Ionia, Phocaea. c. 550 BC

Ionia, Phocaea. c. 550 BC


EL Hekte, 2.59g (10mm). Lion head right with seal above / Quadripartite incuse. Only 6 known from 3 dies.

References: Bodenstedt 25

Grade: EF (gk1143)

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Phocaea was believed to be an Aeolian settlement by the ancient geographer Pausanias. Located on the western shores of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), Phocaea, in Ionia, was among the earliest to strike coinage. Due to the proximity of the water, Phocaea were among the first Greeks to travel by sea voyage, and traveling as far as Spain. Apparently the king of Spain, Arganthonios was so impressed by their seafaring skills that he urged them to settle in his kingdom in Iberia. They refused the kind offer but went away instead with money from the admiring king to build defensive walls around the city to protect themselves from Persian advances.

This coin was likely struck when Phocaea was under the control of the Lydian king Croesus. Prior to this Phocaea was largely independent. Croesus controlled the area until the Persians overtook the Lydians in 546 BC. 

The lion head featured on the obverse is common iconography found on coins from Asia Minor and further east to the Persians. The coinage of Croesus had a bull and a lion facing off in fact believed to signify the ongoing struggle between Greeks and the Persians.