about ancient nomos

Ancient Nomos Art is a museum of galleries exhibiting ancient coins and ancient mint maps. The coin gallery displays the diverse art and history of hand-crafted ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Persian and Medieval coinage. The ancient mints mapping gallery features Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Asia Minor and Medieval mint city regions and territories. Visitor's are welcome to explore, study and enjoy Ancient Nomos Art.


Greek, Ionia – 625 BC

Ionia, Asia Minor

From Ancient Galleries

Obverse: Geometric line figure composed of a cross centered upon a polygon of eight sides.
Reverse: Quadripartite incuse square intersected axially by four lines with center pellet.

Obv. Geometric figure resembling a star, composed of a cross centered upon a polygon of eight sides within a square with slightly rounded sides. Rev. Quadripartite incuse square with a pellet in the center; each quarter contains a diagonal line radiating from the central pellet.

The ancient Greek region of Ionia, located on the western coast of Asia Minor, is considered by many to be the ancient coin place of origin. West Asia Minor is where humans invented coins and used them as means of exchange for the first time in history. The Ionian region was known for its abundance of a naturally occurring mix of gold and silver, called electrum ore. An early 20th century discovery of the first coins, called the “globule” style, was discovered in the city of Ephesos. These coins were minted in the mid-7th century BC using a simple square punch over a flat anvil with striations. A generation passed before the “globule” style coinage evolved into the “geometric” style above. Many consider the Ionian “geometric” as the first coins engraved with an obverse and reverse design intended to depict meaningful symbolism. They were minted in fractional weights and denominations and are exceedingly rare. The obverse design resembles a pattern of lines that may delineate a star-like reference. Perhaps the polygonal geometry, with its intersecting crisscross lines, signifies a matrix or weave pattern. The reverse design is struck incuse to form a quadripartite square. The square is intersected axially by a point or node. The square, (similar to Selinos), is further sub-divide by four lines forming eight equal right triangles. The meanings of the obverse and reverse designs are unknown. Perhaps the linear designs symbolize coin denominations, or values? Perhaps the design is an abstract Ionia symbol, king’s monogram, property reference or commodity sub-division? The symbolism may actually denote an abstract tabulation type, grid or matrix used to facilitate an ancient economy of labor, taxation or commodity value? From a practical point of view, the deeply engraved surfaces perhaps articulate a view into the “golden” core, providing evidence to a skeptical merchant the coin is authentic? To this day, the iconic style of the Ionian “geometric” coin designs, symbolism, along with the socio-economic usage, remains elusive and unknown. However, the coins very existence is evidence a sophisticated tool was being used for the very first time as means in new system of exchange. A new tool that would develop into a new form of art, expressing human desires, societal beliefs, political propaganda and democratic agendas.

Value: Myshemihekte (one twenty-fourth) Stater. Metal: EL Electrum. Weight: 0.57 grams (Lydo-Milesian weight standard). Mint: Uncertain Ionian city, West Asia Minor. Date: circa 625-600 BC.
Attribution: McFaddden, SAN-21, 4; L Weidauer: Probleme der frühen Elektronprägung; E Babelon, Traité de Monnaies Grecques, Plate I; SNG Kayhan 701; Boston MFA Collection; Rosen 479; Elektron II 16; Zhuyuetang 5; Photo courtesy CNG.

Legend, Documentation and Attribution