The Temporary Exhibition of the Mechanism and the Antikythera shipwreck...>>

The coins

Material: Silver and bronze
Provenance: Antikythera shipwreck
Retrieved in 1976
Minting date: 104 - 82/81 Ů 77/76 BC. (the silver coins) ŕßÚ 3rd -1st cent. BC (the bronze coins)
Storage: Athens, ═umismatic Museum, Bđ. 707: 19.024 Exhibition Place:Temporary Exhibitions Wing, Room I

ďhe coins retrieved from the shipwreck were accumulated in masses with corrosion products and incrustations. Some are in advanced state of corrosion and present loss of material. It was determined that they are thirty-six silver and more than forty bronze coins.

From the six identifiable coins, three are from Sicily and three from Asia Minor. The former include two of Katane issued in 187-170 BC and one of Panormos of the first cent. BC. The Asia Minor coins include one of Knidos, issued in 250-210 BC and two of Ephesos, issued either between 70-60 or 48 -27 BC. The presence of bronze coins from various Mediterranean regions in the shipwreck demonstrates the ship's wide sailing range.

All the silver issues are cistophoric tetradrachms and belong to the same group, thus comprising a hoard. Thirty-two tetradrachms, issued between 104 and 67 BC, come from the mint at Pergamon. The other four are from the Ephesos mint, and are dated between 94/93 (or 89/88) and 82/81 (or 77/76) BC. The name cistophori was owed to their obverse, where a sacred chest/"mystic basket" (Lat. cista mystica), a woven cylindrical basket known from Dionysian worship, was depicted within a wreath of ivy. On the reverse two serpents are depicted entwined around a gorytus (a case for bow and arrows), one of Hercules' weapons. This particular iconography is connected with the special place held by the cult of Dionysus in Pergamon, and the tracing of the origins of the Pergamene rulers back to Hercules. Cistophori were issued in the name of a number of cities in Asia Minor, and there seems to have been some central issuing authority under Attalid control. They were 25% lighter than the Attic tetradrachms and were imposed as equal in value in the Attalid kingdom. For this reason, cistophoric coins did not circulate in other regions, since they would not have been accepted at their nominal value but only according to their weight. The coin hoard from the Antikythera shipwreck presents the unique feature of being the only hoard discovered to date that consists exlusively of cistophori, whether Attalid or Roman issues, and to have been found outside Asia Minor. The hoard of cistophori offers the most secure dating indication for the shipwreck, as far as numismatics is concerned. The group was probably closed prior to 60 BC, although one should not rule out the possibility that the group was formed a little later. The discovery outside Asia Minor of a hoard consisting solely of cistophori may be due to other reasons related to possible commercial practices. It is likely that some merchants who were making trips back and forth to the province of Asia took cistophori with them upon sailing from some Asia Minor port, in the expectation that they would use them on their next trip back. In this way, they would have avoided transactions with bankers who collected some commission for exchanging coins of various issuing authorities. The presence of the two bronze coins from Ephesos, which are probably contemporary with the hoard's latest tetradrachms alludes that the ship had most likely docked at Ephesos before she sank.

Bibliography: ═. ╩altsas-┼. Vlachogianni-P. Bouyia (eds), The Antikythera Shipwreck: The ship-the treasures-the ╠echanism,Catalogue of the Archaeological Exhibition, ┴pril 2012- ┴pril 2013, ┴thens 2012, 216-226 (P. Tselekas).

Position in the museum