Tag Archives: Numismatics

Die Entstehung des Münzporträts in der griechisch-persischen Tradition

Müseler, Wilhelm. 2020. Vom Symbol zum Ebenbild: Die Entstehung des Münzporträts in der griechisch-persischen Tradition. Gephyra 19, 69-99.

Die Darstellung von Menschen mit deutlich wiedererkennbaren individuellen Zügen auf Mün-zen entwickelte sich im Grenzbereich zwischen dem griechischen und dem persischen Kultur-raum als Folge von komplexer gewordenen politischen Machtstrukturen vor Ort. Wo zu-nächst das Symbol einer politischen Körperschaft oder die Abbildung einer lediglich mit den Attributen königlicher Herrschaft ausgestatteten Figur ohne irgendwelche weiteren persönli-chen Merkmale genügt hatte, um die Garantie für die Wertigkeit des Geldes durch eine über-geordnete Autorität zu unterstreichen, machte die zunehmende Produktion von Münzen durch Akteure auf untergeordneten hierarchischen Ebenen, welche als Vermittler, bisweilen aber auch als Konkurrenten einer gegebenen Herrschaftsstruktur auftreten konnten, eine im-mer differenziertere Kennzeichnung der Verantwortlichkeit für die Prägungen und des damit ausgedrückten Machtanspruches notwendig. Es ist kein Zufall, dass ausgerechnet Lykien mit seiner eher peripheren Lage und seiner Vielzahl an kleinen, von konkurrierenden dynastischen Clans kontrollierten Machtzentren auf engstem Raum, die ersten echten Ansätze zu einer indi-viduellen Gestaltung des Herrscherbildnisses auf Münzen hervorgebracht hat. Mit der Auflö-sung der überkommenen politischen Strukturen in Kleinasien und im ganzen Vorderen Orient in der Folge des Feldzuges Alexanders des Grossen kam es zu weiträumigen geopolitischen Veränderungen und einer erheblichen Zunahme von regionalen Machtblöcken, die alle über eine eigene Münzproduktion verfügten und die sich ihre Einflussbereiche gegenseitig streitig machten. Da es in der Folge vor allem darum ging, dass die verschiedenen Prägeherren mit ihrem Geld auch von schriftunkundigen Nutzern klar voneinander unterschieden werden konnten, führte dies, namentlich bei den ptolemaischen und den seleukidischen Geprägen, zu einer verstärkten Individualisierung der Herrscherbildnisse auf den Münzen. Nur in abgelege-nen Regionen wie der Persis, wo es so gut wie keinen stetigen Zustrom und Umlauf von kon-kurrierenden Währungen gab, erfüllten nur symbolische Porträts der Regenten noch eine Zeit lang ihren ursprünglichen Zweck.

Wēś in Early Kushan Coinage

Taasob, Razieh. 2020. Representation of Wēś in early Kushan coinage: Royal or local cult? Afghanistan 3(1). 83–106.

Wēś on a coin of Huvishka (© American Numismatic Society, 1944.100.63654)

The religious significance of Wēś is a widely debated topic in the historical and numismatic study of Central Asia, including contributions from several scholars who claimed that the representation of Wēś in early Kushan coinage, particularly in the coins of Vima Kadphises (ca. ce 113–127), was an allusion to the conversion of the king to Shivaism. This paper contests the claim that the certain attributes depicted with Wēś should not be construed as belonging to the Indian god Śiva or the Greek god Heracles. The royal portrait on the obverse of the coinage of Vima Kadphises shows the king taking part in the Iranian practice of sacrificing at a fire altar, which further supports the claim that the depiction on the reverse is of the Iranian god Wēś. This paper also challenges recent studies, which suggest that the representation of Wēś may have served only as a royal cult or merely to announce the personal faith of the king. Therefore, this account seeks to remedy this misconception by pointing to the absence of other types of coins used for normal transactions by ordinary people which could have likewise represented their religious cults. Consequently, this article shows that Wēś was a religiously syncretic phenomenon that displays the religious practice of all levels of Kushan society including both the king and the locals who were mostly Bactrian-Iranian during the early Kushan period rather than Indian.

Ancient Iranian Numismatics

Faghfoury, Mostafa (ed.). 2020. Ancient Iranian Numismatics: In Memory of David Sellwood. Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

The present volume which includes some of the most recent studies on ancient Iranian numismatics has been dedicated to the memory of David Sellwood (1925-2012). Sellwood spent more than fifty years of his life studying and publishing about the history and coinage of Iran. His legacy is exhibited in this volume through the contributions of individuals from different backgrounds and countries who have participated to make this book possible. He would have been pleased to see that not only his old friends remember him, but also that some young scholars, who were not even born when the first edition of his Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia was published in 1971, are now working in the areas of his interests.

Continue reading Ancient Iranian Numismatics

Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq

Malek, Hodge Mehdi. 2019. Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq: The Johnson Collection of Arab-Sasanian Coins (Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 55). 2 vols. London: Royal Numismatic Society.

This is the first major work to attempt a comprehensive survey of the Arab-Sasanian silver coinage since Walker’s 1941 Catalogue of the British Museum collection. It includes the latest research on the subject, both historical (chapters 1 to 4) and numismatic (chapter 5 to 15). All the coins (over 1,600), both silver drachms and copperfulus, in the Johnson collection are illustrated on the excellent plates. Where thJohnson collection does not have a specimen of an important coin an example is illustrated from another source, making this a truly important work

The extensive chapters on the persons named on the coins, the mints, and the Pahlavi, Arabic and Sogdian legends, make this an invaluable historical source. Other chapters discuss the copper issues with theirvaried designs, the eras and dates used, metrology, coins struck in the east in Sīstān and further north by the Hephthalites, and counter marks, as well as the designs found on the silver drachms. All Pahlavi and Arabic legends (mints, persons named, religious and other marginal legends, dates) are written out as theyappear on the coins in extensive tables. This makes it possible for a beginner in the series to read thesesometimes difficult legends.

See here the Table of Contents of the two volumes.

New Perspectives in Seleucid History, Archaeology and Numismatics

Roland, Oetjen (ed.). 2019. New perspectives in Seleucid history, archaeology and numismatics: Studies in honor of Getzel M. Cohen (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 355). Berlin: De Gruyter.

Dedicated to Getzel M. Cohen, a leading expert in Seleucid history, this volume gathers contributions on Seleucid history, archaeology, numismatics, political relations, policy toward the Jews, Greek cities, non-Greek populations, peripheral and neighboring regions, imperial administration, economy and public finances, and ancient descriptions of the Seleucid Empire. The reader will gain an international perspective on current research.

Aramaic traces through coins in the Iranian world

Šafiʿī, Ibrahim. 2018. Aramaic Traces through Coins in the Iranian World. Shodoznavstvo 82: 125–166.

Aramaic language(s) in its four phases with different scripts on various materials have been found in Iran (mostly from the western part of the land where Aramaic-speaking communities lived). Aramaic language traces in the Iranian world have remained in a large diversity on the coins. Besides some reigns whose coins bear Aramaic phrases, some others just minted coins with Aramaic derived legends and/or used ideograms on their coins. Almost from 3th BC to 10th centuries AD Aramaic words with Aramaic, Pah-lavi, Parthian, Sogdian and Chorasmian legends used as ideograms in the coinage. Due to producing ideograms, it is impossible to read the original pronunciation of the words but this heritage can introduce а concept of a larger Aramaic presence in the Iranian world.
The earliest type of ideograms on the coins can be found on Fratarkā’s coinage in the Pārs province roughly from 3th BC and the latest belongs to Būyids’ amir of the 10th century, Rokn al-Dawla, who ruled in Rayy (al-Muḥammadiya). During this period, circa 1300 years, some dynasties struck their own coins with ideograms in a large territory from the Middle East to Transoxania and another one also used these coins in their daily deals as a currency.

Āmul/Āmū(ye): die nordöstlichste Münzstätte des Sasanidenreiches im 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2019. Āmul/Āmū(ye): die nordöstlichste Münzstätte des Sasanidenreiches im 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr. in: M. Stermitz (Hrsg.), Sammlungen und Sammler: Tagungsband zum 8. Österreichischen Numismatikertag [Kärntner Museumsschriften 86], Klagenfurt am Wörthersee: Landesmuseum für Kärnten, 2019, S. 173-179.

Bei den sowjetischen archäologischen Ausgrabungen von Marw kamen zum ersten Mal etliche Bronzemünzen des sasanidischen Königs Pērōz (457–484) zum Vorschein, auf deren Rückseite die Münzstättensigle AMW belegt ist. S. D. Loginov und A. B. Nikitin identifizierten diese Sigle mit der Provinzhauptstadt Āmol in Tabaristān. Die erste sichere Münzen vom Münzamt Āmol in Tabaristān sind jedoch während der ersten Regierung des Kawād I. (488–496) mit der Signatur AM geprägt. Laut historischen Quellen war Tabaristān seit dem Anfang der Sasanidenzeit bis zum Ende der Regierung des Pērōz ein fast unabhängiges Fürstentum unter der lokalen Herrscherfamilie der Gušnaspiden, die von Kawād gestürzt wurde. Die unter Pērōz mit der Münzstättensignatur AMW geprägte Bronzemünzen sind eigentlich bisher nur in Marw gefunden und daher kann man diese Münzstätte nicht in Tabaristān, sondern in einem gleichnamigen Ort in Zentralasien, östlich von Marw, lokalisieren. Aber warum prägte Pērōz Bronzemünzen in diesem Ort und wieso hatte diese Münzstätte nach der Regierung des Pērōz keine Aktivität mehr?

Silk, Slaves, and Stupas

Whitfield, Susan. 2018. Silk, slaves, and stupas: Material culture of the Silk Road. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Following her bestselling Life Along the Silk Road, Susan Whitfield widens her exploration of the great cultural highway with a new captivating portrait focusing on material things. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas tells the stories of ten very different objects, considering their interaction with the peoples and cultures of the Silk Road—those who made them, carried them, received them, used them, sold them, worshipped them, and, in more recent times, bought them, conserved them, and curated them. From a delicate pair of earrings from a steppe tomb to a massive stupa deep in Central Asia, a hoard of Kushan coins stored in an Ethiopian monastery to a Hellenistic glass bowl from a southern Chinese tomb, and a fragment of Byzantine silk wrapping the bones of a French saint to a Bactrian ewer depicting episodes from the Trojan War, these objects show us something of the cultural diversity and interaction along these trading routes of Afro-Eurasia.

Susan Whitfield, author of Life Along the Silk Road, is a scholar, curator, writer, and traveler who has been exploring the history, art, religions, cultures, objects, exploration, and people of the Silk Road for the past three decades.

Problems of Chronology in Gandhāran Art

Rienjang, Wannaporn & Peter Stewart (eds.). 2018. Problems of chronology in Gandhāran art. Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing.

This volume, being the proceedings of the first international workshop of the Gandhāra Connections Project, which took place 23rd-24th March, 2017, at the University of Oxford, is available as an open access eBook and in print.

Since the beginning of Gandhāran studies in the nineteenth century, chronology has been one of the most significant challenges to the understanding of Gandhāran art. Many other ancient societies, including those of Greece and Rome, have left a wealth of textual sources which have put their fundamental chronological frameworks beyond doubt. In the absence of such sources on a similar scale, even the historical eras cited on inscribed Gandhāran works of art have been hard to place. Few sculptures have such inscriptions and the majority lack any record of find-spot or even general provenance. Those known to have been found at particular sites were sometimes moved and reused in antiquity. Consequently, the provisional dates assigned to extant Gandhāran sculptures have sometimes differed by centuries, while the narrative of artistic development remains doubtful and inconsistent.

Building upon the most recent, cross-disciplinary research, debate and excavation, this volume reinforces a new consensus about the chronology of Gandhāra, bringing the history of Gandhāran art into sharper focus than ever. By considering this tradition in its wider context, alongside contemporary Indian art and subsequent developments in Central Asia, the authors also open up fresh questions and problems which a new phase of research will need to address.

The so-called ‘Thronfolgerprägungen’ of Ardashīr I reconsidered

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2017. The so-called ‘Thronfolgerprägungen’ of Ardashīr I reconsidered. In Maria Caccamo Caltabiano, et al (eds.), XV International Numismatic Congress Taormina 2015 Proceedings, Vol. 1, 627–630, Roma-Messina: Arbor Sapientiae Editore.