The pot-hoard from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos

Greek, around 600 BC
From Ephesos, modern Turkey

What a purse full of coins would have looked like at the beginning of coinage

Deciding which are the earliest coins, let alone when they were minted, is a difficult business. Fortunately, excavations carried out by The British Museum at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos in 1904-5 provided the breakthrough in the form of a number coins sealed in the foundation deposit of the Archaic temple. From the date of this early temple (around 600 BC) we know for certain that the coins were in use at this point in time.

Among the coins found in this deposit was the earliest known pot-hoard: a group of coins sealed and buried together in a pot. Such a deposit is of immense benefit to scholars in providing evidence for the circulation of different types of coin at the same period in time. The evidence of hoards allows us to work out the relative chronologies (timescales) of different types of coins, produced by the different authorities in a region. The pot-hoard from the Temple of Artemis provides such evidence from the very dawn of coinage.

According to the terms of the excavation permit granted by the Turkish government, the pot came to the British Museum, while the original coins are kept in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul. The coins on display in the Museum are electrotype copies.

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More information


D.G. Hogarth, Excavations at Ephesus: the Ar (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1908)

I.A. Carradice, Greek coins (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

D. Williams, 'The Pot Hoard Pot from the Archaic Artemisium at Ephesus', BICS, 38 (1991-3), pp. 98-103

I.A. Carradice and M.J. Price, Coinage in the Greek world (London, Seaby, 1988)


Height: 11.800 cm (pot)
Diameter: 5.100 cm (base of pot)

Museum number

CM unregistered



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