Commagene Tiberius Dupondius - Countermark Harpa (maybe)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Another addition to my countermark collection, I bought this one without any idea what it was - eBay seller said it was Philip I from Syria. But figuring them out is half the fun - actually it is a Commagene dupondius struck for Tiberius. So why does this coin have an RIC number? Isn't it provincial?

    I saw an interesting post by David Atherton on coins struck at Rome for the East, but for Vespasian:

    https://www.cointalk.com/threads/commagene-syria-rome.332960/#post-3360823

    The countermark I only figured out when I blundered upon a CGN auction via acsearch (https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=377038). It is Howgego 500 - a sort of mystery as to what is shown. Wildwinds lists it as a "shark" which is pretty funny. Howgego guesses a harpa or a trophy, or, rather mysteriously, "birth of Malakbel from a cypress tree" which sounds like something Jochen would know about. To me it looks like a Patrick Star from SpongeBob Squarepants sitting right on a Wellington boot, but this seems unlikely.

    And so the ancient countermark journey continues:

    CM - Commagene Tiberius Harpa Oct 2019 (0).jpg

    My photos below make the cm look incuse - it is not:

    CM - Commagene Tiberius Harpa Oct 2019 (0 det1) - Copy.jpg
    Tiberius Dupondius
    (19-20 A.D.)
    Uncertain Commagene Mint

    [TI CAESAR DIVI AVGVSTI F AVGVSTVS], laureate head right / [PONT MAXIM] COS
    [III IMP VII TR POT XXI(I)], caduceus between crossed cornucopiae
    RIC 89 (XXI) or 90 (XXII).
    (11.59 grams / 27 mm)

    Countermark: Π Δ T around uncertain object (harpa?) in 8 x 6 mm oval. Howgego 500. "Howgego is unable to fully explain the types and legends of this countermark, suggesting that the legend may be a date in an uncertain era, and the type may be a trophy or the birth of Malakbel from a cypress tree."
    Richard Baker Collection, via CNG Ele. Auct. 439; Lot 267
     
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  3. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    It does look like a harpa. Although it could be a prow or stern.

    Here is a coin that also has an uncertain harpa counterstamp. I have been unable to research it further. It seems to have similar size/weight to yours.

    harpa-counterstamp.jpg
    Uncertain. Harpa (?) counterstamp. 28mm, 10.4g. 2nd century AD?


    harpa-counterstamp-closeup.jpg
    Marc Breitsprecher described this as "An interesting bronze with clear harpa counterstamp". It seems likely but uncertain. Probably I could take a better picture now. The uncertain 2nd century attribution is Marc's as well.
     
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  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing that, Ed - it's interesting. If you can see the letters it could be Howgego 500 like mine. I'd be interested to see what you find out.
     
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    kool coin M Mike.:)
     
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  6. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    I attempted to reshoot mine. No trace of letters. The harpa hook has the opposite orientation as yours.

    harpa-countermark-reshoot-1.jpg

    Congrats on your dupondius. Wish I had seen it. I wanted a harpa counterstamp for my Perseus and Medusa collection and spent $14 on this, which is probably the worst graded coin in my collection (host coin fair, counterstamp poor).

    I don't know if you have Howgego. CNG just says "birth of Malakbel from a cypress tree". Howgego suggests the letters are "probably" the date 383-4, perhaps of the Seleucid era. For the "birth of Malakbēl", Howgego cites H. Drijvers, The Religion of Palmyra (1975), p. 17 pl. 86). "Malakbēl" means the angel of Ba'al.
     
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  7. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Except for the opposite orientation, your harpa looks a lot like mine. From what I can tell from poking around online, coins from Commagene were countermarked extensively, so yours may well be from there.

    As for condition, my already-low standards get lower for countermarks. Many of mine from ancient times have host coins worn slick - but so long as I can see the countermark, I'm pretty happy. The OP is an example of this - virtually all the legend is missing, for one thing.

    I do not have a copy of Howgego, and I really need to do so. Thanks for providing information on the possible Seleucid-era dating - that information was not on the CNG auction I found. Every little bit helps!
     
  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's a fascinating countermark, @Marsyas Mike , and great research. It looks like a harpa to me, too.
     
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