ASIA MINOR. Uncertain Sanctuary of Attis, circa 2nd-1st centuries BC. Chalkous (Bronze, 12 mm, 2.08 g, 11 h). Draped bust of Attis to right, wearing laureate Phrygian cap. Rev. ATTЄI-ΔOC Lily. Apparently unpublished and unique, and of great interest. Minor weakness on the obverse, otherwise, about extremely fine.
From a European collection, formed before 2005.
Greek coins were almost universally issued in the name of rulers or communities, that is, kings, dynasts, poleis, or koina. Rarely, however, do we find coins struck in the name of gods. These were minted by famous sanctuaries such as that of Athena Ilias in Ilion, of Apollo Smintheos in Alexandria Troas, or of Artemis Pergaia in Perge. This highly interesting little bronze coin showing Attis on the obverse and naming the god in the genitive singular on the reverse can very likely be added to this list.
Unfortunately, neither the legend nor the types provide any clues regarding where the coin was struck. However, we can deduce an origin in Asia Minor from its style and fabric, as well as from the prominence of the cult of Attis, Kybele's lover, in this region. The coin most likely dates to the 2nd or 1st century BC and must have been issued by a shrine or sanctuary of the Phrygian god. The meaning of the lily on the reverse is, at first glance, surprising, as Attis' flower is the violet. However, the lily is associated with Kybele, Attis' lover, and thus perhaps was, in some form, incorporated in Attis' worship in this particular sanctuary, as local cult forms of gods varied greatly.