Coin of the Month

March 2023: On the localization of Germe.

The Coin of this Month is presented by Andrea Gorys

The geographical mapping of mints assumes their location is known and, above all, secured. However, this is not always the case. The case of Germe is a good example for raising awareness of this and making it clear that dots on the maps do not always represent incontrovertible truths.

On our Coin of the Month, naked Apollo stands casually with his legs crossed next to a small column. On this, he places his lyre. Behind him, a snake winds around a laurel tree. This appealing coin image, emerging under Elagabal, exemplifies the coinage of Germe, clearly suggesting the god’s prominent position in the civic pantheon. From the earliest issues of the city under Emperor Titus to Philip Arabs, Apollo appears repeatedly on the coins of Germe. However, where is this city to be located?

In his dissertation entitled "Die Münzprägung der mysischen Stadt Germe in der römischen Kaiserzeit" (2001), Kay Ehling has summarized the scholarly debates on the location of this mint. In addition, he also proposes a new localization at the modern-day city of Gönen in northern Mysia.

Whereas there were two places of the same name (Stephanos of Byzantium mentions Germe near Kyzikos, and the Tabula Peutingeriana shows Germe on the road between Pergamon and Thyateira), researchers agree that only one of them can be identified with the mint. The city name Germe derives from the Indo-European word for "warm", and the coin types featuring nymphs and Apollo point to the existence of hot springs and public baths. These and other arguments, as well as the discovery of a votive stele for Apollo Germenos at Şevketiye (about 20 km east of Gönen), seem to support Ehling's localization of Germe at Gönen. However, in his „Bithynien und Hellespont" (2020), Klaus Belke rejects this identification, so that the mystery about the exact location of the mint of Germe remains. Most probably, it must be searched for in northern Mysia not far from Kyzikos.

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