69 out of 234 days: intaglio connections

HN Italy 69 has caused all sorts of speculations, especially in relationship to its association with the Hannibalic war. It is the head/elephant type. And is the larger of two denominations in the series of an unknown mint. The other denomination has a very different head on the obverse wearing an animal skin headdress with a dog on the reverse (HN Italy 70). As I’ve said before my hunch is that both these coin types probably date to Hannibal’s winter camp of 218/217. The standard scholarly treatment is still Baglione 1976. Much of what is said is influenced our assumptions about what we see with our own modern racial logics and how we connect those interpretations to ancient texts, e.g. ethnic composition of Hannibal’s army. This sort of thing was a problem for Robinson’s interpretations of Barcid Spanish issues back in 1956 and needs to be guarded against.

Another approach is to assume what we see might be different than what ancient audiences see. How can we get at this? The primary means is by considering where else similar iconography appears.

BnF specimen
BM specimen

I would note that similar heads also with twisted hair styles and earrings but facing left appear relatively frequently on glass paste intaglios from Italy (as well as some in more precious gem stones).

There is a chicken and egg problem here. Did the coins inspire the intaglios? Did the intaglios inspire the coin type? Is there a third iconographic influence on both designs were now missing? Is this like the images of the defeated enemy I’ve discussed with regard to the use of Gallic heads on Caesar’s coins and also on glass pastes or even images of Mithridates?

While I feel pretty comfortable linking the coins and the intaglios, I’m less certain if other Italic images should be brought in and if so how. Another class of evidence when racialized interpretations have often been made is architectural terracottas:

my photo from a recent visit to the Villa Julia, Rome
label at time of visit

non coin section

what follows is just my self-accountability blogging

I’m still feeling mentally flat since my procedure last week. I side effect of the anesthesia I am suspecting. I’m trying to increase fresh air and exercise as that never hurts even if it is not the cure.

Today’s goals to put time in to

  • communication and coordination for two different collaborative research endeavors
  • meet with a prospective student
  • think more about hoard evidence from the 80s,
  • maybe start a little free writing on intro to late nines early eighties Roman politics,
  • share recent scans,
  • email about photography as promised
  • start to nail down if it is just me or whole family going to Berlin
  • Contribute to write up of External Report

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