291 out of 410 days: San Martino in Pensilis Hoard

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The San Martino in Pensilis hoard and Andrew Burnett’s analysis thereof is probably the most important new information on third century Roman and Italian Silver issues from the last decade.  Highlights included:

  • Evidence of a significant gap (ballpark 300-260BC) between Rome’s first and second silver issues
  • The first Roma and Pistis Locrian coin in a hoard context
  • 30 ‘fresh’ coins of Teanum, Cales, and Suessa!  (No Cora specimen, alas.)

My scanned photocopy was really crappy, so I’m just delighted to realize that it’s available open access via Persée.  No more squinting for me today!  I’m also intrigued by the location of this hoard, just north of the Gargano (if you go, you must try the mysterious and delicious Lesina eel!).  It’s just down the road from Larinum (see earlier posts).  The Frentani became allied to the Romans in 304 BC and somewhere around the mid third century Larinum shifted from minting Neapolis type bronzes with Greek legends, to Roman type bronzes with Latin legends (well Oscan language, Latin Alphabet) (HN Italy 622 vs. 623).

San Martino in Pensilis - View

182 out of 410 days: LOFTS announced on AWOL

I’ve often griped about things behind the paywall of major publishers.  Case in point, I just put a line in a grant request for a year’s access to Brill’s New Jacoby: a new necessity for historiographical research that I can’t access via ILL.  And even at an outrageous cost it is still has significant weaknesses.  Anyway, I was pleased and intrigued to learn about this new approach from this blog:

The Leipzig Open Fragmentary Texts Series (LOFTS)

which includes this sub-project:

Digital Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (DFHG) Project

This is a great move forward for access and maybe even for interface, but how will it move us forward in terms of new scholarship?  Will those outside the research one institutions be forever stuck behind the ultimate paywall of the 70 year public domain for esoteric digital resources?

The dirty little secret of the academy is illegally digitized books.  I’ve check the pirated sites that have a richness of academic titles.  My first book has been pirated.  Dozens perhaps dozens of dozens of individuals are now reading it on bad scans rather than checking it out from the library or may one or two of them buying it.  Gotta say.  I don’t really mind.  It is dreadfully expensive. Even at a 40 percent author’s discount I didn’t buy many copies, just enough for my tenure file.  I certainly don’t have a spare copy!

At least the print nature of a book makes it more able to A) be legally borrowed from a library or B) pirated.  Databases like the BNJ are because of pricing and the high degree of specialization of their subject matter to only a few wealthy institutions which are willing to pay for access for their members.

So for now I’ll cheer on LOFTS and its ilk.  (While groaning at yet another acronym!)  And, I’ll twiddle my thumbs hoping that my wee little grant is approved so that come next July 1st, I too might have the privilege of accessing the BNJ.

74 out of 410 days: Game Changing Scholarship

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Sometimes awesome publications just don’t get the attention they deserve. Sometimes a single inscription can completely change our reconstruction of an individual’s career and thus the shape of events and meaning of various symbolism.  Such seems the case with Díaz Ariño’s republication of the inscription first published by González, J. (1993), C. Memmius imperator, Habis 24, 281-286.  I’m sticking it up here largely just to give it attention.  RRC 427/1 doesn’t recall the moneyer’s uncle’s time in Macedonia, but instead his grandfather’s previously unknown Spanish campaigns.

There is also the great work being done by Saskia Roselaar mapping coin finds in Italy in time and space to reveal connections and patterns in those connections.  I love that she is making her work available as it develops.

 

A Real Gem

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As you’ll know from my previous post on bullae (i.e. Hellenistic terracotta seals, the impressions of signet rings) I think that the connections between engraved gems and coins haven’t been adequately exploited. Gem collections are still far more under cataloged than coin collections, but in the digital revolution more and more are thankfully going online, sometimes pre-publication. This creates problems regarding how to search. What terms will bring up in the right results? I was looking to get a sense of how often trophies appear on seal rings and up popped the image above. Rudders as symbols of fortune are pretty common on seal rings, but that isn’t a trophy above it. The photo is poor but I definitely see Hercules’ club from the top of which emerges a caduceus. Those might be palm branches but ears of grain (corn for our British friends) are more (?) common on these types of seals and I’m going with poppies for fertility on either side and maybe a plow below the rudder. A real mash up of symbols, rich pickings for many a scholar, but not really find-able as it is currently listed. Google image and that major social media site we’re all addicted to now do image searches base on similarity and facial recognition. There is no marketability in such an academic application, but that type of search technology could revolutionize our visual databases. The computer-aided die-study, of course, being the most seductive allusive dream. As more and more visual data comes on line we’ll need to get better about how we can sort and access it.

At very least working more “wiki” functionality into our academic databases would allow random users to leave notes or comments that might aid the project as a whole.