Featured The Riddle of the Sphinx

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Pharos = lighthouse. RPC doesn't say 'the pharos', just as it doesn't say 'the sphinx', but as you say, we all know what it means.
     
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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Like you OP I always dreamed of owning a coin of "the sphinx" I owned many showing sphinxes, but no the famous one in front of the Great Pyramid. Here is mine I posted many 8 months ago when I won it. Dom Sphinx.png

    I picked this one because of the reverse. Well, "picked" is a relative word, since they rarely come on the market, but I liked this reverse so bid strongly. These seem to either were well used or badly struck. It is not easy to find one with a full face of the sphinx.
     
  4. Alegandron

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

    Great coin!
     
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  5. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Yes, they are rare as hen's teeth and seldom show up in trade. I'm glad to see you got a very respectable example!
     
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  6. J. J.

    J. J. New Member

    What?! You’re not right and you didn’t even bother to check the links I attached.

    In RPC Pharos is the exclusive name for the Lighthouse of Alexandria! RPC does use the name Pharos for the Alexandrian lighthouse (in the ”reverse design” section) and just the lighthouse for any other lighthouses depicted on coins (for exaple: https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/8612).

    RPC does describe the reverse of the sphinx coin as sphinx, not as the Giza Sphinx.

    Be reliable, please.

    Ps. Pharos = lighthouse, true. But lighthouse doesn’t neccesary equals Pharos. Also, Giza Sphinx = sphinx, but sphinx doesn’t neccesary equals Giza Sphinx. A basic logic, which you presented incompletely to undermine the point of my previous post.
     
  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    I did indeed check the links. Pharos is the ancient and modern term for any lighthouse and is also used to describe the great lighthouse at Alexandria.

    We will have to agree to disagree concerning the obols depicting the Great Sphinx. Thank you for your kind comments regarding my coin, but I fear this is going nowhere. Please stop trolling me.
     
  8. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    One can never be positive its the great sphinx, but its definitely the Egyptian one, and not similar at all to all others shown on coins. Additionally, even in antiquity the Great Sphinx was a famous landmark, greatly copied within Egypt. Myself, I bought my coin for the reverse and am fairly comfortable its depicting the Great Sphinx. Why would an emperor wish to celebrate a non-Great Sphinx? He is the emperor, he only associates with the best and most famous.

    I also like mine for the resemblance. anyone else notice the face on the sphinx looks a lot like Domitian on it? I wonder if just same engraver carves faces like that, or if it was intentional. It sure does not look like the real spinx, it has a more western face and less eastern face that the real one has to me.
     
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  9. J. J.

    J. J. New Member

    Except it is not. Even me, a non-English speaker, knows that. RPC uses modern language as far as I remember: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/pharos

    Then, is this Pharos as well? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montauk_Point_Light

    And, as you wish, I won't be posting here anymore. After all, this is your thread.

    "stop trolling me", really?! Is this your answer when someone shows you, without any hint of insult, that you're not right? (rhetorical question). Not very mature.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  10. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    And that is precisely what we see on these obols. A very good point!
     
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  11. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Bingo.
     
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  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I said I wouldn't respond directly to J.J. again, so I won't. But I do think "trolling" is an accurate characterization. Despite his or her (I say that even though I'd bet at least a nickel that J.J. is a guy, no offense to the guys here!) later claim that all he did was show you that you're "not right," "without any hint of insult" -- a slight retreat from his (again, a best guess) original claim that he was being "kind" to you!

    Of course he didn't prove you to be "not right." Which is one of the reasons I agree that he's been trolling you. You may have noticed that he never once responded to my point, made several times, based on common sense, that there is no logical reason whatsoever (and he has failed to give one) why a coin produced by a Roman Alexandrian mint, administered by Greeks and Romans, would ever conceivably have been issued showing any crouching man-headed Sphinx (i.e., any sphinx that looks like the Great Sphinx) other than the Great Sphinx itself. Which -- as I showed by quoting Pliny the Elder -- was the one famous in the ancient world, preceding all others literally and figuratively. To repeat @medoraman's point, which summarizes things more succinctly than I was able to, "Why would an emperor wish to celebrate a non-Great Sphinx? He is the emperor, he only associates with the best and most famous."

    Sometimes, it's difficult to prove the obvious. But I think we accomplished that in this thread to as great a degree of certainty as is reasonably possible. Of course it's always possible to nibble around the edges of an argument without ever addressing the center, and that's exactly what J.J. has been doing. And he's never even conceded that it's more likely than not that the coin was intended to portray, and would have been seen as portraying, the Great Sphinx. All he is willing to admit is that "perhaps" it portrays the Great Sphinx. Hence, the appropriateness of the troll designation.

    You might also have noticed that in his first few comments, he said nothing whatsoever regarding symbolism, and argued vociferously that the crouching "Andro-Sphinx" (man-headed sphinx) is equally likely to represent some other, smaller statue like the one -- actually, a pair -- in Alexandria. It's only after we showed how absurd and illogical that claim was that he started arguing that the sphinx on the coin was intended as a symbolic representation, essentially abandoning the earlier argument. By the way, when I said the Great Sphinx was 50 times as large as the two in Alexandria or any other, it seems I was being hyperbolic. In fact, while the Great Sphinx is 73 m. long and 20 m. high, the ones at Alexandria are 4 meters long and 2.2 meters high. So, not quite 50 times! See this helpful comparison in the book (available in Google Books) The Sphinx That Traveled to Philadelphia: The Story of the Colossal Sphinx in the Penn Museum, by Josef Wegner & Jennifer Houser Wegner (2015):

    comparative sizes of sphinxes title.jpg

    comparative sizes of sphinxes 1.jpg

    comparative sizes of sphinxes 2.jpg

    But sure, the Sphinx on the coin is just as likely to be one of the others!

    Regarding the lighthouse: did you notice that in arguing that "lighthouse doesn’t neccesary equals Pharos," he cited a Roman Provincial coin minted in Syria, not Egypt? In other words, he failed to show any Roman Egyptian coins depicting a lighthouse not called Pharos, or not portraying the Pharos.

    Finally, he turns to an argumentum ad verecundiam -- the "argument from authority" fallacy, relying on the coin descriptions in one particular authority (i.e., the fact that RPC's descriptions apparently say nothing more than "sphinx" as opposed to "Great Sphinx") as supposed proof that he's correct. The problem with this argument is that the RPC's descriptions are almost uniformly laconic, and rarely have more than the most cursory description of the objects on a coin. I could do the same, citing a number of CNG's descriptions, which tend to be far more expansive. See, for example, https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=103789, describing a coin of Antoninus Pius as follows:

    "The Famed Egyptian Sphinx
    Sale: CNG 75, Lot: 881. Estimate $1500.
    Closing Date: Wednesday, 23 May 2007.
    Sold For $1500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Hemidrachm (13.78 g, 12h). Dated RY 2 (AD 138/9). Radiate head right / Sphinx couched right; star above, date in field. Cf. Köln 1310 for similar type; Dattari 3084; Milne 1613; Emmett 1731. VF, brown and green surfaces, the usual edge splits. Rare.


    This wonderful reverse type depicts the famous Egyptian Sphinx."

    Or even this one, at https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=65847, describing an example of the Domitian Sphinx:


    Sale: CNG 69, Lot: 1281. Estimate $500.
    Closing Date: Wednesday, 8 June 2005.
    Sold For $2000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Domitian. 81-96 AD. Æ Obol (3.48 gm, 12h). Dated RY 11 (91/2 AD). Laureate head left / Egyptian sphinx reclining right; date above. RPC II 2646; Köln 396; Dattari 571; Milne 510; Emmett 327. VF, brown surfaces, pit on Domitian's forehead. ($500)

    From the Garth R. Drewry Collection.

    A rare numismatic representation of an Egyptian sphinx in the pose of the famous Giza monumental statue."

    But I won't cite them as proof, because that would be inappropriate. (I do love paraleipsis!)

    TLDR He's wrong and he's been trolling.

    PS: I'm lucky he wasn't around for my thread at https://www.cointalk.com/threads/ne...aditional-egyptian-theme.373239/#post-5395208, discussing my Hadrian Nomes Obol from the Arsinoite Nome, portraying an image of a Pharaoh's head on the reverse, and presenting the evidence supporting the theory that it was intended to represent Amenemhat III. I'm sure J.J. would have been arguing that it could just as well have represented any other pharaoh, or the symbolic power of pharaohs!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  13. Alegandron

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

    I like the Wikipedia definition of an Internet Troll:
    Wikipedia...
    “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts flame wars or intentionally upsets people on the Internet. This is typically done by posting inflammatory and digressive,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog), with the intent of provokingreaders into displaying emotional responses[2] and normalizing tangential discussion.[3] This is typically for the troll's amusement, or to achieve a specific result such as disrupting a rival's online activities or manipulating a ... process.”

    I ignore them. I believe some of our CT Trolls have become a lot more sophisticated since I started on CT. However, their intent and their results have been the same... needless pages of mayhem, and absolutely no results to the participants, EXCEPT joy to the troll.

    THAT is what they FEED on. Starve them: just ignore them.
     
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  14. J. J.

    J. J. New Member

    A one guy will maybe understand the accurate definition of the word Pharos (unless he chooses to be in denial). The other person will maybe remember how the face of the Great Sphinx looked like in the antiquity (it not only had a beard but also an ureus). And I'm gonna remember that there's no such thing as a sphinx-shaped hieroglyph. This is a quite informative outcome. A pretty stragne thing for a destructive troll, isn't it?

    Judging by the popularity of the people I discussed with, they are the "mainstream team" here. And that makes me rather not welcome on Cointalk. Besides, I don't wanna be a part of the community where one can be insulted for asking questions. It's sad for me, as I really enjoyed many of your previous threads, and you seemed to be nice people. Anyways, all the best to everyone!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  15. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I would hope you do not feel welcome here. The one thing I would say is we deal with a lot of issues not definitely solvable here. I have disagreed with others here quite often, which is fine since I know it cannot be proven. I say my peace, and if others disagree I let them. A thread on CoinTalk will never be a "definitive" answer, even published works are never really "definitive". Maybe your troubles here is your desire to be viewed as definitive, it cannot happen. I know a little more about some subjects than others, but always allow others can fairly disagree.

    I thought about these issues for quite a while, whether I believe they are the Great Sphinx. I know I can never prove it. I know the Great Sphinx was not as popular in antiquity as today for some reason, but still known. Given it was known, I cannot fathom why the few issues showing an unknown Egyptian Sphinx would reference an unknown tiny one when at least the Egyptians for which these coins were made were aware there was a "Great" one. Therefore, I am not too interested in semantics others writers used to describe it, I was comfortable it was referencing the "Great" one. Your post about authors wording is simply not going to change my mind, since it is not addressing MY argument why I believe it to be true.

    TLDR: Many educated collectors will always have honest disagreements and no sense getting upset about it. I love your knowledge sir, and hope you say, but maybe think about what I wrote.
     
  16. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Sorry if this sounds like pontification --and only more so if that's what it's reducible to. But the genius of the scientific method, and of all disciplines that aspire to having an empirical basis, is that it's just that: a method. As such, an irreducibly unfinished project. If you're looking at a static collection of ostensibly definitive data (right, not subject to revision on the basis of further data), you're looking at something which is, for all intents and purposes --good or ill-- completely independent of science.
    Cf. the now classic book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions.
    A central part of whose thesis is that the entire modern Western scientific tradition is predicated both on methodological conservatism, and the capacity to revise existing, (always temporary) 'canonical' theories in light of emerging data.
    Segueing from the 'pure' sciences to their numerous disciplinary bastard children --just starting with history and anthropology-- it's like, something approximating the converse principle could also be true.
    To back up a little, when Copernicus' heliocentric model of the galaxy first publicly saw the light of day (--posthumously; he knew the kind of sh-t he would get for it; cf. the later career of Galileo), it wasn't subject to immediate empirical confirmation.
    Mostly because the attendant means of independent, empirical verification weren't even in place. For some reason that still makes no sense to me, the medieval church authorities had made Ptolemy's geocentric model a matter of theologico-cosmological dogma, and astronomers were kind of stuck knowing what side their bread was buttered on. It was a little like what you saw, in miniature, with the recent communal experience of Texas: the infrastructure, founded as it was on prefabricated ideology rather than known scientific data, wasn't there to begin with. (In a world reeking of false dichotomies, this ain't one of 'em.)
    Similarly, in numismatic and other historical capacities, we Have to speculate. ...And (Only) then find out whether our premises were about anything. ...It's in this, specifically methodological context that something like 'overwhelming circumstantial evidence' starts to look like something vaguely better than an oxymoron.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
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  17. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coin, I definitely will be keeping my eyes out in auctions from now on for this type of sphinx!
     
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  18. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Oh man...what I could do with a first year class full of your clones. You had me at Kuhn’s the structure of scientific revolutions. I have been recommending that book to people for decades and sadly I think few have read it. You have just gone and made my day.

    I think my copy may have a number of pages missing now from how often I have returned to it. That book should be canonical for every first year university student.

    thanks again my friend you really did
    Just make my day

    I just might go order a new copy
     
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  19. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...Well, with cordial thanks, it took majoring in philosophy for a couple of semesters (thank you, as an undergrad) for me to have been at an appropriate level for one of your courses.
    ...But now that you mention it, I'm missing my (only, ever) copy. Predatory descent on Amazon ensues.
     
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