297 out of 410 days: Acorns again.

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ANS specimens of RRC 21/7 = HN Italy 294. Click image for full details.

Last time I was worrying about acorns, I was mostly on about RRC 14/7.  This is the other ‘heavy’ acorn.   Many of the specimens on the market do seem ‘heavy’ for being a 1/24th piece of a 265g as, or at least a quick scan suggests, but the ANS specimens are lighter: 11.75-13.9g.  They are not so heavy that they seem particularly problematic in the weight standard, cf. the ANS uncia specimens of the series which are all much heavier.

My interest was peaked by how they show up in this hoard:

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Image links to source publication. Marks in red are my annotations.  [Note: the correct citation for the Nola bronze is HN Italy 607.  Also see below for discrepancy between this report of the hoard and that in IGCH.]
So here RRC 21/7 is hanging out all by its lonesome with a bunch of RRC 14s and 18s.    I’m not really sure why RRC 21/7 couldn’t go with the RRC 18 series.  The types of RRC 21 echo the obverse types of RRC 14, so that would make the acorn fit with RRC 21. Must take a look to see if we have any other hoards with RRC 21/7 out in the cold…

I’m also sure I’m being influenced by how RRC 14s and 18s are often found in hoards together on their own; another great publication surveying this phenomenon is online.

Here’s Burnett 1977 on the importance of the above hoard:

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Image links to online version of the publication.

If the statement about the semuncia being contemporary with the Roma/Victory didrachms is true this would pull this hoard’s date down to the end of 1st Punic War based on Burnett’s 2006 reading of the San Martino in Pentilis hoard.   The presence of the Minerva/Cock types and the Aesernia types with the subsequent Man-faced bull issues leads me to think this is a hoard from a transitional phase between the two.  I’d be inclined to agree with M. C. Molinari that it predates both the Pratica di Mare and Teano Hoards…

Okay, here’s one more complication.  R. Russo in Numismatica Sottovoce proposed that RRC 16, 17, and 23 were single series (23 = double unit, 16 = unit, 17 = half unit) minted at Neapolis after the Battle of Beneventum. This seems too early to me and I hesitate to break RRC 23 away from it Messane mint connection.   But neither of these points directly challenge them being a series.

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But if RRC 16 was really contemporary with RRC 17 that would detract from M. C. Molinari’s ordering of these three hoards as RRC 16 is present in Pietrabbondante…  I find myself leaning more away from Russo’s idea of a series.

Mattingly’s reading of the Pietrabbondante hoard is here but I think it’s mostly out of date given the evidence of the San Martino in Pentilis evidence.

Something seems to have gone wrong in the transcription of the hoard totals in the above publication.  Here’s the entry from IGCH:

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Note that the number of  uncertain have been attributed to Neapolis above and the 126 of Neapolis have been missed out.   I don’ t think it overly affects the interpretation of the hoard in source publication.  The original publication of the hoard  with all the details has been digitized, although it takes forever to load.

Who Issued Aes Grave?

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Communities issuing aes grave with Latin Colonies highlighted (missing Volceii, sorry). Map cannot capture the numerous types not attributed to any specific location or group. Map created using AWMC: à-la-carte Map to which it links. [FYI – runs best for me in firefox rather than other browsers.]
Crawford CMRR discusses the cast currencies of Italy in five groups (p. 43-46):

  • an as of about 300g maybe from 1st Punic War:  Tarquinii, Tuder, Reate, Praeneste, Carseoli, and Firmum
  • a heavier as (350-450g): Ariminum, Hadria, Vestini, another unidentified mint maybe Asculum Picenum
  • an as of about 300g followed by reductions probably from 2nd Punic War: Luceria and Venusia
  • reduced as from rebel communities during 2nd Punic War: Volceii and Meles
  • issues of Etruria and Umbria (including Iguvium on map above) on 200g standard from time of 1st Punic War

He summarizes circulation and weight standard thus:

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From CMRR p. 46 (links to page).

 

 

Ariminum types, Roman Currency Bar types

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ANS Specimens of Ariminum Cast Bronze. Click image form more details.

It strikes me that that the cast bronze types of Ariminum bear a marked similarity to the types of the Roman currency bars.  Ariminum became a Latin colony in 268 BC and the cast bronze dates to sometime after that date.  The one type I couldn’t find to illustrate has a shield as the reverse type.  Its as seems to be heavier than the Roman (350-400g) and it divides the as into a base-10, instead of base-12 fractions.  It shares these characteristics with Hadria and Vestini (Crawford, CMRR, p. 43 & HN Italy p. 17).

Ariminum types above all represent different denominations. [Scale can be so deceptive in online images!] Shield = quincunx, Sword and scabbard = quadrunx, trident = teruncius, dolphin = biunx, rostrum = uncia, shell = semuncia.

This suggests they were created as a series at one moment in time.  Perhaps they took their inspiration from the currency bars?  With the exception of the shell all of these are well known images on the bars.  Below is a collection of images to refresh your memory.  And one more specimen of Ariminum, the trident of which better parallels the bars.

AND, just as icing on the cake, the rostrum on the uncia confirms Kondratieff’s interpretation of the currency bar iconography from a different angle.  [HN Italy got the uncia identification right, but still kept the trident of RRC.]

There is nothing that comes to mind that would preclude the possibility that the shield and sword currency bars were made at the same time as the naval types…

File:Aes Signatum.jpg

1. République (-280 à -27) - Delcampe.fr

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You may know ancient Ariminum better by its modern name Rimini.

Update 4/22/2014: The main study of the Ariminum mint is available online: G. Gorini, La monetazione di Ariminum, Revue Numismatique 2010

 

288 out 410 days: Heavy Acorns

In trade
RRC 14/7. Semuncia circa 280-265, Æ 14.36 g. Acorn. Rev. Σ. Haeberlin pl. 40, 23-27. Aes Grave 40. Sydenham 14. Thurlow-Vecchi 7. Historia Numorum Italy 274.

Crawford say on p. 40 of CMRR:

Andrew Burnett acutely points out that the weight standard  of the semunciae of the first issue of cast bronze [sc. RRC 14] makes it clear that they represent a point of transition to the second, which is heavier than the first (the reasons are mysterious).

This point is still raised in serious scholarly works such as Alessandro Maria Jaia and Maria Cristina Molinari’s NC piece of 2011 (p. 90).   How exactly does this work?  And what does it mean?

Here’s Crawford in RRC vol 2 p. 595:

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I’m still unclear on the whole subject (hence the blogging about it…).  Does it mean that the heavy semuncia of RRC 14 shows a tendency to think about the pound as heavier than 322g?

A 322g as should have a 13.42 ish semuncia as its the 1/24th denomination.

In the ANS collection, the weights are: 19.47, 13.43, 23.78(!), 14.76.

A search of acsearch.info, returned these numbers: 18.49, 14.36, 23.51.

Not a large sample size but woah that’s some variation in the data.   And three, maybe four, of these seven specimens weigh enough to be a plausible weight for a uncia in the same series.

The ANS collection has RRC 14/6 specimens weighing: 20.2, 25.73, 29.33, 22.76, 19.64, 20.79, 25.22.

So what about the ‘heavy series’ RRC 18, no semuncia for comparison but we do have an uncia.  And remember on weight standard of 334g we should expect as weight of about 27.83 g for the 1/12th piece.

The ANS weights for RRC 18/6 are: 18.1, 18.42, 21.51, 26.13, 28.15, 32.57, 22.97, 39.36, 23.61

Holy variation, batman!  But again four of our RRC 14/7’s would fit comfortably into the lower end of this observed data set.

Time to step back and ask a really basic question.  How do we know its a semuncia and it goes in this series?  I opened up Crawford’s list of the Nemi finds.  Not one example of RRC 14/7.  There are for context 50 specimens of other RRC 14 denominations including 11 uncia (weights for the four specimens in Nottingham = 28.19, 27.04, 26.77, 27.46, cf. weights of RRC 18/6: 19.96, 29.09, 24.86, 28.55).  Jaia and Molinari 2011 (link above) have an appendix of all the hoards of just RRC 14 and 18 aes graves (i.e. those that should have an early closing date).  No semuncias. Not surprising really, small change isn’t the most desirable for hoarding.

Well, there is a big sigma on it, right?  That has got to stand for semuncia.  And we’ve got the comparative evidence of RRC 21/7 with an acorn and sigma on each side.  Still.  The weights bother me.  And it also really bothers me how much the type looks like the obols of Mantineia:

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ANS specimens. Click image for full refs.

One heck of a coincidence.

And I’m not really less confused that when I started writing this post, but I do have a mad urge to start collecting a big spreadsheet of specimen weights.  I’ll resist for now.

Update: See now also this newer post on related material.

 

 

277 out of 410 days: agri quaestorii and Rome’s first issue of cast bronze coins?

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RRC 14/1. 358.81g. ANS 1969.83.385. Gift of E.R. Miles.

In CMRR, Crawford first uses the evidence of the Nemi finds to place the RRC 14 finds ‘no earlier than about 280’.  He then goes on: “One may speculate that the need to administer the agri quaestorii acquired in 290 (Lib. Col. 253, 17L; 349, 17 L) played a part in the decision to produce the first issue of cast bronze coinage.” (p.40-41).

To wrap my head around the plausibility of this I turned to Roselaar’s Public Land in the Roman Republic (2010).  She gives a good definition and survey of ager quaestorius (p. 121-127).  On 290 BC she says:

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Even if we go ahead and concede the land around Cures was sold shortly after 290, I have a hard time following the logic of how the sale of land is made easier by the creation of coinage.

The other issue muddying the waters regards agrarian issues in this period is the parallel and in precise testimony that M’. Curius Dentatus distributed land. Viris Illustribus has a good mash-up of various accounts.  First after conquering the Samnites he says in a contio  ” I took so much land that it would have become a desert, if I had not taken so many men. I took so many men that they would have starved, if I had not taken so much land.” (33.2)  Then, he gives 14 iugera of land the people (which we do not learn) and only takes so much for himself saying, “there was no one for whom this amount was not sufficient”. (33.5-6)  The latter echoes a pithy saying of his found in Plutarch, but where we are offered no context for it. Valerius Maximus says only seven iugera were given out, but also makes a moral out of the general taking no more than the rest.  Pliny has the very same nugget:

The words, too, that were uttered by Manius Curius after his triumphs and the addition of an immense extent of territory to the Roman sway, are well known: “The man must be looked upon,” said he, “as a dangerous citizen, for whom seven jugera of land are not enough;” such being the amount of land that had been allotted to the people after the expulsion of the kings.

Then at the end of the mini bio in Viris Illustribus (link above) we’re told he’s given 500 iugera by the public for his services (33.10).

And, just to add to the mix we should remember that his campaigns in the Po is said to have led to the founding of the colony of Sena which would have also included land distributions (Polybius 2.19).  The Periochae of Livy don’t have a land distribution, but do have the colonial foundation.

Cato the Elder, and Cicero after him, loved Dentatus as the epitome of the rustic Roman, military man and farmer, happy to conquer everyone in sight and still eat a simple stew from a wooden bowl. [Cincinnatus, anyone!?] The literary sources care FAR more about the bon mot than the distribution.  I don’t think we can nail down a context for it.

Thus, I think this is just a fun rabbit hole with very little promise for finding a context for the aes grave.

That’s not to say Dentatus is completely useless to us when we’re thinking about early contexts for making coins:

6. in the four hundred and eighty-first year from the founding of the City, Manius Curius Dentatus, who held the censorship with Lucius Papirius Cursor, contracted to have the waters of what is now called Old Anio brought into the City, with the proceeds of the booty captured from Pyrrhus. This was in the second consulship of Spurius Carvilius and Lucius Papirius. Then two years later the question of completing the aqueduct was discussed in the Senate on the motion of the praetor. At the close of the discussion, Curius, who had let the original contract, and Fulvius Flaccus were appointed by decree of the Senate as a board of two to bring in the water. Within five days of the time he had been appointed, one of the two commissioners, Curius, died; thus the credit of achieving the work rested with Flaccus. The intake of Old Anio is above Tibur at the twentieth milestone outside the* Gate, where it gives a part of its water to supply the Tiburtines. Owing to the exigence of elevation, its conduit has a length of •43,000 paces. Of this, the channel runs underground for •42,779 paces, while there are above ground. substructures for •221 paces.

I’d not like to connect this aqueduct to any one issue but like the construction of Via Appia, big infrastructure projects and the establishment of colonies are easier if the state has an easy means of making payments.

Map of the course of the Aqua Anio Vetus

254 out 410 days: Aes Grave Iconography

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Bronze Quincunx, Hatria, 300 BC. ANS 1954.263.176

So I was skimming the ANS catalogue trying to collect my thoughts about the Italian context for early Roman coinage.  Most of the examples of cast coinage from non-Roman mints seems comfortably familiar. Wheels, Tridents, Anchors, Clubs are all motifs found at Rome and elsewhere.  I particularly like the animals, roosters and sleeping dogs especially.  But then I came across this specimen above: “Female Head in Murex Shell”.  So different!  Even if the other side, a Pegasus, is by contrast strikingly familiar in a numismatic context.  Anyway the unexpected-thing-in-a-shell motif reminded me of course of our discussion of gem stone themes, earlier.  It certainly fits that motif well.

Carnelian ring stone

The British Museum also have a good selection of this type of gem.  Note especially the Mule coming out of the murex shell.

Postscript 5 March 2014.  There is no image of that mule coming out of a shell on the BM site, but I just wonder if it isn’t more likely to be an ass.  The ass is known for its generous male genital endowment and Henig argues that the shell is a symbol of a female sexual organs.   You see why I wonder about it being a mule… Anyway, in furhter support of Henig’s fertility theory of the shell motif, there is the other BM specimen (illustrated) where two rabbits issue forth from the shell.