Oval Series Denomination Markers

So the lunate symbol on the oval series aes grave bothers me.  I feel sure I’ve blogged about this before but cannot find the notes.

Talking to any number of Italic Language experts (Jay Fisher, Katherine MacDonald among others) there is no way that it is an S standing for Semis.  And if that is the case it’s not going to mean 1/2.  It’s going to be a numerical symbol.  And I think it is most likely the number 5, like V.  This would the oval series base-10 not base-12.  Anyway, I’ve not had positive evidence to support this BUT I think the marks on the Pisa/Luca Etruscan bronzes are probably good enough evidence to convince most (I hope).


If I’m right about this it would also mean that the Volterra series was also base-10:


and so also Tuder and other Etruscan/N. Italian mints:


Other denomination marks that have more “normal”  numerals to our eyes:



An Intaglio depicting Coins for New Year!


“Lorbeerblatt, Feige(?) und Phallus ohne Hoden. Dazu drei Münzen, eine mit dem bärtigen bekranzten Kopf des Kaisers Commodus und der Umschrift COMM.ANT.PFII die andere mit Victoria mit Palme und Kranz und der Umschrift VICTO, die dritte mit viersäuligem Tempel, darin die Statue eines Gottes, der die Rechte hoch auf Zepter oder Lanze stützt, zu den Seiten SC. Um das Ganze die (fagmentierte) Umschrift: FELIci impERAtori ANNVM Novum FAustum felicEM.”

“Bay leaf, fig (?) And phallus without testicles. wheat or barley kernel. In addition three coins, one with the bearded, wreathed head of the Emperor Commodus and the inscription COMM.ANT.PFII, the other with Victoria with a palm tree and wreath and the inscription VICTO, the third with a four-column temple, in it the statue of a god who holds the rights high based on scepter or lance, to the sides SC. All around the (fragmented) transcription: FELICI IMPERATORI ANNVM NOVVM FAVSTVM FELICEM”

” A Happy and Prosperous New Year for our Blessed Emperor”

Arachne entry object (no image)

Arachne entry cast (no description)

I guess this is the richie rich version of this type of gift.  BM specimen photographed by Carol Raddato

I Capture.JPG


annu(m) / novum / fau(s)tum / felice(m)

“A happy and prosperous New Year”

another intaglio depicting coins

Phallus Intaglios with Odd Inscriptions

The thing that strikes me as strange about these are the inscriptions

They read right to left (these are impressions of the original intaglios) and also with characters not found regularly in Latin or Greek.  Some of the letter forms bear similarities with Etruscan and Punic but neither set of letters corresponds to letters in either alphabet as far as I can tell.

Are the inscription ‘magical’ ‘arcane’ (nonsense)? Or is this a limitation of my philological knowledge?

(I’m teaching a Sex and Gender in antiquity seminar in the fall hence my interest.)