Unknownabout 390 - 300 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The bee on the front, and the palm tree and the stag on the back of this four-drachma coin, a tetradrachm, are emblems of Ephesus, a Greek city on the west coast of Turkey. This city was an important center of worship of the Greek goddess Artemis, and the images on Ephesian coinage represent her. Originally the bee was the symbol of an early Anatolian goddess who the Greeks later identified with Artemis. So close was the connection between Artemis and bees that the priestesses of the goddess were called "honey bees." The two Greek letters, epsilon and phi, on either side of the bee are an abbreviation for Ephesus.

On the back, the palm tree alludes to Artemis' birthplace, the island of Delos, where, under a palm tree, the goddess Leto gave birth to Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo. The forepart of a stag symbolizes Artemis' affinity with animals, and may also refer to the stag figures that flanked her cult statue in the temple at Ephesus. The inscription names a man, Karno, who was probably one of the magistrates supervising the mint.

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  • Title: Tetradrachm
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: about 390 - 300 B.C.
  • Location Created: Ephesus, Ionia
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Silver
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, Gift of Lily Tomlin
  • Object Type: Coin
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 80.NH.152.62
  • Inscription: On the obverse, an epsilon and a phi, on either side of the bee. On the reverse, "Karno," probably one of the magistrates of Ephesus who supervised the mint.
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Ephesian)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Lily Tomlin
  • Classification: Coins