Tuesday, 14 March 2017
A chance visit to a charity shop yesterday threw up a interesting batch of postcards, all unused and the same design and useful to use as notelets to numismatic friends. The batch of thirty or so cards bore an image of an aureus of Galba currently in the collection of Wakefield Museums. It inspired me to do a bit of digging about this coin and how it came to the museum.
Sadly there is very little online, apparently found by a metal detectorist working in the vicinity of Castleford (Roman Lagentium, thought to mean 'The Place of the Swordsmen') during road construction work in the centre of what was the Roman fort.
Most of the information gleaned came from Bland and Loriot’s monograph on Roman gold coins found in Britain. In that work it is entry number 646.
Monday, 2 January 2017
I recently came across this ancient coin that has a rather interesting story. It was sold as a 21mm bronze coin of the Silandos mint in Lydia (Turkey), an autonomous issue under Roman rule most often dated to around the Severan period in literature. Having searched through a number of references I was unable to place the type with helmeted Roma on the obverse and Tyche holding a rudder and cornucopia on the reverse. The obverse is known, for example, on SNG Copenhagen 547.
SNG Cop 547
I then took a closer look at the legend on the reverse, reading EΠI Λ MAPOC Y IE TABAΛEѠ[N ], a reverse type of Tabala in Lydia, not Silandos! Although the reverse legend is known, for example on the coinage of the city under Commodus and Crispina (eg SNG von Aulock 8272), the Tyche reverse design is not recorded for Tabala in the references I have consulted.
There is the thought that such mixes of types of different cities occurs because coining was a specialist craft and one location was contracted to produce types for a number of neighbouring cities. Thus errors could occur with the mixing of city types, although this combination was unknown to Konrad Kraft in his work Kaiserzeitliche Münzprägung in Kleinasien. This looks to have occurred here but, unusually, mixing a known obverse/portrait side from Silandos with a new, unrecorded reverse type from Tabala and is probably unique.
This coin can be bought HERE.
Saturday, 3 September 2016
Claudius, Tetradrachm, c.45-6 AD, RPC I 5164
I recently acquired this “dynastic” coin, made in Alexandria, Egypt, of the emperor Claudius. His portrait is featured on the obverse of the coin. The reverse has a veiled female figure standing left. You would probably think of Demeter at first glance, however, the figure is named and that name is Messalina, Claudius’ third wife. In her hand, outstretched, there are two small children, Claudia Octavia and Britannicus.
Little is known about Messalina’s life prior to her marriage in 38 to Claudius, her first cousin once removed, who was then about 48 years old. Claudia Octavia was born in AD 39 or 40, a future empress, stepsister and first wife to the emperor Nero; and Britannicus in AD 41. When the Emperor Caligula was murdered in 41, the Praetorian Guard proclaimed Claudius the new emperor and Messalina became empress.
With her accession to power, Messalina enters history with a reputation as ruthless, predatory and sexually insatiable. Her husband is represented as easily led by her and unconscious of her many adulteries. In 48 AD, he went away on a trip and was informed when he returned that Messalina had gone so far as to marry her latest lover, the Senator Gaius Silius. While many would have ordered her death, the Emperor offered her another chance. Seeing this as weakness, one of his head officers went behind the Emperor's back and ordered Messalina's death. Upon hearing the news, the Emperor did not react and simply asked for another chalice of wine. The Roman Senate then ordered a damnatio memoriae so that Messalina's name would be removed from all public and private places and all statues of her would be taken down.
Sunday, 7 August 2016
The stone slabs weigh up to two tons each. According to local legend, they were placed by the devil to win a bet. Its age is unknown, as several theories claim that the steps date from the Bronze Age, c. 1000 BC, but others date them from around 1400 AD. It has been restored several times in recent years, following flood damage.
The steps have appeared on British stamps twice, in 1968 and 2015.
1968 UK stamp
2015 UK stamp
Thursday, 14 July 2016
Beehive querns are a characteristic later pre-Roman Iron Age type, although their chronology has yet to be refined. They were the first characteristic quern shape to be introduced into Britain. The horizon of their introduction is likely to be late in the 4th century BC and they remained in use until replaced by Roman rotary querns, perhaps from late in the first century AD, a process which may have extended over at least a century, although, again, the chronology has yet to be clarified.
In West Yorkshire querns are important as an indicator of the general distribution of later pre-Roman Iron Age settlement, subject to the usual caveats regarding the presence or absence of fieldworkers and museums, and other variables affecting their discovery and reporting.
Querns are particularly prevalent in the valleys of the rivers Wharfe and Aire, the distribution thinning out on the Pennine uplands and in the lower parts of the Vale of York. This pattern presumably reflects limited populations, but the thinning of the distribution in South Yorkshire may be a function of observation and recording. Within the general distribution pattern it is of particular interest to note the iffering distribution of ‘tall’ querns with sides of greater than 70 degrees to base and 'hemispherical' querns with sides of less than 60 degrees to base. While hemispherical querns are particularly found in North Yorkshire and the Tees valley, ‘tall’ querns are a feature of West Yorkshire, suggesting a cultural distinction which may also be reflected in the ritual and burial traditions noted above.
How long it took flat rotary querns to supplant beehive querns remains unclear, but it is likely that the use of beehive querns did not extend into the 3rd century AD.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
Private Joseph Richardson PalmerIt took me a while to identify which picture belonged to which person as neither is named but, from examination of cap badges and tunic buttons, I think I’ve got the correct attribution.
Death notice Private Joseph PalmerThe first, Private Joseph Richardson Palmer, was in the Leicestershire Regiment. He died of wounds in the 1st Australian Hospital in Rouen on 4th June 1918, aged 23, purportedly from an air raid on the hospital where he was being treated. He is buried in St. Sever cemetery extension, Rouen.
Private Edward Goodwill Palmer
The second, Private Edward Goodwill Palmer, aged 19, in the Essex Regiment was killed on September 21st 1918 aged 19. He is buried in Unicorn cemetery, Vendhuile.
Thorner parish magazine cover, November 1918His death was reported in the November parish magazine, obviously published just before the declaration of the armistice. Two other village war deaths are recorded in the magazine, Private Percy Yates, died of wounds on 6th October, and Private Herbert Mitchell MM, October 17th and who is buried in Thorner churchyard.
Thorner parish magazine text, November 1918
Sunday, 19 June 2016
Kolophon in Ionia
c.5th cent BC
O - Head of Apollo right
R - Pebbled quadripartite incuse square with pellet in centre
Kolophon in Ionia
6th cent BC
O - Archaic female head left
R - Quadripartite incuse square
SNG Kayham 342, SNG von Aulock 1808
Kolophon was an ancient city in Ionia. Founded around the turn of the first millennium BC, it was likely one of the oldest of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. In ancient times it was located between Lebedos (120 stadia to the west) and Ephesus (70 stadia to its south). Today the ruins of the city can be found south of the town Değirmendere Fev in the Menderes district of Izmir Province, Turkey.
The city's name comes from the word κολοφών, "summit", which is also the origin of the bibliographic term "colophon", in the metaphorical sense of a 'crowning touch', as it was sited along a ridgeline. The term colophony for rosin comes from the term colophonia resina, that is, resin from the pine trees of Kolophon, which was highly valued for the strings of musical instruments.
Kyzikos in Mysia
O - Forepart of boar left, tunny fish behind
R - Head of lion left, cross above
SNG Cop 49
Kyzikos was an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia in the current Balıkesir Province of Turkey. It was located on the shoreward side of the present Kapıdağ Peninsula (the classical Arctonnesus), a tombolo which is said to have originally been an island in the Sea of Marmara only to be connected to the mainland in historic times either by artificial means or an earthquake.
Today the site of Kyzikos, located on the Erdek and Bandırma roads, is protected by Turkey's Ministry of Culture. Historically the monuments of Kyzikos were used by the Byzantine emperor Justinian as a quarry for the building of his Saint Sophia cathedral, and were still exploited by the Ottomans.