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) Chronological Overview of the Greek Coinage of Miletus

The table below summarizes the Greek coinage of Miletus from the sixth to the first century BC. The later provincial coinage of Rome that was struck at Miletus is not included, nor is the much later Ottoman coinage of Palatia/Balat. All dates are approximate. Links (where available) go to pages with more detailed descriptions of each series, although representatives of all the types listed here are not included in this collection.

Table 1. Chronological overview of the Greek coinage of Miletus.
KEY: Weight standards are generally Lydo-Milesian (LM), Attic, Rhodian, or Persic, as indicated. Type directions may be \ (left), / (right), or | (variable or indeterminate). A reverse exergue line may be present or absent.
1 Some of the ‘civic’ Alexanders featuring Heracles|Zeus with ΜΙ mintmark (and sometimes lion-star mintmark) were struck as late as 165 BC. I do not have the references available to provide more detail on their chronology here.
2 It is not clear from the illustrations in Deppert-Lippitz (1984: #934–940, pl. 30) whether the few known specimens of this rare helmeted-female/wreathed-lion issue have a reverse exergue line or not. Kinns (1986: 260) has questioned whether these coins are even Milesian.
600 BC LM Alyattes lion series (Lydia)
LM ‘geometric’ series (Ionia?)
LM Miletus lion series
LM lion|scorpion 48th (Caria?)
rare LM lion|sun 12th
550 BC dotted lion-mask series
common LM lion|sun 12th
LM eye-swirl|quincunx 96th
LM lion|bird 48th+96th (Caria?)
500 BC [ Miletus is destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC and its population dispersed. ]
[ Athens and the Delian League suppress most local coinages for the remainder of the fifth century. ]
450 BC
400 BC Attic ΕΚΑ lion\sun 3+1+½+¼dr (Caria?)
Attic ΜΑ lion\sun 3dr (Caria?)
rare lion\sun 10mm
lion\sun 13mm §1–4
350 BC Rhodian Apollo\lion 4+1+½dr
rare ΔΙΔΥΜΩΝ facing-Apollo\lion ½dr
Apollo/lion 18+15+13+10mm §1–5
Athena|Nike 2+1+½+¼st §1–4
Attic Apollo/biga 1st
Attic Heracles/eagle 1dr §1
Attic Heracles|Zeus 4+1+½dr §1–8
reduced-Rhodian Apollo\lion 2dr
Heracles|bow&club 18mm §2,4
Apollo/horseman 18+11mm §7–8
Apollo/lion 18mm §4(part)
300 BC Attic Athena|Nike 1st §9–13
Attic ‘civic’ ΜΙ Athena|Nike 1st
Attic Heracles|Zeus 4+1dr §9–13
Attic Nike-prow\Poseidon 4dr
Attic ’civic’ ΜΙ Alexanders 4+1dr1
Persic ‘Τ’ Apollo\lion 1+½dr
 Persic ‘Δ-Ε-Α’ Apollo\lion 1+½dr
‘Τ’ facing-Apollo/lion 16+10mm
250 BC Persic Apollo\lion 2dr ‘later’ facing-Apollo/lion 16+10mm
scarce profile-Apollo/lion 18+14mm
200 BC rare heavy facing-Apollo\lion ½dr
light-Persic Apollo\lion 1+½+¼dr §1
‘magistrate’ Didyma/lion 18mm
‘final’ facing-Apollo/lion 13mm
rare Attic facing-Apollo/lion 1st Attic Apollo/lion 4dr §2
light-Persic Apollo/lion 1+½dr §2
Apollo/wreathed-lion 18+10mm
rare helmet/wreathed-lion 18mm2
150 BC rare Attic Apollo/lion 1st light-Persic Apollo/lion 1+½dr §3
100 BC
50 BC ‘ΜΙΛΗϹΙΩΝ’ Didyma/lion 18mm

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