 4.83g, 16.6mm



Mysia, Pergamon
AE10, c. 300 B.C.
Obv.: Helmeted head of Athena right, ΠΕΡΓ below
Rev.: Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin
AE, 0.86g, 10mm


The Pergamene Kingdom began with Philetairos . Philetairos was commander of Pergamon and controled an immense treasury. In 282 BC he changed alliance from Lysimachos to Seleucus, and thus founded a semi-independent kingdom. Philetairos was followed by his nephew Eumenes I, Attalos, Emenes II, Attalus II and  Attalus  III.

Many  coins issued during the Pergamene Kingdom bear the name of Philetairos. This tetradrachm issued uner Attalos I shows his portrait:



Kings of Pergamon
Attalos I, 241-197 BC
AR Tetradrachm
Obv.: Laureate head of Philetairos right.
Rev.: ΦIΛETAIPOY, Athena seated left, holding spear, left elbow on shield, wreath held in right hand; in right field, bow; in left, bunch of grapes, between monogram A
Ag, 16.96g, 27.6mm
Ref.: Westermark, Ph. 62, Gruppe IV:B, Winterthur 2617


Also a big number of bronze coins were issued, showing a bow, a serpend, a thyrsos, a star or Asklepios on the reverse.


Mysia, Pergamon
AE14, 282 - 263 B.C.
Pergamene Kingdom, Philetairos
Obv.: Head of Athena right, wearing helmet decorated with a griffin
Rev.: [ΦI]ΛETAI[ΡOΥ], Serpent coiled right, HP monogram to left.
AE, 14mm, 2.95g



Mysia, Pergamon
AE16, 282 - 263 B.C.
Pergamene Kingdom, Philetairos
Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right.
Rev: ΦΙΛΕΤΑΙΡΟΥ, Asklepios seated left, feeding snake out of patera.
AE, 3.01g, 15.7mm
Ref.: SNG France 1643-9; SNG von Aulock 1363.


The role of Pergamon as sanctuary of Asklepios includes also depictions of Hygieia and the Omphalos (the navel of the universe) entwinned by a snake.


Mysia, Pergamon
AE15, ca 133-27 BC
Obv.: ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΑΔΟΥ, draped bust of Hygieia right
Rev.: ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΥΓΕΙΑΣ, snake coiled around omphalos
AE, 3.21g, 15mm
Ref.: SNG France 1938-1940; BMC 163; SNG Cop. 380


Im 166 BCE, Eumenes II introduced the Cistophoric Tetradrachms which were of lower weight than a regular Tetradrachm. The obverse shows a cista mystica, the reverse a snake entwined  bow case. The numerous symbols and monograms make the Cistophori a collecting field of its own.



Mysia, Pergamon
Cistophoric Tetradrachm
Obv.: Serpent emerging from cista mystica with raised lid, all within ivy wreath with fruits.
Rev.: Bow case between two coiled serpents; to left, monogram of Pergamon; to right, NI
Ag, 29mm, 12.26g
Ref.: SNG France 1709


In 133 BC when Attalus III died without an heir, he bequeathed the whole of Pergamon to Rome. But that is another story.


Post your coins from Pergamon or  anything relevant !

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Great overview on Pergamon coinage! Hope there will be a sequel for Pergamon under Roman rule coming soon~
Here’s my cistophoric as tribute😉


MYSIA. Pergamon. (Circa 133-67 BC.) AR Tetradrachm. Cistophoric standard.
Obv: Cista mystica within ivy wreath.
Rev: Two serpents entwined around bow and bowcase; TH over monogram above, ΠΡYT under TH (representing prytaneis), civic monogram to left, serpent-entwined thyrsos to right.
Kleiner, Hoard 49; Pinder 118; SNG Copenhagen 440.
Weight: 12.05 g.
Diameter: 27.0 mm.

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Unlike the Cistaphous of Pergamon, the contemporary (?) cistaphorus of Ephesos can be  dated from the end of the reign of mad king Atallos lll . The exact dating is a bit controversial as is the actual beginning of the Roman province of Asia.  For my own purposes I like Jorge Mullers , stop, start chronology of the Ephesian cistaphous. Available on academia.edu. This is useful for my extension of ASHTONS bronze coinage and the Mithradatic siege of Rhodes to the use of the Headdress of Isis as a symbol of anti-Mithradatic rallying for Roman supporters!  Under John Arnold Nisbet also on academia.edu



 Ionia Ephesos Cistophoric Tetradrachm Attalos lll 138/7 BC 

 OBV:Snake sliding out of basket- Cista Mystica
Surrounded by ivy wreath
12.68 g 30mm
REV:2 snakes entwined around bow case decorated with aplustra
LF- ΕΦΕ= Ephesos
RF - high hatted facing bust of Artemis Ephesia
above, B year 2 of Attalos lll of Pergamon 138/7 BC 


Ephesos cistaphorus.jpg

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That's what I call a write-up!

I have 2 coins from Pergamon:


Mysia. Pergamon circa 310-282 BC.
Diobol AR
11 mm, 1,00 g
Head of Alexander as Hercules right wearing lion-skin headdress, paws tied around his neck / [Π]EPΓAM , ethnic vertical upwards to left of cult statue of Athena (a.k.a. "The Palladium") standing facing, wearing kalathos and aegis, brandishing spear and holding shield from which fillet hangs . BMC 9; v. Aulock 1350; SNG France 5, 1559-66; Klein 27

and a Provincial


MYSIA. Pergamum. Germanicus & Drusus (Caesares, 14-19). Ae. Struck under Tiberius.
Bare head of Germanicus right.
Bare head of Drusus right.
RPC I 2367.



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Oh, and here are a couple more Mysia examples (ummm, hopefully that's an acceptable thread addition?)


MYSIA, Kisthene, Orontes,  Satrap of Mysia, AR Half Siglos or Tetrobol (below)

Circa 357-352 BC

Diameter: 13 mm

Weight: 2.75 grams

Obverse: Nude hoplite crouching left behind shield, spear at ready

Reverse: Forepart of winged boar right

Reference: Troxell, Orontes 4; SNG France 1164A (Lampsakos); SNG von Aulock

Other: 12h … bright surfaces, porous … quite rare

Ex-stevex6 (now a TIF coin? ... TIF rocks)


Mysia Kisthene Orontes.jpg


Mysia, Kyzikos AR Hemiobol (below)

Date: 600-480 BC

Diameter: 6.51 mm

Weight: 0.23 grams

Obverse: Tunny fish right

Reverse: Quadripartite incuse square


Other: Some deposits

Ex-stevex6 (now a sweet Doug Smith ("Mentor")  coin ... Doug rocks as well!)

Mysia Kyzikos Tunny Fish.JPG


MYSIA  PARION AR (Silver) Hemidrachm (below)


Diameter: 15mm

Weight: 2.23 grams

Obverse: Head of Gorgoneion facing, tongue protruding, head surrounded by snakes

Reverse: Bull standing left, head right; below, grain ear right

Reference: SNG France 1373-6; BMC 23


Mysia Parion Gorgon & Bull.jpg



Edited by Steve
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Great post, @shanxi! Here's my stater equivalent to the diobol in the first post:



Borrowing an auction house description:

"MYSIA. Pergamum. Ca. 334 BC. Gold Stater (8.60 gm). Head of Alexander right as young Heracles in lion skin headdress / Facing Palladium wearing calathus on head, holding lance in raised right hand and filleted shield on left arm, crested Corinthian helmet right in lower left field. 

SNG Paris 1557 = Luynes 2493. Von Fritze, Die Munzen von Pergamon, pl. 1, 7 = EHC 268. Westermark, "Notes on the Saida hoard (IGCH 1508)," NNA 1979-80, nos. 36-37 (the Berlin and Paris specimens). Struck in high relief. Lustrous mint state. Pergamum was one of the richest cities in Hellenistic times. It was part of the empire of Alexander the Great, who conquered the region from the Persians.

Subsequently Pergamum became the seat of the Attalid dynasty, a sophisticated center of wealth, art, literature, and military power. It was famous for its cult of Asclepius, the god of healing, and for the great Altar of Pergamum, erected to commemorate the defeat of the Gauls by Attalus I Soter. Its magnificent frieze, 390 feet long and 7.5 feet high, was discovered in 1891 by the German Karl Human, built into a Byzantine wall as if it were no more than old stones. It is now one of the principal treasures of the Berlin Museum. The exquisite gold staters of Pergamum were produced by Alexander himself, early in his reign before his great eastern conquests and thus before he had vast gold reserves at his disposal. The obverse features a head of Alexander as Heracles, wearing a lion skin. This type was soon to be introduced on Alexander's silver tetradrachms and drachms, and was later used on his decadrachms as well, but the Pergamene stater issue marks its only appearance on gold. The portrait can be identified as Alexander, not only from the ivory portrait of him found in Tomb II at Vergina, but also because Alexander is portrayed wearing
the lion skin while riding his horse Bucephalus in a royal lion hunt sculpted on the sarcophagus of his friend Abdalonymus, king of Sidon, which is in the Archaeology
Museum in Istanbul.

The reverse is equally wonderful. The Pergamene stater is the only gold coin that features the famous Athena
Palladium of Troy. This image of Athena was regarded as the guardian of Troy. According to one myth, the city could never be taken as long as the Palladium remained in Troy. Entering the city through a secret passage, the Greek heroes Diomedes and Odysseus removed the
Palladium, thus making it possible for the Greeks to get the Trojan Horse into the city and win the war. According to other myths, the Palladium subsequently made its way
to Athens, Argos, or Sparta, but the most common story is that it was not taken from Troy at all until the fall of the city, when the Trojan hero Aeneas rescued it and carried
it with other Trojan refugees to Italy. Aeneas' descendants founded Rome, and the Palladium, now regarded as the guardian of Rome, was deposited in the temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum. The Athena Palladium is often depicted
on Roman coinage held by Roma or by the emperor, but it is never shown so clearly or in such detail as on this coin of Pergamum.

The Athena and her Palladium were important to Alexander, who claimed descent from Achilles, the great Greek hero of the Trojan War. A head of Athena graces the obverse of every one of Alexander's gold staters. The Pergamene stater, however, is the only Alexander-related
gold coin with a complete figure of Athena—and at that the most famous one from mythology. This issue is thus quite remarkable in that it uses major motifs and types of Alexander's imperial coinage, but in ways unparalleled on other gold coins. The issue is also remarkable because allusions to Troy, Alexander the Great, and the founding of Rome are all joined in a single coin."

Edited by AncientJoe
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@Fortuna Redux Beautiful cistophore. The obverse, so often worn, is also well preserved.

@NewStyleKing That's a perfect example. This would also fit well in my Artemis collection :classic_wink:. Thanks for the literature suggestion.

@Steve Nice cistophor with a cute Thyrsos. Also tumbs up for the other nice coins.

@ambr0zie I'm missing your Germanicus & Drusus. These coins from Pergamon with the two portraits are quite interesting. I have  a Gaius and Lucius example and a Julia with Livia

@AncientJoe Your coin outshines all others. Wonderful.


Edited by shanxi
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2 hours ago, Theodosius said:

How did Pergamon become such a wealthy city?


The wealth of Pergamon was partly based on the usurpation of the Lysimachos treasure by Philetairos  (9000 talents of war booty), but it was center for wine, oil, grain and horses, and there were gold, silver, and lead mines. In addition, Pergamon developed a flourishing parchment (Pergamenum) trade (as NewStyleKing mentioned the name itself derives from the place).  And it certainly didn't hurt to be the medical center of the ancient world.

Edited by shanxi
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