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Ancient Greek Coins of Miletus

The ancient Greek city of Miletus in Asia Minor, on what is now the west coast of Turkey, was the intellectual and commercial center of the Greek world in the century before Athens rose to prominence. It has been called the birthplace of the modern world. These pages discuss the early history of coinage and present a detailed outline of Milesian coin types from the Greek and Roman periods.

PAGES: Illustrated table of contentsIllustrated numerical catalogueHistory and weight standardsChronological tableThe electrum lion coins of the kings of Lydia (1)The enigmatic “geometric” electrum series (1)The sixth-century electrum lion coins of Miletus (2)The electrum and silver lion/scorpion issues (3)The silver eye-swirl/quincunx fractions (12)The dotted lion-mask series (7)The archaic twelfth-stater series (21)The silver Milesian-style lion/bird fractions (14)The lion-head/lion-scalp series (2)Milesian imitatives of Hecatomnus, Mausolus, and Hidrieus (2)The fourth-century bronze lion/sun series (3)The Rhodian silver and bronze Apollo/lion series (7)Early silver and bronze of Alexander the Great (5)The reduced-Rhodian didrachms and their parallel bronzes (3)The later Diadochian and civic Alexander types (2)The third-century Persic silver and bronze Apollo/lion series (2)The bronze facing-Apollo coinage (6)The second-century silver Apollo/lion issues (5)The wreathed bronze Apollo/lion series (8)The bronze Apollo of Didyma series (2)Provincial bronzes of Nero (2)Provincial bronzes of Domitian (1)Provincial bronzes of Faustina the Younger (1)Provincial bronzes of Gordian III (1)The Ottoman silver akçes of fifteenth-century Balad (1)References and literature citedAncient coin resources online.

(1) The Fourth-Century Rhodian Silver and Bronze Apollo / Lion Series

The Rhodian-standard silver issues described below, minted in the mid-fourth century BC, were the first autonomous silver coins produced by Miletus since the destruction of the city by the Persians in 494 BC. With their contemporary bronze counterparts they are also the first Milesian coins to feature Apollo, the patron of the city, and versions of the broad Apollo/lion type represented here continued to be issued at Miletus for the next two centuries.

The Apollo/lion type as a whole has been monographed by Deppert-Lippitz (1984), and her classification forms the initial basis for the arrangement below, subject to important revisions by Kinns (1986), Ashton et al. (2002b), and Ashton and Kinns (2003).

(1a) The rare fourth-century Rhodian hemidrachms of Didyma. Deppert-Lippitz briefly mentions (1984: 17) a rare fourth-century silver hemidrachm issue of Miletus inscribed ΕΓ ΔΙΔΥΜΩΝ ΙΕΡΗ and featuring a three-quarter facing portrait of Apollo on the obverse (Sear, 1979: #4504), a design similar to that seen on the third-century facing-Apollo bronze series (and also on the mid-fourth century silver of Hidrieus and Pixodarus). In his commentary on Deppert-Lippitz’s monograph, Kinns (1986: 237, n. 8) cites three known specimens: “BMC 51; Naville sale 5.2574 (ex BMC 52); Paris. All from same dies?” The precise chronological placement of this rare issue is uncertain, and no examples are included in this collection.

(2) Miletus · Laureate Head of Apollo / Lion Statant Regardant · Silver · About 353–323 BC

Included under this heading are the four series of silver Rhodian-standard tetradrachms (about 15.3 g), drachms (about 3.7 g), and hemidrachms (about 1.8 g) struck during Deppert-Lippitz’s Period I (1984: #1–257), which she dates from the death of Mausolus in 353 BC to the death of Alexander in 323 BC. The Rhodian standard, also known as the Chian standard, “achieved considerable popularity in Asia Minor [after 400 BC], and was also adopted at Ainos in Thrace. It was based on a tetradrachm of 15.6 gm” (Sear, 1979: xxxi; see also Kraay, 1976: 247ff.; Melville Jones, 1986: 51, 202). In all these Rhodian-weight issues both the head of Apollo and the standing lion are to the left, and only rarely is an exergue line present. Deppert-Lippitz recognizes four chronological groupings based on die linkages and stylistic considerations, as shown below, with additions and corrections supplied from the subsequent work of Philip Kinns and his colleagues.

In his essay-review of Deppert-Lippitz’s monograph, Kinns (1986: 238–239) lists more than 60 additional specimens from these series that were not included in D-L’s survey, including drachms that name four additional magistrates as noted above. He also observes that a small number of coins from D-L’s Series I feature suns/stars with only six points rather than the usual eight, a detail that connects them with the bronze issues of the same period (see below) and places them at the beginning of the entire range of Apollo/lion silver: “In view of the exceptional six-rayed stars on the drachm reverses of ΜΝΗΣΙΘΕΟΣ, ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, and ΧΑΡΟΠΙΝΟΣ (D-L 15–17), which share an obverse die of notably high quality (V10=V11), one is tempted to ask whether these are not the first silver coins of fourth-century Miletus; the small well-formed letters of their legends are also noteworthy” (Kinns, 1986: 250).

The “Pixodarus Hoard,” buried about 341/340 BC in ancient Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum), included about 30 Milesian tetradrachms from Deppert-Lippitz’s Series II representing all of the attested magistrates, and allows the date of the tetradrachms in that series to be fixed very close to 340 BC (Hurter, 1998; Ashton et al., 2002b: 206–209, pls. 29–30). These coins are tightly die-linked, and Andrew Meadows, who studied the Milesian specimens in the Pixodarus Hoard, infers from this that “at Miletus, we are undoubtedly faced with a ‘board’ or ‘boards’ of magistrates striking contemporaneously, rather than sequentially” (Ashton et al., 2002b: 208). Comparison of the Pixodarus specimens with those of slightly later hoards indicates that

there was clearly, as Deppert–Lippitz suggested, an interval between the tetradrachms of Series II (finished by c. 341/0) and the tetradrachm issue of Artemon, and the smaller denominations that seem to accompany it (Series III). The absence of any issues of Series III from the Pithyos hoard [IGCH #1217, buried about 335 BC] further suggests that this later Series all belongs post c. 335. Between c. 341/0 and 335 there may simply have been a gap in production at the Milesian mint, or it may be that to these years belong the issues of the Series II magistrates known only from drachms (Theognetos, Erasinos and Eosebes, D-L. 140, 148 and 149).

The date of the beginning of the tetradrachm issues of Series II must remain an area for speculation. The eight obverse dies used to strike all the known specimens represent perhaps no more than four or five years continuous production at a major city such as Miletus. [Ashton et al., 2002b: 209]

The headings used below summarize current understanding of the varieties and chronology of all the fourth-century Rhodian-standard Apollo/lion issues, as detailed above.

(2a) Series I: AR Rhodian Drachms (3.7 g) · About 353–345 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΛΕΥΚΙΠΠΟΣ, ΛΕΟΖΥΓΩΣ, ΘΕΥΓΝΗΤΟΣ, ΗΡΑΓΟΡΑΣ, ΠΟΣΙΣ, ΜΕΛΑΙΝΕΥΣ, ΕΥΠΟΛΙΣ, ΕΠΑΜΕΝΩΝ (or ΕΠΑΜΕΙΝΩΝ), ΜΝΗΣΙΘΕΟΣ, ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, ΖΕΥΞΙΛΕΩΣ, and ΧΑΡΟΠΙΝΟΣ, with the the last four magistrates, whose coins have six-pointed suns/stars, standing at the beginning of the series. No examples are included in this collection.

(2b) Series I: AR Rhodian Hemidrachms (1.8 g) · About 353–345 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΠΟΣΙΣ, ΜΕΛΑΙΝΕΥΣ, ΕΥΠΟΛΙΣ, ΗΡΑΓΟΡΑΣ, ΣΚΥΘΗΣ, ΘΕΥΓΝΗΤΟΣ, ΘΕΟΔΟΤΙΔΗΣ, ΧΑΡΙΛΑϹ, ΠΥΘΩΝ, ΑΛΚΙΜΑΧΟΣ, ΑΝΤΙΑΝΔΡΟΣ, ΑΝΔΡΙΟΣ, ΔΗΜΕΑΣ, ΠΡΟΞΕΝΟΣ, ΔΙΟΔΩΡΟΣ (?), and ΛΑΜΙΟΣ. One example is included in this collection. Some, though not all, of the specimens naming ΜΕΛΑΙΝΕΥΣ, ΕΥΠΟΛΙΣ, ΣΚΥΘΗΣ, ΘΕΥΓΝΗΤΟΣ, and ΠΥΘΩΝ have six-pointed suns/stars.

[Image: Silver Apollo-head hemidrachm coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 96. Silver hemidrachm (1.62 g, ↑↑), about 353–345 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo left. Reverse: lion standing left on exergue line, looking back at eight-pointed sun; ΜΙ monogram to left; magistrate ΣΚΥΘΗΣ in exergue. Compare Deppert-Lippitz (1984: #34–37, pl. 2, all naming this magistrate); this specimen appears to be a die duplicate of D-L’s #35a, struck from obverse die V11 and reverse die R13. (Note that on D-L’s plate 2 the obverse die of #34 is mislabeled V1 [for V11] and the reverse die of #36 is mislabeled R12 [for R14].) The hemidrachms of ΣΚΥΘΗΣ are among the few Period I silver coins to have a reverse exergue line.

(2c) Series II: AR Rhodian Tetradrachms (15.3 g) · About 345–340 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΔΗΜΑΙΝΟΣ, ΘΕΟΠΡΟΠΟΣ, ΛΗΝΑΙΟΣ, ΒΡΕΜΩΝ, ΣΤΡΑΤΙΔΗΣ, ΔΑΜΝΑΣ, ΛΥΚΟΣ, ΣΙΜΟΣ, ΚΑΛΛΑΙΣΧΡΟΣ, and ΕΟΑΝΘΗΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2d) Series II: AR Rhodian Drachms (3.7 g) · About 345–340 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΔΗΜΑΙΝΟΣ, ΘΕΥΠΡΟΠΟΣ/ΘΕΟΠΡΟΠΟΣ, ΛΗΝΑΙΟΣ, ΔΑΜΝΑΣ, ΒΡΕΜΩΝ, ΣΙΜΟΣ, ΣΤΡΑΤΙΔΗΣ, ΘΕΟΓΝΗΤΟΣ, ΛΥΚΟΣ, ΚΑΛΛΑΙΣΧΡΟΣ, ΕΡΑΣΙΝΟΣ, and ΕΟΣΕΒΗΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2e) Series II: AR Rhodian Hemidrachms (1.8 g) · About 345–340 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΔΗΜΑΙΝΟΣ, ΘΕΟΠΡΟΠΟΣ, and ΣΤΡΑΤΙΔΗΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2f) Series III: AR Rhodian Tetradrachms (15.3 g) · About 335–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2g) Series III: AR Rhodian Drachms (3.7 g) · About 335–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ, ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, ΡΟΔΙΟΣ, ΠΑΝΤΑΙΝΟΣ (or ΠΑΝΤΑΙΝΕ[ΤΟΣ]), and ΝΟΣΣΟΣ. Two examples are included in this collection.

[Image: Silver Apollo-head drachm coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 100. Silver drachm (3.16 g, ↑↑), about 335–323 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo left. Reverse: lion standing left, looking back at eight-pointed sun; ΜΙ monogram to left; magistrate [Α]ΡΤΕΜ[ΩΝ] in exergue; no exergue line. This coin was struck from Deppert-Lippitz’s obverse die V8, which was also used with reverses of ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, ΡΟΔΙΟΣ, and ΠΑΝΤΑΙΝΟΣ or ΠΑΝΤΑΙΝΕ[ΤΟΣ]; D-L does not record its use with any ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ reverses (1984: #160–164 [ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ], #165–183 [others], pls. 6–7). The reverse die of this specimen does not match either of the two ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ reverses illustrated by D-L (V1–V2); additional reverses are represented by SNG von Aulock #2093 (V3) and Pozzi #2485 (V4), neither of which are illustrated by D-L and neither of which I have seen. Kinns records two additional ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ specimens: “G. Hirsch sale 41.89; Swiss Bank Corporation FPL (Autumn 1980).85” (1986: 238). The use of this one obverse with reverses of at least four different magistrates suggests, as was the case with the tetradrachms of the Pixodarus Hoard, noted above, that a “board” of magistrates was striking drachms simultaneously rather than sequentially.

[Image: Silver Apollo-head drachm coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 24. Silver drachm (3.45 g, ↑↑), about 335–323 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo left. Reverse: lion standing left, looking back at eight-pointed sun; ΜΙ monogram to left; magistrate [Α]ΝΤΙΠΑΤ[ΡΟΣ] in exergue; no exergue line. Compare Deppert-Lippitz (1984: #165–171, pls. 6–7, all naming this magistrate); this obverse is close to D-L #171, but does not appear to be an exact die match for any of the D-L specimens.

(2h) Series III: AR Rhodian Hemidrachms (1.8 g) · About 335–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΑΡΤΕΜΩΝ, ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, ΡΟΔΙΟΣ, ΠΑΝΤΑΙΝΟΣ, and ΝΟΣΣΟΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2i) Series IV: AR Rhodian Drachms (3.7 g) · About 335–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΟΡΝΥΜΕΝΟΣ, ΜΗΤΡΟΔΩΡΟΣ, ΛΑΜΠΙΣ, ΝΕΩΝ, ΛΥΚΟΣ, ΒΑΤΤΟΣ, ΚΥΔΙΜΟΣ, ΕΠΙΓΟΝΟΣ, ΑΡΙΣΤΑΓΟΡΑΣ, ΤΙΜΟΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ, ΕΠΙΝΙΚΟΣ, ΤΕΛΕΣΙΑΣ, ΔΙΟΠΟΜΠΟΣ, ΠΡΟΞΕΝΟΣ, and [ΦΑ]ΝΟΔΙΚΟΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2j) Series IV: AR Rhodian Hemidrachms (1.8 g) · About 335–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΔΙΟΠΟΜΠΟΣ, ΠΡΟΞΕΝΟΣ, and [Α]ΡΙΣΤΑΓΟΡΑΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(2k) Series Unknown: AR Drachms (3.7 g) and Hemidrachms (1.8 g) · About 353–323 BC

One fourrée specimen—an ancient counterfeit—is included here.

[Image: Silver Apollo-head hemidrachm coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 119. Fourrée drachm (2.62 g, ↑↑), about 353–323 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo left. Reverse: lion standing left, looking back at sun (apparently seven-pointed, but not completely clear); ΜΙ monogram to left; no exergue line; magistrate in exergue unfortunately not legible, although a few letters might be worked out with more comparative material. This is a fourrée specimen, with the base metal core clearly visible along both margins where the silver coating has cracked off.

(3) Miletus · Laureate Head of Apollo / Lion Statant Regardant · Bronze · About 353–323 BC

Included under this heading is the bronze coinage that Deppert-Lippitz assigns to her Period II (1984: #304–435). She dates these issues from the time of the liberation of Miletus by Antigonus Monophthalmos to its takeover by Lysimachus (about 313–290 BC). In his essay-review of Deppert-Lippitz’s monograph, Kinns argues that these bronze coins are in fact contemporaneous with the first Rhodian-standard Apollo/lion issues in silver (described above), and began to appear about 350 BC (1986: 249–253). In the silver issues, Apollo and the lion face left; in the bronze, they face right. Five series are recognized by Deppert-Lippitz, issued under a variety of magistrates as noted below, with Kinns’ detailed reasoning on the chronology added. The ΜΙ monogram is not present on any of these coins, and an exergue line is present only on a few of the bronzes in Series IV, which may have been issued later.

But it may be that at least one further speculation concerning the Series V specimens should be permitted: the single ΧΑΡΟ specimen in this series (D-L #407, pl. 13) in fact has a sun/star of six points rather than eight, strongly suggesting that ΧΑΡΟ is indeed ΧΑΡΟΠΙΝΟΣ, “the magistrate of the earliest Apollo/lion silver and bronze,” and that the bronze of Series V is contemporaneous with the bronze of Series I–III, as well as with the earliest Rhodian-standard silver issues, as Kinns conjectured.

The headings used below summarize current understanding of all the fourth-century bronze Apollo/lion issues, as detailed above.

(3a) Series I: AE 15–16 mm (3.2–3.5 g) · About 353–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΕΠΙΣΘΕΝΗΣ, ΔΙΟΝΥΣΙΟΣ, ΧΑΡΟΠΙΝΟΣ, ΛΥΚΟΜΗΔΗΣ, ΣΦΟΔΡΙΣ, ΒΙΟΝ, ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, ΕΓΔΙΚΟΣ, [ΕΡ]ΓΙΝΟΣ, [ΛΑ]ΜΠΙΤΟΣ, ΖΕΥΞΙΛΕΩ[Σ], ΛΕΥΚΙΠΠΟΣ, ΝΙΚΟΛΟΧΟΣ, ΞΕΝΟΚΡΙΤΟΣ, and [Π]ΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ[ΙΟΣ]. One example is included in this collection.

[Image: Bronze Apollo/lion coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 112. Bronze 15 × 16 mm (2.42 g, ↑↑), 353–323 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo right. Reverse: lion standing right, looking back at eight-pointed sun; no exergue line and no inscription in exergue; inscription vertically at right, not quite legible but might be worked out with more comparative material. This specimen certainly belongs among the earliest of the Apollo/lion bronzes, but it does not appear to be a die match for any of the Series I specimens illustrated by Deppert-Lippitz (1984: #304–317).

(3b) Series II: AE 13 mm (2.0 g) · About 353–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ, ΙΣΤΙΚΑΣ (or ΙΣΤΙΚΩΝ), ΟΡΝΥΜΕΝΟΣ, ΦΙΛΟΚΛΗΣ, ΕΥΚΤΗΜ[…], ΑΝΤΙΑ[…], [Π]ΟΔΙΟ[Σ], ΛΑΜΠΡΟΜΑΧΟΣ, ΜΟΛΠΑΓΟΡΑΣ, ΑΡΧΕΜΑΧΟΣ, and ΒΑΤΤΟΣ. No examples are included in this collection.

(3c) Series III: AE 18–20 mm (8.0 g) · About 353–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΕΠΙΣΘΕΝΗΣ, ΝΙΚΕΑΣ, […]Ν[…]ΕΥ[…], [Ο]ΡΝΥΜΕΝ[ΟΣ], and ΕΥΚΤΗΜΩΝ. No examples are included in this collection.

(3d) Series IV: AE 18 mm (3.5–4.5 g) · About 353–323 BC [Late group, about 310 BC]

[Image: Bronze Apollo/lion coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 11

[Image: Bronze Apollo/lion coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 91

Specimens are recorded that name ΕΠΙΝΙΚΟΣ, ΑΝΤΙΑΝΔΡΟΣ, ΜΟΛΟϹϹΟϹ, ΜΟΡΙΑΣ, ΠΑΡΡΑ[ϹΙΟϹ], [Δ]ΙΟΜΙΛ[ΟΣ], ΘΕΥΚΡΙΤ[ΟΣ], ΒΑΤΤΑΡΟΣ, ΛΥΚΟΣ, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΔΗΣ, ΠΡΩΤΑΡΧΟΣ, ΦΑΙΔΜΟΣ, ΧΑΡΜΗΣ, ΕΧΕΒΟΥΛΟΣ, ΜΝΗΣΙΘΕΟΣ, ΛΑΜΠΡΟΜΑΧΟΣ, [Λ]ΕΟΝΤΕ[ΥΣ], ΑΝΤΙΑΝΩΡ (or perhaps ΑΝΤΙΑΝΔΡΟΣ as above), ΑΡΙΣΤΑΓΟΡΑ, ΔΑΜΑΣΙΑΣ, ΘΕΑΝΔΡΟΣ, ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟΣ, [ΦΑ]ΝΟΔΙΚΟϹ, and ΦΙΛΙΣΚΟΣ. As noted above, Kinns recognizes within Series IV an early group that was minted in parallel with the Rhodian-weight silver above, as well as a late group which he believes was minted about 310 BC in parallel with the reduced-Rhodian silver didrachms of Miletus. This late group is distinguished by the presence of an exergue line, as seen on the reverses of ΛΥΚΟΣ, ΔΑΜΑΣΙΑΣ, ΘΕΑΝΔΡΟΣ, ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟΣ, and ΦΙΛΙΣΚΟΣ. One example of the early Series IV group is included in this collection, and two examples of the late Series IV group are described alongside the reduced-Rhodian didrachms on a separate page, following Kinns’ chronology.

[Image: Bronze Apollo/lion coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 121. Bronze 17 × 18 mm (4.30 g, ↑↑), 353–323 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo right. Reverse: lion standing right, looking back at eight-pointed sun; no exergue line; [ΛΑ]ΜΠΡΟΜΑΧΟΣ in exergue running left-to-right, with last three letters running vertically upwards to right of lion; the sigma is not lunate. Deppert-Lippitz describes a single specimen of this denomination naming ΛΑΜΠΡΟΜΑΧΟΣ (1984: #388), certainly not from the same dies as RJO 121 but almost certainly from dies cut by the same hand. D-L #388 and RJO 121 also appear to have a similar patination, although it is not clear from D-L’s illustration whether her specimen has any vertical lettering. D-L #388 is said to have come from a hoard deposited about 300 BC in Mylasa and recovered in 1968 or 1969 (Deppert-Lippitz, 1984: 157, citing Thompson et al., 1973: 172, #1289–1290, with details of the hoard on file in the British Museum). Could this specimen also be from that Mylasa hoard?

(3e) Series V: AE 10–12 mm (1.0–1.1 g) · About 353–323 BC

Specimens are recorded that name ΛΑΜΠΡΟΜΑΧΟΣ, ΑΡΙΣΤΑΓΟΡΑΣ, ΑΝΤΙΑΝΔΡΟΣ, ΜΟΛΟΣΣΟΣ, ΧΑΡΟ[ΠΙΝΟΣ], ΛΕΟΝΤΙΣΚΟΣ, ΑΝ[ΔΡΙΟΣ], ΧΑΡΜΗΣ, ΔΗΜΟΣΘΕΝΗΣ, ΔΗΜΗΤ[ΡΙΟΣ], ΕΠΙΝΙΚΟΣ, and ΠΥΡΑΜΕΝ, with the ΧΑΡΟ[ΠΙΝΟΣ] specimens being the earliest from the entire period. One Series V example is included in this collection.

[Image: Bronze Apollo/lion coin of ancient Miletus.]

RJO 75. Bronze 10 × 11 mm (0.98 g, ↑↑), 353–323 BC. Obverse: laureate head of Apollo right. Reverse: lion standing right, looking back at sun; no exergue line; inscription appears to run left-to-right in the exergue (where it is barely visible), and then vertically at right as in D-L #399–400 (ΛΑΜΠΡΟΜΑΧΟΣ), but the vertical section is also not clearly legible; the final letter appears to be a lunate sigma; with more comparative material in hand the inscription might be worked out.


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