Aspendos, Pamphylia (Turkey)

Silver Stater, 4th century BCE
weight: 10.3g (Persian standard), width: 2.36cm; die axis: 11h

Aspendos OBVAspendos REV

OBVERSE: In dotted circle, two wrestlers locked in opening hold; between them, mint mark FE (digamma epsilon).

REVERSE: In dotted circle, slinger aiming sling right.
In left field, Greco-Pamphylian inscription ESTFEDIIYS (= Estwediiys, "Aspendian").
In right field, a triskeles of human legs (badge of the city); below that a club of Herakles and part of the Greek letter Phi.

HFMA nr. 2006.010.001. Ref.: Brixhe (1976) 195 nr. 11.

Aspendos in Pamphylia, now the village Belkis on the southern coast of Turkey, was an important Greek colony and harbor city on the river Eurymedon, situated 11 km (7 miles) from the coast, safe from naval surprise attacks but with easy access to the Mediterranean Sea. In the fifth century BCE, the city began minting coins on the Persian weight standard then common in Persian-ruled Asia Minor.

The wrestler-type, introduced in the fourth century, represents the best-known coins of Aspendos. As with other coins depicting athletes in the HFMA's collection (011, 016), the wrestlers on the obverse probably allude to a local victory in one of the Panhellenic games of which we have no other record.

The slinger on the reverse may be a punning reference to the city's name since sphendone ("sling") sounds similar to Aspendos. The triskeles (three human legs with bent knees arranged in a wheel-like formation) to the slinger's right is the city's badge.
 
The Pamphylian ethnic on the reverse, Estwendiiys, corresponds to the Greek adjective Aspendios ("Aspendian"). The use of the Pamphylian language here and on many inscriptions found in the city suggests that Aspendos had a large indigenous population. At the same time, the Aspendians also liked to emphasize that their city had been founded by Greek settlers from Argos. In fact, the club of the Argive hero Herakles on the reverse may refer to the fact that Argos bestowed honorary Argive citizenship on all Aspendians in a decree from ca. 330-300 BCE that was set up in Nemea, the site of the Nemean games (SEG 34 242.4).

The FE on the obverse and the partially visible Phi on the reverse could be initials of the magistrates that supervised the city mint.

O.K.

Literature:
Brixhe, Claude, Le dialecte grec de Pamphylie: documents et grammaire. Paris, 1976, pp. 191-200.

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