★ A splendid cistophorus of Claudius showing the Artemision ★
Claudius, 41-54. Cistophorus (Silver, 21 mm, 10.77 g, 6 h), Ephesus, circa 41-42. TI CLAVD CAES•AVG Bare head of Claudius to left. Rev. DIAN - EPHE Tetrastyle temple on podium of four steps, enclosing cult statue of Diana of Ephesus with polos on head and fillets hanging from wrists; pediment decorated with two figures flanking large disk set on central table, and two tables and recumbant figures in angles. BMC 229. Cohen 30. RIC 118. RPC I 2222. Beautifully toned and with an enchanting portrait. Minor flan faults on the obverse, otherwise, good very fine.
From the J. M. A. L. Collection, formed between 1970 and 2000, Chaponnière & Firmenich 13, 16 May 2021, 279 (with collector's ticket).
The Ephesian Temple of Diana, better known as the Artemision, was one of the largest Greek temples ever to be built. It was reconstructed in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC after having been burnt down by Herostratos in 356 and was considered by Antipatros of Sidon to be the crown of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Great festivities and processions surrounded the cult of Artemis Ephesia, attracting large crowds of visitors and pilgrims from all over the Graeco-Roman world. The famous passage in the Acts of the Apostles, in which the silversmith Demetrius, feeling threatened by Paul's sermons against the worship of devotional objects, gives a speech against the apostle, is evidence of the popularity of the cult and its great economic importance to the local community: 'You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.' (Acts 19,25-27).
Paul was saved from the raging Ephesian mob by a friend, but the Artemision was burned down some two hundred years later by Gothic raiders and abandoned in late Antiquity. Most of the columns and stones were used as spolia in late Roman and early Byzantine churches such as the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The site of the Artemision today is basically a large swampy hole in the ground, dug up by its excavators in the 19th century, which has since become overgrown with grass. To modern visitors, little recalls the original monumentality and beauty of the sanctuary as we know it from historiographical descriptions and artistic renderings, such as that on our coin.