World Coins

Bronze medal in Numismatik Lanz’s Dec. 8 auction

A bronze medal in Numismatik Lanz’s Dec. 8 auction in Munich, Germany, tells the biblical story of Noah and the Ark, and relates it to the founding of the city of Apameia, in Phrygia.

Numismatic images courtesy of Numismatik Lanz.

An ancient bronze medal recalls the biblical story of Noah and the Ark.

The bronze medal, issued during the reign of Roman emperor Gordian III (238 to 244 A.D.), is one of the highlights of Numismatik Lanz’s Dec. 8 auction in Munich.

The “extremely rare” medal was issued in the city of Apameia, in Phrygia. 

The obverse depicts an armored bust of Gordian III, with drapery and ray crown, seen from slightly behind his right shoulder. 

The reverse shows Noah and his wife standing in front of a box-shaped ark with the lid open, shown at the moment after their landing. A flying dove (or raven) with an olive branch in its beak heads toward the ship. Another bird sits on the box lid.

The citizens of Apameia believed that Noah’s Ark had actually landed, not on Ararat, but close to their city. 

They considered as proof the box-shaped rocks near the sanctuary of Marsyas that were called “kibotoi” — allegedly referring to the Ark (“Kibotos” in the Greek translation of the Bible).

The city of Apameia in Phrygia, nicknamed “Kibotos” (“box”), shows with this coinage that it incorporated the Jewish tradition of Noah’s story into its founding myth, thus integrating the city’s large Jewish community: Noah landed with his kibotos in Apamea; the Jews of Apamea were descendants of Noah.

The Almost Extremely Fine medal has an estimate of €10,000. 

To learn more about the auction, visit the firm’s website.

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