Zeus-Ammon in Europe

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Mar 3, 2021.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    I saw that there are already articles about Zeus-Ammon in Kassandreia. So let this one be a supplement.

    This coin was the cause or me to read about Zeus-Ammon. Until now I have thought that Zeus-Ammon had become popular in Greece not before Alexander the Great has visited the oracle of Ammon in the oasis of Siwa. But that's not right!

    The coin:
    Macedonia, Kassandreia, Macrinus AD 217-218
    AE 21, 3.51g, 2.43mm, 45°
    Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
    Rev.: COL IVL A - VG CASS[...]
    Zeus-Ammon, full-bearded and with curly hair, wearing himation, stg. r., holding in
    raised r. hand bunch of wine-grapes over his r. shoulder; [eagle stg. r. at his feet].
    Ref.: AMNG III/2, 16, pl. XIII, 14 var.
    rare, F+
    In fact wine was forbidden in the cult of Ammon. Before visiting the oracle one had to abstain from alcohol one week. Wether this was applied to Alexander too I don't know! The bunch of wine-grapes depicted on the coin is an allusion to Dionysos. The reverse shows a typical pantheistic depiction: Ammon, Zeus (known by the eagle) and Dionysos with the wine-grapes all in one figure!

    The full name of Kassandreia was COLONIA IVLIA AVGVSTA CASSANDRENSIS. Today Kassandreia ist the most west 'finger' of the Greek Chalkidike. There at the coast near Kallithea, at the ancient Aphytis, a big temple of Zeus-Ammon was standing in ancient times. Today it is the last Zeus-Ammon temple found in Europe. Sadly only the fundaments can be seen today. An interesting fact is that Dionysos too was worshipped in this place!
    This photo shows a pic of todays Kallithea. The remains of the temple of Zeus-Ammon are located at the left before the big hotel in the background named historically aware "Zeus-Ammon-Hotel"!.

    Ammon was a famous oracle god in the oasis of Siwa in Libya. His worshipping in Greece began already in the 5th century BC, probably brought to Greece by colonists from Kyrenaika. The temple in Kallithea was first built in the 2nd half of the 4th century BC and after being destroyed again in the 3rd century BC.

    The most famous event around Ammon was probably the historic visit of Alexander the Great. He came to the Ammoneion of the oasis of Siwa shortly before his campaign against the Persians. The questions to the god had to be told to the priests previously, the answers of the god were movements, moving forward was confirmation, moving backward disapproving. The information which Alexander has got by Ammon has seemed to be satisfying, so was reported. The priests have welcommed Alexander as 'son of Ammon'. This was the usual salutation for great kings. But Alexander from that time on supposed to be the genuine son of the god. That matches the claim of his mother that she has conceived him by a snake, an incarnation of Zeus. Now the horns of Ammon were added to his depiction which could be seen on the coins of Lysimachos. Other famous persons having visited the oracle of Ammon were Hannibal, Alkibiades and Lysander, king of Sparta, to name only few.
    The pic of one of the famous tetradrachms of Lysimachos (Thompson 47, one of the most beautiful ever!) from my collection depicting Alexander with the Ammon horns. You can see that the look to the sky (anablepein) was not invented by Constantine! In addition, we see the anastole, the fountain-like jumping up of the hair above the forehead, which is supposed to express his special relationship to the Olympic gods.

    Originally Ammon was an Ethiopian god of the herdsmen, the guardian of their herds. From there he came to Egypt and became the main god of Thebes in Upper-Egypt. Ammon is the Greek form of the name Amana. This means 'the hidden' because he was thought of as an invisible breeze. He appeared during the 11th dynasty (20th century BC) and because of the important political role of Thebes as residence of the New Empire Ammon became God of the Empire and King of the Gods. His wife was the vulture-shaped godess Mut, his son the moon-god Chonsu. Theological he was composed by three figures: the primary creator Kneth, depicted as snake and buried in Medinet Habu, the king of gods in Karnak and the 'bull of the mother' in Luxor. The annual procession to Luxor was the most important ceremony of the country. In later ancient times Ammon was passed by Osiris. The Ammon of Siwa was of Libyan origin, probably a fount-god. The Greek identified him with Zeus as Zeus-Ammon, the Romans with Jupiter as Jupiter-Ammon.

    Greek mythology:
    Because Ammon was known in Greece so long it is not astonishing that there are links to the Greek mythology. Clear that there are crossovers with the myths of Zeus.

    According to this Ammon should have been a king of Libya, married with Rhea, sister of Kronos, Titans both. Once he met Amalthea who gave birth to his son Dionysos. Fearing his wife he brought Dionysos underhand to the city of Nysa. Soon Dionysos became famous and Rhea wanted to capture him, but Ammon haven't allowed that. Hence Rhea left Ammon and married again her brother Kronos. Then he forced him to campaign against Ammon and to chase him away from his kingdom. Ammon lost the war and escaped to Crete where he was persecuted by the Titans.

    After being beaten by Hera with madness - she wanted to take revenge on Zeus - Dionysos moved through the world accompanied by satyrs, mainads and his teacher Silen. With a loading of wine he sailed to Egypt. Heartily he was welcommed by King Proteus. At that time at the delta of the Nile Amazones were living. Dionysos prompted them to go with him against the Titans and to restore his father Ammon to the throne. He succeeded and his victory over the Titans and the restoring of Ammon was the first of his numerous military successes.

    (1) AMNG
    (2) Der kleine Pauly
    (3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
    (4) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

    Best regards
    Tony1982, Andres2, Zebucatt and 11 others like this.
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  3. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Very interesting write-up, as always Jochen. That Lysimachos tetradrachm is spectacular.

    I hope this is somewhat in keeping with the topic - a Macedonian drachm of the Alexander type, issued for Antigonus I Monopthalmus from the Troas, Abydos Mint. If features a Zeus Ammon head floating in the reverse field:

    Alexander type drachm - Antigonas Mono Zeus Ammon May 2017.jpg
    Macedonia Kingdom Drachm
    Antigonus I Monophthalmus
    (c. 320-306 B.C.)
    Troas, Abydos Mint

    Head of Herakles in lion skin / AΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, Zeus seated left on throne, eagle & sceptre; horned head of Zeus Ammon rt., ivy leaf under throne
    Price 1551; Müller 189.
    (4.00 grams / 18 mm)
    Tony1982, Andres2, Zebucatt and 5 others like this.
  4. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter


    MYSIA. Pitane.
    Æ10, 0.9g; Circa 4th-3rd century BC.
    Obv.: Head of Zeus Ammon right.
    Rev.: Pentagram, ΠITAN around.
    Comments: Pitane was a city in the bay of Elaea, one of the eleven ancient Aeolian settlements. It enjoyed considerable prosperity during the Hellenistic Period owing to abundant trade facilitated by two harbors. Pentagrams occur frequently on almost all Greek coinage and some Roman Republican types, but only as field marks. On the coinage of Pitane, we find these ancient symbols as bona fide devices. Their significance in relationship to the city is unclear.
    Reference: SNG France 2349; SNG von Aulock -
    From the DePew Collection.
    Ex: @John Anthony

    Thrace -Lysimachos AR Tet 14.3g 28.7mm 305-281 BCE RARE Alexander head-Ammon horns - rev Lysimachos Athena

    KYRENAICA Kyrene Æ25 9.6g 250 BCE Diademed Zeus-Ammon r - K-O-I-N-O-N; Silphium plant; monogram SNG Cop 1278 BMC 16-19
  5. Soeren Z

    Soeren Z New Member

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