Description:Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing is featured on this 2nd century BC coin. He was the son of Apollo, who was also worshiped as a god that had the ability to cure. From the 5th century BC onwards, the cult of Asclepius grew very popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples, known as Asclepieia, to be cured of their ills. In honor of Asclepius, a particular type of non-venomous snake was often used in healing rituals and the Aesculapian Snakes slithered around freely on the floor in dormitories, where the sick and injured slept. Hippocrates is said to have received his medical training at an Asclepieion on the isle of Kos. The reverse of this coin shows the rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, which remains a symbol of medicine today.
This ancient coin was minted in the Hellenistic city of Pergamon, which was located in modern-day western-Turkey, 26 miles from the coast of the Aegean Sea. Pergamon was settled around the 8th century BC and in 281 BC, became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon under the Attalid dynasty. The Attalids transformed the city of Pergamon into one of the great cultural centers of the Greek world, home to the Temple of Dionysus and the Acropolis of Pergamon, which was modeled after the Acropolis in Athens. The city’s theater had a seating capacity of 10,000, with the steepest seating of any known theater in the ancient world.