LESBOS. Mytilene. Circa 160s-150s BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 37 mm, 15.86 g, 1 h). Laureate head of Zeus Ammon to right, with ram's horn in his hair and over the diadem. Rev. MYTIΛH-NAΩN Bearded facing xoanon of Dionysos, wearing polos, the base adorned with wreath of ivy; to lower left and right, monograms; all within wreath of ivy. Cf. Coin Hoards VII, 471 and pl. LXIV, 2 = Prospero 498 (differing monograms). Waddington 1393 and pl. III, 8 (same dies). Extremely rare. Crystallized and with some edge chipping, otherwise, good very fine.
The reverses of the extremely rare 'Stephanophoric' tetradrachms from Mytilene show a xoanon, a wooden sculpture of Dionysos, whose discovery by fishermen of Methymna is described in detail by Pausanias: 'I am going to tell you a Lesbian story. The fishermen of Methymna found that their nets dragged up from the sea a face made of olive wood. Its appearance suggested a touch of divinity, but it was foreign and unlike the features of Greek gods. So the Methymnians asked the Pythia what god or hero it portrayed, and she instructed them to worship Dionysos Phallen. Whereupon the people of Methymna kept for themselves the wooden image out of the sea, and worshipped it with sacrifices and prayers, but they sent a bronze copy to Delphi.' (Paus. 10.19.3).