A mash-up from the 12th Century AD

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Anatolia1200.png This coin, which as far as I can tell has not made an appearance yet on CT, is not from the time period that I usually gravitate toward. When I stumbled across it and ultimately purchased, I was attracted to the curious and strange mash-up of styles and symbols: Byzantine, Roman, Christian and Islamic. The more I collect information, the more eclectic and interesting I find this coin. A large (35mm, 15.5 grams) copper/copper-alloy Dirham of the Artuqids of Mardin, minted between 1152-1176 AD. The Artuqids of Mardin ruled in eastern Anatolia, northern Syria and northern Iraq, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries (see map above).
    The Reverse
    The reverse is a familiar scene from contemporary Byzantine coins:

    The Virgin Mary, on the right, holding her hand over (or crowning) the emperor, who is standing, facing, wearing loros (a ceremonial costume of worn only by the Imperial family and senior officials), a globe between them.
    For example this gold solidus of Romanus III from wildwinds:
    The inscription starting from the left side - on this coin the left side a bit obscured - in 4 segments reads: Abu al-Muzaffer Alpi / bin / Timurtas bin Il-Ghazi bin / Artuq - describing Alpi as son of Timurtas son of il-Ghazi son of Artuq)

    The Obverse
    The obverse takes its inspiration from Roman coins with facing busts of draped, and cuirassed emperors in the style of this provincial coin of Septimus Severus and Claudius Albinus (also from wildwinds).
    severus and albinus.jpg
    The obverse inscription: "Najm al-Din, Malik Diyar Bakr" which translates as
    "Star of the Faith, King of Diyar Bakr". Diyar Bakr is Jazira or Upper Mesopotamia.

    Faces from late Rome?
    And it gets even odder when one auction reference suggests that the faces themselves are modeled after half-brothers and co-emperors Valentinian II and Gratianus (375-383 AD), imagined below with a combination of two coins with Gratianus on the right (reversed from original). If I squint a bit, I think I can see the resemblance. I would like to know more about how this link was made.

    Valentinian II.jpg

    Astrology was an important theme in the coins of the Artuqids and this coin is said to represent the two houses of Mercury: Gemini, on the obverse as the "day house" of Mercury, and Virgo the "night house", although I do not have a clue what these houses mean in ancient astrology - I am assuming it is linked to where the planets would be seen in the sky relative to to constellations of the zodiac.

    My sources are thin at this point - any additional information would be appreciated.

    - a book on the Great Age of the Seljuks p66-71
    - a page in Ancient Coin Collecting VI from Wayne G. Sayles on Artuqid coins
    - an ANS database entry
    - a Künker auction catalog p387
    - a CoinCommunity social media posting
    - of course wildwinds and wikipedia
    Also a few active auction listings that I won't post, and I think the astrology link made in the by Spengler & Sayles is from this book which I do not yet have a copy of.

    Post your favorite cultural mash-up coins, any other coins of the Artuqids, Seljuks and related dynasties
    , or anything that shows a curious combination of symbols and imagery, or surprising mix of cultural references.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
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  3. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    That is a wonderful coin. Very interesting, thank you for posting.

    The script, Christian iconography and eastern style combine to make a great piece of history representing that specific place and time.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  4. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    From Spengler-Sayles

    “Although Lane-Poole, Edhem and others have identified the portraits on the obverse of this coin as being copied from coins of Roman emperors, we believe that they were inspired by Seleucid coin portraiture and, in fact, do not vary a great deal from the style of portrait on Alpi’s earlier issue which he copied from the coinage of his father Timurtash.”

    Next, they write about astrological symbolism of the Gemini and “the established propensity of Turkoman die-engravers to employ astrological motifs in their coinage.”

    Finally, they write about the reverse imagery copying the Byzantine scene.
    Severus Alexander and Sulla80 like this.
  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Victor_Clark thank you so much for the additional information from Spengler-Sayles - i’ll have to look for some convincing Seleucid relatives - especially a two bust Seleucid coin.
  6. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Great coin, I love this sort of thing too. Here's my pair of a Byzantine type and its Islamic imitation from nearly a century later (after part of Syria was taken over by the Zengids):
    Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 12.37.27 PM.jpg
    Constantine X (1059-1067), Constantinople, AE follis
    Obv: KVDKARO +KWNTAK; Eudocia on left, Constantine on r., labarum between
    Rev: +EMMA NOVHA, IC-XC; Christ standing facing on footstool, wearing nimbus and holding gospels

    Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 12.37.12 PM.jpg
    Zengid: Nur ad-Din ibn Zengi (1146-1174), AE fals, Aleppo (Halab).
    Obv: al-Adil (العادل, The Just) Nur al-Din (نردين); Two imperial figures holding a labarum between them
    Rev: Downwards on right: Mahmud (محمود‎‎) downwards on left: malik al-umara’ (مالك الأمراء); “Mahmud, King of the Princes”; Christ, nimbate, holding the gospels.
    (Saladin was a general under Nur ad-Din, and eventually overthrew him.)
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