Ancient God at the time of minting

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ryan McVay, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Supporter! Supporter

    I did a presentation a couple of years back on Sandan. I never did have a coin of his until recently. I picked up this little guy in June and it finally arrived.
    The attribution wasn't correct but hey, can't expect to much work going into a coin like this.
    CILICIA, Tarsos. 174-164 BC. Æ 15mm (3.9 gm). Head of Tyche right, wearing turreted crown monogram in left field partial off / Sandan standing right on horned and winged animal, holding grain ear and bipennis; monograms in fields on either side. SNG Levante 910 Variant
    Sandas (aka Sandon) is an ancient Anatolian (Hittes) mountain god from around 2,000 BCE. He is shown standing on winged beast. This is typical of the very early depictions of their feet don't touch the ground..So, why is such an old god is being represented in its original form showing on a 2-3rd BC coin? Think about that, in terms of time. That would be like putting Zeus on 1800 AD coins.

    There was a temple that did survive in Tarsus and you see this imagery on other coins from Tarsos..the whole "temple". I can't find my notes right now, but I want to say that site was there until WWI when the mountain top was bulldozed for anti-air guns!
    Anyway, in this example, Sandan or Sandon looks like he is standing on a winged griffin (not a chicken as a friend suggested) and yes the griffin even has the head crest. Sandon is holding the bipennis ax..oh and he is winged too!
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
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  3. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting read by Hetty Goldman, the first female archeologist for the Middle East and Greece. "Sandan Monument of Tarsus"
    Hamilcar Barca likes this.
  4. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Sandan continued to be depicted for several centuries after that.
    There are Severan examples, but mine is Hadrian :

    CILICIA. Tarsus. Hadrian (117-138). Tridrachm.

    Laureate and cuirassed bust right.
    Sandan, holding bipennis and wreath, standing right on horned lion right.

    RPC III 3268; SNG BN -; Prieur 769

    CNG had this to say about a similar coin

    "The cult of Sandan, or Sandas, is a remnant of the 17th century BC Hittite occupation of Cilicia. In his Luwian form he was Teshub, the god of mountain storms. Within the Hittite sanctuary at Yazilikaya he is depicted as a bearded god with conical headdress, holding a club and plant, probably related to the Mesopotamian Tree of Life. Like the rest of the Hittite High Gods, Teshub's feet never touch earth; he either rides the back of mythological beasts, is borne on the shoulders of lesser gods, or strides above the mountain tops. The mountain tops recall the lofty Hittite homeland, as does the high-peaked cap, and the pyramidal shape of Sandan's altar. While Sandan's cult in Tarsos became assimilated with that of Herakles, in his origins as a nature god he is more closely attuned to the Greek king of the gods, Zeus. This depiction of Sandan appears some 2000 years after his first appearance in mythology, yet the similarities to the Hittite original are striking."
    cmezner, ultprice, PeteB and 11 others like this.
  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Interesting post.

    Here is one with the "Pyre of Sandan" and a countermark. Although not very visible in mine, the god is shown with hammer and flower, standing on the horned animal.

    Cilicia, Tarsos Æ20
    (c. 164-27 B.C.)

    Bust of Tyche veiled & turreted right / TAPΣEΩN right, pyre of Sandan center, KA / M Γ /AP monograms left.
    SNG BN 1336-7; SNG Levante 933-57 var.
    Countermark: head of Helios right in 8mm circle.
    (6.31 grams / 20 mm)
    eBay July 2018

    Here's a close-up of the Helios countermark. It blends with the face of Tyche on the host coin:

    cmezner, PeteB, Agricantus and 6 others like this.
  6. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Well crud, there is another coin I have to look out for and get now. :) I have always been fascinated by Hittites.
  7. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, I recall Hetty Goldman writing that we find the god up to Gallienus! I'll have to check later tonight.
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