Basic information Coinage in the Classical Period

Ancient Greek name: Κελένδερις
Latinized name: Celenderis


Basic information

Kelenderis, located at the southern foot of the Central Taurus Mountains, was an important port city on the sea route connecting East and West.1 Today, it is overlaid by the city of Aydıncık (Mersin Province, Turkey).

Archaeological findings indicate the existence of settlements in this area since the late Neolithic.2 The name of the city is probably of Luwian origin, who settled Rough Cilicia in the second millennium BC.3 Pseudo-Apollodorus states that the city was founded by the mythical Sandokos of Syria.4 According to Pomponius Mela and Aelius Herodianus, Kelenderis was founded as a colony of Samos.5 This does not rule out that some form of settlement already existed at or near the site of Kelenderis. The founding of the city by the Samian colonists probably took place as early as the 8th century BC.6 Kelenderis is called a polis in the urban sense by Pseudo-Skylax in the second half of the 4th century BC.7

Kelenderis is listed in the Athenian decree on Delian League tribute assessment and list of tributes of 425/4 BC, its tribute was 2 talents.8 This, and the fact that the Kelenderis coins of the 5th to 4th centuries BC were Greek in style and bore exclusively Greek city ethnic, indicate its semi-autonomous status under Persian rule. Thus, Kelenderis was probably a polis in the political sense as well, enjoying commercial freedom and paying taxes to the Persian administration.9

In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Kelenderis was, together with Athens, the most important pottery producer for the entire Levant. All inhabitants of the Levantine littoral drank and ate from Kelenderis and Attic bowls and plates.10

In the early 3rd century BC, Kelenderis was annexed to the Ptolemaic Empire, but probably retained a semi-autonomous status. At the end of the Hellenistic period, the city faced difficulties from piracy.11 Piracy was eventually eradicated by the Romans, and the city enjoyed further prosperity in Roman times, with its bronze coins minted until the mid-3rd century.12 Later, the city became part of the Byzantine Empire, then the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, then the Emirate of Karaman and finally the Ottoman Empire.


Coinage in the Classical Period

Silver denominations: Staters, third staters, obols and hemiobols (Persian weight standard).
Bronze denominations: Probably one denomination only.
City ethnic on coins: KEΛENΔEPITIKON = “(coin) of Kelenderis”, KEΛEN, KEΛE, KEΛ, KE and K. There are also anepigraphic issues and coins with distorted inscriptions (KENΛ, KEΔ).
Further information: Coin Catalogue / Kelenderis


1The ancient topography of the city is described by Zoroglu 2002:

Reflecting the topography of Rough Cilicia, the first hills of the Tauros Mountains rise directly from the Mediterranean Sea here and frame a wide bay, forming a narrow strip along the coast. Between the hills, which are almost completely covered with pine trees, there are narrow valleys with seasonal streams, which also connect the coast to the highland. At the west end of the bay there is a small inlet framed by a short, rocky peninsula in the south, which is nearly 20 m above sea level and formed the harbor of ancient Kelenderis. The peninsula was the acropolis and the area behind the harbor, where the ground tapers down to sea level and becomes almost flatter, was the lower city. On one hand, the topography described here protected the town from the invasions coming from the inland; on the other hand, it made it possible for Kelenderis to be one of the best harbors on the sea routes between East and West and between Rough Cilicia and Cyprus.

2Zoroglu 2002.

3Zoroglu 2002. Note, however, that according to Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.32.9, Kelenderis was also the name of the port of the city of Troezen, which was located in Peloponnesus.

4Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 3.14.3.

5Pomponius Mela, De chorographia, 1.77; Aelius Herodianus, Herodiani Technici Reliquiae, Vol. 2, 925.6.

6Shipley 1987, pp. 41–2; Jones and Russell 1993, p. 294, note 4.

7Pseudo-Skylax, Periplous, 102.

8Inscriptiones Graecae, IG I3 71.146; Paarmann 2007, pp. I.81 and IIA.82.

9Zoroglu 2002; Hansen and Nielsen 2004, p. 1218.

10Lehmann et al. 2019, pp. 21–24.

11Zoroglu 2002; Durukan 2009, p. 79.

12Zoroglu 2002. The last coins were minted under Trajan Decius, Roman emperor from 249 to 251 AD (coins were also minted in Kelenderis in the name of his wife Herennia Etruscilla and of his son Hostilian who was appointed Caesar in 250 BC). See, for example, SNG Levante 556–560, SNG Levante Supp. 140–141, SNG von Aulock 5653, and BMC 21, p. 59.


14 July 2021 – 21 June 2023