New Book Explores the Relationships Between Mints in Southern Asia Minor

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Several Roman provincial cities in Asia minor used the same obverse dies for their coins or their dies were so similar as to have been the product of the same die-engraver. The standard work to explain this phenomenon has been Konrad Kraft's Das System der kaiserzeitlichen Münzprägung in Kleinasien (Berlin, 1972). Kraft proposed a system of traveling workshops to explain the similarities. For example, he considered this coin of Laodicea ad Lycum in Phrygia to have been a product of a traveling workshop he called the "Sardis Workshop."

    Philip II as Caesar, AD 244-247.
    Roman provincial Æ 25 mm, 7.7 g.
    Phrygia, Laodicea ad Lycum, Sardis Workshop,[5] AD 244-247.
    Obv: •Μ•ΙΟVΛΙ••ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟϹ•Κ•, bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust of Philip II, right, seen from front.
    Rev: ΛΑΟΔΙΚЄ|ΩΝ ΝЄ|ΩΚΟΡΩΝ, river Caprus as boar and river Lycus as wolf seated back to back, heads facing each other.
    Refs: BMC 25.324,260 (same rev. die); RG 6326 (same obv. die); RPC VIII unassigned, ID 20777; SNG Cop 607; SNG Leypold 1678.

    Note, for example, the similarity in artistic style, the subject matter of the reverse types, and fabric between the coins of Antioch in Pisidia and those of Parlais:

    Julia Domna, AD 193-217.
    Roman provincial Æ 21.3 mm, 5.15 g, 7 h.
    Pisidia, Parlais, AD 193-196?
    Obv: IVLIA-DOMNA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: IVL AVG C-OL PARLAIS, Mên standing r., wearing Phrygian cap, left foot on bucranium, holding spear and pinecone; behind his shoulders, crescent.
    Refs: BMC 21.11, 3; SNG von Aulock 5137 (same obv. die).

    Julia Domna, AD 193-217.
    Roman provincial Æ 22.4 mm, 5.76 g, 5 h.
    Pisidia, Antioch, AD 196-211.
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: ANTIOCH GE-NI COL CAES, Genius of Antioch wearing kalathos or modius on head, standing facing, head left, holding branch and cornucopiae.
    Refs: BMC 19.181, 34-36; SNG BnF 1126-31; Lindgren I, 1211.

    Gordian III, AD 238-244.
    Roman Provincial Æ 35 mm, 26.72 g, 6 h.
    Pisidia, Antioch, AD 238-244.
    Obv: IMP CAES M ANT GORDIANVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian III, r., seen from rear.
    Rev: COL CAES ANTIOCH, S-R, Mên standing r., wearing Phrygian cap, foot on bucranium, holding sceptre and Victory (standing r., on globe, holding trophy), resting elbow on column; behind his shoulders, crescent; to l., rooster standing, l.
    Refs: RPC VII.2, — (unassigned; ID 3431); Krzyżanowska XXII/94; BMC xix.187, 70.

    However, there are other explanations for these similarities than a system of traveling workshops. There could have been a central common mint to which cities contracted their minting needs. Dies could have been lent or sold from one city to another, and so on.

    This new work, Connections, Communities, and Coinage: The System of Coin Production in Southern Asia Minor, AD 218–276, by George Watson, is reviewed here in Coins Weekly and refutes Kraft's arguments.


    The book sounds like a worthwhile acquisition for numismatists interested in the Roman provincial coins of Asia Minor.
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  3. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Traveling workshops is an interesting idea. Maybe something like the modern-day contractors.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  4. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Other interesting reading about "die sharing":

    Johnston, A. (1982-83). Die Sharing in Asia Minor: The View from Sardis, Israel Numismatic Journal 6-7 (1982-83): 59-78

    Watson, G. (2017). ‘Die-sharing and the ‘pseudo-autonomous’ coinages’, Numismatic Chronicle 177: 201-11
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    You might also consider that the cities might have separate mints but dies were engraved by a travelling artist who served the needs of several cities which then struck coins separately. Does the author discuss differences in metal content/trace elements that might separate between the several possible explanations?
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