A Pompeii Puzzle Solved?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    A newly unearthed inscription might date the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to late October!


    This new evidence aligns with much of the circumstantial evidence that has already been discovered which is incompatible with a late August event.

    Curiously, Mark Twain in his Innocents Abroad dated the eruption to 9 November.

    twain pomeii.jpg
    Where Twain got that date is a mystery.

    Now, it is much more probable that Titus' COS VII denarii recording his 15th imperial acclamation struck after September 79 are closer to the date of the eruption. We can date this issue by a military diploma the BM possess which shows Titus was still IMP XIIII on 8 Sept. Titus became COS VIII on 1 January 80.

    T53.JPG Titus
    AR Denarius, 3.17g
    Rome mint, 79 AD
    RIC 53 (R). BMC 25. RSC 286.
    Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: TR P VIIII IMP XV COS VII P P; Venus stg. r. leaning on column, with helmet and spear
    Ex Harry N. Sneh Collection.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
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  3. Aethelred

    Aethelred The Old Dead King Supporter

    I heard this on the radio today, really captures the imagination doesn't it!
  4. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

  5. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Fantastic coin David, And great pick up on Twain. So maybe (hopefully) my Titus was within a month either way as well. Titus rostral column.jpg
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  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Thanks AA! Your coin with IMP XIIII would likely be within a month either side of the traditional Vesuvian date of 24 August. IMP XV was awarded sometime after 8 September (as outlined above), which places coins with the 15th acclamation number closer to the newly revised eruption date of Oct/Nov. 24 October has tentatively been proposed.

    BTW, fantastic example! You can even see Titus' beard.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    A brief word about Titus' 15th imperial acclamation which was awarded for a victory by Agricola in northern Britain (Dio 66.20.3). There is an issue of denarii which record Titus as IMP XV and COS VII. He was still IMP XIIII on 8 Sept and would continue to be COS VII until 31 December. So, sometime between those two dates he received his 15th imperial acclamation for the British victory. Presumably, the victory occurred before the end of the campaign season, perhaps no later than September. It would take a few weeks for news of the battle to reach Rome and the appropriate measures by the Senate to award the acclamation to Titus - early October seems likely. Coins would immediately be struck recording the new title. If ever a coin is found in the debris of either Pompeii or Herculaneum that records Titus as IMP XV, combined with the newly unearthed charcoal inscription, it would be incontrovertible evidence of a later date for the eruption. In effect, a little coin can make big changes to history!

    T50.jpg Titus
    AR Denarius, 3.29g
    Rome Mint, 79 AD
    RIC 50 (R2). BMC 32. RSC 297.
    Obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, l.
    Rev: TR P VIIII IMP XV COS VII P P; Trophy; below, captive kneeling r.
    Ex Harry N. Sneh Collection.

    Whether or not this coin's reverse type commemorates a British victory is debatable, but the reverse legend indeed records it!
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  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

    Great coins all and an interesting link - thanks!
  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Seeking out some unrelated information today, I came across an article titled "The Coins of Pompeii" by Marvin Tameanko. It was published in an old issue of The Celator, and I thought I'd drop a link to it in this thread in case anyone is interested:

    I found the table of coin finds breaking down the quantity and denominations discovered in various spots around Pompeii intriguing. In particular, there was a small hoard discovered in a house that the author suggests may have belonged to a coin collector. Kept in a small fancy box, the 184 coins were of different denominations, had numerous different reverses, spanned the period 135 BC to AD 79, and included 23 Legionary denarii of Mark Antony. It sounds plausible that like @Bing this Pompeiian resident might have been trying to complete a set of them. :)

    A little something else that some of us may appreciate in this issue (on page 4), a reader's poem bemoaning the imminent catastrophe to the hobby that is "The Slabbing of Ancients", dated January 2003. :troll:
  10. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Interesting article, David. Thanks! It seems to be another factor that weighs in favor of a later date of eruption although as the article states, determination of whether the ancient person wrote the current date, a future date, or a past date cannot be determined.

    Nice find!

    Incidentally, @AncientJoe, your gorgeous Kamarina tetradrachm is advertised at the bottom of page 24 of this Celator issue :).

    Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 6.11.45 AM.png [​IMG]
  11. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

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  12. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    Well spotted indeed! It is pedigreed to Astarte's 2002 auction, and always nice to see a coin published somewhere significant :)
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  13. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

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  14. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Interesting skeletal find. I think we will be seeing a lot of this sort of thing in the near future.

    As for a possible new coin find ... the wording is jumbled and unclear (Google translated?), did they actually find a coin with IMP XV or is it hypothetical? In any case, denarii of Titus that 'celebrates Emperor for the fifteenth time ... surely back to the month of # August of 79 AD' is incorrect- denarii with IMP XV were struck sometime after 8 September. That is why any coin found in situ with that date would be vital evidence of an autumnal event.
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  15. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Yes hard to understand but sounds like they found a coin minted sometime after Sept 8th IMP XV, anyway 30 minutes ago I booked a holiday for southern Italy next Sept so I will have a look at Pompeii with a more comprehensive stay there this time.
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  16. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Fantastic! I've never been, maybe one day.
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  17. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
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  18. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    It might be "so what" to her but they don't realize we like to pinpoint our coins to the exact month in history.:D
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  19. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Agreed. This Forbes article I linked in my first post is a good reply to the 'so what?' camp. Plus, Beard is a bit behind on the coin evidence.
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