The British Museum Lot of Silver from the Taranto 1911 Hoard (Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards [1973], no. 1874)

Author
Kroll, John H., Heath, Sebastian, 1966-
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American Numismatic Society
Place
New York
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Introduction to the Taranto 1911 Hoard [IGCH 1874]

Unearthed on June 22, 1911, the hoard consisted of 6 kilos of uncoined cut-silver bullion and c. 4.2 kilos of silver coins, c. 600 coins in all. Fully four-fifths of the latter are South Italian (Metapontum, Sybaris, Croton, Velia, and Posidonia,; the remaining 121 coins came from Corcyra and 23 cities in Sicily, Thrace, Central Greece, and some Aegean islands. E. Babelon (RN 1912, 1-40) promptly published a nearly complete record of the coins together with notes on some of the unminted silver, including the end of a flat rectangular slab ingot that had been stamped with a square incuse stamp identical to those on the reverses of coins of Selinus. Close to half of the uncoined silver, including the stamped slab ingot fragment, however, has not been seen since M.P. Vlasto initially recorded the hoard in Paris and Taranto in 1911; it is assumed that this silver was lost to the melting pot.

On October 14, 1921, The British Museum Department of Coins and Metals purchased from Spinks the other half of the bullion, some 60 pieces of ingots and of worked silver with a total weight of just over 3 kilograms, in a sizable hoard lot that also included 47 coins of Metapontum, Sybaris, and Croton, most of them in chipped, broken, or extremely fragmentary condition. Although the lot includes the largest preserved assemblage of silver bullion from the ancient Greek world, it has remained unstudied and unpublished.

The decision to make this material available on the Internet was initially motivated by the unlikelihood that any journal would be interested in publishing a fully-illustrated record of these less than aesthetically pleasing chunks of metal. Internet-based publication offers its own advantages, however, and a brief discussion of these may improve the readers ability to make use of the information presented here.

In the preparation of this publication an important distinction was made between the permanent archival version of the document and the presentation of that information in an easily readable form. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the formatting language of the World Wide-Web and has proven to be an immensely successful means of delivering digital content to wide audiences. Its main disadvantage, however, it is that it tends to strip documents of any information not related to their appearance on a computer screen. The formal specification of HTML is also rapidly changing and there is no guarantee that it will not be entirely superceded at some future point. This could result in HTML documents no longer being easily readable by standard applications.

In order to overcome these shortcomings of HTML, this publication uses the Extensible Markup Language (XML) as the format for its long-term, archival version. XML is an internationally recognized standard for representing the structure of documents and is easily transformed into either HTML or plain text for internet-based reading. This flexibility allows multiple versions of this document to be made available. Accordingly, it is possible to view the list of ingots, rods, and coins either with or without images directly attached. Furthermore, the list of objects have also been sorted by type then weight, as well as by weight then type.

These brief comments are not intended as full introduction to the current state-of-the-art in digital publication of scholarly materials. Further information about XML is available at the web site of the World Wide Web Consortium. The specific tag set used by this document was developed by the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI).

As of the time of publication there is no formal standard for resolution-independent rendering of images within web-browsers. It is therefore not possible to ensure that images appear at 1:1 on reader's computer screens or on paper after printing. The resolution of the inline images that appear in the third version of this document is 60 dpi, and 150 dpi for those linked-to from the second version. The authors hope that the inclusion of scales under all images partially alleviates this problem.


A. Pieces Cut from Silver Ingots

Ingot types

F = Flat ingot (thickness relatively even), either rectangular or circular (pancake-like) i shape.
FR = Flat rectangular slab ingot (thickness relatively even).
Cake = Cake ingot: disk-shaped, plano-convex in section.
Bar = Rectangular bar ingot, plano-convex in section.


No. B.M. Acc. Weight L. (mm) W. (mm) Th. (mm) Ingot Type Description
Side A Side B 1. 1921,1014.185 559.9 110 66 8-12 FR 4 edges: the 2 long ones cut, the two short ones original as cast.
Side A Side B 2. 1921,1014.186 429.3 96 74 7 FR Slab end: 1 edge cut, 3 original edges as cast. Rough surface deeply punched with with a circular stamp(?), possibly bearing the letter Α or Δ (as recorded in the BM inventory), if in fact there is any letter in relief at all.
Side A Side B 3. 1921,1014.187 181.4 54 53 10 FR 5 edges, of which 4 are cut.
Side A Side B 4. 1921,1014.188 129.6 59 32 10 Cake 5 edges, of which 2 1/2 are cut. 2 incuse punches on smooth face.
Side A Side B 5. 1921,1014.189 99.5 66 25 8 FR 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 6. 1921,1014.190 114.7 58 42 8 Cake? 4 edges, of which 3 cut. Circular depression (from a stamp?) on the face cut across with a chisel.
Side A Side B 7. 1921,1014.191 87.5 62 32 9 F 3 edges, of which 2 cut; one (curved) as cast.
Side A Side B 8. 1921,1014.192 105.8 44 28 12 F 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 9. 1921,1014.193 80.8 51 30 7 F 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 10. 1921,1014.194 168.0 42 43 8 F 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 11. 1921,1014.195 103.7 62 35 14 Bar 3 edges, of which 2 cut.
Side A Side B 12. 1921,1014.196 136.7 45 26 18 FR Corner of thick slab: 4 edges, of which 2 are cut. Deep squarish punch on the smooth surface.
Side A Side B 13. 1921,1014.197 66.1 38 46 7 FR Corner piece, of which 2 edges are cut.
Side A Side B 14. 1921,1014.198 53.1 37 32 7 FR 5 edges, of which 4 cut.
Side A Side B 15. 1921,1014.199 41.1 56 25 7 FR Corner piece, of which 1 edge is cut.
Side A Side B 16. 1921,1014.200 53.3 49 29 15 Bar 3 edges: one original as cast, two cut with a curved chisel blade.
Side A Side B 17. 1921,1014.201 44.7 42 29 8 FR 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 18. 1921,1014.202 38.8 32 24 10 F 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 19. 1921,1014.203 33.4 32 24 8 Cake 5 edges, of which 4 are cut.
Side A Side B 20. 1921,1014.204 52.2 42 18 11 FS Corner piece, of which 2 edges are cut.
Side A Side B 21. 1921,1014.205 38.9 58 15 6 F 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 22. 1921,1014.206 36.6 42 14 8 Bar Middle section, of which the 2 long edges are cut, the two short edges are original as cast.
Side A Side B 23. 1921,1014.207 39.5 42 21 7 F 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 24. 1921,1014.208 37.3 25 26 10 Bar 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 25. 1921,1014.209 23.1 20 15 19 ? 4 edges of thick ingot cut into truncated pyramid shape .
Side A Side B 26. 1921,1014.210 36.3 27 25 10 FS 5 cut edges.
Side A Side B 27. 1921,1014.211 21.4 27 16 10 Bar? 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 28. 1921,1014.212 18.1 26 24 8 F 3 cut edges.
Side A Side B 29. 1921,1014.213 12.6 20 17 5 FS 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 30. 1921,1014.214 18.5 27 13 14 ? 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 31. 1921,1014.215 34.0 26 19 14 FS 4 edges, of which the longest (with a moulded, offset profile) is original as cast .
Side A Side B 32. 1921,1014.216 29.9 37 26 7 F 5 edges, of which 2 are original, 3 are cut, and one is roughly torn off.
Side A Side B 33. 1921,1014.217 15.4 21 18 7 FR 5 sides. of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 34. 1921,1014.218 18.3 29 16 6 FR Corner piece, of which 2 edges are cut.
Side A Side B 35. 1921,1014.219 22.5 38 18 5 Bar Dump Whole. Chisel cut across middle.
Side A Side B 36. 1921,1014.220 14.3 32 20 5 F Corner piece, of which 2 edges are original, 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 37. 1921,1014.221 17.2 24 19 6-8 Cake or Bar 5 cut edges. Lines from possible grafitto on one face.
Side A Side B 38. 1921,1014.222 14.3 22 14 8 F 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 39. 1921,1014.223 21.8 21 20 8-13 Cake or Bar 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 40. 1921,1014.224 18.5 23 16 8-10 Cake or Bar 4 cut edges.
Side A Side B 41. 1921,1014.225 19.0 28 24 5 F 5 cut edges.
Side A Side B 42. 1921,1014.226 11.0 21 16 7 F 5 edges, of which 4 are cut.
Side A Side B 43. 1921,1014.227 10.0 21 16 10 Cake 3 edges, of which 2 are cut .
Side A Side B 44. 1921,1014.228 11.8 21 31 10 ? 4 edges, of which 3 are cut; original cast edge is slightly curve with a moulded, offset profile.
Side A Side B 45. 1921,1014.229 3.9 15 16 7 ? 4 cut facets.
Side A Side B 46. 1921,1014.230 17.9 26 15 15 Cake 3 cut edges, from center of ingot.
Side A Side B 47. 1921,1014.231 7.8 16 14 7 ? 4 edges, of which 3 are cut .
Side A Side B 48. 1921,1014.232 4.3 19 9 7 F 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 49. 1921,1014.233 4.3 18 8 5 ? 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 50. 1921,1014.234 5.1 17 11 10 FR 4 edges, of which 3 are cut.
Side A Side B 51. 1921,1014.235 4.4 14 9 7 ? 4 cut edges in truncated pyramid shape.

B. Pieces of Worked Silver

No. B.M. Acc. Weight L. (mm) W. (mm) Th. (mm) Ingot Type Description
Side A Side B 52. 4.32 20 17 3 Worked Silver Flattened disk.
Side A 53. 1921,1014.241 1.04 17 18 2 Worked Silver Thin rod, scored and bent in middle; scored also 2mm from one end.
Side A 54. 1921,1014.242 40.10 63 31 4-7 Worked Silver Thick tapering rod, bent back twice on itself.
Side A 55. 1921,1014.243 32.0 55 21 2-11 Worked Silver Thick, uneven rod bent and twisted.
Side A 56. 1921,1014.244 10.2 46 20 2-5 Worked Silver Thick tapering rod bent in two.
Side A 57. 1921,1014.245 2.78 51 8 0.7 Worked Silver Thin flat strip, now broken in 4 pieces.

C. Coins

No. B.M. Acc. Weight L. (mm) W. (mm) Ingot Type Description
Side A Side B 58. 1921,1014.236 3.24 15 8 Coin Frag. of disfigured coin.
Obverse Reverse 59. 1921,1014.237 3.88 16 10 Coin Chopped frag. of Macedonian tribal coin: "Lete"
(Standing satyr and nymph/incuse square).
60. 1921,1014.238 4.31 21 21 Coin Chopped coin frag. of Naxos (Kantharos/incuse square)
Not illustrated.
Obverse Reverse 61. 1921,1014.249 8.02 29 28 Coin Wide-flan, incuse stater of Metapontum.
Intentionally scored or chisel-cut across the obverse.


Not Illustrated

1921,1014.246 - 248, 250 - 260, 269 - 278, 292, 293 26 other wide-flan, incuse staters of Metapontum (type: ear of barley ), nearly all chipped or broken in two or more fragments
1921,1014.239, 261 - 268, 279 - 287, 290, 291 18 staters and 2 drachms of wide-flan, incuse coinage of Sybaris (type: standing bull); nearly all chipped at the edges or broken in two or more fragments
1921,1014.288, 289 2 wide-flan, incuse staters of Croton (type: tripod), both chipped