Friday, September 2, 2011

Bee design on ancient Greek coin

Ancient Greek Silver Drachm, Bee Coin Pendant Circa 202 - 133 B.C. Bee with Straight Wings

Greek cities often used animals as symbols on their coins from around the 6 century BC. The city of Ephesus used both the bee and the stag. The bee, was considered the sacred insect.
 "The bee was associated with Ephesus for many reasons. According to the writer Philostratos, the Athenians who came to colonize Ionia, where Ephesus is located, were led by the Muses, who took the shape of bees." 
 Ephesus' great temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, has provided evidence for the earliest coins yet known from the ancient world. Artemis had priestesses, called melissai or "bees". Some of the temple has been excavated.

An 18th century engraving of the goddess Artemis of Ephesus.


When Artemis is depicted in Ephesus bees are often shown on her belt or skirt. "Indeed, D.G. Hogarth, who excavated the earliest levels of the sanctuary found gold ornaments, some in the shape of bees, that could have been attached to an image's garments. Some scholars trace the Ephesian Artemis back to an earlier Anatolian goddess whom the Hittites called Hannahanna, who sent a bee to wake up the god Telepinu from sleep/death"

Both quotes from
The coinage of Ephesus
The Roman East
Ancient History Dept.
Macquarie University