My favorite thing about numismatic databases are the things that pop up that I wasn’t looking for. This is a great example. There aren’t many known specimens, but there are two in the British Museum (example 1, example 2). Its obverse clearly echoes a much earlier republican didrachm (RRC 20/1).
It’s always interesting to see an awareness of earlier types surfacing after such an extended period–over two centuries regardless of how one wishes to date RRC 20/1. That said, it also raises questions about why this earlier type might have been attractive in this moment under Augustus. Hercules is usually associated with his rival Antony. As is Hellenistic Kingship. The connotations of the obverse type seem at odds with the Augustan program. Perhaps this explains its rarity? Perhaps the moneyer thought better of the design choice? A choice which at first which might have been attractive simply because of its antiquity and Augustus’ own rhetoric of conservative restoration?
So I was reading Pere Pau Ripollès’ fascinating ‘The X4 Hoard (Spain): Unveiling the Presence of Greek Coinages during the Second Punic War’ (2008) this morning. I fervently wish I’d read it before now. The problem with real publication, rather than this blogging non-sense, is its not easy after the fact to rethink and amend and correct your former ideas. Also real publication takes a very long time, so by the time it is out there for the world one’s intellectual engagement with the content has already moved on to something else or ‘evolved’ as Mr. Obama’s position has done on some issues. I’m thinking about my piece in this book. I’ll put a clean copy up on academia.edu one of these days.
Anyway. Pere Pau Ripollès goes along way towards illuminating circulation of Greek coinage in the Western Mediterranean. He tentatively still supports Crawford’s 1985 thesis that any Greek coins arrived with the Romans, although saying ‘this may be too categorical’. I’m inclined to see the evidence he collects as requiring this hypothesis to be seriously re evaluated. As he himself says in his conclusion the Greek coinage found in the hoards of Sicily are more similar to those in Spain than either is to Italy where there is a greater dearth of such Eastern coinages in the hoards.
One of the coins in Hoard X4 that he publishes is of the same type as that illustrated above.
This coin type, Crawford suggests, is the inspiration for the prows on Roman bronze series (See RRC p. 42 esp. n. 5; earlier post). It’s nice then to see that some specimens did in fact reach the Western Mediterranean relatively swiftly after its production.
I also note the rendering of the ram on this type (red circle above) is not unlike that found on the Athlit Ram.
And, while were talking about things I said in print I no longer believe, I can’t stand by a 260s date for the Heracles and Wolf and Twins didrachm after all the reading I’ve done for this new book. It fits better at the end of the First Punic War. I’m not sure how much that messes with my use of it as comparative evidence in the chapter linked above, but it does have some impact…