Featured Artemis Perasia, the old Kubaba

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Jan 16, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Asia Minor is full of Gods and Goddesses. Here I want to share an age-old Goddess who was known in Greek-Roman times as Artemis Perasia.

    1st coin:
    Cilicia, Hieropolis-Kastabala, 2nd-1st century BC
    AE 21, 7.02g 21.09mm, 0°
    struck under Antiochos IV Epiphanes
    obv. Head of the City Goddess (Tyche), wearing mural crown, r.; monogram behind
    rev. [ I]EPOΠOΛITΩ[N] (in r. field , top down)
    [TΩ]N ΠPOC TΩ / [Π]YPAM[Ω] (in l. field, top down)
    Artemis Perasia, in long garment and wearing kalathos, sceptre in l. arm, std. l. on
    throne with high back; beneath eagle stg. l.
    ref. SNG Levante 1564; Lindgren 1507; SNG Paris 2208
    VF, dark-green Patina
    2nd coin:
    Cilicia, Hieropolis-Kastabala, 2nd-3rd century AD (?)
    AE 24, 8.71g, 23.82mm, 0°
    obv. IEPOΠOΛI - TΩN
    Bust of City Goddess (Tyche), draped and veiled, wearing mural crown, r.
    Bust of Artemis Perasia, draped and veiled, wearing mural crown, r.; burning torch before
    ref. not in Isegrim; obv. RPC I, 4064; unpublished?
    very rare, about VF, dark-green Patina
    On coins we find Perasia in two different versions:
    (1) As entire figure with kalathos, std. on throne, an eagle beneath; often a pine
    (2) As bust, veiled and wearing a mural crown, or sometimes with a strange conical
    hat, a torch before.
    Because of the torch she can easily seen as Demeter or Hekate (so HN), but she
    differs from these goddesses by her headdress. These goddesses don't occur with a
    mural crown, I think.

    The local myth leads back the foundation of Kastabala to Orestes and Pylades. When Orestes after the death of his sister Iphigenia has left the Crimean peninsula with the statue of Artemis Tauropolos he has come to the Pontic Komana and has erected a temple for the Tauric Artemis. But for satisfying the conflicting interests of both Komana it was told that Orestes when he has left Crimea fell ill and the oracle has answered that he would recover not until he has erected a temple for Artemis which would look alike the temple in Tauris. Because the illness didn't vanish he peregrinated further to the Cilician Komana, erected a temple, and the oracle came true (Procopius)
    It's noteworthy now that not only both Komana claim the remembrance of Orestes, but Kastabala too. In Kastabala the temple of Artemis Perasia, read as 'Overseas Artemis', was said to be built by Orestes. It is told that Thoas, king of the Taurians, has pursued Orestes and Pylades as far as the foot of the Taurus mountains, where he died in the city of Tyana which originally was named Thoana after him (Strabo).
    We know that this was the usual method of the Greeks to confirm their acquisitions mythologically, as we have seen in this thread so often.

    Perasia is a Goddess in Asia Minor, worshipped in Hieropolis-Kastabala, related to Ma, and therefore identified with Artemis, whose priestresses in cultic ecstasy were able to step safely over glowing coals (Strabo 12, 537). Here we have a connection to the laceration ritus in service of the Kybele cult, confirmed by the formulistic name 'Kubaba zi b Kastabalaj' (= the Kubaba in Kastabala) found as an Aramaic inscription near Bahadirli in East-Cilicia. The identity of Kubaba and Kybele is affirmed further by the Lydian consecration formula 'kvnaval' (of Kubaba), recently found on the piece of a jar of Sardes. Her name is already known as Pirvashua in an Aramaic inscription from the late Hittite period. This probably was a boundary stone on which she is named the 'Mistress of Kastabala'. A derivation from Persia as 'Persian Artemis', or derivated from dia ton perathen as 'Oversea Artemis', which was thought previously, therefore is obsolete.

    We have emphasized that Hierapolis - Kastabala was a sacred centre. According to Strabon of Amasia, in Kastabala, Artemis Perasia, after the long lasting dances of the religious ceremonies would reach a state of ecstasy and continue dancing on hot coals like the dervishes and at the climax of her ecstatic state would run towards the valleys of the Pyramos and to the wooded hills with her torch in hand. Again in the Hellenistic and Roman Empire Periods sacred Pan-Hellenic competitions used to be organized here in honour of Perasia. The coins have the pine tree and the torch, the symbols of Perasia, in front of the tower a female head with a hat, representing the city.

    Artemis Perasia, the Goddess of Kastabala as mentioned by Strabon, is one and the same as Kubaba. It has become apparent that the cult status of Kastabala in particular went back much further than previously assumed, and the Goddess Kubaba was its ruler. Kubaba is the old name of Kybele we know and recognized as the Mother Goddess of Anatolia. She takes her place among other gods and goddesses for the first time in the sources of the Kanesh (Kültepe) archives of the Assyrian Trade Colonies Period in 1800s B.C. and in the royal archives of Hattusha (Bogazköy), capital of the Hittites dated to 1500-2000 B.C.

    Following the decline of the Hittite Empire around 1200 B.C. Karkemish was a capital of some sorts of the Last Hittite Age of the Hittite world and Kubaba was its Mother Goddess and was known as the "Queen of Karkemish". In this period the Kubaba cult made great sudden progress and there is a related relief at Domuztepe. We see the goddess Kubaba who was recognized by the Phrygians also at sites of Pessinus and Sardes. Kubaba/Kybele was moved to Rome in 204 BC and settled at the Palatine hill. She was known as Artemis Perasia during the Greco-Roman period. So the depiction on the coins naturely is stamped by Hellenism.

    Excursion: Some notes on Firewalking
    Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of glowing embers or stones without damage. It has a long history in many cultures within rituales as a test or proof of faith, and to make a connection to the divine. Today it is used in modern motivational seminars and fund-raising events. Many seminar facilitators claim that there is now scientific explanation for this phaenomena. But we need no psycho-physical exceptional conditions nor a connection to religious concepts to walk over glowing coal without damage.
    Measurements have shown that the temperature of glowing coals is between 240°C and about 440°C. Temperatures of 1000°C as somtimes claimed were never reached.
    So the soles of feet were heated only moderately. The average temperature was 47°C - 100°C. The max. temperature found was 200°C. Here are the reasons:
    - Wood and coals are poor heat conductors. Walking over an equal hot iron plate is
    not possible.
    - The ember which covered the glow acts as heat insulation.
    - The foot contacts the coals only for a fraction of a second, normally 1/2 second. This
    time is too short to heat the foot for burning.
    - The surface of the coals is uneven and reduces the transfer of the heat energy.
    - The blood circulation ensures the transport of the heat away from the soles of feet.
    - The horny skin of the feet acts as heat protection.
    Furthermore the fear for the fire plays an important role. He who expects danger and damaging will feel minimal burning as much painfuller than he who doesn't fear the walk.
    (Inge Hüsgen, Wolfgang Hahn, Dr. Christoph Bördlein, in 'Skeptiker 3/4 2007, S.92-102)

    I have added the pic of the basalt relief of Kubaba, Karkemish, late Hittite, 850-750 BC. The Goddess is holding a pomegranate in her r. hand and a mirror in her l. hand. Today in the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara/Turkey


    (1) Strabo
    (2) Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der der griechischen und römischen Mythologie
    (online too)
    (3) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (online too)
    (4) Der Kleine Pauly
    (5) Theodore Reinach, Mithradates Eupator (online)
    (6) Der Skeptiker (online)
    (7) Wikipedia
    (8) Dupont-Sommer/Robert, La Deesse de Hierapolis-Kastabala
    (9) Publishments of the Turkish government (online)

    Best regards
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  3. TJC

    TJC Well-Known Member

    Cool coin, cool write up!
  4. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    I have mine listed as an unpublished variety, but have no notes as to why? But mine is heavier than most.
    Cilicia, Hieropolis/Kastabala
    2nd to 1st c. BC
    Obvs: No inscription, turreted Tyche right. Branch behind.
    Revs: IEPOΠOΛITΩN TΩN ΠPOΣ TΩN, City-goddess with scepter. Eagle beneath.
    AE 20mm, 10.9g
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    It's fortuitous that a spammer bumped this old thread because I was just reading an article about Kybele earlier today in the course of researching a new acquisition.

    This interesting article, The Phrygian Background of Kybele by Birgitte Bøgh (Numen
    Vol. 54, No. 3 (2007), pp. 304-339), argues that Kubaba and Kybele are not the same goddess, even though even ancient Greek sources say they are one and the same.
    Jochen1 likes this.
  6. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    @Roman Collector Thank you for this information. I will try to get the article.

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