Friday, 29 May 2009

Ancus Marcius

One of the coins in my posting about the Aqua Marcia featured on the obverse a portrait of Ancus Marcius. The coin is reposted above and I just wanted expand a little on who he was.

He was, traditionally, the fourth king of Rome, 642-616 BC; Romulus, Numa Pompilius (the maternal grandfather of Ancus Marcius) and Tullus Hostilius preceeding him.

The concept of a 'just' war is ascribed to Marcius. In a ritual, still practiced in a modified fashion in the second century AD, war was formally declared on another country only after a Roman priest had visited the territory, calling on each person he met and Jupiter himself, to witness that satisfaction was demanded in the name of religion and justice.

He also built an early prison, which was founded in around 625 BC, and was used to hold people until it was decided what to do with them or unishments they should serve. Before this time a popular punishment was to simply exile people.

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, 616-579 BC, succeeded him as king. Well respected he was adopted by Ancus Marcius as his son, also appointing him guardian of his other sons. After the death of Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus was able to convince the People's Assembly that he should be elected king over Marcius' natural sons.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

So where was/is Abila?

A pertinent question I thought. Abila is now known as Tel Abil and it is located to the east of lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), some way north of Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) and the Dead Sea.

It possibly formed part of an unofficial alliance of 'ten cities' from around the time of Pompey, although just how loose this grouping is can be witnessed from the disagreement over which ten cities actually constituted the Decapolis.

Pliny the Elder lists Damascus, Canatha, Scythopolis, Pella, Gadara, Hippus, Dium, Philadelphia, Gerasa and Raphana - but not Abila! An inscription dating to 133/4 AD however names the city 'Abila of the Decapolis'.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

An unpublished coin of Abila?

FORVM recently offered this unidentified coin for sale. Given that there was enough of the obverse legend to identify it as a coin of Geta Caesar and there was a substantial amount of the reverse legend visible I figured it must be worth the $22 they were asking as it ought to be identifiable.

The left hand side of the reverse clearly reads SELEVKI in Greek letters, whilst the right reads A ABIL.... It has to be a coin of Abila in the Arabian Decapolis.

The only problem is that there is no coin of Geta listed in the appropriate British Museum Catalogue of Greek Coins for the region, nor is it listed in Spijkerman 'The Coins of the Decapolis and Provincia Arabia'. Lindgren I and III list no such con and neither do the British SNG volumes. It is also not represented in the American Numismatic Society SNG volume.

It would appear that this is a new coin of Abila, previously unrecorded.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Brother six character holed cash......

"Brother Six Character Holed Cash
Old and young, poor and rich fight for it.
If in the government offices there is no justice,
And in the monasteries there is no unselfishness,
By holding it finally one can move the hearts.
Stinky brass makes the kowtow - cratures very busy,
Be it in business or begging.

By the Skinny Taoist

Painted to remember Ch'en Lao-lien

By Sung-Shan Ping"

The frontispiece from Burger's 'Chinese Cash until 1735'.
I used to actively collect the cast cash coins of China and was smitten by Burger's book, not only for the wealth of detail it contained about being able to attribute the undated cast cash coins to a year, but also for its fine tissue fold out plates, wood block engravings and hand corrections/annotations.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Procurator Monetae and the Gallic Empire

I've just been re-reading Michael Peachin's paper about the post of procurator monetae (PM) in the 1986 Numismatic Chronicle. In it he catalogues the names of the post holders, where known and tries to put them into a chronological context.

It is suggested that within the Roman minting system there was only a single PM until the fourth century AD, even though there were a number of provincial mints striking Roman coins by the third century.

An inscription is recorded from Rome that lists an un-named individual as having the titles:

praefectus alae Indianae
praefectus vehiculorum per Gallias
procurator monetae Trivericae
praeses provinciae Germaniae superioris

The interesting title is the third one, PM Trivericae, procurator at Trier, a provincial mint! Is this the Gallic Empire mint or the mint of Diocletian and his later colleagues?

It is suggested that this is the Gallic mint because the post holder was praeses of Germania Superior, a province that changed name to Germania Prima around the Diocletianic reform, c.294-6. There is a slight chance that, as Trier was operating as a mint briefly before the Diocletianic reform, that the inscription is late rather than mid to late third century.

If this is the Gallic Empire minto official, because he is the procurator of the mint at Trier it suggests that Trier was the primary mint. Also, given the pardon of Tetricus and his son it would appear that the officials of the Gallic regime may have had a rehabilitation as this officer's career continues at a high level after the fall of the Gallic regime and is reference on an inscription from Rome itself, rather than the provinces.

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Aqua Marcia

The water supply that maintained Rome was an important part of city life. Eleven aqueducts supplied the city of which the Aqua Marcia was the longest. Purportedly paid for out of the spoils of the Punic wars, including the defeat of Carthage, plus also the conquest of Corinth and was constructed, or perhaps restored, between 144 and 140 BC by the Praetor Quintus Marcius Rex.

The ancient source for the aqueduct was near the modern towns of Arsoli and Agosta, over 91 km away in the Anio valley.

Given that water supply was so critical to the survival of the city it is not surprising that the Aqua Marcia and other aqueducts are feature on the Roman coins. Two such coins are featured in my own collection.

Mn Aemilio Lep c.114/3 BC
AR denarius
Obv "ROMA"
Female bust (Roma?) right
Equestrian statue on the Aqua Marcia
Rome mint
Crawford 291

The attribution of the aqueduct is undoubtedly the Aqua Marcia as although it was finished by Marcius Rex it was begun by M. Aemilius Lepidus (the ancestor of the moneyer of this issue) and M. Fulvius Nobilior who were both Censors on 179 BC. It has been suggested that the three arches potrayed on this coin are those carrying the aqueduct across the Via Praenestina.

L Marcius Pilippus c.56 BC
AR denarius
Diademed head of Ancus Marcius right
Equestrian statue on the Aqua Marcia aqueduct
Rome mint
Crawford 425

An interesting coin that shows, on one side, a portrait of the fourth king of Rome, Ancus Marcius, with an equestrian statue, perhaps of Q. Marcius Rex. There are some problems with associating the stature with Marcius Rex as there is no record of his statues in Rome ever being equestrian. But a statue of him was erected in Rome on the Capitol, where the aqueduct eventually arrived in the city, so this reverse probably does represent that monument.