Mint: Caria
Artist: Unknown

Stater of Caria

399–300 B.C.


14.92 g, 24.2 mm
Transfer from the Yale University Library, Numismatic Collection, 2001

This remarkable coin was subject to all sorts of wild interpretations before its reverse was recognized for what it is: the earliest known map. The coin in fact seems to have been struck in Ionia and to represent, in the valley, the river Caÿster running toward the sea to the west. The river Hermus runs to the north of the Tmolus range, and the Maeander runs to the south of the Mesogis range; the tributaries of the Maeander, the Harpasus and the Morsunas, divide the southern mountain into three ridges visible at the bottom of the coin. Protruding from the upper right is the Dibek Dagi, a 3,700-foot peak. The coin reminds us that the ancients were capable cartographers—maps were necessary for military operations, trade, etc.—but the materials that bore their handiwork were extremely perishable.

4th century B.C.
Made in Caria
By appointment

Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn., to 2001; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.