CARIA. Knidos. Circa 360-350 BC. Didrachm (Silver, 20 mm, 6.90 g, 12 h), reduced Chian standard. Agathinos, magistrate. K-NI Head of Aphrodite to left, her hair in sphendone, wearing triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace. Rev. AΓAΘINO-Σ Forepart of a roaring lion to left; before, trident; all within square incuse. Ashton, Knidos, p. 84, 7b and pl. XII ( this coin, A4/P7). Imhoof-Blumer: Beiträge zur Münzkunde und Geographie von Alt-Griechenland und Kleinasien, in: ZfN 1 (1874), p. 143, 2 ( same dies ). Of the highest rarity, one of only two known examples. A spectacular coin of great beauty, perfectly struck from fresh dies and with a particularly impressive reverse. Virtually as struck.
From the Kleinkunst Collection, ex Leu 61, 17-18 May 1995, 150.
Today's visitors of the impressive architectural remains at cape Tekir on the western tip of the Knidian peninsula easily forget that this is not the site of the Archaic and Classical city of Knidos, which struck an impressive silver coinage in the 6th to 4th centuries BC. Historiographical sources clearly differentiate between Triopion, the common sanctuary of the Doric Hexapolis in the west, and the city of Knidos further to the east, a distinction modern archeology has confirmed through the findings of an Archaic and Classical settlement near present Datça. This must have been the old city of Knidos, which thus lay on the most fertile plain of the Knidian peninsula. However, when and why was the city moved to the stormy cape Tekir, which is desolate today except for a restaurant to serve day visitors from the nearby popular tourist destination of Marmaris and yachtsmen waiting for prosperous winds?
No historiographical source informs us about the decision to relocate the Knidian community and the undertaking of building a monumental new city at Tekir, but we have some circumstantial evidence from epigraphy and historical events. The last dated inscriptions from Datça are from 364 and 360 BC, whereas Tekir's earliest testimonies belong to the late 4th century. Furthermore, Arrian reports that Orontopates, the Persian satrap of Caria, captured 'Kos and Triopion' in 333 BC in the course of the war between Alexander and Dareios, which would not make sense if Triopion had already become part of new Knidos at that time. We can thus conclude that the Knidians left their old city sometime in circa 330-320 BC to build a new capital at Tekir, a radical decision that cannot have come about easily and was certainly influenced, if not prompted, by recent historical developments, in particular by the conquests of Alexander and the rise of a new, Greek empire spanning large parts of the known world. The location of new Knidos at the tip of the Knidian peninsula, far away from fertile lands but with two splendid harbors dominating the seaway from Greece to the Levant, indicates that the resettlement was at least in part undertaken due to strategic reasons. Unsurprisingly, the new city quickly prospered, as it became a crucial staging stop for Greek ships sailing to and from the east. Old Knidos, on the other hand, was mostly abandoned shortly after our coin was issued, although its plain remained the agricultural center of the Knidian peninsula, whose farm products were now transported by sea to the main town in the west.