Temple of Aphrodite at Paphos

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by SeptimusT, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    Paphos copy.png
    Obverse: DIVI F IMP CAESAR, bareheaded bust of Augustus right
    Reverse: A PLAVTIVS PRO COS, temple of Aphrodite at Paphos and courtyard
    Struck ~21 BC at Paphos, Cyprus, 15mm, 3.5g, RPC 3906

    I’ve had this one a while, and I’ve hesitated to post it because mine is not especially well preserved (a better one can be viewed at Wildwinds), but the fascinating imagery won out. At first glance it’s a little difficult to figure out what you’re looking at, but historical and archaeological context tells us that it is a temple to a rather unique deity. @Andres2's thread on ancients on stamps shows a coin of Trajan depicting the same shrine.

    The Temple of Aphrodite at Paphos was a place of some renown, the existence of which likely predated its identification with Aphrodite. The Aphrodite worshipped at this temple was that abstract shape we see at the center of the coin, which was actually a conical stone. Some say it is a meteorite, but this appears to be erroneous. The stone still exists today, and is housed in a museum near the ruins of the sanctuary. By some accounts, a thick crust of libation oils causes its blackened appearance, and interestingly enough Homer describes the anointing of Aphrodite's shrine at Paphos in The Odyssey. Tacitus recorded a visit of Titus to the temple, who was curious to see the unusual shrine there.


    Even though the stone was identified with Aphrodite, it reminded me of Elagabalus and his stone, and indeed some sources suggest a Syrian or Phoenician origin for the cult at Paphos. Regardless of its origins, I think it’s amazing that it’s still there, and it certainly makes for a unique representation of a local deity on provincial coinage. I was able to find a few other varieties showing this temple by searching here and Wildwinds, and I’d love to see any other examples of related coins.
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  3. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Seems several times the ancient world connected stones with the divine. Here is my only coin featuring a stone:

    Antiochos I Soter, Seleucid Kings of Syria; 281-261 BC
    Æ, 16mm, 4.01 g; 3h; Antioch mint
    Obv.: Diademed head right
    Rev.: Apollo Delphios seated left on the Omphalos of Delphi holding bow and examing arrow; monograms to left and right

    The Omphalos of Delphi can still be seen today.
  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    kool... i've bid on divine stone coins, but so far i haven't got any...whenever i see a divine stone i always think of Elagal meself..plus now of course of @TIF "s lil doodad....:)
    TIF likes this.
  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Ancient coins depicting various sacred stones would be an interesting set to collect.

    Here's a webpage devoted to them:


    That page is part of a larger site hosted by Forum Ancient Coins, called "What I Like About Ancient Coins" and it is the handiwork of Bill Welch. I don't think I've met Bill but if he is a CoinTalk member or lurker I want to say thank you for such an interesting and fun ancient coin website!

    As for sacred stones or baetyls, I have a few, with many more on the perpetual "get one" list.

    AR denarius, 19.4 mm, 3.5 gm
    Antioch, CE 218-219
    Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS FEL AVG, Laureate draped cuirassed bust right
    Rev: SANCT DEO SOLI / ELAGABAL, Quadriga right, bearing sacred baetyl of Emesa, flanked by four parasols
    Ref: RIC IV 195

    PHOENICIA, Tyre. Trebonianus Gallus
    CE 251-253
    Æ dichalkon, 25 mm, 13.39 gm, 6h
    Obv: IMP C C VIBIVS TREBO GALLVS AVG; laureate and draped bust right
    Rev: COL TYRO METR[O?]; serpent-entwined baetyl; murex shell to left, palm tree to right
    Ref: RPC IX online 1961; Rouvier 2476; Babelon 2296; AUB –; BMC –.

    SYRIA, Seleucis and Pieria. Emesa. Antoninus Pius
    AD 138-161
    Æ24, 12.06 gm, 11h
    Obv: Laureate head right
    Rev: Eagle, holding wreath in beak, standing right, head left, on baetyl of El-Gabal
    Ref: SNG Copenhagen 309 (Γ in right field of rev.); SNG München 811 var. (Є in right field of rev.); BMC 1-7 (various letters on rev.)
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  6. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..where's your lil cart, stone n horseys with the umbrella at?..
  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    The Sacred Spud? It's in the thread I linked with that coin but since you asked... :D

  8. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ahh.i LOVE that!.. so it's not a stone, but it's I Bea Potato eh? ><
  9. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    @TIF that Trebonianus Gallus is so cool!
    TIF likes this.
  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

    Amazing coins in this thread including @TIF and @SeptimusT 's coins. Don't have any coins depicting a sacred stone yet, but I'll keep my eyes open for one.
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