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) Roman Provincial Bronzes of Domitian from Miletus

Contents of this page

The Greek city of Miletus was incorporated into Rome’s Province of Asia in 133 BC, and during the later Imperial period Miletus served as a provincial mint under a number of emperors and empresses, issuing coins in the name of Caligula (AD 37–41) and his sister Drusilla, Claudius (41–54), Nero (54–68), Titus (79–81), Domitian (81–96), Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138), Antoninus Pius (138–161), Marcus Aurelius (161–180) and his wife Faustina the Younger, Lucius Verus (161–169), Commodus (180–192) and his wife Crispina, Septimus Severus (193–211) and his wife Julia Domna, Caracalla (211–217) and his wife Plautilla, Geta (211), Alexander Severus (222–235), Pupenius (238), Balbinus (238), Gordian III (238–244), Valerian (253–260), and Gallenius (253–268) (Metcalf, 1980; Sear, 1982; SNG Copenhagen, 1982).

Note: I have very few specimens available to illustrate the extensive Roman provincial coinage of Miletus, and I do not yet have access to any of the advanced Roman provincial references such as Burnett et al. (1992–1999). Further study is required before more extended descriptions and commentary can be provided here.

Titus Flavius Domitianus, known as Domitian, was born at Rome in AD 51. He was the son of the emperor Vespasian and his wife Flavia Domitilla. Domitian acceded to the throne upon the death of his brother Titus in 81, and ruled until he was murdered in the Imperial Palace in 96. His death marked the end of the Flavian dynasty.

David Sear (1982: 77) provides this summary of Domitian’s provincial (“Greek Imperial”) coinage:

The local coinages of Domitian are on a comparable scale to those of Nero and thus second only to the Greek Imperial issues of Augustus. At least ninety mints struck in his name, though as in the case of his elder brother some types were produced before he became emperor. His wife, Domitia, was honoured with a coinage greater than any other empress up to this time, in marked contrast to her Roman coinage, which is of considerable rarity.

(2) Miletus · Bust of Domitian Right / Lion Standing Left, Looking Back at Sun/Star · Bronze · AD 81–96

Sear describes a Domitian/Apollo-Didymaeus type from Miletus (1982: #825), but does not list this Domitian/Lion type. It appears to be the same general type as ANS 1944.100.46597, although that specimen is substantially lighter than the example below. Compare also SNG Copenhagen (1982: #1015, 4.56 g), which features a reverse lion to right (rather than to left) within a laurel wreath (rather than a dotted border). I do not have any other references available that might provide additional information.

(2a) AE 20 mm (3.6 g)

In the absence of additional information, I don’t know whether this type was issued in more than one denomination.

[Image: Provincial bronze coin of emperor Domitian, from Miletus in Asia Minor]

RJO 117. Bronze 20 × 22 mm (3.59 g, ↑↓), AD 81–96; harshly cleaned. Obverse: bust of Domitian right; inscription around margin; dotted border. Reverse: lion standing left, looking back at sun/star; inscription to left and below; dotted border.

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