Assistance with Mint Attribution

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I need some help to nail down the mint that issued the Caracalla Syrian Tetradrachma below as well as the unusual wagon like control mark between the eagle's legs on the reverse. As far as I can make out there is nothing unusual about the obverse, that is from what is legible on the coin, AUT KAI ANTxxxxx. On the reverse is the usual DEMAxxxxATOCTD, except that the last combination of letters does not seem to be an exact match for any of the various mints from Antioch through Judea that I have seen. I also cannot find the wagon control mark anywhere. Any help on ascertaining the mint and an explanation of the control mark greatly appreciated. IMG_1231[2909]Car tet obv.jpg IMG_1232[2913]car tet rev.jpg
     
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  3. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That's the Cart of Astarte that was used as a symbol by Sidon in Phoenicia. Nice coin!
     
  4. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    That is from Phoenicia, Sidon mint. The control mark is the Cart of Astarte. I recently got outbid on one of these, you have a great example.
     
  5. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    [​IMG]
    I found this one and the explanation : (translated from French)
    If there were, among the Syro-Phoenician tetradrachms, only one series whose attribution was absolutely certain, it would be that of Sidon. The two symbols used, Europe on the bull and the chariot of Astarté are attested for the city not only by municipal bronzes but by History and mythology.
    Concerning Europe, the representation is that which one finds in all antiquity: the princess, seated on the bull, holds a veil that swells the wind above her head.
    Astarté's chariot is mounted on wheels and contains a betyl. Depending on the corners, the details are more or less clear but the best representations are found on the bronzes.
    Note that the sigma are engraved in C.
    In the TSP database maintained by Michel Prieur, nine copies are now listed, three of which are in museums, two in Paris, ex collection Seyrig and Chandon de Briailles, one at the American Numismatic Society, ex Newell. Our copy, which comes from the sale Amphora 63 (July 01, 1997), n ° 158, is 1360_007. History: After the assassination of Geta, Caracalla ordered the 'damnatio memori و' of his brother. The 'Antoniniana Constitution' was promulgated in 212. All the inhabitants of the Empire became Roman citizens. The following year, he undertook a campaign in Germania and won many victories over the Germans, the Iapyges and the Goths. He received the title of 'Germanicus'. The end of the reign was marked in 215 by the Monetary Reform and the creation of the Antoninian. Caracalla begins a final campaign against the Parthians. He is assassinated after celebrating his vicennalia.
     
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Kevin, You've scored an interesting & unusual Tet from Sidon, with excellent info provided by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix. Prieur does list 7 different types of this coin with the carriage of Astarte on the reverse, with all variations occurring with the layout of the reverse inscription. Unfortunately your coin is missing an important part of the inscription do to the shape of the planchet :(. It may never be possible to pinpoint exactly which one of the 7 your coin is o_O. Your coin is one of the "war issues" struck from AD 215-217, when the silver content was reduced to about 35%.
     
  7. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for that quick response. Yes, I can see by Sear's Greek Imperials that it is Sear 2679. I picked it up at a modest price at a local coin shop which does handle a few ancients every now and then. Neither I not the owner could figure out what mint it was or what the cart was so we settled on a price for the more common Antioch variety as a kind of type coin. It is pretty easy to see that this was after a great debasement by Caracalla, as the silver just screams, "debased". I guess it is a shame that part of the inscription is off the flan but the cart comes out in its entirety. Now, after reading all the replies, I have to find out what the trending price for these are in the marketplace.
     
  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Your coin appears in excellent condition with some original luster. Despite the die shift on the obverse & an incomplete inscription on the reverse I would value your coin in the $150-200 range.
     
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  9. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Yes, I did notice some doubling on the face of Caracalla though I did not know that came from a "die shift". I found some for sale on a few web sites. Apparently they can get pretty pricey depending on condition and strike. I usually don't pay much attention to rarity as a factor in collecting coins. What I want in my coins is an attractive appearance and this one will do nicely as a Caracalla Phoenician Tetradrachma. Thanks for your input.
     
  10. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    Great coin.
     
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  11. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    The legend on the reverse is a formulaic date and the crucial part at the end is clear - Δ - the whole thing translates to approximately "Four times consul".
    Caracalla's 4th consulship was his last, and began in 213, so the date range (except as amended by the apparent alloy debasement, beginning, evidently, in 215) on the basis of the stated date would be between 213-217.
     
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  12. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Yes. I saw in the Sear Greek Imperials where the D meant fourth consulship on coins from many different mints. I saw some listed as B, presumably the second consulship. I did not see any alphas or gammas. I wonder if his earlier tetradrachmas mostly went into the melting pot once these debased coins went into circulation. Thanks for your information
     
  13. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    Relatively high value coins like tetradrachms weren't necessarily struck every year. Emissions like this were more typically struck specifically to pay for supplies and soldiers' salaries for military campaigns like the one Caracalla was pursuing against the Parthians at the time.
    Of course Gresham's Law has always been an active factor and debasements of currency will always at least tend to drive the existing stock of higher intrinsic value coins out of circulation, too.
     
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  14. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Question for you. When you say that these coins were used to pay soldiers salaries, were the troops actually paid in these coins rather than in denarii? Was it expected that they would spend these coins in the Greek East where they were presently stationed and if they were returned to the Latin West after their service there would they have taken these coins with them and exchanged them for denarii in the West? Do you know if these Syrian pieces are much found in hoards from the Latin western portion of the Empire? Sorry to hit you with this batch of questions but I have always wondered about coins from eastern mints winding up circulating in the West and from what you wrote above I thought you might know.
     
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  15. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    Mercenaries - like Danubian Celtic warriors in the Hellenistic period - at the end of the campaigns for which they were hired took their pay from Alexander or whomever in the large Greek silver coins which were created to pay them and went home with their loot. Then for several generations you see imitative types created locally using those pieces as prototypes. This is one example where I actually know what some soldiers did with their pay. The less formally "Hellenized" might not have used coins in a way that would seem familiar to us since their home economies may still have been primarily conducted through in-kind trade. They couldn't "spend" them until their societies had advanced to the point of using coins for everyday transactions so they tended to be trophies, or were considered to be something like medals or jewelry, a store of value, ingots, etc.
    The Roman army - the legions, at any rate - consisted of lifetime professionals. "Home", as a concept, somewhere they aspired to return to, was nowhere nearly so strong as it had been with the Greek/Celtic mercenaries. The Roman soldiers served until they had fought in X number of campaigns (the number changed from time to time, but usually took an entire adult lifetime) and until they were retired, "paroled", presented with their army diplomas and settled on a piece of land in a newly created military retirement settlement, wherever the army happened to be at any given time was "home", wherever it might be.
    I'm not sure the actual legionnaires had access to or carried very much money. However, armies and cohorts within armies did tend to be transferred and/or travel all around as their services were needed in various conflicts or to garrison the frontiers, etc, and they certainly brought at least a few coins with them. Metal detecting finds in hinterlands like Britannia will occasionally include "erratic" items from distant places which you wouldn't think would be in circulation there. These are very much the minority of types found, however.
    Chances are tetradrachms like these were created primarily to buy bulk equipment and supplies for the whole army, pay huge bribes, etc, and few of them were actually in the soldiers' hands. The soldiers had some small change for personal things, but to the extent any of them was able after having their equipment, food, etc, deducted from their pay and devoting a fairly large percentage of what was left to the burial societies and/or a few sending it to a wife or family somewhere, their wealth, such as it was, existed on the army's books and the balance might eventually be paid out to them sometime, but soldiers on the march - and they marched everywhere they went - or in the field don't really carry or use much money.
     
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  16. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Kevin, I'm guessing the Roman army wasn't much different than modern armies are today. As lehmansterms states there wasn't any need to carry lots of cash, especially if you were in a war zone. In Viet Nam our pay was recorded on ledgers & if we needed some money for sundries, sex, or pot :smuggrin:, we were given MPC (military payment certificates) that we called "funny money", see photos below. The largest MPC note was for $10, & Vietnamese civilians would accept these notes without a problem :).

    50 cents, MPC.jpg th2GVV6WMI.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2019
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  17. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Thanks to both of you. I am somewhat more familiar with the various kinds of "occupation" currency of the 20th Century, though I have no idea what troops stationed in foreign countries use today. Perhaps credit cards. I have always just wondered what Roman troops serving in the Greek speaking eastern provinces of the Empire were paid in and whether such coins show up in the archaeological record of the Latin speaking West and whether this indicates that such coins were in general circulation outside the province of their issue. Modern archaeological findings of imperial denarii in Syria, or Bithynia or Cappadocia might not be unusual but finding coins from Antioch or Caesarea in Italy or Britain or Spain , depending on the frequency of such finds, might be an indication that somebody, troops or merchants, found that at least the silver issued in eastern mints, had empire wide circulation use. I wonder if anyone has done any research into this and what the research might show.
     
  18. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    There are theories (there are many theories, but some of the most plausible) explaining the existence of so-called "Limes Denarii" (I'll explain another time why this name is both ridiculous and impossible, although I'm afraid the name is now permanently stuck on this particular class of coin) concerning how they might have been created and used officially in border/garrison/war zone areas. These very faithful copies of denarii, primarily of the Severans, cast in low-grade billon or potin and occasionally found "silvered", used to be a scarce curiosity last century. Since the late 90's and with the enormous stock of coins entering the market at that time and since, they have become fairly common. Rather than being, necessarily, local copies of the circulating coinage, these might have been officially produced as scrip for soldiers' use and/or were circulated as tokens in place of bullion-based coin for which they would, eventually, be exchanged. The idea being that this could prevent large quantities of high-value bullion coin from falling into the hands of the "barbarians at the gates" - or whatever the enemy of the day may have been - and could be used to de-stabilize and/or interfere with normal commerce.
    An example of a so-called "Limes Denarius" of Septimius Severus:
    [​IMG]
    http://old.stoa.org/gallery/Chaos-and-the/03_Sept_Sev_Denarius_Pax?full=1
     
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