(38) Tarsos, Cilicia (Turkey) - AR stater, c. 378-372 B.C., 10.73 g. (inv. 91.088).
Obverse: Facing female head.
Reverse: Helmeted and bearded head of Ares/satrap r.; bunch of grapes in l. field; in r. field, TRDMW: the name Datames in Aramaic.
Provenance: Ex Frederick Knobloch collection; Stack's, 1970.
Bibliography: P. Naster, "Les statères ciliciens de Pharnabaze et de Datame à types communs," Kraay-Mørkholm Essays; Numismatic Studies in Memory of C.M. Kraay and O. Mørkholm, G. Le Rider et al., eds. (Louvain-la-Neuve 1989) 191-201.

Tarsos was one of a number of partially Hellenized cities along the southern coast of Asia Minor that were subjects of Persia in this period. In the 370's the mint at Tarsos issued coins for the satraps (provincial Persian governors) Pharnabazus and Datames, joint commanders of an expedition to recapture Egypt. For this purpose they issued a large number of coins apparently designed to appeal simultaneously to their own subjects and to the Greek mercenaries in the force. The coins relied heavily upon Greek prototypes.

The female head on the obverse of this coin was inspired by the famous facing head of the nymph Arethusa by Kimon on late fifth-century Syracusan tetradrachms (see no. 17). Many Greek cities had also adapted the famous image for their coins (see nos. 25, 27, 28, 34, 36). Whether at Tarsos the head was given a specific local identity or whether it was simply appropriated because of its associations with well-known Greek coins is unknown. On the reverse is the head of a bearded warrior in an elaborate helmet with upturned cheek-piece. Although the figure is male, the image was probably modelled on the helmeted Athena of Attic tetradrachms (see no. 30). Persians and others able to read the Aramaic name to the right of the head would have recognized in it their leader Datames, although the fact that the same type was used for Pharnabazus indicates that the head was not actually a portrait. The Greek mercenaries at the same time could have seen it as their war god, Ares. The bunch of grapes behind the head may also refer to the fertility god Ba'al, who is depicted holding a bunch of grapes on other coins of this time issued by Datames.


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