268 out of 410 days: South Italian Digital Archive

I was worrying about the conflicting testimony in Livy and Diodorus over Cleonymus of Sparta’s Italian adventures.  Oakley has a good overview of the problem but there is more that can be said on the historiographical side. Barnes also has a take on the matter.

Amongst other things is a place called Thuriae, not Thurii mind you, that features in Livy’s narrative:

During the year a fleet of Greek ships under the command of the Lacedaemonian Cleonymus sailed to the shores of Italy and captured the city of Thuriae in the Sallentine country. The consul, Aemilius, was sent to meet this enemy, and in one battle he routed him and drove him to his ships. Thuriae was restored to its former inhabitants, and peace was established in the Sallentine territory.

[In case you’re wondering, the Sallentine territory or peninsula is the heel of Italy’s boot.]

This little mystery led to finding this 1932 publication that suggests it is the same as Turi, outside of Bari.

The interesting thing about this publication is how it ended up on the web.  The provincial administration of Brindisi seems to have decided in 2012 to scan and archive online pretty much every last regional publication.  Here’s the announcement.  There is as far as I can find no easy portal for searching through all the old newspapers and journals to find the relevant bits, but the archive is hiding lots of numismatic tidbits.   For instance, here’s the publication of the Salvatore Hoard.

The best I’ve found to mine its depths is to use Google site search.  Just go to the google homepage and enter a likely term in Italian, say ‘didramma’, and then ‘site:emeroteca.provincia.brindisi.it’.  Leave off the quotes.

Postscript.  I just don’t think the Cleonymus of Polyaenus’s Stratagems is the same character.  It’s just too early a date for the Romans to control Apollonia and Epidamnus.

267 out of 410 days: Mapping Mints and Other Things

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Mapping functionality is being increasingly incorporated into digital numismatic publications.  The flash maps of the provincial mints were pretty hot stuff when they first came out on the RPC IV website about 8 years ago.  They still look pretty good if you ask me.  The ANS has started putting maps into most of its sites, the most impressive being the map feature of CHRR online.  But sometimes you want more than one point plotted on a map and you want to choose yourself which points are plotted.  I was pretty happy with the functionality of AWMC: À-la-carte map.  I think my internet speed (DSL) made it a bit clunky or maybe it’s the new Turkish internet security initiatives slowing things down.  That said, still worth it.  My first simple test (featured above) was to put on a map the mints that produced coins that are hoarded with RRC 13/1. I couldn’t get Cumae on the map at this magnification and use full name labels.  It’s label and that of Neapolis overlapped.  It however does let you custom label points or just number each point to stop the overlap feature.   I then just used the snipping tool (like a screen shot) to grab the portion of the map I wanted.

I suspect this mapping program is going to figure heavily in my lesson plans in future semesters.

For modern locations, such as find spots, there are a number of websites, Multiplottr is simple enough. [Why, oh why, has it become cute to name websites leaving out the last ‘e’?!]  Here are the results from plotting, S. Giovanni Ionico, Torchiarolo, Oppido Lucano, Mesagne, Valesio, and ‘Campania’.  Not publication worthy but certainly good enough to think with.  Very fast and easy to edit.

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204 out of 410 days: How much work is involved in a die-study?

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Yes, 30 seconds is an arbitrary number.  Many comparisons will be much faster, after much longer.  And, no consideration is given to the collection of the images for comparison.  But,the numbers a still good to think when consider what sorts of studies are feasible until a meaningful type of machine assist is developed or just the work involved in any individual project.

So for instance, I supervised a masters thesis that was a die study of 383 specimens.  If the student had take a full 30 seconds on each comparison that would have been nearly 153 8-hour work days, nearly half a year.  Not counting the write up.   [The chart above using 24-hour days.]  Obviously, on the republican series certain variations within a type, especially control marks when present, can speed up a die study, but even such sorting requires individual consideration and intense record keeping.   Without such control marks limiting the number of comparisons required, De Ruyter’s 1996 study of the Coins of L. Julius Bursio would have required upwards of 5,287,700 unique comparisons (NC 156: 79-147).

Dragons and Snakes and Legs, Oh My!

Reverse Image

Obverse Image

This is a 10 minute post, A “because I promised a coin a work day” post.

The legs of the curule chair resting on top of a base line out of which a serpent-like head rises on this type of Q. Metellus in Africa reminds of Caesar’s famous elephant coin.

I don’t have anything much more really to say, other than a caryx (Gallic ritual war implement) seems a likely identification or what ever creature the caryx itself is supposed to represent. This is not an educated view and luckily I don’t need to talk about either coin in my book. Someone far more qualified will handle the issue in the sequel!

Linderski, p. 174 n. 111 give references to various theories for the top Metellus coin.

The Caesar coin is hotly debated in many forums.

I’d want to see more specimens but I’d say the two are likely to be showing the same serpenty-thing, whatever it means. And, I suspect someone else has also drawn the parallel based on how the identification possibilities for both seem to run parallel in the literature.

54 out of 410 Days: Sign of Tanit

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The fabulous Dr. Hannah of Oxford pointed out in comments that this type (RRC 460/4) would be relevant to yesterday’s post. That Victory carrying a caduceus: with victory comes peace! Such a perfect summation of Roman ideological rhetoric during the Civil Wars. I’ve been turning a blind eye to everything post Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, because that’s when the book terminates, but, of course, it is still the same monetary system. The chaos of the symbolism of that later period through Augustus really does deserve its own book and I prefer the earlier periods, but I am missing out on some fun with the present schema.

This type is really intriguing to me because of the other side.

The RRC description reads “Lion-headed Genius terrae Africae (head surmounted by disk), holding ahkh in r. hand…” That is no ahkh, that is the sign of Tanit, the patron goddess of Carthage.  [A scholarly friend has suggested that there might in fact be a connection between the two symbols.]

A flickr search or a google image search can give you a sense of the variations on this symbol and its contexts. And the image as a whole is clearly the same as this statue in the Bardo:

The connection was made in 1918.  The publication is now in the public domain; see p. 241-242 for the relevant discussion.  The identification as Genius Terrae Africae comes from the resolution of the  “C . T . A”  legend on the coin above the figure’s head by Babylon.  I wonder if any other epigraphic parallels exist for this abbreviation or even the existence of this Genius in this form?   Crawford (and others? ) see a link with the “Genius of Carthage”  (Δαίμονος Καρχηδονίων) of Polybius 7.9.2.

Based on the abstract this might be relevant: Salcedo Garcés, Fabiola. – El relieve tetrarquico de Rapidum (Sour-Djouab, Argelia) : política y religión en el Africa romana. Antiquités africaines 1996 32 : 67-85.

Gabriela Vlahovici-Jones has given the type some discussion online.  She treats the deity as “Sekhmet holding ankh” without any reference to Tanit.

Much of the concern over the identity of the Genius Terrae Africae or the Genius generally in N. Africa, seems to be in scholarship on the Late Antique and the Church Fathers, so for example this discussion and notes.

Linderski, Jerzy. “Q. Scipio Imperator.” In Imperium sine fine: T. Robert S. Broughton and the Roman Republic. (1996), pp. 144–185 is probably the most through description of the coin series.

And while we’re at it, I might as well mention that the sign of Tanit is often combined with a symbol similar too (and perhaps the same as?) the caduceus.

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British Museum

I’m no expert on North Africa so I’m going to stop here before I say anything stupid.

[Oh. And I think Victory is holding a shield not a patera (possibly even a Macedonian shield?)]