ANS Staff and Trustees in Madrid

Six ANS staff members and numerous fellows, members, seminar alumni, board members, and former visiting scholars made presentations and took part in the Thirteenth International Congress of Numismatics, held in Madrid, 15-19 September. They were among some 865 numismatic scholars from throughout the world who assembled for the event, held every six years. The Spanish hosts, led by Dr. Carmen Alfaro Asins, Director of the Departamento de Numismática y Medallística of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, provided an excellent ambiance in the city’s Sala de Congresos.


(l to r) Back row: Dr. François de Callataÿ, Mr. Robert Leonard, Mr. Arthur Houghton, Mr. Robert Hoge, Dr. Peter van Alfen, Muserref Yetim, Dr. Michel Amandry; Front row: Mrs. Linda Houghton, Dr. Elena Stolyarik, Dr. Michael Bates, Dr. Ute Wartenberg and Mr. Sebastian Heath.

Robert Hoge’s paper, “The Coinage of Arausio: A Missing Link (Confirming a Roman Mint under Octavian),” described a new example of a rare Gallic copper coinage. It is the first example of the series to show a mint name for this issue of Agrippa and Octavian that must be dated 30-28 BC. This is the only evidence for the existence of this mint in Roman Gaul.

Ute Wartenberg Kagan discussed a very early monetary hoard that contains about 270 archaic coins and uncountable fragments of jewelry and cut-up silver bars, entitled “An Early Hoard Revisited: The Coinage of Croesus?” Most of the hoard is now in the Israel Museum, but it was studied while still in the market place by the late Martin Price and then by Wartenberg while she was at the British Museum. The coins include Croeseid and Carian lion staters and fractions. The Carian pieces were previously rare or unknown.

Wartenberg’s paper was immediately preceded by a complementary presentation from ANS Council Member John H. Kroll of the University of Texas, in which the Croeseids were also the central subject. Kroll’s paper, “Who minted the first “Croeseids”? New stratigraphical evidence from Sardis,” announced the discovery of a gold Croeseid fraction and a tiny silver Milesian coin under a layer of debris resulting, without any possible doubt, from the destruction of part of the Sardis city wall when the city was taken by Cyrus of Persia in 547 or 546 BC. The early heavy-standard Croeseids therefore might well belong in fact to his predecessor Alyattes. At any rate, the recent proposal that the lion-bull coins should be attributed to the Persians after 547 rather than to Croesus, is now untenable. Instead, the whole chronology of the earliest western Anatolian coinages may have to be pushed back in time.

Michael Bates delivered one of the poniente or plenary lectures, on “Mining and Minting in the Islamic World and Elsewhere.” His argument was that mining and minting are causally related, in the sense that production of precious metals in and of itself usually brings about the production of coinage. All those who share in the output of mines, who might include the ruler himself, the central government, the local authorities, the owners of the land, the capitalists who finance the work, the merchants and others who provide the miners with goods and services, and the miners themselves—all these need to turn the ore or metal into money for use among themselves and for imports from elsewhere, and at the least possible cost. For this reason, mints are often set up at mines or near them. Bates discussed the 1849 Gold Rush, ancient and medieval mints as well as many Middle Eastern examples. Common features of many of the mining sites include the “rush” of miners to exploit a new discovery, private or semi-official minting of coins that imitate the most prestigious coinage of the region, coinage that is often large or crude or inadequately refined, the establishment of official mints near the mine, sudden bursts of coin production in the region, and the creation of centers of power and culture based on mining wealth.

Sebastian Heath participated in the round table “The Future of Web Databases for Numismatic Study” with a proposal for an ideal web database that would provide access to all participating collections through a single web site. The technology is available and not problematic, but such a system would have to solve far more difficult problems of copyright, revenue, appropriate credit, and appropriate use.

Elena Stolyarik discussed the two known examples of the silver didrachm coinage of Spartocus, presumably the ruler of the Bosporan kingdom on the north coast of the Black Sea. One of the two is in the ANS collection. The problematic dating and location of these issues can be clarified by comparison with other coinages. The reverse is closely associated with civic issues of Panticapaeum, and the small trident and two dolphins link it to the posthumous Lysimachus coinage of Byzantium and to imitations of the latter by the issues of the Bosporan kings in the second century BC. These connections make it possible to confirm the didrachms of Spartocus as royal Bosporan issues of 140/130 BC.

Peter van Alfen’s paper, entitled “West Greek Plated Coins and the Question of ‘Official’ Production,” addressed a somewhat controversial topic. Examining first the conceptual aspects of what we mean by “official” coinage in antiquity, van Alfen then moved on to the many examples of plated coins known from the Classical Greek cities of southern Italy. These have long been known to be connected to full alloy coins of the same cities by workmanship, style, and die links. They exist in numbers too great to be explained as “trial strikes,” private counterfeiting with stolen dies, or isolated freaks. Van Alfen argued that many of the plated coins that we have from these mints are, in fact, official issues, perhaps the result of fiscal expedients when the supply of silver was insufficient.

Quite a few others associated with the ANS as Fellows, Council Members, alumni and visiting scholars of the Graduate Seminar, and former staff members also attended the conference. A summary of the conference is available at http://www.muenzgeschichte.ch/downloads/inc-madrid-cronica.pdf.


Sphinx, Ms. Muserref Yetim and Dr. Ute Wartenberg


Dr. Michael Bates, Mr. Sebastian Heath, Dr. Peter van Alfen and Mr. Robert Hoge.


ANS Board Member Professor Jack Kroll, Dr. Elena Stolyarik, Mr. Sebastian Heath, Mr. Robert Leonard and Dr. Peter van Alfen.