Colchian II Type Silver Didrachm

Colchian II Type Silver Didrachm

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Amathous, Zotimos, SilCoinCy A1904

Relevant Bibliographical References from Kyprios Character bibliographical database

Six, J.P. 1883: “Du classement des séries chypriotes”, Revue numismatique 3rd series, 1: 279-374.

Amandry, M. 1984: “Le monnayage d’Amathonte”, in: Aupert, P., Hellmann, M.C., Amathonte I. Testimonia 1. Auteurs anciens – Monnayage – Voyageurs – Fouilles – Origines – Géographie. Éditions Recherche sur les Grandes Civilisations, École Française d’Athènes, ‘Mémoire’ no 32 ed., Paris: 57-76.

Date 385/380 BC Material Silver Denomination Didrachm Weight 6.59 g. Museum Paris, Bibliothèq.

Date 385/380 BC - Material Silver Denomination Didrachm Weight 6.36 g. Museum Paris, Bibliothèq.

Date 385/380 BC Material Silver Denomination Didrachm Weight 6.74 g. Museum Cambridge, The Fi.

Date 385/380 BC - Material silver Denomination Didrachm Weight 6.63 g. Museum Berlin, Münzkabin.

Action Aristeia II (2014-2015)

The research project “The Silver Coinage of the Kings of Cyprus: Numismatics and History in the Archaic and Classical Periods (6th to 4th centuries BC) (SilCoinCy)” is conducted at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF), Athens, Greece and during the period January 2014 - October 2015 it has been funded by the Action ARISTEIA II. The Action falls under the Fourth Strategic Objective of the Operational Programme (OP) “Education and Lifelong Learning” (EdLL), entitled “Supporting the Human Capital in order to Promote Research and Innovation” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2007-2013 which is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and National Resources.

Action ANAVATHMIS (2017-2020)

The project entitled "ANAVATHMIS. Historical research and digital applications" (MIS 5002357) is implemented under the “Action for the Strategic Development on the Research and Technological Sector”, funded by the Operational Programme "Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation" (NSRF 2014-2020) and co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund).

Colchian II Type Silver Didrachm - History

Abramzon Mihail Grigorʹevič. The Gerzeul hoard of coins of Caesarea of Cappadocia (in the Museum of Abkhazia). In: Revue numismatique, 6e série - Tome 159, année 2003 pp. 243-256.

The Gerzeul hoard of coins of Caesarea of Cappadocia (in the Museum of Abkhazia)

This large hoard of more than 467 silver coins of Caesarea in Cappadocia was found in 1926 by an inhabitant in the village of Gerzeul (in the Suhumi district of Abkhazia). Besides coins of Caesarea, the hoard contained one barbarian imitation of a stater of Lysimachus and one Augustan denarius of the type « Caesars Gaius and Lucius ». The Gerzeul hoard was first published in 1931 by M.M. Ivashchenko who described only 259 coins in detail. Unfortunately, he did not note the weights and measurements of the other 238 specimens and did not photograph the coins.

The total number of coins is unknown. According to Ivashchenko, the Gerzeul hoard contained one triobol of Nero, 30 coins of Vespasian (21 didrachms, 8 drachms, one triobol), 9 coins of Domitian (8 didrachms and 1 drachm), 22 didrachms of Nerva, 165 coins of Trajan (80 didrachms, 84 drachms and one triobol), 90 coins of Hadrian (2 didrachms, 13 drachms, 75 triobols), 122 coins of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius (59 didrachms and 63 drachms) and 28 drachms of Lucius Verus '. In the absence of British Museum Catalogues in Suhumi and Tyflis, Ivashchenko was unable to give suitable

Review: The Coins of Roman Antioch

The publication of The Coins of Roman Antioch will almost certainly be a great boon to students of the Syrian capital and its coinage during the Roman period, as it represents the first time that all of the silver and aes coins produced in or for Antioch have been catalogued together. Previously, it was necessary to consult a variety of different catalogues (e.g., K. Butcher, The Coinage of Roman Syria M. and K. Prieur, A Type Corpus of the Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms RPC 1 and 2 with RPC Online in order to study the full range of Antiochene civic and provincial coins in all metals, but thanks to Richard McAlee we now have recourse to a single type corpus with exceptional plates.

This new comprehensive catalogue, which lists some 1,195 distinct silver and aes types, even goes so far as to include the fourth-century civic-type coinage of Maximinus Daza, despite the fact that by this time Antioch no longer operated as a provincial mint but rather as an imperial facility fully integrated into the Roman mint system. Some may argue that the latter do not properly belong here, making the point that if they are considered Antiochene in the same sense that the earlier tetradrachms and civic and SC bronzes are, then the Roman denominations struck at Antioch ought also to be included. Regardless, the fact that McAlee has included these late issues highlights important questions about the provincial/imperial dichotomy in Roman numismatics. For example, if imperial mints struck coinage for provincial use, as in the case of Maximinus’s coins and a number of the earlier silver/billon and orichalcum issues associated with Antioch, and if provincial mints like Antioch before AD 240 could strike imperial denominations like the aureus, denarius, and the antoninianus when necessary, the provincial/imperial classification seems to lose much of its meaning (for a recent look at this issue, see A. Burnett, “The Roman West and the Roman East,” in Coinage and Identity in the Roman Provinces, ed. C. Howgego, V. Heuchert, and A. Burnett, 171–173 [2004]). The involvement of imperial mints to produce provincial coinage with local types also makes one wonder to what degree provincial symbolic identity may have been manufactured by Rome along with the coins (see below with respect to Trajan’s Roman silver struck for Syria).

Both the Syrian specialist and the neophyte will find the catalogue to be a dream come true. McAlee has described each type in painstaking detail (even down to the number and placement of dots, or pellets), which the author believes may have been a type of officina mark (for the pre-Roman use of pellets at Antioch, see O. Hoover, “Appendix 6. Pellets on Seleucid Coins,” in A. Houghton, C. Lorber, and O. Hoover, Seleucid Coins, Part II [2008], 2:231–236). Corrections to descriptions and date readings in earlier literature abound, as do several new attributions. These include the identification of an extremely rare ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ CΕΒΑCΤΩΝ type as an issue in the name of Lucius Verus (no. 622A), thereby making it a companion piece to a similar issue of Marcus Aurelius (no. 602A), and the assurance that civic bronze no. 123 really is an Antiochene issue of year 145 (AD 123/4) and is not misread or an issue of another city (contra Butcher, op. cit., 359). We agree that the date seems very clear in the cast illustrated in McAlee’s plate. The remarkable revelation is also made that asses, semisses, and civic coins struck at Antioch under Antoninus Pius in AD 145–147 had their weights reduced because they were produced in orichalcum (this metal is normally associated with coins struck in Rome for Syria). The identification of the metal rests on unpublished X-ray spectroscopy results, which we hope will be presented in print.

A few items in the catalogue require correction. A metrological study of surviving specimens of the posthumous Philip tetradrachm no. 0 [sic] now shows that this issue is not likely to date as early as the later 60s BC. It is probably the initial celebratory issue produced to commemorate Julius Caesar’s grant of autonomy to the city in 49/8 BC (see Seleucid Coins, Part II, no. 2490). Likewise, the double-headed bronze coin no. 169A listed as a civic issue of the late second to early third century AD does not belong here. It is actually an unpublished Seleucid type of Antiochus II or III from Lydia that has been appearing in Internet sales since at least late 2007. It should also be noted that the portrait of Trajan on the small orichalcum SC coin no. 525 is almost certainly draped as no. 526, thereby making it a superfluous entry.

Those interested in the silver and billon coinages attributed to Antioch or apparently produced in Alexandria or Rome for Syrian use will find McAlee’s detailed discussion of the problems related to their attribution very useful, even though his tendency to remove issues from Antioch to other Syro-Phoenician mints is not always convincing. The case (following Henri Seyrig) for removing the enthroned Zeus tetradrachms of Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius (nos. 212–213, 228, and 230–242) from Antioch to Tarsus on the basis of style is very compelling and difficult to refute in light of the excellent comparative illustrations provided. Likewise, the reattribution of Elagabalus’s billon tetradrachms to Laodicea ad Mare (following Butcher) seems quite likely to be correct, although the author also offers Emesa as a less-convincing third possibility. On the other hand, the attribution changes for many of the first- and early second-century silver and billon series remain problematic.

For example, based on differences of style and epigraphy, the author advances a modified version of Colin Kraay’s multiple mint thesis (“Notes on the Early Imperial Tetradrachms of Syria,” Revue Numismatique [1965]: 58–68) by placing only RPC 2 Groups 1–3 at the Syrian capital and dividing the remaining five groups between four mints (Tripolis [?], Aradus [?], Judaea Capta, and Tyre). While the attribution of RPC 2 Group 6 to Judaea Capta is generally accepted, the treatment of the eagle and palm branch of the reverse type as well as shared letter forms and the use of ΕΤΟΥC rather than ΕΤΟΥC ΝΕΟΥ ΙΕΡΟΥ make it almost certain that the supposed Aradian (?) and Tripolis (?) issues come from the same mint, regardless of the presence or absence of the crescent symbol. This facility can only be Antioch since, as RPC 1 points out, the related issues of Galba given to Aradus (?) and Tripolis (?) (nos. 308–310) must come from this city. The heavy-jowled portrait of Galba is very similar to that found on his legate and SC issues, which have an undisputed Antiochene origin. If all of these coins belong to Antioch, then so must the tetradrachms of Otho given to Aradus (?) and Tripolis (?) (nos. 315–316), as they employ eagles of virtually identical style to those on Galba’s tetradrachms. The Tyrian attribution of RPC 2 Groups 8 and 9 under Vespasian is also less than compelling, since the eagle with club type is not necessarily evidence for production at Tyre (see below). The Phoenician city also regularly used its autonomous era, rather than a Caesarean era, to date its coins and preferred the four-bar sigma and cursive omega during the Flavian period (cf. RPC 2, pp. 294–295). None of these features appear on the tetradrachms in question.

The use of variant letter forms as good evidence for production at facilities other than Antioch largely evaporates when the inscriptions on contemporary aes issues are also considered. For example, McAlee is tempted to attribute Nero’s and Galba’s eagle with wreath on wreath types of year 116 (AD 67/8) to Tripolis (?) and Aradus (?) in part on the basis of the lunate sigmas and epsilons that appear in the legends. However, when we look at the civic and provincial aes coinage, which is certainly Antiochene, it becomes clear that the die engravers of Antioch were beginning to introduce these cursive forms in year 115 (cf. nos. 112–114, 291–294A). Nerva’s tetradrachms and aes of year 1 (AD 97/6) show that the four-bar sigma and straight epsilon were the preferred forms during his brief reign, although the silver may have been struck at Alexandria. On the other hand, angular and cursive forms occur simultaneously on contemporary Antiochene tetradrachm issues of Vespasian, which is a little odd. Unfortunately, all of this emperor’s aes coinage bears Latin inscriptions, thereby making it impossible to compare Greek letter forms between metals.

Even if we could accept the proposed mint reattributions for the Neronian, Civil War, and Flavian tetradrachms, the indisputable use of reverse types featuring an eagle on thunderbolt and eagle on club at Antioch makes it difficult to accept the author’s removal of some issues of Trajan and Hadrian to Tyre without great reservation. There are no obvious reasons why the eagle on club types of these rulers (nos. 437–449 and 529–530) should not have been struck at Antioch, especially when the Trajanic series shares obverse dies with a series featuring the Tyche of Antioch on the reverse. If the eagle on club had lost its meaning as a distinctly Tyrian type and become the symbol of good money, as the author and Butcher have convincingly suggested, then there is also room to doubt the specifically Tyrian quality of the Heracles-Melqart type (originally paired with the eagle on autonomous silver of Tyre) used for some issues of Trajan. It is perhaps no accident that Heracles-Melqart appears on tetradrachms thought to have been struck not in Syria or Phoenicia but at Rome and Alexandria for use in Syria. The inclusion of this god in a tridrachm series apparently struck at Rome, which also features Zeus-Hadad and Roma, may imply that the Heracles-Melqart type was understood as broadly “Syrian” rather than narrowly Tyrian (for a similar view, see Butcher, op. cit., 83). Although the author argues for Zeus-Hadad as a particularly Tyrian deity, the association of his tridrachm type with a didrachm depicting his consort Atargatis (McAlee makes her Ba’alat-Astarte), the Dea Syria, tends to suggest that the coin typology of the small silver was also intended to have a generally provincial Syrian flavor.

Despite our difficulties in accepting many of the revised mint allocations for the silver and billon coinages in the first and early second centuries, the retention of so many tetradrachm series with differing reverse symbols at Antioch (RPC and Butcher) is also rather discomforting. The form of the coinage with ruler portrait on the obverse and an eagle and palm branch reverse often including other attributes (thunderbolt, club, animal thigh, etc.) ultimately derives from the late Seleucid silver coinage produced for Phoenicia and Coele Syria. On the Seleucid series (modeled after a Ptolemaic prototype), the region (Phoenicia) was indicated by the palm branch, while the symbols identified the mint of issue (i.e., ship’s ram at Tyre, trident at Berytus, etc.). (It is interesting to note that while the model for the reverse is drawn from the earlier Seleucid coinage, the obverse type of the emperor wearing an aegis seems to be drawn from the regular Ptolemaic coinage depicting Ptolemy I Soter with the same attribute. This may imply the early influence of the Alexandrian mint in the development of the typology.) Following this pattern, one might reasonably expect the attributes on the Roman provincial tetradrachms to consistently serve as mint identifiers, but this seems not to be the case.

Before leaving the tetradrachms, it is also worth mentioning McAlee’s suggestion that the COS II issues of Gordian III with ram and crescent symbol were not produced at Antioch, but by a mobile military mint, possibly because the Syrian capital had briefly fallen to the Sasanian Persians. This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately the evidence for a Persian occupation is very slight, while the association of the ram and crescent with Antioch is very strong. The ram and crescent (without star) served as the reverse type for the last known emission of Antiochene civic coins in AD 177/8 (no. 166).

The treatment of the aes coinage is generally more convincing, especially since the mint attributions are fairly secure for most of the issues. Still, the author’s reversion to Michael Grant’s identification of the small and large SC bronze denominations as the semis and the as (The Six Main Aes Coinages of Augustus, p. 8, n. 4) rather than the as and the dupondius may raise some eyebrows. This is based on the apparent equivalence of the large bronze and large orichalcum issues indicated by a laurel branch countermark and the metrological relationship between the orichalcum as and the large SC bronze denomination. Ultimately, we wonder whether the naming of denominations does not risk unintentional obfuscation. Butcher’s use of “small,” “medium,” and “large” to describe the various civic and provincial denominations seems a much safer methodology in the absence of solid evidence for their ancient names. Nevertheless, McAlee may very well be correct in his understanding of the relationship between bronze and orichalcum issues. His commentary in the general introduction and the section introductions, which utilize unpublished metrological and metallurgical data, will certainly be required reading for future discussion of the subject.

It is also worth noting that the author has reversed his former view that the letter-numerals found on many aes issues of Antioch represent sequence marks. An expanding obverse die break on two asses of Antoninus Pius with different letter-numerals makes the idea of sequence marks untenable. McAlee now makes a case for understanding them as potential officina marks. Although this view is rejected by the authors of RPC 1 on the basis that there would be too many, comparison with the numbers of officinae known for Antioch as an imperial mint and the frequent sharing of some letter numerals between civic and provincial issues make the officina theory seem much less implausible. Still, the supposed use of K to indicate the eleventh officina (when it would normally indicate the twentieth) is a little difficult to accept. The idea that the anomalous double-digit letter-numerals on some issues of Trajan and Hadrian represent units of two consolidated officinae is ingenious if somewhat speculative. If the anomalous letter-numerals do represent consolidated officinae, the question remains open as to why such consolidation was necessary only for a late as series of Trajan (nos. 492–497) and an as and hemichalkon (?) series of Hadrian (nos. 536 and 543). Although we have no civic issues of Trajan for comparison, it is a little curious that all of Hadrian’s civic and provincial aes appears to have been struck by three unremarkable officinae (A, B, and ).

The high quality of the aes commentary is occasionally marred by peculiar claims, such as the idea that the attribute carried by Tyche on certain preimperial and civic silver and bronze issues (nos. 29, 74–77, 93–94) might represent an inverted anchor, harking back to Seleucid iconography, rather than her normal tiller attribute. Likewise, the author succumbs to the extreme Cleopatraphilia popularized by Matthew Kreuzer (see O. Hoover, review of M. Kreuzer, The Coinage System of Cleopatra VII and Augustus in Cyprus, ANS Magazine [Winter 2005]: 68–71) when he suggests that certain countermarks found on preimperial civic bronzes and normally considered to bear the head of Apollo actually depict Cleopatra VII. As the known Antioch host coins end in Caesarean year 8 (42/1 BC), it is hardly a foregone conclusion that the countermarking episode should be associated with Antony’s grant of lands to Cleopatra in 37/6 BC. Furthermore, the head on the countermark lacks any features that can clearly identify it as that of the last Ptolemaic queen. The former lacks the typical “melon” hairstyle or the prominent diadem normally worn by Cleopatra on her coins. Instead, the hairstyle and drapery at the neck on the countermark head have much more in common with the Apollo type that began to appear on Antiochene civic coinage in AD 55/6 (nos. 104–105). In light of the evidence, the traditional identification of the countermark as Apollo seems much more credible than its identification as Cleopatra.

In a similar vein, the author endorses the view that the K-A and palm branch that appear on some SC issues of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (nos. 598, 599, 615) refer to the restoration of the city’s Capitolian games after a period of punishment by Marcus Aurelius. This interpretation is very dubious, since there is no secure evidence that the games of Antioch had Capitolian status, and John Malalas reports that Commodus only restored the city’s Olympic games in AD 181. The palm branch seems to be a form of control symbol, for it appears without the accompanying K-A on no. 616 and in the same position as the stars on no. 613. It may not be entirely irrelevant to point out that stars and palm branches had been popular control symbols on late Seleucid, autonomous, and preimperial bronze coins of Antioch. Stars also appear frequently on Antioch’s SC issues throughout the Roman period. The reappearance of K-A on SC coins of Elagabalus (nos. 796–798) would seem to make the supposed association of these letters with the lifting of Aurelius’s sanctions against the city untenable. Since they appear in the same position as -E (apparently referring to the four eparchies of Syria) on other issues of Elagabalus, one wonders whether there might not really be something to the suggestion that K-A refers to Antioch as the first and most beautiful city vis-à-vis the other cities of the Syrian eparchies.

The black-and-white plates and other illustrations liberally sprinkled through the main text are exemplary in quality and detail, making them an indispensable resource for the serious study of the coinage of Antioch. The plates are laid out on pages facing the catalogue text in sylloge style and illustrate almost all of the basic types listed in the catalogue as well as many variants. As an aid to understanding the civic and provincial issues of Antioch in context with the imperial coins struck by the city and other coinages of the region, these issues are also frequently illustrated. Especially notable is the illustration of all the basic types of Trajan’s silver coinage struck for Arabia and the Emesan tetradrachms of Uranius Antoninus (Figs. 21, 34). Our only complaint is that the plated coins are arranged in columns rather than in rows from left to right. This arrangement appears to have been made in order to save space or to vaguely mirror the two-column format of the catalogue, but it takes some time for the reader to get accustomed to it.

A useful appendix listing the countermarks known from Antiochene bronze and orichalcum issues of the imperial period is also included, along with a concordance to Butcher’s Coinage in Roman Syria. An addenda section lists sixteen variants of types in the main catalogue and five new varieties mainly drawn from recent Internet sales.

Despite our doubts about many of the revised mint attributions for the silver and billon coinage and our quibbles with the interpretation of some features of the aes coinage, there can be no question that The Coins of Roman Antioch represents an important new resource for the study of the city’s coinage. It will certainly provide a solid foundation for the future numismatic study of the Syrian capital and be a welcome addition to the shelf of any student of Antiochene and Near Eastern coinage during the Roman period.

Wine, Worship, and Sacrifice: the Golden Graves of Ancient Vani

“Wine, Worship and Sacrifice”, a publication presented in the frame of the homonymous temporary exhibition at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, is much more than an exhibition catalogue. It is the long awaited publication of the archaeology of ancient “rich in gold” Colchis and the extraordinary finds of the city of Vani, a most important centre with a life span from the 8th to the 1st centuries BC. The catalogue is the first comprehensive English-language publication about ancient Colchis and Vani. Beautifully illustrated, it succeeds in giving a complete picture of the archaeology of a culture in which we can trace the roots of ancient jewellery techniques and viticulture. The authors themselves, Kacharava and Kvirkvelia, are senior researchers at the National Museum in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the rest of the contributors are all experts in Black Sea archaeology.

The book starts with introductory letters by the Directors of the organizing institutes. The main core is divided into seven chapters, focusing on the history of ancient Colchis and especially the city of Vani, as well as the importance of metalwork and wine-making, as two of the major driving forces contributing to its development.

The first chapter deals with the myth of the Argonauts and seeks its traces in history. The tale of Jason’s voyage with the Argonauts from Iolcus in Thessaly in search of the Golden Fleece finds its historical base in the importance of ancient Colchis’ mines of gold, silver, iron and copper. Mines and metallurgical centres have indeed come to light in Georgia, dated from the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, contemporary with the Mycenaean period when the importance of the Black Sea to the Greeks is first recorded. Discoveries at Troy support the hypothesis that the Trojan War itself took place for the control of the Black Sea. After all, the participants of the Trojan war were the sons of the Argonauts as mentioned in Homer: they were the first to overcome the obstacle of the Clashing Rocks (Odyssey, Book 12) and open the way to the Black Sea.

Next comes a discussion of the identity of the Colchian people. Their country is mentioned in Near Eastern sources from as early as the 13th cent. BC, under the name of “Upper Sea”. There is a brief mention to the Proto-Colchian culture, of the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (second half of 2nd millennium- beginning of the 1st millennium BC) that revealed bronze items, among which are the so-called Colchian axes, decorated with geometric ornaments, astral signs and representations of animals. The chapter concludes by mentioning the continuous contacts between Classical Greece and Colchis, attested archaeologically through Greek finds in Colchis and through Colchian objects in Samos (miniature bells, plaques and the statue of a female rider with a child).

The second chapter is a presentation of Vani and the history of the site’s excavations. The settlement, located in the foothills of the Lesser Caucasus, to the south of the river Rioni, was probably called Leukothea in antiquity. Some scholars believe that Vani was a sanctuary city between the 3rd and 1st cent. BC, when according to the Roman geographer Strabo, it came to an end. This is the first extended presentation of these remarkable finds to the Western public, as all bibliography known so far was written in Georgian (sometimes with a summary in Russian).

The chapter continues by presenting all scholars who contributed to the development of research at Vani, like Alexander Stoianov who in 1889 conducted excavations there on behalf of the Archaeological Society of Moscow and found tombs of the ancient Greek period with gold objects, the Georgian scholar Ekvtime Takaishvili who in 1896 began excavations and soon came across unique finds, and of course Otar Lordkipanidze thanks to his efforts and his expeditions the Vani Archaeological Museum was built in 1985. It is also due to his initiative that scholars of Black Sea archaeology from all over the world gather every three or four years since 1977.

The remains of Vani provide evidence for strong influences between ancient Colchis and Greece both in religion (i.e. cult of Apollo and of Dionysos and his company) and in the Hellenistic metalwork, influenced by Greek aesthetic rules. The presence of Dionysos’ cult in particular gives the author the opportunity to talk about the origin of wine making and support the theory that wine was first made in Georgia, as shown by archaeological evidence. Grape pips of cultivated vines have been found in Georgia from as early as 7000-5000 BC, while a recent analysis made by the University of Pennsylvania Museum on the inner surface of some 8,000 year-old ceramic storage jars has shown that they contained resinated red wine from an area close to Tbilisi.

Next comes a brief presentation of the rich tombs at Vani during the 5th and 4th cent. BC (their contents formed the core of the exhibition). The dead were furnished with an abundance of gold and silver jewellery and their shroud was sewn with gold beads. It is interesting how the element of human and animal sacrifice is testified archaeologically, as it seems that the wives, the servants and horses of the nobles were sacrificed and buried along with them, a practice with parallels in the Scythian civilisation of the Greater Caucasus.

The chapter further presents the finds unearthed at Vani from 1947 to the present. After a brief introduction to the history of the site, which inevitably repeats some information from the previous chapters, there is a presentation of the four main phases, first identified by Otar Lordkipanidze, each of them characterised by certain economic activities, burial rites and external influences. An extended presentation of the architectural types, artefacts and innovations of each phase is given. The text is accompanied by comprehensive site plans as well as illustrations of typical artefacts for each phase.

Although emphasis is given to the local character of Vani, which it retained throughout its history, Greek imports are also discussed, especially the pottery of Phase II (end of 7th cent. BC- first half of 4th cent. BC) consisting of amphorae of Chios, Lesvos and Thasos and examples of painted Attic pottery, as well as Attic bronzes, archaic gems of Ionian manufacture and signet rings of Attic and West Greek origin. During Phase III which lasts to the first half of the 3rd cent. BC, new contacts are evident with places like Mende, Sinope, Thasos and Heraklea and a major Greek influence is seen on both building techniques and grave practises.

The next chapter is an essay on the exquisite Colchian goldwork, an art developed in the classical land of gold. Again, the author shows us how the local artistic metalwork melds? the traditions of the Near East and the Hellenic world: there is wide use of filigree and granulation on necklaces and pendants, along with the traditional forms of Colchian earrings that were used as offerings in temples, with fixed globular or bipyramidal pendants. The images of animals and birds adorning most pieces relate to the cult of the predominant Colchian goddess, the Great Mother. It seems that Vani jewellery attests to the existence of a local goldsmithing school in opposition to the Hellenistic koine. The theory is supported by the remains of a goldsmith’s workshop that came to light with tools, unfinished jewellery pieces, slag and fragments of charred wood, together with a cult place functioning at the workshop.

As eye-capturing as the goldwork of Vani is, there is hardly anything more interesting and unique than the six odd-looking figures (three of iron, three of bronze) – together with a standard Hellenistic type of a Satyr – and the way they were buried with extra care, implying their ritual role. The presentation of that group is the subject of the next essay. The idols represent naked male figures with abnormally elongated bodies, adorned with a lot of jewellery attached to them, namely headdresses, spiral torques, earrings, pendants and bracelets, by which they are dated to the 3rd cent. BC. There are many theories for their use as part of a cult of the dead -as their presence is connected with cult buildings-, the most interesting being their use as substitutes for priests who in previous periods were sacrificed in unknown religious rituals.

The next chapter focuses again on the importance of Dionysus’ presence in connection to the wine production in ancient Colchis and its role in social and religious life. Numerous objects connected with consumption of wine, like amphorae, as well as objects connected to Dionysus like masks of the deity himself, a terracotta mold of Silenos, all unearthed in an architectural complex on the central terrace of the site of religious character, imply the worship of Dionysus in late Hellenistic Vani. Among the finds there is evidence for furniture used in the preparation of food and drink.

The final chapter is the analytical presentation of four of the graves, the contents of which were displayed in the exhibition. They form part of a group of 28 “golden graves”, dated from 450 to 250 BC, that contained large quantities of jewellery and other precious items. A brief presentation of grave construction (use of wood) and burial practises (evidence for human and animal sacrifice, death coins in the mouth of the deceased) is also made for each tomb separately.

A checklist of additional finds of the tombs giving their dimensions and the relevant bibliography concludes this valuable publication. All in all, it is a useful library addition, a necessary tool to the scholar of Classical and Hellenistic antiquity, as well as to all those who are interested in learning more about a culture so far unknown to the West, but with a significant role in metal and wine production from early antiquity. It is certain that this will stimulate scholars’ interest and will gather many more attendees to the 2010 Vani Symposium that will focus on the graves presented here.

Chapters: Medea’s Colchis by Nino Lordkipanidze
Vani, Rich in Gold by Michael Vickers
The Archaeology of Vani
Religious ritual: Bronze and Iron figurines from Vani
Viticulture and Dionysos in Hellenistic Vani
The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani


In accepting the generous invitation of Mr. Edward T. Newell, President of the American Numismatic Society, to continue his investigation into the Seleucid Mint of Tyre , some sort of explanation should be made. My interest in the Seleucid mint of Tyre began, as philosophy is said to begin, in wonder. A good many years ago grave doubts arose in my mind as to whether a tetradrachm of Antiochus III , apparently bearing the recognized monogram of Tyre , was really issued from that mint at all. The authorities of the day said it was: I ventured to think it was not and so began to study the mint of Tyre . As my numismatic studies are compelled to be intermittent from the very nature of my calling, Mr. Newell was able to anticipate me and reached conclusions after which I had been blindly groping.

From Antiochus III to Demetrius I, Mr. Newell has elucidated the coinage of Tyre . The historical value of his conclusions is incalculable. Without them the numismatic history of Tyre is nonsense and any classification of the Seleucid series merely fantastic. Further, the principles he has outlined for the earlier coinage, if applied generally, will solve many of the puzzles and make this wonderful Seleucid series an open book. The coinage for Tyre has been classified by Mr. Newell up to the beginning of the reign of Alexander Balas. My work begins at that point and endeavors to throw some light on certain of the questions which arise.


From Alexander Balas onward, the activities of the Seleucid mint of Tyre are perfectly straightforward. There are no problems of attribution, which is the real fun of numismatics.

The minor problems are possibly, from the nature of the case, totally insoluble. I have made an attempt to solve one of them, but I claim no finality for the solution I propose.

After the defeat and death of Demetrius I , the Saviour, the mighty hunter of the House of Seleucus, Alexander Balas, the putative son of Antiochus Epiphanes became the Greek King in Syria . He owed his victory and his throne to the powerful support of Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt . How real that support was may be gauged from the fact that as soon as ever Alexander was established in his kingdom, Ptolemy forced him to marry his daughter Cleopatra , and the Seleucid court was removed from Antioch to Ptolemais , where the marriage took place "with great pomp, as the manner of kings is."

This Egyptian alliance had an immediate effect upon the coinage of Tyre . A new standard of weight was introduced and a new type, both Ptolemaic.

As far as Tyre is concerned, the second coinage, which lasted from B. C. 151/150 (A.S. 162) until B.C. 126/125 (A.S. 187), may Well be said to have begun and ended with Cleopatra . This infamous woman, successively the wife of Alexander Balas, Demetrius II and Antiochus VII , granted Tyre its freedom as a reward for the murder of her second husband. Her twenty-five years of political intrigue cover the period of the second coinage.

Both silver and copper coins were issued, the former certainly in abundance. No gold has come to light. The silver denominations are the tetradrachm, the didrachm the drachm and the half drachm. The copper, following the very wise precedent of Mr. Newell, are the chalkous, the hemi-chalkous, the dilepton and possibly the lepton.

The prototype of the silver coins is the ordinary Lagid tetradrachm of the Ptolemaic Kings in Egypt . The obverse is always the king's portrait and the reverse is the eagle on the prow of a galley with a palm-branch except in the case of the single half drachm known.

The copper, in contrast with the usual practice of the Seleucids, has a different type for each denomination, although the obverse is always the King's portrait. The largest denomination, which is conveniently called the chalkous, has on the reverse the stern of a galley, usually ornamented with the aphlaston, the half chalkous has the prow and palm, the dilepton has the palm tree with fruit, and the lepton a club, which appears on a single example belonging to Antiochus IV in my collection.

In view of the difference of this coin I have thought it right to assign the lepton (prow and palm—caps of Dioskouroi) to the mint of Tripolis and to find a rudder rather than a prow on the coins.

The distinction of type for different denominations is markedly Phoenician and does not obtain in the money of other Seleucid mints. A persistent feature, especially of the obverse, is a border of dots. This stands out in sharp contrast with the bead and reel border, which was becoming more and more popular upon the monies of Attic weight.

It is worth while noting that there exists a tetradrachm of the Phoenician type of Ptolemy Philometor of the year B. C. 148 with a monogram, which appears to indicate Ptolemais. It is obviously connected with the expedition, which he made into Palestine and Phoenicia to bring to his senses Alexander Balas, whose dissolute life threatened disaster. The Phoenician mints were in some degree disorganized and a Sidon tetradrachm of Attic weight, remains as witness. Certainly the coins of this year are the rarest in the reign of Alexander .

The mint of Tyre had its own idea of the fitness of things and with Semitic persistency clung to them. On the silvei coins, the Seleucid monarch's portrait is always clean shaven and draped. Even in the case of a king, like Demetrius II , who more Parthico affected a formal cut to beard and hair, the mint of Tyre insisted upon a presentation, ridiculously young. Other Phoenician or Palestinian mints might, if they liked, put up with a bearded king,* but the mint of Tyre , with but one exception (cf. no. 131), would have none of it.

As far as possible the Seleucid King had to resemble the Tyrian Herakles (Melquarth) and a comparison of the Tyrian issues of Alexander Balas with the much later issues of free Tyre shew a noteworthy likeness between the Seleucid King and the hero of Tyre .

The remarkable feature of the second coinage of Tyre is the weight. It is no longer Attic, but approximates to the Ptolemaic. Thus, while throughout the rest of the Seleucid domain of Asia the tetradrachm weighs 17.40 grammes, the tetradrachm of the Tyrian mint weights 14.20 grammes only.

Naturally, this indicates that the chief trading interest of Tyre was maritime and with Egypt , but it must have been a real inconvenience to the rest of the Seleucid Empire requiring a constant adjustment, like the British duo-decimal system.

At all events the same standard was continued,* even after Tyre regained its freedom, upon autonomous issues and so long as Imperial Rome authorized silver monies (always provided that the tetradrachms, ranging from Vespasian to Trajan are rightly attributed to Tyre ) with the single exception of what I have ventured to call the third Seleucid Coinage of Tyre .

There is however one problem, the most tantalizing of all. That problem is the interpretation of the monograms, which occur upon the coins throughout. They are not numerous and are easy to classify. On the other hand, if once they were really understood, they would throw a flood of light of the utmost value upon the monetary arrangements of the Seleucid Kings.

The following table shews all that have come to light.

year Monograms
Alexander I
Demetrius II
Antiochus VII
Demetrius II 2nd Reign.

Before considering these monograms in detail, there is one fact that should be noted. They occur solely upon the silver money. No bronze of Tyre has any monogram, which could possibly refer to a monetary official. This has an important consequence. Babelon (p. cxxiv), discusses the meaning of the monogram and shews that it is the monogram of the word IEPAΣ, so that with the other constant monogram and the club surmounted by we have an abbreviated form of the full legend TϒPOϒ JEPAΣ KAI AΣϒΛOϒ. This is of course established by a remarkable tetradrachm and didrachm (see Catalogue of Types, below, nos. 39, 40).

Such monograms and such a legend, he goes on to say, clearly indicate a royal mint. Where the coins read TϒPIΩN then they are issued by municipal authority. With that observation I entirely agree. It therefore follows that in the second coinage of Tyre no Seleucid King ever issued a bronze coin, and that there must have been entirely different con- ditions for silver from bronze. This is in no way modified by the fact that there are certain bronze coins of very low denomination (cf. Catalogue of type nos. 26, 42, 45, 47, 96) of which the flans are obviously too small to admit the word TϒPIΩN but they shew neither nor .

It may be taken for certain then that the Seleucid King was only concerned with the silver issues from the Tyrian mint. Either the right of coining bronze was of little moment or its intrinsic value was so slight as to obviate fraud. Judging from the extraordinary fluctuations in weight of what apparently are the same denominations in the whole of the Seleucid coinage, as well as in other series of Greek bronze, the conclusion is inevitable that the bronze coinage must have represented an arbitrary value and been in the nature of a "token" coinage, a position still actually existing today. I recently weighed a five shilling bag of English pennies, all current and in mint condition with the unexpected result that their margin of variation was more than 20 grains.

The presence, then, of a monogram on the silver coins may mean that the Seleucid King intended to fix the responsibility for their fineness upon somebody, who might be brought to book for defaulting. While that is true of other Seleucid mints, e. g. Antioch , I hope to shew why it was not true at Tyre . Again, as in no case does more than one monogram appear upon a coin, it follows that the responsibility might be fixed upon a particular individual or a definite quarter. In the Mint of Antioch and elsewhere two or three persons sign the monies: but at Tyre a simpler method obtains. Each coin is referable to a single individual or a single quarter. That was a distinctly sound business procedure, appropriate to the Semitic instincts of those in authority at Tyre .

So much is clear, the rest is conjecture. The monograms may stand for officinae as Mr. G. F. Hill suggests in the B.M.C. for Phoenicia, or they may stand for monetary officials of one sort or another. Normally the table of monograms suggests that during the days of Alexander Balas and the first reign of Demetrius II , there were two authorities responsible, and in the time of Antiochus VII and Demetrius II (second reign) three. When circumstances demanded, more were added. Whether these authorities, officials or officinae functioned simultaneously or consecutively is not clear.

From this point the problem thickens. A cursory examination of the Table shews that for some considerable time and held the ground, and that from the beginning of the reign of Antiochus VII to the end of the series carried on.

Personally I am inclined to believe that and and respectively represent the same signature. Whether I am right in this or not, at least it is certain that three of these signatures continued to Roman times long after the Seleucid Mint of Tyre was closed and forgotten. Thus runs from 149/8 B.C. to 123/2: from 139/8 B.C. to 107/6 and from 151/0 B.C. to 103/2. That is rather a wonderful record. There is of course nothing inherently impossible in such lengths of service, and they might be paralleled by many instances in individual cases from many mints, but I confess that the longevity of the three principal officials of the Mint of Tyre arouses my suspicions. One patriarch in the service is conceivable but that all the principal officers should have put in forty years' work is a big proposition to accept. Of course it may be true that a monetary magistracy was an hereditary affair and descended from father to son, and in that case the difficulties of time are overcome: but there is not as yet a scrap of evidence to prove it so.

The theory that these monograms stand for officinae, though in some ways attractive, bristles with difficulties. is perplexing. A digamma at this date is almost inconceivable, for what then could stand? I venture a suggestion, though it may appear in the nature of the wildest guess. The Semitic word for "first" is which would be written at this date in Tyre approximately thus The first two letters are perilously like the monogram . Possibly then these constant monograms are intended to represent serial issues, covering certain periods in the year.

The objection to regarding them as the signatures of magistrates has already been noted, the arguments for rejecting them as the marks of officinae are even more cogent. A careful examination of the dies reveals the fact that the same obverse dies are combined both in the Seleucid and in the autonomous mints with reverses bearing different monograms, working strictly within the circumference of the three more or less constant monograms. Although, there are, no doubt, many other examples, perhaps the following will be sufficient to prove the point. My drachm of ΞP with the monogram has an obverse identical with that illustrated in the Fenerley Bey Catalogue, 705 with the monogram . Mr. Newell has two tetradrachms of Demetrius II of the year ZΞP with identical obverse dies but with reverses bearing the monograms and .

In the autonomous series it is hardly worth while to detail instances: a glance at the B.M.C. (Phoenicia) will shew that they abound. The conclusion is inevitable. Different officinae would not use the same dies. Whatever else the monograms stand for, they do not stand for officinae. I am equally certain that they do not stand for magistrates. The conclusion to which I am forced is that the municipality of Tyre accepted the responsibility for the issue of all monies: for the bronze they had to render no account: for the silver they were referable to the Seleucid King, just so far as he had power to compel. When that power was stable they issued monies with the constant monograms, indicating periods of issue rather than responsible officials: and the same die might easily serve for more than one period through material overlapping and in the two cases I have quoted, the signatures are the same viz: and .

It remains then to try and explain the other monograms. I suggest that the municipality farmed, out part of the coinage and the monogram stands for the individual, who had bought or otherwise secured the contract. Such an opportunity for profit would be quite in keeping with Semitic character. Individual enterprise no less in ancient days than in modern has turned a state controlled concern from a dead loss into a paying business. The silver mines in Spain will occur as an example, apposite because it was these very Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon , who were interested. The Roman State found it paid better to farm them out than to work them on their own account.

It is further quite natural to assume that before the municipality settled into its stride and realised its privilege of striking coins and even afterwards, when its own machinery was inadequate to meet the demand, it went outside its own arrangements to supplement its issues. The monograms extant in the early days of Alexander Balas bear this out, and an interesting parallel can be found in recent British coinage. In 1918 the royal mint could not cope with the demand for copper. Part of the enormous issue necessary was struck at two private mints. Messrs. Heaton of Birmingham and the King's Norton Copper Company were pressed into the service and some of the pennies of 1918 and 1919 are marked with the letters H or K.N. to indicate the source of their manufacture. The coins of Tyre bearing monograms other than the two early constant and the three later constant monograms are infrequent and so suggest some arrangement of this sort.

There is only one further point to notice about the second coinage. In the year BOP , that is B.C. 140 or A.S. 172 a tetradrachm and a didrachm of an unusual type were issued. The tetradrachm is illustrated in Bab. Pl. XX., 3. On the reverse in the left field is a substantial club instead of the usual club, surmounted with , and in the field right below the date is the monogram. Most remarkable of all, the circular legend reads BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTPIOϒ as usual, but within it is a second legend in smaller characters, which reads TϒPOϒ IEPAΣ KAI AΣϒΛOϒ. The monogram is . There is also a didrachm of the same year, probably reading for monogram .

It is impossible to account for the change. It may have been an experiment to gratify the young king, who was beginning to assert himself or it may have been some commemorative issue. The fact that it was not continued seems to prove that it lacked popular acceptance. It is entirely confined to one year and judging from its extreme rarity it must have been a very small issue.

My conclusion of the matter is that the three constant monograms indicate the yearly order of issue of the monies, something like the Amphora etters on the Athenian coins, or the months on the Parthian, or to come right up to date like the figures 3.4.5, which were placed below the date of the English pennies of 1863 in order to indicate a consecutive series of issues.

As complete a catalogue of the known monies of the second Seleucid coinage of Tyre as is possible follows:—

End Notes


Obv. Diademed head of Alexander to r., chlamys around neck, border of dots.

Rev. AΛEΞANΔPOϒ BAΣIΛEΩΣ from left to right, circular. Eagle stands to 1. on spur of galley palm branch over right shoulder in field r. date over monogram in field 1. club surmounted with monogram of Tyre border of dots.

Date Monogram Denom. Collection
1. BΞP 4dr. Bab. 887 Newell ( Plate I )* Nav. X, 1152.
2. ΓΞP 4dr. Vacat.
3. ΓΞP 4dr. B.M.C. 51/1 Bab. 889 Newell ( Plate I ) Pozzi 2981–3 Nav. X, 1157–9.
4. ΓΞP 2dr. Newell ( Plate I ) Nav. X, 1160.
5. ΓΞP AC 4dr. Bab. 888 Cumberland-Clark 274 Newell ( Plate I ).
6. ΔΞP 4dr. B.M.C. 51/2 Bab. 893 Newell ( Plate I ) Nav. X, 1167.
7. ΔΞP 4dr. Bab. 891 Newell ( Plate I ).
8. ΔΞP 4dr. Bab. 892 Newell ( Plate I ).
9. ΔΞP 2dr. Newell.
10. ΔΞP 4dr. Newell ( Plate I ) Nav. X, 1166.
11. EΞP 4dr. Newell.
12. EΞP 2dr. Newell ( Plate I ).
13. EΞP Dr. Nav. X, 1173†
14. EΞP 4dr. Amer. Numis. Society.
15. EΞP 4dr. Petersen Sale, Dec. 1920, no. 190 Pozzi 2984 O-man Newell ( Plate I ) Nav. X, 1171.
16. EΞP Dr. Newell ( Plate I ) (=Nav. X, 1172).
17. ΞP 4dr. Bab. 898 Newell ( Plate I ).
18. ΞP 2dr. Newell.
19. ΞP Dr. Newell (= Nav. X, 1176) ( Plate II ).
20. ΞP 4dr. B.M.C. 51/3 Bab. 896 Hunter 65/61 Pozzi 2985 Newell, Nav. X, 1174.
21. ΞP 2dr. Rouvier 1869.
22. ΞP Dr. Fenerly Bey, 705.
23. ZΞP 4dr. B.M.C. 51/4 Nav. X, 1177.
24. ZΞP 4dr. Bab. 900 Newell = Nav. X, 1178 ( Plate II ).

End Notes

Formerly Rogers' collection from Fenerly Bey Sale, Vienna, Nov. 1912, Pl. xix, no. 703. Dr. Macdonald published a similar drachm in Zeitschr.f. Num., vol. XXIX, Pl. iv, 18 with , but I am convinced it is misread for .


25. Obv. Diademed head of Alexander to r., border of dots.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞANΔPOϒ circular. Palm tree with fruit dividing date ΞP. Three specimens in Newell Coll. weights: gr. 2.305, 2.54, ( Plate II ) 2.225: Rogers gr. 2.00 i. e. Dilepta.

DEMETRIUS II (first reign).

Obv. Diademed head of Demetrius to r., chlamys around neck border of dots. Rev. ΔHMHTPIOϒ BAΣIΛEΩΣ from left to right, circular. Eagle stands to 1. on spur of galley palm branch over right shoulder in field r. date over monogram in field 1. club surmounted with monograms of Tyre border of dots. Date

Date Monogram Denom. Collection
26. ZΞP 4dr. B.M.C. 58/4 Bab. 955 Newell Nav. X, 1199, 1200.
27. ZΞP 4dr. Newell ( Plate II ) Nav. X, 1201.
28. ZΞP 4dr. Bab. 957.
29. HΞP 4dr. Newell ( Plate II ).
30. ΘΞP 4dr. B.M. Newell ( Plate II ) Nav. X, 1205.
31. ΘΞP 2dr. Bab. 965.
32. ΘΞP 4dr. Bab. 964.
33. ΘΞP 4dr. Bab. 963 Nav. X, 1204.
34. OP 4dr. Bab. 970.
35. OP 2dr. Hunter 71/24.
36. OP 4dr. Bab. 972 Newell ( Plate II ).
37. AOP 2dr. Newell (= Naville X, 1212) ( Plate II ) Nav. X, 1211.
38. ΓOP 4dr. Bab. 978.


Obv. Diademed head of Demetrius to r., chlamys round neck, border of dots.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTPIOϒ, in inner circle and smaller letters: TϒPOϒ IEPAΣ KAI AΣϒΛOϒ from left to right circular. Eagle standing to 1. on spur of galley, palm branch on right shoulder in field 1. club in field r. date over monogram border of dots.

Date Monogram Denom. Collection
39. BOP 4dr. Bab. 976.
40. BOP 2dr. Berlin.*

41. Obv. Head of Demetrius II with diadem to r.

Rev. BAΣIΛE ΔHMH Palm tree with fruit in field 1., OP. As the weight of this coin is gr. 1.75 it must be a hemidrachm and is the single known example of this denomination. Vienna (cf. Macdonald, loc. cit., Pl. iv, 20).

End Notes

Dr. Macdonald in Zeitschr. f. Num., vol. XXIX, p. 97, 23, Pl. v, 1. He gives the monogram as hut a careful examination of the plate shows it to be .


Obv. Diademed head of Demetrius to r., border of dots.

Rev. BAΣIΔEΩΣ right, ΔHMHTPIOϒ left. Palm tree between LZ-ΞP.

B.M. Newell gr. 2.17 and 1.91 ( Plate II ).

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛHMHTPIOϒ LHΞP in three lines above stern of galley ornamented with aphlaston below TϒPIΩN .

B.M.C. 60/20–23 Hunter 71/25–6 Bab. 980–3 Newell grs. 7.58, 8.44, ( Plate II ), 5.485, 5.195 Rogers grs. 7.128.

Rev. Similar to 43 but date LHΞP below prow. B.M. Rogers grs. 6.24.

Rev. Similar to 42 but date HΞP. B.M. Bab. 1246–8 Newell grs. 2.625 2.225 2.09 Rogers grs. 1.55 2.68

Rev. Similar to 43 but date ΘΞP. B.M. Hunter 71/27–8 Bab. 984 Newell grs. 5.01 Rogers grs. 6.80.

Rev. Similar to 42 but date is ΘΞP. Newell gr. 2.07.

Rev. Similar to 43 but date is OP. B.M. Hunter 71/29.

Rev. Similar to 43 but date is AOP. Rogers grs. 6.27.


There seems to have been no Seleucid mint at Tyre for either of these reigns.


Obv. Diademed head of Antiochus to r., chlamys around neck border of dots.

Rev. ANTIOXOϒ BAΣIΛEΩΣ from left to right, circular. Eagle standing to 1. on spur of galley palm branch over r. shoulder in field r. over date in field 1. over club surmounted with the monogram of Tyre monogram between eagle's legs border of dots.

Date Monogram Denom. Collection
50. ΔOP Hunter 84/57 Newell ( Plate II ) Nav. X, 1249.
(IE instead of ) ( instead of )
51. ΔOP 2dr. Bab. 1061.
52. ΔOP ( and
4dr. Pozzi 2998.
53. ΔOP 2dr. B.M.C. 70/3.
54. ΔOP 2dr. B.M. Nav. X, 1250.
55. ΔOP 4dr. Bab. 1060.
56. EOP ΔI 4dr. Newell ( Plate II ).
57. EOP 4dr. Bab. 1072.
58. EOP Newell ( Plate II ).
59. OP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/5 Bab. 1088 Hunter 84/58 Pozzi 2999 Newell ( Plate III ) Nav. X, 1253–4.
60. OP
( or or
2dr. B.M.C. 70/6 Newell Nav X, 1255–6.
61. OP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/4 Bab. 1090.
62. OP 2dr. B.M. (Bunbury) Hunter 85/64 Newell (PlateIII) Bab. 1091 Nav. X, 1257.
63. ZOP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/7 Hunter 84/59 Newell Bab. 1099.
64. ZOP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/8 Hunter 84/60 Bab. 1102 Nav. X, 1260–1.
65. ZOP 2dr. Bab. 1102 Pozzi 3000 Newell ( Plate III ) Nav. X, 1262–3.
66. ZOP Dr. Newell ( Plate III ).
67. HOP 4dr. Bab. 1109 Nav. X, 1265–6 Newell ( Plate III ).
68. HOP 2dr. B.M.C. 70/9 Bab. 1110.
69. ΘOP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/10 Nav. X, 1267.
70. ΘOP 2dr. Rouvier 1906.
71. ΘOP 4dr. Nav. X, 1268.
72. ΘOP 2dr. Nav. X, 1269.
73. ΠP 4dr. Bab. 1120 Hunter 85/61 Newell ( Plate III ).
74. ΠP 2dr. Bab. 1121 Nav. X, 1270.
75. ΠP 4dr. B.M.
76. ΠP 2dr. Rouvier 1908.
77. AΠP 4dr. Gagarem Sale Cat. 1912, no. 63.
78. AΠP 4dr. B.M. Bab. 1124 Nav. X, 1271–2 Newell ( Plate III ).
79. AΠP 2dr. Nav. X, 1273–4 Newell ( Plate III )
80. AΠP (?) 2dr. Egger Sale, 1913, no. 706.
81. BΠP 4dr. Nav. X, 1276–7 Newell ( Plate III )
82. BΠP 2dr. Nav. X, 1278.
83. BΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/11 Hunter 85/62 Bab. 1126 Nav. X, 1275 Newell ( Plate III ).
84. BΠP 2dr. Hunter 85/65 Rouvier 1912.
85. ΓΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 70/12.
86. ΓΠP 2dr. Newell ( Plate III ) Nav. X, 1281.
87.* ΓΠP 4dr. Bab. 1137 Nav. X, 1279–80 Newell ( Plate IV ).


Obv. Diademed head of Antiochus to r., border of dots.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIOXOϒ LΔOP above stern of galley below TϒPIΩN border of dots, B.M.

Rev. Similar to 88 but date is ZOP.

B.M., Newell gr. 7.92 ( Plate III )

Rev. Similar to 88 but date is HOP.

Rev. Similar to 90 but date HOP is below galley.

B.M. Newell gr. 8.12 ( Plate III ), 5.855.

Rev. Similar to 90 but date is ΘOP.

Rev. Similar to 91 but date is ΘOP.

Rev. Spur of galley and palm branch. Below, ΘOP.

B.M. Newell gr. 2.925 ( Plate III ).

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIOXOϒ IEP above stem of galley. Below ΘOP

End Notes

DEMETRIUS II (Second Reign).

Obv. Diademed head of Demetrius to r., chlamys around neck border of dots.

Rev. ΔHMHTPIOϒ BAΣIΛEΩΣ from left to right circular. Eagle standing to 1. on spur of galley palm branch over its right shoulder in field r. A over date in field 1. PE over club surmounted with monogram of Tyre monogram between eagle's legs border of dots.

Date Monogram Denom. Collection
94. ΓΠP 4dr. Bab. 1177 Newell ( Plate IV ).
95. ΓΠP 2dr. B.M.C. 76/3 Nav. X, 1316–7.
96. ΓΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 76/1 Hunter 90/30 Bab. 1179 Newell Nav. X, 1314–5.
97. ΓΠP 2dr. B.M.C. 76/2 Bab. 1178.
98. ΔΠP 4dr. Bab. 1186 Nav. X, 1319 Newell.
99. ΔΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 76/4 Hunter 90/31 Bab. 1181 Nav. X, 1318 Newell ( Plate IV ).
100. ΔΠP 2dr. Newell Nav. X, 1322.
101. ΔΠP Dr. Bab. 1187 Nav. X, 1323.
102. ΔΠP 4dr. B.M. Bab. 1182 Nav. X, 1320–1 Newell.
103. ΔΠP 2dr. B.M.C. 7675 Bab. 1185.
104. ΔΠP Dr. B.M.
105. EΠP 4dr. B.M. Hunter 90/32 Nav. X, 1328–9 Newell.
106. EΠP 2dr. Bab. 1202.
107. EΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 76/6 Bab. 1199 Pozzi 3003 Nav. X, 1324 Newell.
108. EΠP 2dr. B.M.C. 76/8 Bab. 1200 Pozzi 3004 Nav. X, 1325 Newell.
109. EΠP 4dr. Bab. 1201 Nav. X, 1326 Newell ( Plate IV ).
110. EΠP 2dr. Nav. X, 1327.
111. ΠP 4dr. Nav. X, 1336.
112. ΠP 2dr. B.M.C. 76/10.
113. ΠP 4dr. Hunter 90/34 Bab. 1208 Nav. X, 1333–4 Newell.
114. ΠP 2dr. Hunter 90/36 Bab. 1209.
115. ΠP Dr. B.M. (Montagu Sale).
116. ΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 76/9 Nav. X, 1332 Newell ( Plate IV ).
117. ZΠP 2dr. Newell ( Plate IV ).
118. ZΠP 4dr. B.M. Hunter 90/35 Newell ( Plate IV ).
119. ZΠP 4dr. B.M.C. 76/11 Bab. 1211 Nav. X, 1337–9 Newell ( Plate IV ).
120. ZΠP 2dr. Nav. X, 1340.


Obv. Diademed head of Demetrius to r. border of dots.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTPIOϒ IEP in three lines above stern of galley ornamented by aphlaston below ΔΠP border of dots.

E. Rogers grs. 5.90. Bab. Pl. xx, 5 is probably a similar coin as cast M. Babelon has sent me clearly shows but the date is ·ΠP, it might be EΠP.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTPIOϒ IE in three lines above spur of galley and palm branch below, ΔΠP border of dots. Bab. 1245 Newell gr.3.49 Rogers gr. 4.08.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTPIOϒ IEP in three lines above galley to 1. below, EΠP border of dots.

Rogers gr. 8.58 (Fig. 2, facing p. 4).

Rev. Similar to no. 122 but date is EΠP.

Newell gr. 3.82, 2.87 ( Plate IV ).

Rev. Similar to 122 but date is ΠP.

End Notes


I have ventured to put in a class by themselves certain very exceptional tetradrachms and drachms bearing the symbols and the monograms of the Mint of Tyre , but instead of the usual eagle the Regal types of Athene and Zeus. The weights are Attic and not Phoenician. Evidently it was a small issue, because most of the few dates known today are represented by single specimens.

Mr. G. F.Hill in the Introduction to the British Museum Catalogue of Phoenicia says, "It is notice- able, also, that the Phoenician silver bears (in addition to the mint-mark or name of Tyre ) monograms similar to those we find on the later autonomous silver but the Attic is not marked in this way. . . . Since the coinage with Seleucid types on the reverse does not bear these monograms, it may have been struck in metal drawn from the royal, as distinct from the Tyrian, treasury."

In this statement he is however misinformed. All the coins bear such monograms, and , and are represented. These coins occur in the reigns of Antiochus VII and Demetrius II (second reign) and since tetradrachms of Phoenician weight were also struck not only in the same years, but actually with the same monograms in some cases, the only suggestion I can offer is that the Seleucid King for his own reasons interfered in the routine otherwise usual in the Mint of Tyre . A similar phenomenon is much more common in the Mint of Sidon and from Alexander Balas until Antiochus IX tetradrachms of Attic weight and regal types appear side by side with the characteristically Phoenician issues. It should be noted that in all these regal issues the portrait of the king is an actual and nowise idealized portrait of Herakles Melquart, vid No. 131, where Demetrius II wears a beard. It is conceivable that the exigencies of trade with the rest of the Seleucid Empire rendered such "equated" money advisable, and avoided the necessity of tariffing the common monies.

I have not been able to trace any copper issues but if it is sound that the copper coinage was in the form of a token coinage—and this the notable difference in weight throughout the whole Seleucid series, in denominations apparently the same, as I have already said, makes extremely likely—then there would naturally be no necessity for any sort of equation beyond mutual goodwill and understanding between all parties concerned. As it was a municipal issue the Seleucid king was not concerned. The Catalogue of the series is as follows:—


Obv. Diademed head of Antiochus to r. bead and reel border.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIOXOϒ (right downwards), EϒEPΓETOϒ (left downwards). Winged Nike to 1., holds garland in right hand and the folds of her chiton in left. In field 1. club surmounted by monogram of Tyre in field r. M. In the exergue ΔOP. Berlin (Zeitschr. f. Num., vol. XXIX, Pl. v, 2).

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIOXOϒ (right downwards). EϒEPΓETOϒ (left downwards). Athene Parthenos, with helmet, double chiton and Aegis stands to 1., holds a little Nike with garland outstretched to 1. on her right hand and her lance in her 1. which is poised on her shield adorned with the Gorgon's head. In the exergue date and monogram. In field 1. club surmounted with the monogram of Tyre on r. side of which downwards is IEP on 1. AΣϒ. The whole is a wreath of laurel with berries.

Date Monogram Collection
126. HOP Σ Bab. 1113.
127. HOP Bab. 1114–6 Nav. X, 1283.
128. ΠP Nav. X, 1284.
129. AΠP Nav. X, 1285 Fenerly Bey Sale, Pl. xix, 724 Newell ( Plate IV ).
130. BΠP Bab. 1130 Nav. X, 1286–7. cf. B.M.C. 71/18 undated. ( Plate IV .)

DEMETRIUS II (Second Reign).

Obv. Diademed and bearded head of Demetrius to r. bead and reel border.

Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTPIOϒ (right downwards), ΘEOϒ NIKATOPOΣ (left downwards). Zeus Nikephoros enthroned to 1. rests 1. on sceptre. In field 1. club surmounted with the monogram of Tyre on r. side of which downwards is IEP, on 1.

Money Talks: A Very Short History of Roman Currency

The impact of the Roman coinage system is self-evident all around the world. The denarius, for instance, inspired the pennies of medieval Europe, and found its name fossilised in the denomination marker d. of British pre-decimal coinage much of the Arab world still uses a currency called the dinar. Even our shared understanding of what a coin should look like is firmly rooted in the Roman past. We take for granted our round, metal coins which depict a ruler or an important figure, curiously in profile, on the ‘obverse’ (front), and bear on the reverse a symbolic image, along with a legend naming the ruler and stating the denomination. Today’s coins are part of a tradition of close imitation that started in the early medieval period. Despite subsequent evolution, modern coinage has not deviated far from the stylistic template struck by the Romans – after some trial and error. That tale is told below.

Of course money is no Roman invention – but the English word itself comes from the name of the location of Rome’s first mint (a word which also derives from it): the temple of Juno Moneta. This epithet reflects local worship of a goddess called Moneta, who was gradually assimilated into the deity Juno, wife of Jupiter. What started as a remnant of religious worship gradually became synonymous for a mint and later, after the Roman period, for money itself.

Understanding how the Roman coinage system developed helps us to develop insight into our own numismatic conventions, and can also improve our understanding of Roman history: imagery on Roman coins, especially in the Imperatorial (49–27 BC) and Imperial (27 BC – AD 476) periods can illuminate aspects of what is essentially propaganda. The portraits provide an important data source for how Roman portraiture evolved. Metallurgical studies can tell us about economic phenomena such as inflation, particularly when they demonstrate the debasement of currency. The study of coin dies (the design of individual metal stamps inferred through variations in coin appearance) and hoards (large coin deposits removed from circulation at a single point in time) can help us understand how and in what quantity currency circulated.

Roman monetary history

Rome was very much a latecomer among the monetarised societies of the Hellenistic Mediterranean. Coinage first emerged in Rome around 300 BC, centuries after it arose throughout the Greek world. During this period, certain numismatic conventions had already been established, most importantly the preference for round coins, with a portrait in profile on the obverse. Their symbolism was tied to city-state identity, and (later in the Hellenistic period) to the monarchies which held the balance of power in the region.

Throughout this period in Rome, the economy was more or less based on a bartering system. Pecunia, the Latin word for money, was a derivative of pecus (the word for cattle), revealing how livestock was at the centre of the economic system before the advent of coinage. Gradually, what we call Aes Rude (chunks of cast bronze) began to be used to facilitate exchange of goods. Aes Rude can be seen as the prototype for the first coinage system in Rome. Precious metals have always been valuable on account of their scarcity and durability: this rendered them almost uniquely suited for economic exchange until comparatively recently, because portable quantities could conveniently be traded for goods.

Initially, Roman coinage was a part of three separate money systems, which had arisen organically and independently of one another, but were gradually rationalised: (1) Aes Signatum (bronze ingots weighing about 1500g) (2) silver and bronze ‘Romano-Campanian’ coinage (genuine struck coins) (3) Aes Grave(cast bronze disks). None of this was ever properly planned scholars still debate about what the precise original functions of this coinage even were.

Coins were produced in very low quantities, particularly when compared to the amounts of precious metals that were plundered in warfare. At this early stage, the Roman economy was only a partially monetarised system: it is unlikely that there was any popular usage yet. Most probably, coins were thought convenient for official purposes, such as repaying loans to the state from private citizens, or for construction projects or religious dedications. Mercenary soldiers were also likely to have been paid in coins. Indeed, mercenaries seem to have been responsible for much of the coin production in Magna Graecia (former Greek colonies in Southern Italy, Sicily and beyond), and were perhaps the primary reason why Rome’s great enemy Carthage issued any coins at all (their armies were entirely composed of mercenaries).

Coinage in the Roman world must have also arisen from a desire to compete with the Greek world. Hellenization grew as a result of Roman expansion this is clearly reflected in the predominantly Greek designs and iconography of Roman coins from the beginning.

Romano-Campanian coinage consisted of limited irregular bronze and silver issues. The difference in material reflected these coins’ area of circulation: silver coins circulated in Campania whereas the bronze used for these in central Italy reflected earlier systems of exchange. These coins were not produced centrally in Rome, but in towns under the growing Roman hegemony their designs tended to be specific to each town. They were identified as ‘Roman’ by their reverse ROMANO legend (which later became ROMA).

The technique of striking coins involves engraving two dies, placing a heated metal disk, or flan, between them, and hitting it with a heavy object to produce a coin. This was copied from Greek cities the silver coinage struck in Campania, also borrowed the weight standards from Neapolis (modern Naples). Striking enabled faster and eventually mass production, especially as dies could be used for hundreds of coins before beginning to show signs of wear.

Both Aes Signatum and Aes Grave were cast in Rome. This is best viewed as an amalgam of the large cast ingots of the north and the round coinage of the south. This system revolved around the As(whole unit) which equated to the Roman pound, or libra (324g), which was subdivided by weight into the following divisions: semis(half), quadrans(quarter), sextans(sixth) and uncia (twelfth). These names persisted well into the Imperial period, even when this was no longer a system based on weight.

All Aes Grave coinage marked denominations on the reverse, and generally featured standardised designs with a fixed deity on the obverse. Like the Aes Signatum, they were cast in Rome at the Temple of Juno Moneta on the Capitoline.

These coinage systems emerged in ad hoc fashion, and at first fit awkwardly into the pre-existing economies of each region. But a general system steadily became rationalised, until a relationship between the systems was defined. The Aes Signatum totally disappeared silver coins were equated to the value of three asses finally, common symbols and elements arose and predominated (all c. 250 BC).

Harmony did not last for long. The Second Punic War (218-201 BC) devastated the Roman economy: existing coinage underwent a severe reduction in weight, although the stated value remained the same to enable the mint’s supply of bullion to be stretched further. Coinage was even issued sporadically in gold to help fund the war effort. The As perhaps underwent the most dramatic transformation, dropping in weight from around 300g to 50g.

Around 211 BC, the denarius was introduced, at a value of 10 asses (its name means ‘containing ten’). This was a small silver coin (4.5g) that was first struck in large quantities from the silver obtained by Marcellus’ sack of Syracuse the previous year. The quinarius (‘containing five’) and sestertius (‘containing two and a half’) were also introduced, although these were not frequent issues.

These denominations were to remain largely unchanged until the Imperial period. The currency now effectively held a token value, as the value of the bullion they contained no longer matched their tariffed prices following the economic trauma of the Hannibalic war. Rome in this period increasingly transformed into a monetised society: coin issues became more frequent, and even regularised coins became standard for paying soldiers. Henceforth they began to exist in the public sphere beyond their original state-based functionality. There was of course significant economic change in the following century: the denarius was actually re-tariffed to 16 asses in 141 BC but the name remained.

Designs for coins were controlled by the tresviri monetales(‘monetary magistrates’, or ‘mint magistrates’), a subcommittee of three senators appointed to oversee the mint (a tresvir or triumvir denotes a member of a trio of magistrates). The tresviri chose the iconography, which became increasingly political over time. In the mid 2 nd century, the most common reverse was the biga type, with Victory displayed triumphantly driving a two-horse chariot (a biga is a pair of horses). This was presumably chosen to reflect the success of Roman conquests, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean over Greece.

Towards the end of the second century, aristocrats began using coinage to promote themselves and their families. Individual moneyers (often guided by the tresviri) started issuing coins with iconographic references to their own ancestors. But the full propaganda value of coinage only became apparent in Rome at the end of its Republican period. Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) famously placed his own living face on the obverse of Roman coins. It was a step he gradually built up to: first he had his own portrait featured on coins in the province of Bithynia (47 BC), where such a practice was less controversial than at home. In Rome, he carried on with modes of self-promotion that had already existed on the coinage for more than half a century until 44 BC, when he decisively he broke with tradition:

Caesar’s step was audacious, and not only because of the eyebrow-raising divine association. Since coins in the Greek East coins represented the heads of monarchs, Caesar was in fact aligning himself with Hellenistic kings – a damning association in a proudly Republican society. The conspirators who assassinated him had propaganda tools of their own: their ‘Ides of March’ denarius depicted the pileus (the cap of liberty given to slaves when they were manumitted) alongside two daggers, which clearly demonstrates how coins had become a vehicle for openly political messages:

From the reign of Augustus (27 BC – AD 14), Caesar’s adoptive son and eventual successor, the full potential of the political value of coins became apparent. Augustus reformed the coinage system wholesale, regularising denominations and establishing a new mint at Lugdunum (modern-day Lyon). Like Caesar, his portrait graced the obverses of the new currency system – the imperial iconography right from the start was stamped into the fabric of Rome’s Economic system. The vague, makeshift currency system of the Republic, which was predicated on irregularly-issued denominations, was now replaced with a robust, codified, multi-metallic system:

Colchian II Type Silver Didrachm - History

We are fortunate enough to share our ecosystem with animals. They enhance the natural beauty of our planet and even the most ferocious amongst them illustrate the nature with its refined and primal grace. Many artists had tried to capture this creation of nature with the brush or chisel but yet few come near to copying their perfection. Every aspect of a man’s creativity is inspired by its surroundings. Hence, it shouldn’t surprise us to see these beautiful animals depicted on coins too. One of the finest artistic representation of them are the animals on Roman coins. This coinage covers the wide variety of fauna, the embellishment of these beasts on Roman coinage is unique and awe-inspiring.

As one of the most studied and collected coinages of the world, Roman coinage offers the most beautiful illustrations of animals. The social and religious culture of Rome had a deep connection with the animals. Their fascination with the wild beasts is evident through their games, painting and intricate design on their coins.

The variation in which animals are depicted on Roman coins can be divided into six categories. The first three categories are discussed in the previous article, the essences of animals on Roman coins Phase I. To continue this analysis further let’s discuss the other three categories of animals on Roman coins.

  • Animals associated with the provinces
  • Animals as moneyers( Mint masters) initials
  • Animals with cart and carriages

Animals associated with the province

The Republic and Imperial Rome administrated vast jurisdictional area under it in which many provinces were controlled. Each province was personified as a deity attached to an animal, due to some significance. The above-shown image depicts four coins from different provinces of Rome. Each coin portrays different animals.

The first coin (1a) depicts Aegyptos, Egypt personified as a woman seated on the ground with Ibis, near her leg, depicted facing the goddess. This reverse design of this coin was common in all the coins of Emperor Hadrian. These coins were stuck on the occasion of the Emperor’s visit to Egypt. The Ibis was sacred and peculiar to Egypt. It is said that this bird would die if taken somewhere else. Ibis was worshipped, due to its nature to destroy the serpent and insects that destroy the food supply.

The province of Africa, a northern part of the vast continent under the administration of Rome extended to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The personification of this province on the coin was same as Aegyptos, her headgear was in the shape of elephant’s trunk. Africa holds a scorpion in her right hand on the above-shown coin (1b).

This coin was struck under Emperor Hadrian on his journey to the Province of Africa. The symbol of the scorpion is seen as a rich natural resource of this province. The Scorpion is also recognized as the goddess Africa third venomous animal.

The silver denarius (1c) depicts the personification of the province Hispania near her feet a rabbit. The significance of the hare on this coin was that this animal was found in abundance in Spain. Emperor Hadrian depicted Hispania on the silver, gold and bronze issues during his visit to Spain province. Later on, the same design was copied by Emperor Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus on his gold aureus in 269 CE.

The coin showed in the image 1d is interesting: the personification of the Dacia province in the form of a woman is illustrated in the centre with the eagle and lion depicted near her leg. The animals shown on this coin represent the Roman legions (army units). Lion is the symbol of Legio XIII Gemina and eagle represents Legio V Macedonica legion. This coin was issued to pay homage to the Roman legions garrisoned in the province during Emperor Philip of the Arabs reign.

Other interesting coins presenting goddess and animals are Mauretania with the horse, Africa with the lion, Arabia with camel and Moesia with bull and lion, etc.

Animals as moneyers( Mint masters) initials

The coinage of Roman Republic was issued by the authority of the Roman senate. The denarius series of this monetary system had different variations, in this series different types of anagram, monogram and small animal symbols came up, this kind of coins circulated till 150 BCE. These symbols were the initials of moneyer ’s, the mint master in the Roman Republic, three mint masters issued coins

The bronze As depicted in the above image (2a) features a butterfly resting on a vine branch with leaves and grapes around it. In Roman culture, the butterfly represents liberation after the death because of their life cycle. The soul is also called butterfly-soul which gets liberated from a cocoon of the body after death. The significance of butterfly in this coin is unknown, it may be the initials of a moneyer.

A donkey is depicted on the bronze as (2b) standing above the ship Prow. The donkey was an important domestic animal for the common citizens of Rome. On this coin, it may be connected to the moneyer’s origin from his lower class.

The dolphin is depicted on the Roman coin in a fixed position or in a state of motion. Dolphin in important to Neptune the god of the sea, it was also associated with goddess Venus and God Apollo. On this denarius (2c) of the republic, the dolphin is depicted below the Dioscuri. This may be connected to a moneyer, but the significance of these initials is still unclear.

The fourth coin in the image, silver denarii (2d) depicts an owl below the deity Dioscuri( twin sons of Zeus). The owl is the companion of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and strategies. Romans believed that the presence of a hooting owl on the roof brings the news of death. Owl was also the embellishment of knowledge and intelligence.

The last animal in this category is a fly, It is depicted at the bottom of the Biga driven by Goddess Luna on the last coin (2e). This insect may have a symbolic importance in the Roman culture. It has some connection to the epidemic-prone area, but any documented proof is not present. This symbol mostly appears on the coin in the anonymous denarius coinage of the Republic.

Animals with cart and carriages

The universal use of domestic animals is to pull a cart or carriage, to help transport goods or people. Then why would the Romans be any different? In Rome, these animals were used for pulling chariots during games like racing. Some of the animals were particularly assigned to pull the chariot of the important people of the empire.

The above-shown coin (3a) portrayed two animals pulling a chariot, this vehicle is usually called a Biga. It was used in Rome for sport, transportation and ceremonies. The most common animal on this chariot was a horse, but on art or architecture or even on ceremonies it was replaced by other animals. The driver of the Biga was Bigarus, this two-horse chariot represents moon in philosophy.

The two horses pulling chariot on coins was a common icon of Republic coinage. Two yoke chariots were scared to Goddess Luna, she was always shown driving it. The above-shown denarius depicting two-horse chariots were drawn by the goddess Victory. The philosophical theory relates the duality of the horse with a metaphor of the charioteer’s soul divided by genesis and apogenesis.

The second coin (3b) depicts the Biga of goats, in Roman culture goat represented victory, intelligence and even voraciousness. The Roman god Faunus was also a half goat, goat blood was used in religious scarifies. In the above coin, Juno is riding the Biga of goats.

This benevolent coinage of Roman republic also depicted biga pulled by snakes. The silver denarius (3c) depicts goddess Ceres holding the torch and two snakes pulling the chariot. The snakes are associated with health and medicine in the Roman mythology, it is believed that they consist the power of healing.

There is also the Biga pulled by Cupids depicted on the denarius of the republic, Neptune is driving the biga of Hippocampus (sea horse like mythological creature), Hercules driving the Biga of Centaurs. There were elephants and stag Bigas also.

The propaganda of status and royalty developed and now chariots were pulled by more than two animals. The chariot drawn by three animals was called Triga and by four animals was called Quadriga.

The first silver denarius coin (4a) depicts Victory driving the Triga pulled by three horses. The depicting of this chariot is a rare sight on both Roman architecture and coinage. The reference shows that the use of Triga in the war was more than that in the games was quite less. The Etruscan used three horses in a race, the third horse was used as a trace-horse.

The second chariot is actually a cart called Carpentum depicted on the Sestertius (4b). This cart was used by Roman for travelling, but later it gained the religious importance. This cart was pulled by mules, this animal was occasionally replaced by the horse. The emperor of Rome used Carpentum on the occasion of a long festive procession.

The last type of this category is a Quadriga depicted on the coin that is featured in the main image of this blog. The Quadriga is pulled by four animals often mounted by a male deity, but few goddesses also drive this chariot. God Apollo is often depicted driving the four-horse chariot. In the above-shown silver didrachm, goddess Victory is driving the horse chariot. Quadriga appeared on all most all Roman pantheons including Sol, Minerva, Libertus, Jupiter Mars and even the deified emperors. On the coin of Phoenicia, Poseidon, the god of the seas drives the quadriga pulled by four Hippocampus.

At the end of this analysis, it would be important to highlight about the six-horse chariot called Seiuga. It required a high degree of skill to ride this. This chariot was hardly used for racing even the representation of this chariot on the coin was absent.

All the animals on the Roman coins have an important connection to the culture. Different animals had different values in the Roman religious practices. Pig, Ram, goat and a bull were sacrificed to the god Mars during the time of war. In the marriage ceremony, Roman sacrificed a sheep or a lamp as the insignia of purity. Julius Caesar also had a full farm of lions, his beasts were used for public entertainment. On the coins of Julius Caesar elephants were the symbol of his authority and power over the Roman Republic.

The use of animals in every aspect of life was an important factor for many civilizations and empires around the globe. In a way, these practices were responsible for the extinction of many species, yet their essence was embellished on the coins. Animals on Roman coins represent the best iconography of Roman fauna. The complex imagination of mankind and its affinity for art has given us the privilege to know about these mighty beasts which are extinct or on the verge of extinction.

We are privileged to share our ecosystem with them and harming them is going to harm us indirectly. They sustain the balance of our nature and control the food chain. Without these creatures, we will have a difficult time adjusting. Let’s pledge to protect, conserve and help them restore their natural habitat.

Animals on the Roman coin by T.R McIntosh

Gallienus’ Animal Series Coins and Roman Religion by Richard D. Weigel

The Mintage World Team comprises of experts, researchers and writers from the field of Philately, Notaphily and Numismatics who try to shed light on some of the most interesting aspects of coins, banknotes and stamps from not just India but across the globe as well.

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