Featured History Checklist: The Ancient World in 200 coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Severus Alexander, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Over in the Ancient Type Set thread, @dougsmit boldly predicted that it would be possible to build a "reasonably comprehensive set of ancient coins" with just 100 slots to fill. Since I'm a generalist collector, and I also aim to be comprehensive, this prediction inspired me to try to build the smallest checklist I could live with. Here is a first draft that I cobbled together today. As you can tell from the title, I wasn't quite able to keep it to 100. :oops: The total number right now stands at ~186 [edit: now 200], and I would be very interested to hear your comments and suggestions! What crucial coin issuers/times am I missing? Can the list stay at 200 or less?

    The list aims to be historically comprehensive, not numismatically comprehensive; and it focuses on political and military history, not cultural or social. It's awfully broad-brush, and there's an inevitable Western bias. (Though I hope it's less biased than you'd normally expect.) It starts with the dawn of coinage and extends to 500 CE, or in the case of China, 600 CE since that's a tidier place to draw the line, just before the Tang dynasty. [Edit: some other polities were extended to ~600 CE where this was a natural line to draw.] (So I guess this is my answer to the question posed in another recent thread, What qualifies as an ancient coin?)

    I know some of you won't be happy with the sparse representation of your favourite coins. How could I include so few Roman provincials? 1 Judaean kingdom, c'mon! [Edited to 2!] Let me have it. :punch::hurting: I want this list to be the best it can be so it may prove useful to someone, sometime! (Maybe? o_O)

    Europe, North Africa, Western Asia

    pre-500 BCE and c. 500 BCE (7):
    —1 c. 600 BCE (or earlier) electrum
    —1 Lydia gold or silver (Croesus or post-Croesus?) [thanks for the edit, TIF!]
    —1 city state in Asia minor
    —2 city states in Greece proper
    —1 Magna Graecia or Sicily
    —1 Olbian dolphin [added - thanks, Ryro!]

    500-400 BCE (10):
    —1 Western European Greek outpost (e.g. Massalia)
    —1 Macedon/Thrace
    —1 Black Sea area
    —1 Persian Siglos
    —1 Phoenicia
    —1 Aegina (naval power, rival to Athens)
    —1 Corinth [added - thanks, Zumbly!]
    —1 Athens c. 454-404 BCE (Pelopponesian War)
    —1 Sikyon c. 460-405 BCE (coinage used by Sparta)
    —1 Sicily

    400-300 BCE (13):
    —1 Western European Greek outpost + 1 local imitation (e.g. Massalia)
    —1 Carthage
    —2 Italy/Sicily (1 Greek colony, 1 non-Greek)
    —1 coin from the Spartan hegemony (e.g. Chalkidian league)
    —1 Thebes c. 371-362 BCE (Theban hegemony)
    —2 other major Greek city states or leagues (e.g. Aetolian League, Argos, Larissa, Eretria, Elis, Olynthus/Chalcidian League)
    —2 kingdoms subject to Persian control (e.g. Dynasts of Caria, Lycia etc.)
    —1 Phillip II of Macedon
    —1 Alexander the Great
    —1 late Persian satrap who was active during Alexander’s conquest (e.g. Mazaios, Spithridates)

    Successors of Alexander (13):
    —3 Ptolemaic (1 early, 1 middle, 1 late)
    —3 Seleukid (1 early, 1 middle, 1 late)
    —3 Macedon (1 early, 1 middle, 1 late)
    —1 Pergamon
    —Bactria: see Central Asia & India
    —1 Rhodes (3rd. c. BCE) (period of Naval supremacy)
    —1 Mithridates VI of Pontus (125-60 BCE)
    —1 Tigranes II of Armenia (95-55 BCE)

    Other 3rd c. BCE (10):
    —2 Spain (1 Greek or Phoenician & 1 imitation)
    —1 Gallic/Germanic (western Europe)
    —1 Celtic/Danubian (eastern Europe) e.g. imitation of Phillip II
    —1 Olbia or other Black sea area
    —1 Pyrrhos of Epeiros c. 295-272 (Epeiros or Syracuse issue)
    —1 Mamertines c. 264 BCE (1st Punic war)
    —1 Cyrenaica
    —1 Carthage c. 2nd Punic war
    —1 Syracuse

    Rome, to ~600 CE (35):
    —1 Aes Rude or Aes Formatum [added - thanks, Ryro!]
    —1 early Aes grave
    —1 early denarius (c. 2nd Punic war)
    —1 c. 168 BCE (defeat of Macedon; get a Macedonian issue)
    —1 c. 100 BCE (Gaius Marius)
    —1 c. 90 BCE (Social War)
    —1 Sulla
    —1 63 BCE (consulship of Cicero)
    Imperatorial (5): one each of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cato, Brutus, Marc Antony
    Emperors (22): one each of Augustus, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, 1 crisis emperor from 235-250, 1 Valerian or Gallienus, 1 Gallic emperor, Aurelian, Diocletian, Licinius I, Constantine I, Constantius II, Valentinian I, Theodosius I, Honorius, Theodosius II, Leo I, Justinian I, Maurice Tiberius

    Roman provincial (13) (most important cities; thanks to Zumbly for the help!):
    — 1 Illyria (3rd c. BCE, Roman protectorate)
    — 1 Sicily (3rd c. BCE)
    — Macedon: see 168 BCE above
    — 1 Asia, Syria, or Cilicia 1st c. BCE
    — 2 Alexandria: 1 early empire, 1 late 3rd c.
    — 2 Antioch: 1 early empire, 1 2nd-3rd c.
    —1 Pergamum
    —1 Ephesus
    —1 Nicaea
    —1 Smyrna
    —1 Caesarea (Cappadocia)
    —1 Gallic (e.g Nemausus)

    Misc. contemporary with Rome (15):
    —1 Scythian kings in Thrace/Black Sea area 300-100 BCE
    —1 early Spanish/Iberian c. 2nd-1st c. BC (during gradual conquest of Spain)
    —1 Republican imitation (Celtic)
    —1 Mauretania (c. 200 BCE)
    —1 Numidia (2nd c. BCE)
    —2 Arabia (Sabaean/Himyarite): 1 early (c. 200 BCE), 1 late (100-200)
    —1 Nabataean
    —1 Kings of the Bosporus
    —2 Judaea: 1 early Judaean kingdom (c. 100 BCE), 1 1st c. revolt [Thanks to Mike Margolis!]
    —1 2nd-3rd c. imitation (e.g. Danube)
    —1 4th c. imitation (Germanic)
    —1 Aksum (c. 300-500)

    Successors to the Romans in the West (3)
    —1 Vandals
    —1 Visigoths
    —1 Ostrogoths
    —(Bonus: Franks and/or Lombards… expensive, though.)

    Parthian (6): 1 each of Mithradates I, Mithradates II, Orodes II (defeated Crassus), Phraates IV, Osroes I, Vologases IV

    Sasanian to ~600 CE (8): 1 each of Ardashir I, Shapur I, Shapur II, Bahram V, Peroz I, Kavad I, Khusru I, Khusru II

    Central Asia and India

    —5 Greco-Bactrian & Indo-Greek, c. 250-50 BCE: 1 early Bactrian (e.g. Eukratides) & 1 late; 1 Apollodotus I (c. 180-160 BCE 1st independent Indo-Greek ruler), 1 Menander (c. 155-130 BCE), 1 late Indo-Greek
    —1 Indo-Parthian (c. 10 BCE-130 CE)

    Steppe invaders to ~600 CE (14):
    —4 Indo-Scythians/Saka: 1 Maues/Azes; 1 Nahapana; 2 Western Satraps (30-400)
    —5 Yuezhi/Kushan: 1 Yuezhi, 1 early Kushan (c. 1 CE), 1 Kujula Kadphises or Vima Takto (1st c.), 1 Kanishka (127-140), 1 late (c. 200-350)
    —1 Kidarite (4th-5th c.)
    —4 Hunnic/Turkic: 1 Alchon or Nezak Huns (5th. c.), 1 Hephthalite (c. 500), 1 Gökturk (c. 550 & later)
    —1 Jouan-Jouan/Rouran (Rouran Khaganate)

    —2 Silk Road (Sogdiana/Samarqand, Bukhara, Chach etc.): 1 early imitation of Hellenistic type (c. 100 BCE), 1 later issue (3rd-5th c.) (Note: Gökturk issue could be from Silk Road area; see Steppe Invaders above. Much numismatic uncertainty here!)
    —1 Khwaresmian kings (50-500)

    India (14):
    —2 early Mahajanapadas, c. 6th-5th c. BCE, punch-marked coins (e.g. Magadha janapada)
    —2 issues of the Mauryan (& Shunga) empire (322-30 BCE)
    —3 tribal/civic issues from Northern India (e.g. Ujjain, Kuninda)
    —3 Satavahana empire (230 BCE-220 CE) (1 early, 1 middle, 1 late)
    —1 imitation of Roman issue (South India/Sri Lanka)
    —3 Gupta empire (240-550) 1 early, 1 middle, 1 late

    China and East Asia (to 600 CE, i.e. before the Tang dynasty)

    China (28):
    Zhou dynasty (1046-256 BCE) (2):
    —1 cowrie & 1 imitation cowrie
    —1 early (square shoulder) spade
    Warring States (475-221 BCE) (7):
    —1 pointed shoulder, hollow handle spade from Jin (Hartill 2.181-188)
    —1 early pointed knife from Yan [edited: thanks, TypeCoin!]
    —1 “ghost-face” from Chu
    —1 early round coin from Qi
    —1 early round coin/round hole from Liang [Thanks, TypeCoin!]
    —1 square-foot spade from Zhao, issued in Mongolia, related to steppe tribes (Hartill 3.181-3)
    —1 early round coin from Qin
    Han dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE) (6):
    —2 ban liang (1 early c. 220-180 BCE; 1 from 175-119 BCE)
    —2 wu zhu (1 early c. 120 BCE; 1 later c. 90-50 BCE)
    —1 Wang Mang
    —1 Eastern Han (30-220) wu zhu
    Three kingdoms to 16 kingdoms (220-440) (6):
    —3 from the Three kingdoms period (1 Wu, 1 Shu, 1 Wei)
    —1 from Eastern Jin
    —2 from 16 Kingdoms period
    Northern & Southern Dynasties (7):
    —1 Northern Wei (386-534)
    —1 Western Wei c. 550
    —1 Northern Zhou (557-581)
    —3 Southern Dynasties (1 Song, 1 Liang, 1 Chen)
    —1 Sui (581-618)

    Other East Asia (poorly understood numismatics) (3):
    —1 Pyu city states (Burma)
    —1 “Rising Sun” coin (Funan(?); also issued in Pyu states)
    —1 Mon kingdoms (e.g. conch shell/sankha coins)
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
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  3. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I should add: the list is meant to be useful no matter what your budget level is. I think it could even be achievable at an average of $10 per coin. (Maybe.)
  4. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    I like to think that I'm a bit of a history buff, but I don't recognize 75% of that stuff. Looks like a good list for a type coin collection and/or a syllabus for brushing up on world history. Well done!
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The list is a good effort but could be cut in half with little trouble. One obvious reduction would be to merge the modern century designations in Greek and lose the 'early/late' duplications elsewhere. The main question is whether the significant question is the number of coins or making sure what I'd call Cherd's 75% history buffs might have to research each got a line item. The list reminds me of what Congress calls a tight budget where every constituent gets his pork. Cut deep; cut mercilessly.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  6. Alegandron

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

    Nice job @Severus Alexander ! I have most of them and recognize them all. I collect Historically, and am not a Numismatist.

    My mantra: GET. THEM. ALL. and EXPAND.

    Enjoy the journey... Why restrict yourself?
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  7. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    I agree that a list like that is the starting point for what most of us turn into a lifetime pursuit.

    Severus Alexander and Alegandron like this.
  8. rg3

    rg3 Well-Known Member

    Very nice list, thank you for putting the time in to share your viewpoint.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  9. Nathan401

    Nathan401 Working like crazy to pay for the lazy Supporter

    I wish I had enough knowledge to even make a list!! This is a wonderful thread idea, and I'm saving all of these lists to help me along the way. Thanks everyone!
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  10. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Gosh Doug, you're ruthless! :) The duplications across centuries are due to the large historical differences between, say, Syracuse in the 5th c. BCE vs. Syracuse in the 4th c. BCE. If you're gonna convince me to cut a line item, you need to convince me that the historical entity in that line didn't play an important, differentiated role... at least not as important as the vast majority of the other line items. In other words, the line items to cut would have to be outliers of insignificance.

    I think it'll be easier to convince me to add stuff... historical entities that played at least as important a role as many of the others already on the list.

    Of course, the list could be done with an even broader brush: just cut the bottom 50% in terms of significance. I feel that would leave out too much history, but where to draw that line is obviously a matter of personal taste.
    Orange Julius and Alegandron like this.
  11. Ryro

    Ryro Another victory like that will destroy us! Supporter

    Way to go! I've looked it over 3times trying to find something integral missing and that is solid my man! (Though I might throw in some proto currency as a must even though by definition they don't belong:yawn:)
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  12. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Never fear, Gandalf! I would never restrict myself to the list. (For example, I'm trying to get a type set of Severus Alexander middle bronzes. Not exactly something demanded by historical importance. ;)) But I do feel that the history-based generalist should try to cover all of these bases. And then some? You bet!!!

    I'd be interested to hear if you thought there were any gaping holes.
    Alegandron likes this.
  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Awesome, thanks @Ryro! There is at least one proto-currency item on the list, cowries from the Zhou dynasty. They connect nicely with actual currency later in the list, including (possibly) the early round coins, and definitely the "ghost face" coins. What other proto-currency would you include? Ideally it would link to later coins in some way, but I'm very open to suggestions! I've got 14 slots to fill to achieve a nice round number. :)
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
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  14. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    It seems the exercise has proven useful to at least one person. Excellent, I'm happy!! :)
    Alegandron likes this.
  15. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Nice job. It good to see it all listed like this.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  16. Ryro

    Ryro Another victory like that will destroy us! Supporter

    I must confess my ignorance to the Cowries (and most east Asiatic coins).
    But maybe I'm just overly excited about my 1st Rude Aes. Though it would tie inn nicely with the RR coins. Also, the Olbia dolphins are GREAT, and essentials for me.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  17. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Since the Vandals are included, so should be the Visigoths. Added.

    Since China extends to 600, probably the Sassanids should be extended to that point too... which means all the important Sassanids would be included. To be added would be Kavad I, Khusru I, and Khusru II.

    But... maybe that means I would have to extend the Byzantines to 600 too? adding Justinian and possibly Tiberius II or Maurice?

    And maybe that means the Ostrogoths and the Franks should get on the list in the West. Maybe even the Lombards. The Franks and the Lombards are tough to get coins for, though. I'm inclined to include the Ostrogoths, at least.

    You're right! I'll add a line item for aes rude/aes formatum, and for the Olbian dolphins!
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
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  18. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Wow! You must really be up on your ancient history! It would take me months to come up with such a comprehensive list.

    Once I finish some grouting and painting I'll weigh in on the details :)
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  19. I’m just glad to see China so well represented. :smug::joyful::rolleyes:

    My only suggestion for that area is to add an early pointed knife coin. It would represent the origin of an important ancient Chinese currency
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  20. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Thanks, @TypeCoin971793! I was really hoping you would review the Chinese section. I'll need some more help, though... the line item "1 knife from Yan" was supposed to cover these, e.g. H4.15-4.33. That way the list has an early(ish) knife as well as representation for the state of Yan. Are you saying I should add a second item for Qi, namely a Qi knife (H4.1-7)? or maybe a needle-tip knife (H4.8-4.12), which may be an earlier Yan coin? or maybe I should should make it explicit that what I mean by that line item is a pointed tip knife as opposed to a Ming knife (which may also be from Yan)?
    Alegandron likes this.
  21. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Sorry, @TypeCoin971793, I want to pick your brain about a couple more things. :)

    1) I should really include something to represent the early northern Steppe tribes (Xiongnu etc.). The Hartill items that suggests themselves to me are the 3.181-3 spades, apparently produced in inner Mongolia. Is there anything better?

    2) Continuing in the vein of the northern steppe tribes, is there anything to represent early Northern Wei? The earliest thing I can find is 10.23, from 510.
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