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Ancient Phyrigian City 

Apameia Kibotos (Ἀπάμεια) – formerly Kibotos (κιβωτός), an ancient city located in today's Dinar district of Afyonkarahisar province. Its former name was Kelainai. It was named after Pameia Kibotos during the Ancient Roman period. The city has been a major center since the 6th century BC. It is known to be the second largest city after Ephesus. The building and the theater, which are among the monumental works, remained intact. There are also bronze coins minted with Ephesus. Coins were minted in the name of the emperor on a semi-autonomous basis.

Category:         Ancient City

Civilisation:      Phrigia


Nearly all major military expeditions passed through Kelainai/Apameia Kibotos. Xerxes stayed in Kelainai on his expedition to the Hellenes in 481 BC and on his way back after the expedition. Pythios, son of Atys, who resided here and was the richest in the known world after the Persian king, greeted him with great hospitality. Young Cyrus stayed in Kelainai with his ten thousand soldiers for thirty days in 401 BC. He also built a palace near the springs of Maiandros and a park full of wild animals called paradeisos to use when he wanted to hunt. Alexander the Great stayed here for ten days with his soldiers during his campaign against the Persians.

One of their commanders, Philippos, appointed Antigonos, son of Phrygia, as satrap and set out from Kelainai to Gordion10. From the Seleucid Dynasty to the reign of Antiochus Soter (281-261 BC), the city was called Kelainai. Antiochus moved the city to a place not far from where it was located and named the city he re-established as Apameia after his mother Apama. From this date on, the city was known as Apameia. Although the name Kelainai continues to be used by ancient writers, it is no longer used in official documents. The ΑΠΑΜΕΩΝ legend has always been seen on the coins that the city has minted since this date. III. Antiochus and his son IV. Seleucus ruled his kingdom from Apameia in a documented way before and after the Magnesia war he fought against the alliance of Rome, Pergamon and Rhodes in 190 BC.


Apameia Coinage

Extremely Rare Noah’s Ark Medallion_edited.png

Extremelt rare Noah's Ark medallion

Noah's Ark Coin

PHRYGIA, Apameia (Kibotos). in right field, Noah and his wife stand in a chest floating on waves and inscribed N[ΩЄ]; they gaze up toward a dove flying right, carrying an olive branch in its beak; on the lid of the chest a raven stands to left; in left field is a continuation of the biblical scene, with Noah, wearing short chiton, and his wife, wearing veil, peplos, and long chiton, standing to left, each with right arm raised in thanksgiving. Extremely rare and fascinating type.

Apamea was home to a large Jewish population, probably since its founding by Antiochos I Soter around 270 BC, and the city’s well-known issues depicting Noah’s Ark (struck under Septimius Severus, Macrinus, Gordian III, Philip I, and Trebonianus Gallus) are the sole ancient coins to depict a scene from the Old Testament. Modern Mt. Ararat, situated between ancient Phrygia and Armenia, has long been associated with the “mountains of Ararat” named in the bible, but the coinage demonstrates that a strong local connection between Apamea and the biblical story was established by the 3rd century.

The city was also known as Kibotos (Strabo, xii.8.13), the Greek word for both “chest” and “ark” (adding to the wordplay, Yaakov Meshorer and David Hendin have noted that the Hebrew word teva has a similar dual meaning). In the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Koine Greek, Noah’s Ark is repeatedly referred to as a kibotos. While it has been argued that the name Kibotos was given to Apamea due to the local Noah legend, most modern scholars suspect it refers to the city’s trade activity. Apamea was a bustling entrepôt where eastern goods purchased in bulk were packed in the city’s distinctive shipping chests and distributed to Asia Minor’s western seaports.

The representation of Noah in a chest-like vessel is certainly not unique to Apamea’s coinage. Noah appears in wall paintings in the catacombs of Rome and, much more rarely, on early Christian sarcophagi, where he is typically depicted standing alone, hands raised in the orans position, within a box or chest (the occasionally-offered suggestion that the vessel is a sarcophagus should be dismissed). Furthermore, the use of a chest for figures adrift at sea has numerous precedents in classical art. Perseus, Danae, and Thoas – to name just a few – were represented in such vessels, the chests serving as a kind of literary and visual indication that the figure(s) in them were adrift at sea. While we might surmise that representations of Noah were influenced by those of Deleukon, who could be considered the Greek counterpart of Noah, extant depictions of this mythological figure are so rare that it seems artists did not have much of a tradition to draw on 

Apamea’s Noah coinage almost certainly copies a local, prominent work of art, very likely a painting. The repeated appearance of this scene on coins struck over a half a century clearly indicates that both the local Noah legend and the work of art that the coins copy were sources of pride and integral to Apamea’s civic identity. We should not assume that the Jewish population would shun such a scene due to Judaism’s prohibition of graven images. One need only look to the wall paintings in the famous synagogue of Dura, which dates to about the same time as the coin, to get an understanding of Jewish figural and narrative art (and its strong Hellenic influence) in the 3rd century.

Apamea in Jewish tradition

Apamea is mentioned in the Talmud. The passages relating to witchcraft in Apamea (Ber. 62a) and to a dream in Apamea (Niddah, 30b) probably refer to the Apamea in Phrygia which was looked upon as a fabulously distant habitation. Similarly the much-discussed passage, Yeb. 115b, which treats of the journey of the exilarch Isaac, should also be interpreted to mean a journey from Corduene to Apamea in Phrygia; for if Apamea in Mesene were meant (Brüll's Jahrb. x. 145) it is quite impossible that the Babylonians should have had any difficulty in identifying the body of such a distinguished personage. The mid third century CE coins of Apamea/Kibotos with scenes of Noah and his ark are among the earliest biblical scenes in Roman art.







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