Ruling over parts of Asia Minor and Macedonia starting with Antigonus I Monophthalmus (the “One-Eyed”, r. 306–301 BC), the Antigonid dynasty of Hellenistic kings produced some of the most attractive and important coinages of the late 4th through 2nd centuries BC. Curiously, however, Antigonid coinage has not attracted a great deal of concentrated scholarly attention since Edward T. Newell’s work on it roughly a century ago. That situation now is rapidly changing as a number of Greek scholars, notably Sophia Kremydi, ANS Visiting Scholar in 2009, and Katerina Panagopoulou, have offered recent monographs on the coinages of selected Antigonid dynasts. Kremydi’s 2018 volume, ‘Autonomous’ Coinage under the Late Antigonids (Melethmata 79) provides up-to-date overviews of the coinages of Philip V (r. 221–179 BC) and Perseus (r. 179–168 BC), while Panagopoulou’s about-to-be-published volume, The Early Antigonids: Coinage, Money and the Economy (ANS 2020), looks closely at the coinages from Antigonus II Gonatas (r. 277–274; 272–239 BC) down to Antigonus Doson (r. 229–221 BC).
As part of this broader push to re-evaluate Antigonid coinage, we are pleased to announce the launch of Antigonid Coinage Online (AGCO). As part of the National Endowment of the Humanities funded Hellenistic Royal Coinages project, AGCO is a new research tool that will provide wide access to the coins listed in various print typologies of the coinages produced by the Antigonid dynasts who ruled Macedonia from 306 to 168 BC, including eventually the current work by Kremydi and Panagopoulou. In the meantime, however, the first version of AGCO, launched in mid-July 2020, features only the coinage of Demetrius I Poliorcetes (r. 294–287 BC) based on the typology published in Edward T. Newell’s 1927 volume, The Coinages of Demetrius Poliorcetes with cross-references as well to those types in the name of Alexander III of Macedon catalogued by Martin Price in his 1991 volume The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. While the coins of Demetrius in the ANS collection serve as the core of the current searchable catalogue, links to coins (many of which are unique) in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the British Museum, the Munzkabinett der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and other public and private collections, are also available.
As always, a number of people have been involved behind the scenes in the production of AGCO besides myself and Ethan Gruber, our Director of Data Science. Andrew Meadows, former Deputy Director of the ANS and current Professor of History at Oxford University, did much of the heavy lifting in converting Newell’s 1927 typology into a digital format, while Lauren Tomanelli, a PhD candidate in archaeology at the University of Arizona, was instrumental in helping with numerous other tasks as well. Our thanks to them both. We would also like to thank our colleagues at the Münzkabinett in Berlin, Dr. Karsten Dahmen, and at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Dr. Julien Olivier, for their cataloguing work that has allowed us to link up examples of coins from the collections they oversee.
For those interested in the technical details of creating this and other ANS online resources, please see Ethan’s Numishare blog.
Most readers who have followed the reports in the ANS Magazine and on Pocket Change related to the development of Seleucid Coins Online over the past several years will know that there is never a shortage of interesting things to say about or do with the coinage of the Seleucid Empire (312–64 BC). However, to me one of the most fascinating aspects of Seleucid numismatics is the way that the many of the coins illustrate the interaction between the Greek and non-Greek elements in the empire. Of these, the quasi-municipal coins struck by the Phoenician cities under Antiochus IV (175–164 BC) are especially notable for their development of legends in Phoenician script to advertise themselves and jockey for position. In essence they use Seleucid coins to engage in a regional conversation among cities that would be largely unintelligible to outsiders. Although the Greek alphabet was ultimately derived from that of Phoenicia, in the Hellenistic Age, a native Phoenician was far more likely to know the Greek language—an imperial common tongue—than a Greek was to know Phoenician.
Around 169/8 BC (the earliest date known from issues of Tyre), the cities of Phoenicia began to identify themselves on Seleucid quasi-municipal bronze coins using Phoenician script. At some cities this new development was fairly innocuous. Berytus, which Antiochus IV had refounded as Laodicea in Phoenicia, describes itself in Phoenician as “Laodicea which is in Canaan” (Fig. 1; SC 1443–1445) while Byblus refers to itself as “Gebal the Holy” (Fig. 2; SC 1443–1445). Gebal was of course the native Phoenician name for Byblus, the Greek name (related to βιβλίον, “book”) apparently given to the city on account of its important role in the export of Egyptian papyrus. It is unclear whether Byblus calls itself “holy” here because it had received this status through a royal grant or whether it was holy in more general terms because it was an important center for the cult of Adonis and the syncretized god Kronos-El. As the title of holy is only ever given in Phoenician script and never written in Greek, one suspects that this was a kind of unofficial “holiness” unconnected to the benefaction of the king.
The unobjectionable tone of the Phoenician legends at Berytus and Byblus suddenly shifts, however, at Tyre and Sidon, probably beginning at Tyre. On quasi-municipal issues of this city dated SE 145 and 147 (169/8 and 166/5 BC), we do not find a mere statement of identity, but rather an assertion of regional superiority (Fig. 3; SC 1463–1469).
The Phoenician coin legends here indicate that the coins are “of Tyre, the mother of the Sidonians.” This was an obvious slap in the face to Sidon, Tyre’s competitor as the most important city in Phoenicia, not least because previously, in the Persian period, Sidon had served as the administrative capital of the region (Fig. 4).
Although most coins of Sidon struck under Antiochus IV follow the pattern of Byblus and Beytus with the simple Phoenician legend identifying them as “of the Sidonians” (SC 1453, 1455–1456) it was impossible to ignore the Tyrian affront. Thus, on one series of bronze coins, the Phoenician legend reads, “of the Sidonians, the mother of Cambe, Hippone, Citium, and Tyre.” (Fig. 5; SC 1454).
This is a very clear escalation. Whereas the Tyrians claimed to be the founders only of Sidon, here the Sidonians claim to have founded not only Tyre, but all of that city’s colonies! Cambe is a name for the more familiar Carthage, Hippone is Hippo Regius in North Africa, and Citium is the important Phoenician city on Cyprus. This Sidonian response to the Tyrian legend is notable not only for its virulence, but also for the way it dominates the entirety of the reverse type, as if it is really only incidental that it is supposed to be part of a Seleucid coin. Sidon has almost completely hijacked the coin for its own civic and regional ends whereas the Tyrian claim is somewhat more respectful of Seleucid numismatic tradition in squeezing its claim in below the reverse type and by retaining the usual Greek legends naming the king and the city. One suspects that the royal authorities may have stepped in to curb the exuberance of Tyre and Sidon in their Phoenician legends after 166/5 BC. Such extreme competition could have very negative effects and lead to inter-city violence, as actually happened in the Roman period. After the reign of Antiochus IV, Seleucid coins of Sidon and Tyre only carry basic Phoenician legends indicating that they are issues “of the Sidonians” or “of Tyre,” which suggests some degree of royal chastisement for the earlier behavior of the cities on the coinage.
The episode of Phoenician coin legends under Antiochus IV is unique for the direct engagement between Sidon and Tyre in their own language. One can really see a vibrant regional debate taking place in which the Seleucid royal authority was only incidental. The rivalry of these two cities was already very old when Alexander the Great arrived in Phoenicia in 333 BC and was still traceable in the third century AD. Kings and emperors came and went, but the argument between neighbors remained the same.
However, about 25 years, ago Richard Schaefer began to collect systematically images of all struck Roman Republican issues included in Crawford’s Roman Republican Coinage. While no precise final count is available yet, it is estimated that Schaefer has documented and analyzed some 300,000 specimens in the Roman Republican Die Project (RRDP). His archive thus proves that it is indeed possible, even if extremely challenging, to create reliable quantitative data for the monetary production of the Roman Republic. Schaefer’s study encompasses all struck Roman Republican issues included in Crawford’s Roman Republican Coinage with a few logical exceptions, like the large issue of C. Piso L.f. Frugi (RRC 408, c. 61 BCE redated based on the Mesagne hoard) for which Charles Hersh had already produced a complete die study. For each issue of struck coins, Schaefer determined the die links for either obverse or reverse. The goal of this project has been to collect enough images and identify enough dies to achieve 90% or better coverage. Fig. 1
Schaefer’s notations on each clipping record the image source, as well as any and all information in the source such as weight, axis, diameter, and his assigned die identifier (a number or a letter). The specifics of Schaefer’s collecting and analysis methods are detailed in our article for the ANS Magazine “Opening access to Roman Republican Dies”. Schaefer’s archive consists of 14 three-inch three-ring binders. Fig. 2
These hold at minimum the two best examples of all known dies for all issues covered by RRDP and on occasion additional specimens. Of course, the binder only has one example in cases where a die is only known (so far!) from a single coin. Further examples of the known dies represented in the binders are stored in die order in small drawers (“output” or “output clippings” in the evolving language of RRDP) , each of which can hold up to four hundred images. These clippings should join the binders online by the end of summer. Fig. 3
The same type of drawers and the same organization is used to store a special sub-set of thirty-five types of particular interest to those interested in the statistical analysis and quantification of surviving dies versus the original number of dies. These types make up a collection called ODEC for short (One Die for Every Control-Mark). As Schaefer says, around 2000 he “realized the ODEC issues could tell us how many dies we know out of the original total; inversely, they tell us how many dies we still have not found. For example, if an ODEC issue has control numbers 1 to 150, the missing numbers give us the number of dies still not found.” Readers familiar with the importance of Theodore ‘Ted’ Buttrey study of the P. Crepusius denarii will already be acquainted with this type of evidence and how it has taken center stage in debates over quantification. ODEC only includes issues that are large enough to be statistically meaningful; thus it excludes the smaller issues which are treated in the binders as ordinary types (RRC 376, 398 and 399) and issues like RRC 350A/3 which is huge but the control letter is too often off the flan and thus the current number of specimens in RRDP is statistically too small. Schaefer has also documented that not all of thirty-five types considered to have only one control mark per die by Crawford actually fit that description; of these, quinarii issued by a P. (Vettius?) Sabinus in c. 99 BCE (RRC 331) have by far the most symbols repeated on different dies. Another curiosity that Schaefer discovered is the issue of serrated denarii by C. Naevius Balbus (c. 79 BCE, RRC 382); control numbers 1–39 are all represented by two or more dies, but almost all numbers 40–226 are represented by only one die. Schaefer’s work on ODEC will prove invaluable for testing and verifying new and existing statistical models for quantification. Fig. 4 The ODEC images will be made public at the same time as other clippings.
In early 2019 the ANS partnered with Schaefer in the Roman Republican Die Project, aiming at making available to the public what is likely to be the largest die study ever undertaken. The first part of this project consisted of the digital preservation of Schaefer’s archive and was completed in June 2019. In this initial digitization phase, we aimed to publish the binders and the clippings, assembled as TEI files of facsimile images, published the ANS archival platform, Archer and linked to CRRO. Fig. 5. The binders, the largest part of Schaefer’s archive, are now online and available to the academic community. We aim to have all further images accessible by the end of the summer.
The second phase of this project consists in the quantification of Schaefer’s die counts as recorded in these images. The whole process entails the creation of spreadsheets for each RRC type, including a listing of each obverse and reverse die, and a number of occurrences for each die. Eventually this statistical data will be published and made accessible through Coinage of the Roman Republic Online.
We envision a much more ambitious third phase after all the existing data is publicly available in which we create a research group and digital tools to expand on Schaefer’s work, incorporating new specimens and increasing coverage of all issues.
The die studies realized by Richard Schaefer and now digitized and organized in ANS Roman Republican Die Project (RRDP) are an invaluable asset to the study of Roman Republican History. They could prove instrumental to show A) the accuracy of the figures provided by ancient sources and B) the reliability (or not) of Crawford (and later) production estimates based on hoard counts.
Ready to see the Schaefer’s binders for yourself? There are multiple ways into the material:
If you want to view the whole binders just as they are on Schaefer’s office, you can flip through each binder and zoom in and out directly in Archer, the ANS archival platform. Below the page viewer, you will find an index of the binder organized by RRC number that allows you to jump to a specific type in that binder.
If you are interested in seeing what Schaefer’s archive can tell us about a specific coin type, start with CRRO. Search by RRC number. When you open a type, look for a link at the very top that says Annotations. This will take you to the bottom of the page and then let you jump to just the right pages of the binders in Archer. Fig. 6.
The numbers listed under sections link to the pages in the binder with images of the type (yellow arrow). Clicking the binder name will take you to the first page of that binder (orange arrow).
Think of the many French kings named Louis, the many Byzantine emperors named Constantine, and so on—where personal names are commonly repeated, it would be difficult to keep track of the rulers without the use of regnal numbers. Remembering which one was Louis XII and which one was Louis XIII is not always easy, but it would be worse without those ordinal numbers to assist memory.
Nevertheless, people have often managed without this assistance. In the ancient world, the many kings named Ptolemy or Antiochus were differentiated by the epithets they chose (or the nicknames that were given to them). The regnal numbers that we use for them now are a modern creation, reflecting the consensus view of historians as to how to count them. In Europe, regnal numbers seem to have begun to be used in the 1100s, although their use was patchy and inconsistent for centuries. Clearly a need was felt in medieval Europe for this method of distinguishing rulers of the same name. However, the actual usage of regnal numbers in medieval and early modern Europe presents many complications, so that the regnal numbers sometimes cause confusion more than they reduce it.
In some cultural traditions, sovereignty is inherent in the community. In other cultural traditions, sovereignty is inherent in the person of the ruler. Medieval and early modern Europe was unusual in that it followed both of these systems at the same time, with all the potential for contradictions and conflicts this entails. Rulers generally claimed to hold power “by grace of God” and by inheritance, but they were also considered to hold power by a sort of social contract with the people they ruled, in which the ruler was obliged to uphold the traditional laws and customs of governance. These laws and customs were specific to each political body, so a person who ruled several different political units not only held several different titles but may well have had to swear different oaths to different assemblies to uphold different sets of laws. And this continued political and legal identity of separate communities, even if they shared the same ruler, meant that one ruler might have more than one regnal number.
For an example of how this worked, consider Henri de Bourbon, known today as King Henry IV of France. In the official numbering of kings of France, he is the fourth one named Henry. Simple, right? However, before he became king of France, he was already king of Navarre, a small state in the Pyrenees. And in Navarre, he was only the third King Henry. Moreover, along with Navarre he had also inherited the lordship of Béarn, where he was only the second Lord Henry. Thus, coins of this one individual, depending on where and when they were minted, may refer to him as Henry II, Henry III, or Henry IV.
Fig. 3: Double tournois of Henry IV of France, 1599. ANS 1928.59.8.
And it can get more complicated than that. Even for France, the numbering depends on whom you count. Inheritance disputes (and election disputes, for elected rulers such as Popes and Holy Roman Emperors) can complicate the counting. Kings Henry IV and Henry V of England claimed the French throne, and Henry VI of England was actually crowned as King Henry II of France in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris when he was a child. However, because they eventually lost the Hundred Years’ War, they are not counted in the numbering of French kings, and Henri de Bourbon is considered Henry IV, not Henry V.
The regnal numbers that rulers choose for themselves are not always based on strictly historical arithmetic. While trying to improve internal consistency in the ANS curatorial database, I recently discovered that the same king is called both Frederick II and Frederick III of Sicily. The reason for this goes back to his great-grandfather, the previous Frederick, who was King Frederick I of Sicily but also the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. He was best remembered by the latter, more prestigious title, so when his great-grandson Frederick of Aragon became king of Sicily, he chose to call himself Fridericus Tertius (Frederick III), even though he was only the second king of Sicily named Frederick. Should historians correct what they might consider to be an error, or should they use the designation that Frederick himself used in his documents and on his coinage?
This problem is even more acute with the kings of Sweden. In the Middle Ages, Swedish kings were distinguished by nicknames or patronyms; the use of regnal numbers there only began in the fifteenth century. When Gustav Vasa’s son Eric became king in 1560, a then-recent historical work was consulted to determine his regnal number: the Historia de Omnibus Gothorum Sueonumque Regibus, a book that filled the unseemly gap between the Biblical past and recorded medieval history by inventing a considerable number of kings. Based on the number of previous Erics in that book, Eric called himself Eric XIV. For modern historians, Eric XIV was perhaps the ninth or tenth king of Sweden named Eric, but much of the official numeration of Swedish kings from 1560 to the present would have to be revised to reflect modern skepticism of these invented kings, so the semi-fictitious numbering has prevailed.
Thus, even an apparently simple matter such as numbering rulers in order turns out, on closer inspection to be filled with complications. The coins of late medieval and early modern Europe offer many opportunities for confusion in this regard.
The American Numismatic Society is a principal lender of numismatic objects to museum exhibitions around the country and abroad. These distinctive pieces may serve to represent famous persons, major historical events, or important episodes in the development of civilizations. Among these pieces is a unique and marvelous gold medallion of the Roman Empire from the time of Diocletian, which is currently on long-term loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum as part of its permanent exhibition.
Diocletian (AD 284–305), originally a common soldier from Dalmatia, rose to the rank of general and in AD 284 was proclaimed emperor. He became one of the most important rulers of the later Roman Empire. He secured the imperial frontiers and restored order within the Empire. His economic reforms were aimed at overcoming the Empire’s monetary chaos of previous reigns, when prices rose unchecked. Diocletian’s famous Price Edict was issued to set maximum prices for goods and services throughout the Empire and prescribed the death penalty for violators. To manage the growing civil service, Diocletian restructured the Empire’s bureaucracy. The provinces were grouped into larger dioceses, each of which was directed by a vicarius. Finally, in AD 293, to oversee this enormous establishment, Diocletian created a Tetrarchy, a system of rule by four emperors. He divided the territory of the empire into two administrative halves, and appointed Maximian to rule with the title of Augustus in the west, while Diocletian ruled as Augustus in the east. Two junior emperors, Constantius Chlorus and Galerius Maximianus, were appointed as Caesars. The ANS medallion shows these four office-holders together and reflects the ideals of shared authority and partnership that lay at the heart of the tetrarchic system. The obverse bears the bearded and laureate busts of Diocletian Augustus (on the left) and Galerius Caesar (on the right), wearing the imperial mantle. The reverse shows the busts of Maximian Augustus (on the left) and Constantius Caesar (on the right). Due to the larger size and absence of an exergual line, the artist had the opportunity to engrave the portrait busts on a much larger scale than usual, with dramatic results.
Today the images of the tetrarchs can also be seen on the corner of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. It is a porphyry sculpture group, which was removed from Constantinople by Venetians when they plundered the city in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade.
Another unique gold medallion (10 aurei) from the ANS is on long-term loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it is on display in the Roman Gallery.
On the obverse it has half-length laureate portraits of Constantius Chlorus and Galerius Maximianus, wearing the imperial mantle. Constantius (on the left) holds a globe surmounted by a Victory his right hand, and Galerius (on the right) holds a scepter surmounted by an eagle; these are both emblems of sovereignty. The reverse bears two emperors standing in military dress with cloak, bareheaded, resting their left arms on long, upright scepters. They both hold a patera, with which they are pouring a libation upon a tripod-altar placed between them; in the central background there are two military standards. The exergue has the mint mark—prom (Percussa Romae, “struck at Rome”). The medallion was issued in AD 293, to commemorate the elevation of Constantius and Galerius to the rank of Caesar.
Both of these gold medallions from the ANS collection were found in 1922, along with over 400 Roman coins, in the famous Arras hoard in France, which closed around AD 315. These remarkable medallions, as well as many other ANS objects on display at the Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are valuable ambassadors in the world’s leading art museums showing the importance of the ANS collection to a wider public for many years.