The Asklepion of Kos

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Kos, a Greek island at the coast of Caria, part of the Dodecanese island chain in the southeastern Aegean sea. It is the third biggest island of the Dodecanese, with Rhodos being the biggest.


    According to tradition the earliest Greek inhabitants of kos came from Epidaurus, small city on the Argolid Peninsula, bringing with them the worship of Asklepios, for which the island was afterwards celebrated. Herakles was also worshiped on the island, even more than Asklepios because the city was a member of the Dorian Pentapolis. It was therefore also appropriate for Kos to include Herakles on it's coins.

    In the period of 166-88 B.C., a complete change toke place in the coinage of both Kos and Rhodos. This change is even more apparent for Kos than Rhodos, since the long time honoured Heraklean types of Dorian origin were now abandoned in favour of types related to Asklepios. His worship had gradually passed that of Herakles, and became now the representative divinity of the island.

    Kos now issued remarkable tetradrachms of Attic weight with Aphrodite on the obverse and Asklepios on the reverse.

    Example of the remarkable tetradrachm from Kos

    The smaller denominations however, continued to be minted of Rhodian weight. These coins were characterized by the restoration of the incuse square on the reverse, similar to that of the Rhodian coins and the Lycian league coins on the mainland.
    The tetrobol issues show the head of Asklepios on the obverse and a coiled serpent on the reverse. The reverse shows one or two magistrate names and the full name of the island: ΚΩΙΩΝ or an abbreviation of it: ΚΩΙ, ΚΩ or ΚΩN.

    Islands off Caria, Kos. AR Tetrobol. Nikostra– and Deinias, magistrates (Circa 200-180/70 B.C.)
    Laureate head of Asklepios right.
    Reverse: ΚΩ below, ΝΙΚΟΣΤΡ on left, ΔΕΙΝΙΑΣ on right; Coiled serpent to right; all within incuse square.
    Reference: Stefanaki 2036 (E83/O137); HGC 6, 1324.
    1.92g; 15mm
    Ancient & Medieval Coins Canada, auction 2, lot 20.
    From the JB (Edmonton) collection.

    On the island a famous Asklepion was located, and it was attended by Hippocrates, who was born on Kos ca. 460BC. He took lessons there from the Thracian Physician Herodikos of Selymbria.

    The Asklepion was build on a site overlooking the town of Kos. Since the buildings are on a slope, the Asklepion was build in several terraces and connected with impressive, free-standing marble staircases.

    The three terraces of the Asklepion.

    The lower terrace rooms were located where the patients were staying during their treatment. An inscription found in the southern part of this terrace mentions doctor Gaius Stertinius Xenophon, the personal physician of Claudius, from Kos. It is also interesting to know that two underground spaces have also been found on this terrace. It is assumed that these special rooms were reserved for patients with venereal diseases and Leprosy. A group of buildings were also dedicated to training and housed the doctor's school.

    The middle terrace is the oldest part of the sanctuary, which dates back to the 4th century BC. It contained the medicinal baths, fed by a source from Mount Dikeos. Also several temples of the Ionian Order dedicated to Asklepios were located there, as well as a later built temple build in the Corinthian Order.

    On the third (upper) terrace was a large marble temple in the Doric order, an exact copy of the temple in Epidauros, which was dedicated to Asklepios of Kiparissios Apollo. From the upper terrace, a staircase led further to a sacred pine and cypress forest. The forest, dedicated to Apollo, presumably granted immortality to all women living there and prevented them from having children.

    Post your coins from Kos and coins showing Asklepios!
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great upwrite, thanks

    Snake Asclepious.jpg
  4. Nvb

    Nvb Well-Known Member


    Septimius Severus Æ29 of Pautalia, Thrace. AD 193-211.
    AY K Λ CЄΠTI CЄVHPOC ΠЄP, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right /
    Asclepius seated right on back of winged serpent, holding serpent-entwined staff; serpent-entwined staff; OVΛΠIAC ΠAVTAΛIAC in two lines below. Varbanov 4681-9 var. (obv. legend).
    Very Fine. Extremely Rare.
    Clavdivs, Pavlos, Edessa and 16 others like this.
  5. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    The write-up I've been waiting for with baited breath does not disappoint! :D Nicely done, @Pavlos - and a great tetrobol.

    Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 4.17.11 PM.jpg
    Denarius of Claudius Albinus as Caesar (193-5) / Aesculapius standing left, naked to waist, feeding serpent climbing up staff.

    (That's a great coin, @Nvb!)
    Pavlos, Marsyas Mike, ominus1 and 9 others like this.
  6. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    Nice write up and cool coin!

    Pavlos, Marsyas Mike, ominus1 and 5 others like this.
  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Nice writeup and great coins!

    @Nvb, I'm thoroughly envious of that Pautalia Septimius Severus. Spectacular! I have his son's version. It's on the reshoot list.

    THRACE, Pautalia. Caracalla
    CE 198-217
    AE29, 16.4 gm
    Obv: AYT K M AY CEY ANTΩNEINOC; Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: OYΛΠIAC ΠAYTAΛIAC; Asklepios seated right on back of winged serpent
    Ref: Varbanov 5007
    Pavlos, Marsyas Mike, ominus1 and 5 others like this.
  8. Brian Bucklan

    Brian Bucklan Well-Known Member

    I've only had a couple of coins of Kos over the years as they are all quite scarce. Here's one of them.

    Kos Caria, Pseudo-Imperial Ae; Time of Antoninus Pius (33mm)

    Ox: Head of Herakles with lion skin tied around his neck
    Rx: Hera standing, facing left, holding patera with eagle at feet. KΩI-ΩN across fields
    Cos Caria Herakles New 1.jpg
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Informative write-up, @Pavlos ! I have a lot of coins with Asklepios, but these are my two favorites.

    This one I like because Asklepios is very artistically rendered:

    Severus Alexander Marcianopolis Asklepios.jpg
    Severus Alexander, AD 222-235.
    Roman Provincial Æ 27.2 mm, 8.75 g, 6 h.
    Marcianopolis, Moesia Inferior, Legate Um. Tereventinus, AD 226-227.
    Obv: AVT K M AVP CEVH AΛEZANΔPOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    Rev: HΓ ȢM TEPEBENTINOV MAPKIANOΠOΛIT-ΩN, Asklepios standing facing, head left, holding serpent staff.
    Refs: AMNG I 1027; Moushmov 696; Varbanov 1685 (same dies).

    This one is also a favorite -- because it features his daughter, Hygieia, alongside him!

    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman provincial Æ 22.7 mm, 6.54 g, 7 h.
    Thrace, Hadrianopolis, AD 147-155.
    Obv: ·I·AVCTEINA CEBACTH, pearl-diademed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AΔPIANOΠOΛEITΩN, Hygieia, feeding serpent from patera, and Asklepios, leaning on serpent-entwined staff, standing facing one-another.
    Refs: RPC (temp) 10453; SNG Cop 560; Jurukova 84-87; Varbanov 3219; Moushmov 2521; Mionnet suppl. 2, 636.
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  10. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Kos Ar Tetradrachm 400-385 B.C. Obv Head of Herakles Left. Rv. Crab within dotted incuse square. HGC 1301 14.82 grms 23 mm kos1.jpg
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  11. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Great coins all, thank you for sharing!

    Wow what a stunning reverse, really cool.

    Thanks Sev, glad I didn't disappoint :p

    I noticed that provincial coins from the Greek islands in general are all quite rare and pricey.

    What a great tetradrachm!
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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