Featured A Roman Greek coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    In the second century BC Rome was continually expanding. In Asia the Pergamene King Attalos III willed his kingdom to the Romans upon his death in 133 BC, and the Romans continued its previous Greek "cistophoric" coinage with only the most minor changes in what became the Roman province of Asia. Without reference works you could not tell the Greek cistophori from the similar coins produced under the Romans.


    28-26 mm. 12.39 grams.
    Denomination: cistophorus.
    cista mystica, serpent crawling out, in ivy wreath
    bow case between serpents, monogram of Pergamon to left
    monogram of "prytaneis" above (google translate gives "you revere" and my source for the word, Kleiner, doesn't say what it means or why he thinks that is the expansion of the monogram) [If you know, please add it to this thread], MH above it.
    Attributed to c. 85-76 BC under the Romans.

    Crawford wrote "But the most astonishing feature of the monetary history of Asia under Roman rule is the evidence it provides of the absence of an interventionist approach on the part of the Romans." p. 160 in Coinage and Money under the Roman Republic: Italy and the Mediterranean Economy. That is, the Romans took over but didn't change the coins much.

    G. K. Jenkins called it "the most uninspiring of all Greek coins designs (the cista mystica and a bow-case with writhing snakes)." Ancient Greek Coins, first edition, page 179.

    The same type was issued in the names of several cities of the Pergamene Kingdom, but it seems many of them were actually struck at Pergamon, including some that have the name of another city on them.

    Kleiner, Fred S. "Hoard Evidence and the late Cistophori of Pergamum" in ANSMN 23 (1978) 77-105 and plates 10-17, #41 (12.15 grams) plate 16
    dates it to likely c. 85-76 BC, first found in a hoard dated to c. 76 BC. He writes [p. 81], "Cistophori are rarely found in hoards containing coins struck on different weight standards." The point is that this region used a different weight standard and overvalued its silver more than neighboring regions, so hoards with this denomination are mostly all of this one denomination. However, he manages to use nine hoards buried at different times to determine which control marks appeared in various time intervals. The "MH" above is one of 51 varieties in the Roman period.

    Crawford's book is very interesting. It was written in a series where people expected it to be a book about Roman Republican coins as we know them, but it turned out to be a book about the transition from whatever the previous coinage was in each region to coins under the Republic, which were, as the above coin shows, often not regular Republican denarii. In the province of Asia, the transition is almost unnoticeable. The book considers every region eventually incorporated into the Roman empire. Crawford's book was the subject of a review by Buttrey who says "it is useful to have it gathered together in the remarkable scope of CaM. What is alarming about the work is C.'s tendency to force conclusions." After giving examples, Buttrey writes "These examples reveal how C.'s work too often reveals a neglect of the evidence and of clear distinctions between factual, the fairly certain, the plausible, and just guesses."

    Philip Kinns writes, in his review in NC 1988, "This is a highly original work of major importance. ... He forces us to recognize that many series conventionally regarded as "Greek" must in some sense be Roman."

    Is my coin a "Greek Roman" coin or a "Roman Greek" coin? I picked the latter.

    Show us a "Roman Greek" coin!
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
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  3. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Nice one! Here's mine


    Marcus Antonius AR Cistophorus
    Bowcase flanked by two serpents, heads confronted, monogram above, serpent twined around thyrsus to right, Q to left.

    Cista mystica with serpent, all within ivy wreath

    Ca. 133-56 BC.

    BMC Ionia 176 (under M. Antonius M.f.)

    12.34 g

    These "anonymous" issues were struck in Pergamum by Roman Quaestors between ca. 100-56 BC. They are called anonymous because the monograms are not easily identifiable. This issue is commonly attributed to be either Mark Antony or his brother Lucius Antony who both served as Quaestors in the east. However it is more likely that the Quaestor was in fact Marcus Antonius the orator who was Marcus and Lucius Grandfather. He served as Consul in 99 BC and as a Quaestor in Asia in 113/112 BC
  4. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Those cistophorus are great coins guys and to look at always seem a bit busy with a lot going on both sides. Here is a classic example of Greek under Roman rule,
    . Perge circa 50-30 BC a Greek coin under Roman Rule about the time Juilius Caesar was contemplating having his portrait on his Imperial coinage, after this coin there was a succsesion of Roman emperors from near the start of the second century AD that included their portrait with this temple of Artemis Pergaia.

    Pamphylia, Perge, c. 50-30 BC. Æ (16mm, 4.64g, 12h). Cult statue of Artemis Pergaia facing within distyle temple. R/ Bow and quiver. Colin series 7.2; SNG BnF 373-8. Good VF
    PAMPHYLIA. Perge. Ae (Circa 50-30 BC).

    Obv: Distyle temple containing facing statue of Artemis Pergaia.

    SNG BN 373-8. Perge.jpg
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    Duran Duran..i have a snake coin, but that's about all it is... not rounds    snake coin 004.JPG
    Curtisimo, Ryro, Ajax and 8 others like this.
  6. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    Not sure I've ever shared my humble budget specimen here, but better late than never.

    cistophorus 6.jpg
  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    A faint echo of this coin design shows up on a Vespasian denarius from 75 AD.

    AR Denarius, 3.27g
    Rome Mint, 75 AD
    RIC 776 (R). BMC 169. RSC 369.
    Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
    Rev: PON MAX TR P COS VI; Victory, draped, holding wreath extended in r. hand and palm upright in l., standing l. on 'cista mystica', on either side of which is a snake, coiling up on it's tail, facing inwardly
    Ex Berk 145, 14 September 2005, lot 232.
  8. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Another Greek city in Italy under Roman rule,
    PAESTUM (Poseidonia)
    Bronze semis. Circa 90-44 BC.
    15mm, 3.41gm.
    Obv: Female head right; MINEIA • M • F behind.
    Rev: Two-story building; P-S flanking upper floor, S-C flanking lower.
    Crawford, Paestum 38b; HN Italy 1258.
    The letters P. S. S. C. stand for Paesti Signatum Senatus Consulto.
  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Hmm, I didn't know Pergamum was under Roman control at that time. Should I move the coin to a Roman Provincial box or leave it with the Greeks? Another instance of things not being black and white :).

    This one came with a large and mostly unattributed mixed lot. Those lots are so much fun!

    MYSIA, Pergamon
    76 BCE
    12.4 gm
    Obv: cista mystica with serpent; all within ivy wreath
    Rev: bow-case with serpents; snake-entwined staff to the right; monogram left; AΠ above; monogram & star above
    Ref: Kleiner, Pergamum 25; Pinder 122

    Another classification dilemma is posed by pseudo-autonomous issues. I file them with Provincials.

    MYSIA, Pergamon
    CE 40-60, time of Caligula to Nero
    Æ15, 3.2 gm, 12 h
    Obv: ΘЄON PΩMHN; bust of Roma with mural crown right.
    Rev: ΘЄON CYNKΛHTON; laureate bust of Senate right.
    Ref: RPC 2374; SNG Aul.1385

    More Roman-Greek coins:


    MACEDON (ROMAN PROTECTORATE), Republican period. Transitional bronze issue
    c. 167-165 BC
    Obv: Facing mask of Silenus, wearing ivy wreath
    Rev: MAKE ΔONΩN legend In two lines; D above; all within ivy wreath
    Ref: SNG Copenhagen 1324-6


    Syria, Antioch ad Orontum
    56-57 AD
    Pseudo-autonomous issue under Nero

    AE18, 4.35 gm. Antioch mint.
    Obv: ANTIOCEWN; turreted and veiled head of Tyche right
    Rev: EPI KOUADRATOU; ram leaping right, head reverted; crescent moon and star which may depicts Jupiter's occultation of Aries in 6 B.C.
    Ref: SNG Cop 101
    needs a reshoot
  10. R*L

    R*L Well-Known Member

    Wow very nice TIF! I love those Silenus types
    TIF likes this.
  11. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Here's a more Romanized Greek coin similar to TIF's Silenus above, issued a year or two earlier (168-167 BCE). (It's more Roman because it features Roma on the obverse.)
    Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 1.13.32 PM.jpg
    Gaius Publilius, quaestor, c. 168-167 BC. ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΩΝ ΤΑΜΙΟΥ ΓΑΙΟΥ ΠΟΠΛΙΛΙΟΥ.
    SNG Cop. 1318, 11.61g, 23.0mm.

    Also relevant is this quinarius that Octavian/Augustus issued in 29/28 BCE to celebrate his defeat of Antony & Cleopatra, and thus the reincorporation of Asia (which had been under Antony's control). The cista mystica is used to represent Asia, as on @David Atherton's Flavian example earlier in the thread.
    Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 1.20.57 PM.jpg
  12. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  13. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Here are my mine:

    I suppose mine is under Roman rule, but I don't have the reference to check.
    MYSIA, Pergamon. c. 166-67 BC.
    AR Tetradrachm, 29mm 12.5, 12h; Cistophoric standard. Struck c. 104-98 BC.
    Obv.: Cista mystica with serpent; all within ivy wreath.
    Rev.: Bow case with serpents; above, KP above prytaneis monogram, civic monogram to left, serpent-entwined staff to right.

    Philip I Philadelphos, semi-autonomous city issue of Antioch
    AR, tetradrachm, 26mm, 12h; Antioch mint 46/5 BC or later
    Obv.: Diademed head left
    Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΦΙΑΠΠΟV ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟVΣ ΦΙΛΑΔΕΑΦΟV; Zeus Nikephoros seated left holding spear in left hand holding victory presenting laurel wreath in right; AYT monogram to inner left, date in exergue (off flan)
  14. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    More Greek than Roman:

    [​IMG]MACEDONIA, Roman Protectorate, First Meris
    AR Tetradrachm. 16.84g, 32.7mm. MACEDONIA (as Roman Protectorate), First Meris, Amphipolis mint, circa 167 - 149 BC. SNG Cop 1313; Prokopov 127. O: Diademed and draped bust of Artemis right, bow and quiver over shoulder, in the center of a Macedonian shield. R: Club; monogram above, two monograms below, MAKEΔONΩN above, ΠPΩTHΣ below; all within oak wreath, thunderbolt to left.
  15. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    In the Kleiner article I cited your type first appears in a hoard buried c. 76 BC. The "KP" type is dated to 85-76 BC, under Roman rule.
    ominus1 and Jwt708 like this.
  16. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    As for the word 'prytaneis' used in the OP, see here. The Prytaneum in Ancient Greece was the body of free men of the city, or the town council, or the hearth/ house/ parliament where the city is governed. Something like the SC of the Romans.
    Valentinian likes this.
  17. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you! Some scholars think they abbreviated that into a monogram on coins. Interesting.
  18. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    see next - software glitch
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  19. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    My recollection is that Howgego suggested the weight standard of the cistophori was fixed at 3/4 x Attic, and that a 25% seigniorage was being applied. That is to say - they tariffed at Attic for internal trade in the issuing cities

    Any thoughts on that? Did Howgego originate the idea, and has anyone taken pot shots at it?

    I have some sympathy with Crawford on this. It is my policy just to state my best guess on the available facts, rather than stray into subjective matters like is it "fairly certain?" (Whatever that means?)

    Having said that I think that Howgego brought out serious errors in Crawford's own fundamental position too. All this takes us into deep waters concerning both the philosophy of probability and the philosophy of history, so I am going to be careful what I say next, which others may or may not judge relevant

    It seems to be a fact that Crawford was heavily influenced by Moses Finlay, and it is a fact that Finlay was banned from teaching in the USA due to taking the fifth when asked if he had ever been a communist. I rather think it would be a fact to say nobody ever questioned Ted Buttrey on that matter......... : -)

    Rob T
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
    Jwt708 likes this.
  20. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I really like this write up @Valentinian . It is why I enjoy the Roman Republic coinage as they expanded into an Empire PRIOR to Augustus...

    RR Macedon occupation Alexander - Club Coin chest Quaestor Chair wreath Aesillas Quaestor AR Tet Thessalonika Mint BC 90-70

    RR Roman Occupied Macedonia Gaius Publilius, Questor Amphipolis Mint As AE26 As ROMA Griffin MAKEDONWN TAMIOV GAIOV POPAILIOV oak wreath BC 148-146 SNG COP 1318

    RR Prv Macedon Province 168-166 BC Tamios Quaestor Athena Cow - Eeyore.jpg
    RR Prv Macedon Province 168-166 BC Tamios Quaestor Athena Cow - Eeyore

    RR Prv Macedon Amphipolis AE Semis 187-131 BC Zeus Prow giraffe shape SNG Cop 69.JPG
    RR Prv Macedon Amphipolis AE Semis 187-131 BC Zeus Prow giraffe shape SNG Cop 69

    Mysia Pergamon Tetradrachm 12.4g 26mm Cista mystica with serpents - snakes KP 85-76 BCE.JPG
    Mysia Pergamon Tetradrachm 12.4g 26mm Cista mystica with serpents - snakes KP 85-76 BCE
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