Featured Personal Discovery! i. e. Egypt

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Aidan_(), Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    A Pharaoh of Egypt minted coins!!!

    This is where I talk about a coin I didn't know existed or could possibly exist! I stumbled upon this coin in an auction catalog kindly sent to me by Ken D. I must admit when I did read the description I was pretty shocked.

    Here's an excellent write up taken from the NY sale XL:

    "This remarkable stater is the only “Greek” coin to feature a type intended to express an idea using the Egyptian hieroglyphic script. It was struck by Nektanebo II (ca. 361-342 BC), a rebel Saite Pharaoh who opposed the re-incorporation of Egypt into the Achaemenid Persian empire. In his bid to maintain Egyptian independence, he had the support of the powerful Egyptian priesthood and maintained an army of Greek mercenaries. The coin is itself symbolic of Nektanebo’s unenviable predicament of being a nationalist leader with a regime propped up by foreign military muscle. While it is generally believed that this gold stater was part of an issue used to pay the Pharaoh’s mercenaries, the hieroglyphic reverse type identifying it as “good gold” is likely to have been readable only by Egyptian priestly scribes. The hieroglyphic reverse reflects Nektanebo’s presentation of himself as a legitimate native pharaoh defending Egypt against the Persians - only the latest manifestation of the “vile Asiatic” repeatedly mentioned in hieroglyphic texts since the third millennium BC. Nektanebo II and his mercenary army successfully repelled a Persian invasion in 351/0 BC, but he was driven from power when the mercenary leaders turned against him and joined the renewed offensive of Artaxerxes II in 342 BC. Evidently more than good gold and the support of the religious establishment was needed to keep native Pharaohs on the throne of the Two Lands, even in the twilight of the Persian empire."


    EGYPT, Pharonic Kingdom. Nektanebo II. 361-343 BC. AV Stater (16.5mm, 8.16 g, 10h). Horse prancing right / Heiroglyphic representation of “good gold”: pectoral necklace ( nebew = “gold”) crossing horizontally over a windpipe and heart ( nefer = “good”)

    As you may notice these staters look very Greek, hinting at the "Greek" in the write up above, so much so that if compared to the silver staters from Corinth, just a couple decades prior to Nek's gold staters, the horse of the obverse looks like the pegasus but without the wings in terms of artistic style! And also the fact that these coins would be payment to the Greek mercenaries who expected quality coins in payment (in metal and probably in imagery).

    The likely hood of Nek hiring a Greek engraver to make the die's for the coin is very probable.

    Why use hieroglyphs when no one except the Pharaoh and some scholars could read it? What was the point?

    What are your thoughts on this coin and the mystery behind it?

    IF, by any chance you might have one of these or one of Nektanebo's bronze coins please share!

    A good read on this topic from 1992 found on Academia: https://www.academia.edu/3987076/The_Earliest_Known_Gold_Pharaonic_Coin?auto=download
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  3. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    I must admit that I'm intent on making a YouTube video on this coin, what are your thoughts?

    Also, in the Academia article the author mentions that the need for an updated publication on this series is needed. How does one go about publishing an academic resource on numismatics? What kind of research and observations are needed for something like this? I need a Academic Publishing on Numismatics for Dummies. :D
    alk1129 and Ryro like this.
  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    There aren't any bronzes or silvers of Nektanebo, something I unfortunately didn't know until after paying a hefty premium for this bronze (some sellers still try to attribute this to Nektanebo, for obvious reasons). Here's the coin with corrected attribution:

    SYRIA, uncertain (formerly attributed to Egyptian pharaoh Nektanebo II)
    3rd century CE
    AE11, 4.4 gm
    Obv: Ram leaping left, head reverted
    Rev: Scales; countermark with helmeted bust right
    Ref: Weiser 1 (Nektanebo II of Egypt)

    From CNG's archives:

    Weiser’s attribution of this type to the Egyptian Pharaoh Nektanebo is primarily based on a loose typological similarity to an issue of gold coins that are Egyptian. While this attribution is still followed by some, more recent evidence has almost certainly shown this to be incorrect. All of these bronze coins seem to originate from sources outside of Egypt, particularly the northern Levant, which would not likely be in the circulation pattern of a 4th century BC bronze issue of Egypt (an argument that these may have been struck while Nektanebo was active in Syria during the Satrapal Revolt is completely implausible). Also, with the exception of the Athenian tetradrachm imitations that were likely struck in Egypt for external trade, there was no internal monetized economy that would be necessary to support such a bronze issue. In his book on the coins of Roman Syria, Butcher notes that the style of the leaping ram is very similar to 3rd century AD issues of Antioch, but also notes that it is a common type at Damaskos. Furthermore, Butcher notes that Newell had attributed two of these in the ANS to an uncertain mint in Commagene, although his rationale is unknown. Thus, Butcher attributes these to an uncertain mint in northern Syria in the 3rd century AD.


    I mentioned the famous stater obliquely in this tread about a Nero diobol, with a "vase" reminiscent of some elements of the "good gold" hieroglyph found on staters of Nektanebo II: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/more-to-this-than-meets-the-eye.309276/

    I don't think any CT regulars have one of the Nektanebo staters yet. Unfortunately it is out of my reach.

    A well researched writeup or video of the stater would be wonderful-- go for it!
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  5. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    I'm going to have to go back and look for that. Why would the attribution of the ae coin be in question? I know that's a very broad question but I am curious as to what brought it up and what kind of discussions were involved.
  6. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I edited my post, possibly after you read it, to include a blurb from CNG about the reattribution. It may answer some of your questions. Apparently the initial attribution to Nektanebo was tenuous at best, based on the iconography. I'd really like for those scales to be the scales of Ma'at but alas...
  7. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    Yes I did, thank you for the info!
  8. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    I was one of the underbidders on that stater and the two others that have sold in the last couple years. With some of the newer import restrictions, I'm kicking myself for not going stronger but perhaps the winners would have bid much higher. Some day....
  9. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    Barry's explanation should help with that.
    I have seen a few articles in the last 10 years that talk about the gold issues. The first pharaoh to mint a coin was Takhos c.363, though I have not seen an image of it. Kerry Wetterstrom wrote a good article for CNG, here is an excerpt
  10. Alegandron

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

    I also have the coin @TIF has. I got it because of the RAM obverse (and the cool sub-story) :D:

    Egypt Pharaoh Nektanebo II 361-343 BCE Ram Scales Weiser 1 - Butcher 11 uncertain no Syria.jpg
    Egypt Pharaoh Nektanebo II 361-343 BCE Ram Scales Weiser 1 - Butcher 11 uncertain no Syria
    De Orc, Ajax, chrsmat71 and 6 others like this.
  11. ycon

    ycon Well-Known Member

    Here is the (unique) coin of his uncle, Pharoah Djedher (Takhos), which is in the British Museum.


    Pharoanic Egypt, Djedher. Head of Athena, right, wearing Attic helmet.
    (reverse) Owl standing right, head facing; to left, papyrus stem. ΤΑΩ.

    I was actually thinking about writing a post about these two coins earlier today!
  12. ycon

    ycon Well-Known Member

    This is the coin of Nektanebo II, which is in the British Museum. A pretty spectacular example. AN01058981_001_l.jpg
  13. Sallent

    Sallent Well-Known Member

    No doubt about it, heavily inspired by the Athenian Tetradrachm.
    Aidan_() and Ed Snible like this.
  14. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    Maybe the common folks knew a few hieroglyphics? Or maybe the die cutters were used to making hieroglyphics and didn't know what else to draw?

    Here is a picture I took in the Metropolitan Museum in New York last month which are said to be "Reused Reliefs of Amenemhat I". You can see similar symbols.
  15. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

    Actually speculation is that as time passed the literacy rate improved in Egypt, so that by the late period a decent percentage of the population could read, whereas in the early days this knowledge was largely restricted to priests and scribes. I find this nebu-nefer coin fascinating. However, by the third and fourth century A.D. the knowledge of hieroglyphs was diminishing, with communication mostly occurring in the Coptic dialect and script.
  16. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    I must be honest, putting this on CoinTalk has made me a bit nervous. I'm fairly new to video making and I do believe that making videos on coins is the future for the hobby. Obviously this will take some time learning how to develop high quality videos. I've spent the past several months watching channels that make a living posting quality videos to youtube. Let me warn you that my video is nowhere close to being amazing or remotely "appealing". Further more, don't be afraid to say what you want, I do have a thick skin. ;)

    A man of my word @TIF here's that video in all its glory!

    With my geeky voice and what not...
    Neal, randygeki, TJC and 15 others like this.
  17. Nerva

    Nerva Well-Known Member

    Fascinating thread! Interesting that the British Museum didn't acquire theirs until 1954: http://www.britishmuseum.org/resear...56&partId=1&searchText=greek gold coin&page=2

    Hieroglyphics seem to have been used widely on public monuments, so people would be familiar with the iconography even if they didn't know the exact meaning. It's not so different from today. We've had people like Adam Smith and Christopher Wren on British banknotes. I doubt many people could tell you who they were.
    ancientcoinguru and Aidan_() like this.
  18. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    You could say the same thing about the Rosetta Stone though, right? Why use hieroglyphs? Because it connects you with Egypt's past and perhaps lends some authority.
  19. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

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  20. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

    Nicely done @Aidan_()! Very informative and a good length — long enough to engage the viewer yet tempting enough to encourage them to delve into additional research.

    I was unable to see the links (I just saw a black screen), anyone else have this problem?
    Aidan_() likes this.
  21. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I tried video a while back and decided it was way more work than it was worth to me and that my career as a reader of text was over before it started.
    randygeki, TJC, De Orc and 7 others like this.
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