Silver cistophorus of Claudius


British Museum

British Museum

In the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles, the story is told of St Paul's visit to the city of Ephesos. His preaching caused consternation, beginning among the silversmiths who made souvenirs of the famous Temple of Artemis (Diana) in the city. A rabble was roused who pursued Paul's companions in to the city's great theatre. The crowd shouted 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians' for two hours without cessation. The secretary of the town council was forced to appear and remind the mob that 'all the world knows that our city of Ephesos is neokoros ('temple-warden') of the great Artemis and the statue that fell from Zeus'.This silver cistophorus of the Roman emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) dates from the generation after Paul's visit to Ephesos. The coin carries on its reverse side an image of the famous cult-statue of the goddess mentioned in the Book of Acts. The legend reads DIANA EPHESIA ('Ephesian Diana'). The other side of the coin features portraits of Claudius and his wife Agrippina the Younger.

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  • Title: Silver cistophorus of Claudius
  • Date Created: 51/51
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 10.809g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: emperor/empress; classical deity
  • Registration number: 1867,0101.1603
  • Production place: Minted in Ephesus
  • Period/culture: Roman Provincial
  • Material: silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Claudius. Ruler Agrippina II
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Blacas d'Aulps. Previous owner/ex-collection Blacas, Louis Charles Pierre Casimir