bee on coins of antiquity
the very beginning of coinage, in about 6 century BC, the Greeks made
coins depicting animals symbolic of their city or state. The Bee was one of the first symbols on Greek coins and there
is a coin from Ephesus that
was made between 600 and 550 BC.
is a city where they used the bee symbol for a very long time on their
coins, right from the tetradrachm to the very small bronze coins.
The bee was associated with Ephesus for many reasons. According to
the writer Philostratos, the Athenians who came to colonize
Ionia, where Ephesus is located, were led by the Muses, who took the shape
of bees. Artemis' priestesses were called melissai or "bees" of the
goddess (Inschriften von Ephesus 2109), and were directed by "king bees" (essenes),
priests who served a year-long term under strict rules of purity (Pausanias
8.13.1); the ancient Greeks and Romans didn't realize that the leader of a
beehive is a queen, not a king.
More information about
the coinage of
Ephesus you can find on the following website of the Macquarie
University (Sydney Astralia):
not only Ephesos used the bee symbol on their coins. Sometimes the bee is used as side-symbol, like the
tetradrachme of Alexander the Great from Babylon (see picture 4). The bee is used as symbol of the magistrate of that moment
(325 ñ 323 BC).
are about 215 Greek coins with a bee as symbol.
Roman coins that I know (6pc.) are all from the beginning of Rome (before