Who’s the Most Culturally Significant Person in your Collection? (According to MIT)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter


    I recently came across a project started at MIT called Pantheon [1] that ranks historical figures by what the study terms “cultural production.” The study uses a custom algorithm to rank a list of 10,967 people who were born between the years 4,000 BC and AD 2010 that meet the requirements for inclusion into the project. You can learn more about the methods used to compile the list here.

    While looking through the list I thought it would be a fun exercise to filter the results by individuals who produced ancient or medieval coins. Listed below are the parameters I used to produce my altered list.
    • I have defined ancient and medieval very broadly in this list as spanning the period from the invention of coinage ca. 650 BC to the beginning of the transition away from hammered (struck) coinage ca. 1600 (a rather arbitrary end date really).
    • Individuals included must have issued coins under their own authority or else have been depicted on a coin in a position of authority during or shortly after their lifetime.
    • Names marked with * are to denote an individual whose issuance of coinage is either disputed or whose association with a coinage is in some other way unorthodox.
    • In some cases I was unable to find enough data on whether an individual issued coins and so I have made judgement calls or included a (?) to denote this uncertainty.
    List of Top 100 Culturally Significant Coin Issuers

    The first number is the rank of the person on the list of coin issuers only, then the name of the person and finally in parenthesis is the rank of the person in the full MIT list.

    1 - Alexander the Great (5)

    2 - Julius Caesar (8)

    3 - Pythagoras* (10)

    4 - Charlemagne (17)

    5 - Augustus (20)

    6 - Gautama Buddha* (28)

    7 - Cleopatra VII of Egypt (29)

    8 - Nero (37)

    9 - Genghis Khan (44)

    10 - Hannibal Barca (46)

    11 - Qin Shi Huang (54)

    12 - Caligula (57)

    13 - Marcus Aurelius (63)

    14 - Saladin (76)

    15 - Trajan (82)

    16 - Elizabeth I of England (88)

    17 - Hadrian (105)

    18 - Mark Antony (107)

    19 - Constantine I (120)

    20 - Xerxes I of Persia (124)

    21 - Tiberius (125)

    22 - Diocletian (131)

    23 - Henry VIII of England (134)

    24 - Justinian I (142)

    25 - Cyrus the Great (147)

    26 - Commodus (149)

    27 - Darius I of Persia (154)

    28 - Theodosius I (159)

    29 - Solon* (161)

    30 - Vespasian (174)

    31 - Suleiman the Magnificent (180)

    32 - Timur (201)

    33 - Claudius (202)

    34 - Clovis I* (223)

    35 - Philip II of Macedon (225)

    36 - Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (226)

    37 - Pompey (234)

    38 - Septimius Severus (236)

    39 - Antoninus Pius (240)

    40 - Caracalla (246)

    41 - William Wallace* (?) (250)

    42 - Vercingetorix* (253)

    43 - Charles Martel (263)

    44 - Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (266)

    45 - Pyrrhus of Epirus (267)

    46 - Marcus Junius Brutus (271)

    47 - Romulus Augustus (273)

    48 - Richard I of England (283)

    49 - Lucius Cornelius Sulla (284)

    50 - Pontius Pilate* (286)

    51 - Mary I of Scotland (293)

    52 - Darius III of Persia (297)

    53 - Cao Cao(?) (303)

    54 - Guan Yu(?) (314)

    55 - Herod the Great (329)

    56 - Pippin the Younger (331)

    57 - Oliver Cromwell (339)

    58 - Ptolemy I Soter (341)

    59 - Gaius Marius (345)

    60 - Kublai Khan (346)

    61 - Otho (349)

    62 - Hugh Capet of France (353)

    63 - Vitellius (355)

    64 - Galba (360)

    65 - Oda Nobunaga (363)

    66 - Odoacer (364)

    67 - Titus (376)

    68 - Philip II of Spain (378)

    69 - Ivan IV of Russia (379)

    70 - Louis the Pious (391)

    71 - Mary I of England (400)

    72 - Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (428)

    73 - Tokugawa Ieyasu (429)

    74 - Valerian (431)

    75 - John of England (438)

    76 - Aurelian (445)

    77 - Jovian (464)

    78 - Alcibiades* (465)

    79 - Mehmed II (468)

    80 - Constantius Chlorus (473)

    81 - Theodoric the Great (489)

    82 - Gallienus (490)

    83 - Croesus (496)

    84 - Liu Bei (501)

    85 - Philip IV of France (518)

    86 - Louis IX of France (533)

    87 - Macrinus (537)

    88 - Honorius (544)

    89 - Godfrey of Bouillon (546)

    90 - Constantius II (551)

    91 - William the Conqueror (558)

    92 - Decius (561)

    93 - Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor (571)

    94 - Ashoka (592)

    95 - Gordian III (604)

    96 - Hamilcar Barca (615)

    97 - Arcadius (623)

    98 - Julius Nepos (637)

    99 - Cardinal Richelieu (647)

    100 - Alexander Severus (651)

    Highest Ranking Male Historical Figure in my Collection

    Alexander III the Great is unsurprisingly the top name on this list. While I do have a posthumous portrait of Alexander on my Lysimachus tetradrachm that meets the basic requirements of the parameters I laid out above I felt that since Alexander minted coins during his life (I don’t have one still :facepalm::oops:) I would skip down the list and count my first coin issued during the life of the individual: Augustus! Augustus comes in at 5th on the list of coin issuers and a respectable 20th in the full list. This coin is also a double whammy because I get credit for number 44 on the list as well (Agrippa!).
    Roman Empire
    Augustus & Agrippa
    AE Dupondius, Nemausus mint, struck ca. AD 10-14
    Dia.: 26 mm
    Wt.: 12.3 g
    Obv.: IMP: Augustus, laureate bust right; Agrippa, bust left wearing rostral crown
    Rev.: COL - NEM: Crocodile chained to palm tree
    Ref.: RPC I 525

    Ex JAZ Numismatics

    Highest Ranking Female Historical Figure in my Collection

    Elizabeth I is the 2nd most culturally significant women to issue coins according to the above list and 7th most significant woman in all of history according to the full MIT list. Female historical figures make up just 4% of the top 100 coin issuers and only 12.85% of the full list.
    England, Tudor Dynasty
    Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
    AR Sixpence, London mint, Struck 1575
    Dia.: 16 mm
    Wt.: 2.92
    Obv.: ELIZABETH D G ANF FR ET HI REGINA: Crowned bust left
    Rev.: POSVI DEV ADIVTOREM MEV: long cross over arms with date above
    Ref.: Seaby 2563

    My Favorite Coin from the List

    Ptolemy I Soter comes in 58th on the list but #1 in terms of coins I like the most. I haven't gotten around to doing a full write up on this coin yet but I did include some notes on why I like this coin here.
    Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt
    Ptolemy I Soter, (305-282 BC)
    AR Tetradrachm, Alexandria mint, struck ca. 300-285 BC
    Dia.: 26 mm
    Wt.: 14.13 g
    Obv.: Diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis around neck. Δ behind ear
    Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ eagle with closed wings standing on thunderbolt. P above monogram ΠΑΡ
    Ref.: Noesje 41-42. SNG Copenhagen 70-71. Svoronos 255
    Ex W.F. Stoecklin, Ex Karl Steiner (1940s), signed by Delta.

    Top 25 Culturally Significant People in all Fields

    1 - Aristotle

    2 - Plato

    3 - Jesus Christ

    4 - Socrates

    5 - Alexander the Great

    6 - Leonardo da Vinci

    7 - Confucius

    8 - Julius Caesar

    9 - Homer

    10 - Pythagoras

    11 - Archimedes

    12 - Moses

    13 - Muhammad

    14 - Abraham

    15 - Adolf Hitler

    16 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    17 - Charlemagne

    18 - William Shakespeare

    19 - Michelangelo

    20 - Augustus

    21 - Napoleon Bonaparte

    22 - Isaac Newton

    23 - Albert Einstein

    24 - Christopher Columbus

    25 - Johann Sebastian Bach

    Modern Coins Showing Significant Ancient People

    As you can see Ancient Greece is well represented at the top of the full list. I’ll admit that I really enjoy collecting the modern coins produced by Greece that depict the heroes from their ancient past. Here are a handful of relevant examples.

    No. 1 - Aristotle: One of the most influential thinkers of all time. He lived during one of the most interesting times in history and even served as a tutor for Alexander III the Great!



    No. 5 - Alexander III: This man needs no introduction. I really like the modern Greek coin shown below. If you want to learn more about the ancient coin that this design was modeled on see here.



    No. 9 - Homer:
    He composed perhaps the most influential pieces of literature in all of western history; The Illiad and the Odyssey. These were the first works ever written in the Greek language and it is possible that the popularity of the oral epic led to the formation of written Greek! Plus they are good bed time reading :smuggrin:



    No. 161 - Solon: While he did not invent Athenian democracy his moderate and far sited reforms made it possible!


    Please Post Historical Figures from your Collection!

    Lets see how many historical figures we can get from the list. Some of them I left in knowing that coinage associated with that person was disputed but I wonder if we can get all of the straight forward ones? Either way please... POST YOUR SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL FIGURES!

    Edit: Don't see someone you think should have made the list? Feel free to post your coins of these individuals and tell us where you would have placed them!

    [1] Yu, A. Z., et al. (2016). Pantheon 1.0, a manually verified dataset of globally famous biographies. Scientific Data 2:150075. doi: 10.1038/sdata.2015.75

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  3. Mike Margolis

    Mike Margolis Well-Known Member

    Great post Curtisimo the great. Surprised you don't have a lifetime issue coincaesarsbought.jpg [/ATTACH] coinboughtceaars.jpg of Alexander. Here is my double whamo:
    Römische Republik Ae-33 (Großbronze) ca. 38 v. Chr.
    Grade: fine to very fine | Abbreviations
    Catalog: RPC 620
    Material: Bronze
    Weight: 17.79 g
    Diameter: 33.00 mm
    Ae-33mm (Großbronze oder Dupondius) von Octavianus mit dem Divus Julius Caesar, geprägt ca. 38 v. Chr. in Gallien oder Süditalien.
    Vs. bloßer Kopf des Octavianus n. rechts
    Rs. belorb. Kopf des Divus Julius Caesar n. rechts
    Erhaltung: schön-sehr schön braune Patina, Kratz- und Schürfspuren! RPC 620 Selten!
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  4. Mike Margolis

    Mike Margolis Well-Known Member

    Alexander the Great lifetime issue in Babylon right before he died.Hemidrachma
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I see more questions in their order than could be explained by any reasonable doubt. They must have pulled the names out of a hat. There is no other way that I could explain Nero and Caligula being so high. They have name recognition due to Suetonius. Significant?

  6. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    I'll play...
    Alexander III
    Mint: Arados
    325 to 323 BC
    AR Tetradrachm
    Obvs: No inscription. Head of Herakles right, clad in lions skin.
    Revs: AΛEΞANΔPOY, Zeus seated left holding eagle and staff. AP monogram in left field.
    25x27mm, 17.20g
    Ref: Price 3424
    Note: Test cut and slightly bent.

    #338 - Female

    318 to 319 AD
    Mint: Thessalonica
    AE Follis
    Obvs: HELENA N F, bare head right, waved hair, mantled.
    Revs: Laurel wreath enclosing eight pointed star.
    17x18mm, 3.05g
    Ref: RIC VII.505.50, Vagi 2898

    Favorite #43

    37/38 AD
    AE AS
    Revs: VESTA SC
    28mm, 11.44g
    Ref: RIC 38
  7. Mike Margolis

    Mike Margolis Well-Known Member

    Now this guy didn't make the list since he has been deified but back in the time of Alexander and the early Caesars he would have been on their list probably as both historical and legendary as Moses and Jesus are to moderns:
    Thrace, Ainos
    Circa 200-150 BC
    Obverse: Bare headed and draped bust of Hermes right, kerykeion over left shoulder
    Reverse: Asklepios standing left, holding serpent-staff, AIN-I?N around
    AMNG Thrakien, p. 199: 405a, Weber, NC 1892, p. 188, 5 and pl. 15, 4 Very Rare
    Size: 19mm, 4.66g

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  8. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    I better get in with my Julius Caesar lifetime issue, he comes in at 2 and 8 on full list and also the most significant ancient ruler in my eyes. IMG - Copy.jpg
    AE Dupondus, 45 BC. Mint in Italy, Rare
    Roman Republic
    Dia.: 26 mm
    Wt.: 13.05 g
    Obv.: Bust of Victory right
    Rev.: C CLOVI PRAEF Minerva advancing left, snake, spear and shield.
    Ref.: Cr 476.
    dlhill132, Ajax, LaCointessa and 14 others like this.
  9. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    A fun post.

    ENGLAND. Elizabeth I Silver Hammered Threepence, 1578

    IMG_2118 (1).JPG
    Otho Billon Tetradrachm of Alexandria . YEAR 1
    C. 69 AD
    obv. Otho laureate head right, LA before / rev. bust of Alexandria right in elephant skin headdress. RPC 5358. Dattari 324
    Grey tone with good metal and detail. SCARCE
    Ex John Casey Collection

    Constantius II

    Antioch, AE 2
    DN CONSTAN-TIVS PF AVG, pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right / FEL TEMP RE-PARATIO, horseman standing left, spearing a fallen horseman who is bearded, hair in braids, clutching the horse's neck. Γ in left field. Mintmark ANA.
    RIC VIII Antioch 135
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  10. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Interesting list!

    "At Pantheon, however, we do not focus on the entire range of cultural information, but in a subset of this information that we define narrowly as cultural production. That is, we do not focus on cultural information such as passed on family values or societal trust, but on cultural production as proxied by the biographies of notable historical characters."

    That would explain some of the more surprising rankings. Still, Macrinus? Gordian III? Ooookay....

    87 - Macrinus (537)
    Lot - Macrinus.jpg

    95 - Gordian III (604)
    Gordian III - Mars 2182.jpg
  11. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I agree.

    How on earth did he make the list? And why is Ptolemy I so far down the list? As has been pointed out many times, Pontius Pilate didn't issue coins-- Tiberius issued those Judaean provincial coins; Pilate just happened to be the Judaean procurator at the time-- so Pilate doesn't belong on the list.

    I'm skeptical of the whole affair.

    Fun post though and I'll add some coins when I wake up :D
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  12. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    My top 10 not already spoken for above:
    #7 Cleopatra VII
    Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.59.34 AM.jpg

    #9 Genghis Khan
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.29.05 PM.jpg

    #10 Hannibal
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.30.14 PM.jpg

    13 Marcus Aurelius
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 10.31.13 AM.jpg

    14 Saladin
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.32.56 PM.jpg

    15 Trajan
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.34.00 PM.jpg

    17 Hadrian
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.35.08 PM.jpg

    18 Mark Antony
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.36.40 PM.jpg

    19 Constantine I
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.38.00 PM.jpg
    (Well, I had to pick that one, didn't I!)

    21 Tiberius
    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.40.31 PM.jpg

    OK, now that I've knocked some of the easy ones off I'll wait and see what else gets posted. Later, if I can fill in elsewhere, I will! (I think I have 58 of the top 100.) Although I agree it is a rather idiosyncratic list, it makes for a fun thread!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Holy smokes, I just saw this:

    Woo hoo!! :cigar::D:rolleyes:

    coin is up there, see?
  14. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    A very interesting thread, exercise and list!

    Will look at it in detail when I have more time.
    Just one quick thought: Otho at # 61...?
    (I thought the only significant thing about him was the hairdo:)).
  15. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Probably Otho is at place 61, because he commited suicide to avoid the complete wipe out of his legions by Vitellius. altruïsme ?

    I agree with Alexander the great on numero 1

    P1180358.JPG P1180368.JPG
  16. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    Their algorithm is very interesting. They use the number of languages that wikipedia articles about these individuals are written in, along with the number of page views. The former measures worldwide influence, while the latter measures popularity. Individuals who rank high in both aspects rank high overall on the list. Those that are popular but have little worldwide influence are considered to be locally influential.

    I only skimmed over the rest of the algorithm, so I am not sure how they use the birth location and occupation, other than for categorization purposes.

    Overall, it is a pretty novel way to measure the cultural influence of various people in history.
    Pellinore, Ryro and Curtisimo like this.
  17. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    The Pantheon project's listing order was created by a certain algorithm. By the terms of that algorithm, the list is presumably "accurate". That algorithm doesn't really have any meaning on CoinTalk though (other than to create a fun pile-on thread). Perhaps I am trying to force my own label on the list ("Most Important Historical Figures") and that really isn't what their algorithm measured, so my harsh assessment of the list is probably unfair.

    I modified the list to make it easier to see the timeframe of interest to me (ancient coins). The non-ancient names muddy the water since my knowledge of most of those people is scanty, so for ease of examination I rewrote the list, ending at the fall of the Roman empire. I left on some unfamiliar Eastern folks simply because they are in the early time period.

    I removed people who did not issue coins, although perhaps those should have been retained (Agrippa, Pontius Pilate, Buddha)

    Here's what remains, and the absurdity of order (in the context of "most important historical figures") is easier to see.

    Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 5.55.24 AM.png
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  18. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    Here is my Alexander III:


    And an Augustus:


    A Nero:


    A Hadrian:


    Elizabeth I


    Qin Shi Huang


    And Trajan:

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  19. Mike Margolis

    Mike Margolis Well-Known Member

    tripodcoin.jpg One more glaring omission was MITHRADATES VI who also issued coins. He had to be at least as influential as those later Romans. Many Roman historians ignored writing anything positive about him and so he faded from history in a way unequal to his stature in those volatile tumultous years of the Roman Republic. He was born during the passage of a bright comet and used that as a claim to divine right as the first Caesars did. The same year he died 63 BCE maybe just days later AUGUSTUS Octavius was born. Like a hand-off of torch bearers! Another coin issuer who had a great impact on later history was Simon Bar Kochba who issued those beautiful rare and expensive coins and whose revolt against the mighty Roman empire ended in the worldwide diaspora of Jews. (Has there been a thread devoted to his coinage-MITHRADATES VI- here on CT?)
    [​IMG]Attribution: MacDonald 161

    Date: 109-105 BC
    Obverse: Tripod
    Reverse: ΠANTIKAΠ, letters between the rays of a star
    Size: 15.23mm
    Weight: 3.27 grams
    Description: VF. ex Alex Malloy with his un-named auction envelope. Pontic Kings of the Bosporus. Mithradates VI Eupator. Pantikapaion Æ Dichalkon / Star

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  20. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Alex III:

    Alexander III Macedonia SGI 6741.jpg

    Cleo VII:

    Cleopatra VII 40 drachma.jpg
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  21. Alegandron

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

    Fun thread @Curtisimo . You inspire quality postings with your threads! Nice job!

    I counted that I have approx 40+ coins of the listed people on the list.

    I will show a few that I like:

    Makedon Alexander Lifetime Tet Myriandrus mint-Alexandria near Issus.jpg
    Makedon Alexander Lifetime Tet Myriandrus mint-Alexandria near Issus

    Makedon Alexander - Alexandrine Babylon Di-Shekel Tet 24mm 16.3g LIFETIME-Gamma 328-311 Baal-Lion Nicolet-Pierre p291 7

    RImp Julius Caesar Lifetime P Sepullius Macer AR Den Jan-Mar 44 BCE 4.03g. CAESAR – DICT PERPETVO Veiled - Venus Victory sceptre star Syd 1074a Sear Imperators 107e Cr 480-14 Rare

    5) AUGUSTUS:
    RI Augustus AR Denarius struck 2 BC-14 AD Caius and Lucius Caesars stdg shield spear S 1578 NGC4276216-007

    India- Shakya Janapada AR 5-Shana 6th-5th C BCE Buddha Ref-Hiramo-I-8-29 RARE 19 known.jpg
    India - Shakya Janapada
    AR 5-Shana
    6th-5th Century BCE
    25mm x 21mm, 7.05g
    Obv: Central Pentagonal punch plus several banker's marks
    Rev: Blank
    Ref: Hirano Type I.8.29
    19 known.
    Coinage from the Ghaghara Gandak River region
    Minted in the Shakya Janaprada during his lifetime while he was prince, and under the authority of his father as King

    Egypt Cleopatra VII Cyprus  AE 11 1.8g obol Paphos mint as Isis dbl-corunc SNG Cop 649.jpg
    Egypt Cleopatra VII Cyprus AE 11 1.8g obol Paphos mint as Isis dbl-corunc SNG Cop 649

    8) NERO:
    RI Nero AR Tetradrachm Antioch Syria 54-68 CE Eagle HIP Regnal Year 8.jpg
    RI Nero AR Tetradrachm Antioch Syria 54-68 CE Eagle HIP Regnal Year 8

    Mongols-Ghazna Genghis Khan 1206-1227 CE AE Jital Islamic RARE - only The Just Kahn in title.JPG
    Mongols-Ghazna Genghis Khan 1206-1227 CE AE Jital Islamic RARE - only The Just Kahn in title

    Carthage AE 15-Shekel 45mm dia 7.5mm thick 102.6g 201-175 BCE Hannibal Tanit 4hoove down Horse SNG Cop 400 RARE
    Issued by Hannibal AFTER the 2nd Punic War as he was charged by the City of Carthage to reorganize the shattered finances.

    11) QIN SHI HUANG:
    China Qin 220-180 BC AE 12 Zhu Ban Liang Blank H7-7.JPG
    China Qin 220-180 BCE AE 12 Zhu Ban Liang Blank H7-7
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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