While I have a great deal of experience teaching coins, I usually have a captive audience of college students who know there is likely to be a test and I get a full hour plus and all the powerpoint slides I want.This is a completely different challenge. I need to keep it under 20 minutes. Ideally under 15. I have to pay to print large posters of any images I want to share (outside venue = no ppt) and I must assume the know nothing and I cannot be boring.
SOOOOooooo. My plan is to talk about five coins and try to hit all the most important points about Roman republican coinage with just those five coins.
Preliminary line up:
Elephant and Pig
Elephant and Pig
Coins don’t have to be round and small
The Italic monetary tradition is different than the Greek
We make mistakes when we want to connect the pictures on coins to our most famous stories
Romans struck coins to circulate with Greek coinages and thus imitating Greek conventions
Heads (=obverse = anvil die) and Tails (=reverse = punch die) correlate to how coins were manufactured
Roman coinage reflects Roman religion, and we don’t always know for certain the mean of the images
Crisis –> Change
conservative, stable designs is the norm for ancient coinages
Denarius = 10 asses
an innovative new denomination but one whose influence is still felt today
Roma: goddess? personification?
Dioscuri: Battle of Lake Regillus: Proof of Divine Favor
Signed Issues: another Greek habit but one eventually to ‘take over’ of the Roman coin design tradition
With Mediterranean-wide hegemony conservative coin design is no longer a necessity, even as the denomination itself remains stable
New designs speak both to community identity in new ways, using an existing visual repertoire
Diverse legend functions: Denomination marks, Moneyer’s name, labeling of the design, missing ROMA
Still the denarius! Incredible stability and recognizably of the denomination
Radical design shifts
Use of shared past to comment on the shared present
How the individual is also communal
Yeah that’s going to run longer than 15 minutes isn’t it….
NOW I need to get my image files and figure out where I’m getting them printed. Bonus result is I’ll have some pretty sweet posters for my office!
If the little sticky out thing at the top is part of the ball not part of the frame and not connecting the two, then it might be the box that catches and releases the random ball. That’s a lot of ifs and by no means certain, but until we find an actual archaeological match for the symbol this is the best I’ve got so far.
Clare Rowan drew my attention to this depiction on a ball game machine in the Bode Museum Berlin:
This statuette got me thinking that we probably have the obverse of RRC 388/1 (and perhaps other types with similar iconography) wrongly listed as Roma when they would more naturally be read as Mars by an ancient viewer:
This re identification would make sense with Mars’ totem animal the wolf on the reverse of 388.
This is a cast of an unknown original specimen in the Louvre.
The type assimilates the identities of Queen (Basilisse) Laodice and King Mithridates (Philopator) with Zeus and Hera and identifies them as Philadephon. Sibling Lovers. Emulating the Ptolemies and with a heavy nod to the same logics as Theocritus Idylls 17 justifying the sibling marriage among Hellenistic royalty based on the Olympic precedent.
Oller Guzmán, Joan, Oriol Olesti Vila, Jordi Morera Camprubí, and Gertrud Platz-Horster. “Three Roman Republican Seal-Rings Discovered in the Eastern Pyrenees and Their Significance.” European Journal of Archaeology, 2021, 1–20. doi:10.1017/eaa.2021.5.
Coinage, the practice of minting small bits of metal with distinctive marks, appearing in the second half of the 7th century BCE, had a transformative impact upon ancient economies and societies. Controversies endure concerning the original function of ancient coinage, in particular the respective role of states and markets in its emergence. Applying information-theoretic measures to a corpus of 6859 distinct coin types from the Ancient Mediterranean world, dated between c. 625 and c. 31 BCE, we show that the symbols minted on coins (designs combining images of plants, deities, animals, etc.) became increasingly informative about a coin’s value. This trend was specific to value-relevant information, as distinct from information concerning issuing states. Coin designs also carried more information about higher denominations than about lower ones. Before numerical or written marks of value became widely used on coinage, these iconic symbols were carrying economic information.
RRC 412 : L. Roscius Fabatus’ issue like Papius’ uses paired control marks (and also celebrates Juno Sopita). Some pairs repeat but some see unique to Fabatus. We saw the groma in my last post, but there are other fun examples of Roman technology on this series.
Lotto machine for randomizing ball draws!
This is also a great example about why one must read auction catalogues: they contain key information not just on specimens but also on types and also often finds and relevant scholarship. I just wish the individual entries were authored.