Gold imitating a Paestum Bronze

A small gold medallion, perhaps jewelry or decorative element: 2.1 cm; 1.06 g. Louvre Bj 31

Because this object is stamped the curators speculated that it might have been created using the impression of a coin. The inspiration is clearly elephant type from Paestum, but gold-piece doesn’t look anything like specimens I’ve seen. The gold elephant looks more Indian and the bronze coins more African. Also I’ve just never seen a Paestum bronze in that good of condition. Crawford, Paestum 21/2; SNG ANS 777; HN Italy 1230.

N.B. I don’t have F. Carbone’s books to hand to see if he says anything interesting on the type.

From p. 184 of my book.
Specimens from recent auctions
BM 1852,0701.20
BM RPK,p284.29.PosL

ANS specimens not yet photographed.


A Sacred Mountain

I was making a silly fun morning tweet thread. It’s my habit if I need to wake up my coin brain and remind myself I love my job, but I don’t tend to put anything ‘serious’ in them. The danger of course is that I see something that I want to follow up on. So here’s a blog post to shake it out of my brain.

The offending coin is from Prostanna in Pisidia (see thread for a little more on this obscure mint).

RPC 20841 = vA, Pisidien II, 1818

It’s really not that mysterious, once I sorted through the headaches of the various transcriptions and spelling variations. The exergue reads OVIAPOC and the type description changes this to an Anglicized rendering Mount Viaros. I did eventually work it out. Its modern name is Davraz Dağı (or Tepe), and it has a commanding presence in the regional landscape.

Pleiades reference

Labarre Guy, Özsait Mehmet, Özsait Nesrin. Parlais et Prostanna : sites et territoires. In: Anatolia Antiqua, Tome 13, 2005. pp. 223-257.

Wikimedia image of the mountain

The same mountain appears on two other coin types (more? let me know!)

Aulock, Pisidien II 1863, not yet in RPC on line

Notice that the mountain name also appears on this coin but is spelt BIAPOC (Biaros). The different transliterations were commented on is a rather odd book from 1927. I’m not sure how seriously to take any of this speculation. (Opinions welcome.)

The mountain and the tree(s) were clearly of local meaning for a very long time. This is a coin type presumed to date from the first century BCE.

SNG Paris 1706. SNG von Aulock 1754

Sacred mountains are well known in Central Anatolia and perhaps in the Roman era the most famous (esp to numismatists) is Mount Argeus. Weirdly, the Wikipedia entry for the mountain says nothing about its importance culturally in the Roman period.

The people of Prostanna clearly revered their mountain for centuries and yet I can find no textual references to the mountain (Cf. ToposText), only the coins and the landscape. However that 2005 article above does a great job of bring to light the sacred spaces on the mountain itself and when joined with the coins helps us recover something of the lived experience.

So much lost human experience, but I have say if there was more linked open data (LOD) to connect all the various transliterations and to get databases to speak to each other, I’d have not spent so much time on this mountain this morning.

Cook in 1914 speculated that the mountain was associated with ‘Zeus’, but this is little more than a guess:

After thought.

Some scholarship on the coins of Prostanna:

Eugene Lane’s work on the temple of Men seen on the coins.

RPC 20846

Bru. (2017). Territoires, « dieux-fleuves » et monnayages. In La Phrygie Parorée et la Pisidie septentrionale aux époques hellénistique et romaine (Vol. 401, pp. 105–143).

Link to RPC

Immodest quotation

Liv Mariah Yarrow’s contribution in the section on New Quellenforschung has perhaps the greatest potential usefulness in this volume. This chapter sets forth a typology of fragments (or reliquiae, the term Yarrow prefers here) and their uses by ancient authors. As noted (p. 251), the basis for this discussion comes from Yarrow’s previous work, which itself was influenced by a 1980 article by Brunt. This chapter functions as a ‘How-To’ guide on utilising this typology and, more generally, as an argument in favour of it. It does so through an analysis of Diodoros as both a source transmitter and a source being transmitted. The most exciting aspect of this chapter is that the methodology and typology can be genericized, and are applicable to the transmission of any fragment, not just those of Diodoros. Yarrow here provides an approach to fragmentary evidence that can be emulated, and will supplement the study of a wide variety of sources.

From W. P. Richardson’s review in BMCR of Lisa Irene Hau, Alexander Meeus, Brian Sheridan, Diodoros of Sicily: Historiographical Theory and Practice in the «Bibliotheke». Studia Hellenistica, 58. Leuven: Peeters, 2018. x, 612. ISBN 9789042934986 €115,00.

I thought no one would ever read this chapter. I’m delighted to have proof at least one colleague did and liked it.

Full Text of Chapter

Sulla’s Equestrian Statue: a bibliographical note

RRC 381/1a&b


Bustany-Leca, Catherine. “La statue équestre de Sylla « in Foro »: une rupture dans les codes de représentation de l’homme public à Rome ?.” In Corps, gestes et vêtements dans l’Antiquité: les manifestations du politique, Edited by Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste. Symposia, 77-86. Caen: Pr. Universitaires de Caen, 2019.

Machine translated abstract:

“Cic., Phil. 9, 6, 13 underlines the transgressive character of the equestrian statue in gilded bronze erected by Sylla. The originality of the statue lies as much in the representation on horseback as in the material. Republican precedents exist, however, mentioned by Plin., Nat. 34, 28-29; Liu. 2, 13, 11; 9, 43, 22; Cic., Att. 6, 1, 17. An “aureus” of Sylla can account for the iconography of the lost statue: Sylla, in a toga and without arms, would not be represented as an “imperator”; the horse could embody the “equus publicus”.”

Ancient Anti-Refugee Rhetoric

“Or shall we bring in a multitude of homeless lower classes, like those driven from hence, who because of debts, judgments, and other like misfortunes will gladly remove to any place that may offer? But these, even though otherwise of a good and modest disposition — to concede them this much — yet just because of their being neither native born nor of like habits with us, and because they will not be acquainted with our customs, laws, and training, would no doubt be far, nay infinitely, worse than our own lower classes.

“Our own native born masses at least have here their wives, children, parents, and many others that are dear to them, to serve as guarantors of their loyalty; yes, and there is their fondness for the soil that reared them, a passion that is implanted in all men and not to be eradicated; but as for this multitude which we propose to invite here, this people without roof or home, if they should take up their abode with us having none of these pledges here, in defence of what blessing would they care to face dangers?!”

Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ words ascribed to the Senator Agrippa Menenius in 491 BCE.

It sounds a remarkably modern means of stirring up fear.

The Etruscan Sea God

I was recently corresponding with an Italian colleague about the obverse head on the coins of Vetulonia and how to source a decent image.

These are drawings from Sambon:

He’d found this throw away earlier post of mine and that’s how we got talking. Here’s a Paris specimen; a BM specimen.

Well today I was looking for a reference and came across another v old blog post of mine. And lo! Do you see the parallel?

Louvre link to scarab intaglio
Louvre link for impression

I feel very confident that this intaglio depicts Nethuns wearing a ketos (sea serpent) headdress.

Probably a coincidence

BM 1843,0116.346, RRC 340/1

There is no real suggestion that the controlmarks of the obverse and reverse dies are paired logically for the L. Calpurnius Piso series. So for instance the obverse shown above was paired in an earlier die state with the other BM Specimen illustrated below. And yet, that double axe and that knife look a great deal like this funerary relief created a couple of hundred years later on the other side of the Mediterranean.

Louvre MND 709 = Ma 3318; Said to be from Acmonia (mod. Turkey)
BM 2002,0102.2033