This tutorial describes a scenario where an art historian might use the RPC Online coin database as a research tool. It then describes how to find relevant coin types in the database using the Iconographic search.
The cult of Artemis of Ephesus was arguably the most famous in Asia. The unusual degree to which Artemis designs predominate among the coinage of Ephesus reflects the extraordinary importance of Artemis for the city and recalls the story of Paul and the silversmiths (Acts 19). The cult statue of Artemis Ephesia is found not just on the coinage of Ephesus itself, but on that of other cities as well. In many cases this is likely to reflect actual local cults to the goddess.
In the words of an Ephesian decree of the mid-second century AD,
Since the goddess Artemis, defender of our city, is honoured not only in her native city, which she has made more famous than all other cities through her own divinity, but also by Greeks and barbarians, so that everywhere sanctuaries and precincts are consecrated for her, temples are dedicated and altars are set up on account of her manifest epiphanies.
Wankel, H. (1979), Die Inschriften von Ephesos, Part Ia. Bonn: Rudolf Habelt: no. 24, translated Price, S. R. F. (1999). Religions of the Ancient Greeks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: p. 181.
This is part of a much broader pattern of the replication of cult-places which has significant analogues in Islam and Christianity. The iconographic search is designed to allow the numismatic evidence to be explored.
Further reading: S. Price in Howgego, Heuchert, and Burnett 2005
Searching the database
For the purpose of this search it is of no relevance whether Artemis of Ephesus is depicted on the coin obverse or reverse. Therefore the most appropriate search is the “Iconographic Search”:
Select the menu item “Coin Database”;
Choose the third option called “Iconographic Search”;
From the section “Design Group” choose “Deities / Personifications” and press the “Next” button;
Scroll down the list “Deities / Personifications” and tick the box next to “Artemis of Ephesus / Ephesia” and press the “Next” button;
Under the section “Province” leave the default selection “Any province” and press the “Finish” button.
The coin types depicting Artemis of Ephesus will be listed, regardless whether the goddess occurs on an obverse or on a reverse.
Coin types without images
By default, only those coin types are shown for which there are images in the database. To also find coin types depicting Artemis of Ephesus for which there are no images in the database, it is necessary to change the search preferences:
When viewing the search results, follow the “Preferences” link beneath the search term summary, or the “Sort options” link above the table of results;
Under “Display options” uncheck the box “When searching, only show records with images”;
Press the “Save” button.
On the Search preferences page is a section entitled “Record sorting”, which allows you to change the order in which records are displayed in the search results.
When examining large numbers of records it can be useful to switch from the (default) “Abbreviated view” to the “Tabulated view”. There you can choose the columns (i.e. the information) to be displayed, and quickly re-order records by clicking on the relevant column header, e.g. “Reverse design”.