Coins show cult goddess Artemis of Ephesus, whose temple was one of seven ancient wonders

Goddess also found on coins of other cities
By , Coin World
Published : 05/26/14
Text Size

The final of the seven ancient wonders to be honored for certain on coins is the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

The goddess Artemis (known as Diana to Romans) was depicted as Apollo’s twin, and a cult surrounding her arose in ancient times, with Ephesus in modern-day Turkey the center of worship.

A temple was built (and rebuilt twice) on a site near Ephesus to glorify Artemis, the first dating to the Bronze Age.

The second temple was sponsored at least in part by Lydia’s King Croesus, who ruled over Ephesus. Construction began around 550 B.C., and when complete the marble structure was reportedly 115 meters (377 feet) long and 46 meters (151 feet) wide. Ionic columns rose 13 meters (40 feet) high. 

Not long after it was completed, a man seeking fame, Herostratus, destroyed the temple in an act of arson. Tradition suggests that the fire coincided with the birth of Alexander the Great. 

The third time, the temple was built even larger than before: 137 meters (450 feet) long, 69 meters (225 feet) wide and 18 meters (60 feet) high, with more than 127 columns. Begun in 323 B.C., construction continued for many years (no exact finish date is known); the temple reportedly was destroyed in A.D. 268. 

The temple site was rediscovered in 1869 by an expedition sponsored by the British Museum, and today a single column constructed from disparate pieces marks the site of the famed monument to the goddess and her cult.

Because Artemis was such an important figure to Ephesus, she is readily seen on the coins of the city. 

According to Classical Numismatic Group, three depictions of Artemis/Diana predominate on coinage: Artemis the Huntress, Artemis Ephesia, and Diana Lucifera. 

The Artemis Ephesia design, representing a cult statue found in Ephesus, is the most appropriate image to consider for the “Seven Ancient Wonders” collection.

You are signed in as:null
No comments yet