The coins from the excavations in Ephesos

Through the excavations at Ephesos thousands of ancient coins have been found that provide unique information on history, the economic conditions, and a number of other aspects. 

The research group Numismatics of the IKAnt of the OeAW (formerly: numismatic commission) has been carrying out the analysis of the Ephesian coins since 2000. Various newly discovered coins are recorded in a database and undergo a provisional identification; furthermore, they are photographed by the OeAI. As part of the final evaluation of the archaeological contexts the identification is checked and completed and if necessary the evaluation of older finds; then the catalog is completed and depending on the amount of information of the numismatic material it is scientifically evaluated. In the following, three possible ways of using numismatic research for the larger background of the Ephesian urban history are briefly outlined.

Case Study 1: Ephesos in the 7th century

The urban history of the city of Ephesos in the 7th century is by far not known in all its details. An exact analysis of all currently tangible Byzantine find coins from this period has demonstrated that in the early years of the emperor Heraclius (610–641), more precisely about 615/616 the influx of coins to Ephesos at least in the area of the Curetes Street massively drops; this circumstance was already known for example from Sardis and was explained by C. Foss with looting by Sasanian armies throughout Asia Minor. In the meantime recent finds and partially still unpublished coins have reinforced this image of the distribution of material.

Case Study 2: An Umayyad copper coin from Ephesos

Individual coins can sometimes be of special historical interest: An Umayyad copper coin from the area of the türbe by the Artemision aids in understanding the inflow of early Islamic coins into the middle Byzantine circulation of money. Before this discovery, due to the very few known coins that dated earlier, there was a possibility that these bronze coins were connected with the siege of Constantinople 717/718 CE; the Ephesian piece was minted significantly later and illustrates that this was not the only event. 

Case Study 3: Ephesos and Carthage

An unusually large amount of small coins from the mint of Carthage has been discovered among the late antique finds from Ephesos; they are partially minted by the Byzantine emperors (especially Justinian I, 527–565), partially by Vandal emperors. As part of an interdisciplinary study the inflow patterns of North African pottery and coins are being studied in order to gain insights into the trade relations between these two late antique metropoleis.