Author: Sushma Jansari

Using the RNS ‘Notices’ blog

by Rebecca Darley

As you may have noticed, the RNS now has a blog. With new posts going up every two weeks (on a Sunday night), the ‘Notices’ section of the RNS website provides a space to promote events and publications, share news about numismatic discoveries and projects and celebrate the work of the RNS in the form of posts contributed by recipients of our grants. In the last month these notices have received 47,726 views, representing over 2,500 individuals visiting the site. this number is growing as we continue to work on the website and publish new notices. So, if you feel that an up-coming or completed project, recent publication, or event that you are organising could benefit from several thousand views per month from interested numismatists, or you have a discovery or numismatic story you would like to share, please consider writing a post for our ‘Notices’ section. Submissions should be between 250 and 1200 words (submitted as a Word file), with at least one image related to the text (jpeg, tif, gif) and can be sent to Rebecca Darley at r.darley@bbk.ac.uk. Some editing may be necessary to conform to the house style of the blog, but this will be light and you will consulted if it alters your content or meaning in any significant way. All formatting and links can be done for you. If you have never written a blog post before, if the list of specifications above sound mystifying or off-putting but if you still feel like there is something which you would like to appear in ‘Notices’, please just drop me an email (r.darley@bbk.ac.uk) describing your idea and I will be happy to provide an IT or editorial support necessary.

 

Contributions to the Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum, assisted by RNS funds

Report by F. Sinsi

Silver coin of Phraates IV, minted in Parthia. British Museum collection. Image used from the British Museum SNP project page.

The grant from the Nicholas Lowick Memorial Fund awarded by the Royal Numismatic Society allowed me to spend the period 5th-11th February 2017 in London, working at the Department of Coins and Medals of the British Museum from Monday 6th to Friday 10th for the international project Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum (SNP), co-directed by M. Alram and V.S. Curtis.

In this week I had the chance to examine the Parthian coins held by the BM that will be included in volume 5 of SNP (Phraates IV-Orodes III), on which I am currently working.

The other important task of this week was, however, to coordinate with the British Museum team of the SNP (V.S. Curtis, E. Pendleton, A. Magub). This team is now working on Vol. 2 (Mithradates II). The SNP aims at a full structural reconstruction of the Parthian coinage. It was accordingly crucial to harmonise the approaches of the different groups working in the framework of the project, exploiting the experience accumulated in the preparation of Vol. 7, which I published in 2012.

In particular, the joint work with the British Museum branch of the SNP has focused on how to define the typological features at the various levels of classification, and how to present them in the reconstruction. This also requires grappling with methodological questions of scale. For example, it had to take into account the specific problems in the analysis of a coinage such as that of Mithradates II, which was produced on an enormous scale: the quantitative basis for SNP 2 is between four and five times larger than that available for SNP 7. 

The main focus of the study has been on the analysis of drachm production, which is the most challenging. The two main phases and the relevant sub-periods defined by the work so far done by the British Museum SNP team have been examined and discussed in detail. A test version of the structural reconstruction has been elaborated for the first phase of production of Mithradates’ drachms (divided into two further sub-periods), which will provide a reference pattern in order to deal with the successive stages of production. Some of the links have already been detected, such as the employment of obverse monograms across the last period of the first phase and the beginning of the second phase. A range of control marks on the reverse has been analyzed, detecting a recurring two-fold pattern, in all likelihood to be connected to the production of the working stations within each mint.

It is expected that the results of the study of the materials covered in SNP 2 may be the object of further joint work between the London and the Viennese branches of the SNP prior to publication.

RNS funds contribute to work on Central Asian numismatics

Post by Jens Jakobsson

Numismatists gathered for the conference at the University of Reading, April 2016.

The RNS kindly granted me funds from the Neil Kreitman Central Asian Numismatic Endowment last year to participate in the Hellenistic Central Asia Research Network‘s conference on Central Asia at Reading University, 15-17 April, 2016, arranged by Dr. Rachel Mairs. I gave a speech about evidence for the later dating (“low chronology”) of Bactria’s independence, based on my research on the coinage of the Diodotid kings and overlooked sources. Several Bactrian numismatists contributed and we established valuable contacts. A paper based on my speech will hopefully be published next year. In the meantime, the following tentative chronology was suggested by my paper:

* Antiochos II 261-246 BC 

(posthumous coins of Antiochos I

issued in Bactria until at least 255 BC).

* Diodotos I c.245-238 BC

* Diodotos II c.238-230 BC

* Antiochos Nikator c.230-222 BC

* Euthydemos I c.222-190 BC

Internship at the Ashmolean made possible by RNS funds

Marco Werkmann at the Ashmolean. Photograph linked from the Facebook page of the Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire project.

Report on an RNS grant by Marco Werkmann

I felt honoured and was grateful for being awarded with the grant I applied for from The Classical Numismatic Group Roman and Byzantine Fund administered by the Royal Numismatic Society. This grant made it possible for me to come to Oxford for an internship at the Ashmolean Museum from July 4th to 15th in 2016. I am an undergraduate student of classical archaeology and ancient Greek at the University of Tübingen, Germany, where I was taking classes on numismatics with Dr. Stefan Krmnicek.

I was invited to work with Dr. Philippa Walton from the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean Museum on a project called ‘Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire’. I was therefore entering data in the online database by using the volumes of Die Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Ungarn, as I focused on coin hoards from modern day Hungary. After I entered the data, I had time to think about what we can already conclude already and whether the data is, as yet, representative or not. I also joined Dr. Lyce Jankowski in the Research Laboratory for Archaeology & the History of Art to find out how archaeology makes use of scientific research by analysing the metal contents of Korean coins. In addition, I had the chance to work with small metal objects found in the river Tees in Piecebridge, northern England. I measured, identified and later took photos of these objects, mostly studs, brooches, rings and harness but also Roman coins. Later, I edited the photos I took. I also gained insight into administrative processes and daily routines in the Ashmolean Museum by joining Dr. Philippa Walton in attending a few events. We attended the monthly identification service of archaeological objects found by members of the public and brought to the museum as part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. In addition, I participated in the Museum Forum, where museum staff talk about what is going on in the museum and how to develop and improve working links between different departments. Finally, I attended the Stanley Robinson Trust lecture, held by members of the Robinson family.

To finance my internship I applied for a grant from the Royal Numismatic Society and with the grant I received I was able to pay for my journey from Tübingen to Oxford and back, as well as meeting the costs of accommodation and living expenses in Oxford for the two weeks I stayed there.

I am very thankful for the grant I was awarded with. Otherwise it would have not been possible for me to enjoy my internship in Oxford as much as I did!

New RNS Special Publication – SP 54

Susan Tyler-Smith The Coinage Reforms (600-603) of Khusru II and the Revolt of Vistahm. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 54. London, 2017.pp. xxiv, 292 including 52 plates; also maps, tables and illustrations in text. ISBN 0 901 405 89 2. RRP £65, Fellows (1 copy) £48.75, Fellows (more than one copy) £43.33 (for pre-order form please click here).

One of the most intriguing literary passages relating to Sasanian coins is in al-Tabari’s, famous History. A number of questions about his ‘evil conduct’ are put to the former king of kings, Khusru II, shortly after his overthrow in 628. One concerns Khusru’s methods of tax gathering and his harsh treatment of his subjects. Khusru’s reply is important to numismatists as it contains the comment that he ordered ‘the engraving of new dies for coins, so that we might give our orders for beginning the minting of new silver [drachms] with them’. Khusru adds that he gave this order ‘at the end of year thirteen [602/3] of our reign’. The meaning of this passage and the remarkable coinage reforms of the early seventh century are explored in depth.

Khusru II’s long reign and the numerous mints operating under him ensure that his drachms are the commonest in the Sasanian series. Over 90% of the enormous ‘Shiraz’ or ‘Year 12’ hoard was probably formed of Khusru’s coins dating between 591 and 602. A parcel of 562 coins from this hoard forms the springboard for the current study. This establishes the precise sequence of the types, the date of the introduction of the enigmatic apd legend and discusses the subsequent hoarding of Khusru’s coins. The latest mint attributions are discussed.

By contrast the coinage of Khusru’s contemporary and rival, the usurper Vistahm, is scarce. Its numerous varieties, from two mints, contrast with Khusru’s centralised minting system which produced a highly standardised, tightly controlled, coinage. Vistahm’s coins are the subject of a special study with all the known dies illustrated.

The RNS now has a blog!

Through this blog, we aim to publicise the wide-ranging research that we fund through our grants each year, as well as upcoming events, new RNS publications and other stories of interest to the numismatic community. If you would like to write a post about numismatics-related research, work or any events, please write to: Dr Rebecca Darley – r.darley@bbk.ac.uk.

RNS grants are available to Fellows and non-Fellows alike and recipients of grants are asked as part of their award to write a short entry about their project for this blog, so watch this space for updates and summaries of past and on-going projects.

An overview of the grants which we administer is below. For more information, including application details, please click on the links to each page.

  1. Martin Price Fund for Ancient Greek Numismatics

This fund was set up as a permanent memorial to Martin Price, who was a Fellow, Secretary and Medallist of the Society, Curator of Greek Coins at the British Museum (1966-94) and Director of the British School of Athens (1994-95).

Since1997, the Society has made annual awards from the Fund to promote the study of the coins of the Greek world in its broadest sense, with a special focus on young researchers. The awards will normally be one or more grants towards research costs, including travel and accommodation (where payable), to enable the successful applicant(s) to study some aspect of Greek numismatics. It is also available to provide support for attending and reading a paper at colloquia and seminars.

Applicant may be of any nationality and live anywhere in the world. There is no age limit, but some preference may be given to candidates under the age of 30 on the closing date for applications.

  1. The Nicholas Lowick Memorial Fund for the promotion of Oriental Numismatic Research

This fund was set up by The Royal Numismatic Society as a permanent memorial to its former Fellow and Officer, Nicholas Lowick, Curator of Oriental Coins in the British Museum (1962-86). Since 1988 the Society has made annual awards from the Fund to promote the study of Oriental numismatics.

Annual awards from the Fund will be one or more grants towards travel and accommodation costs to enable the successful applicant(s) to study some aspect of Oriental numismatics.

  1. The Neil Kreitman Central Asian Numismatic Endowment

Thanks to the generosity of Mr Neil Kreitman, The Royal Numismatic Society is able to make awards from this fund to promote research in the study of coins of ancient Central Asia. Grants are made at the discretion of Council from the interest accrued from the capital fund of £25,000 endowed by the Neil Kreitman Foundation.

  1. The Classical Numismatic Group Roman and Byzantine Fund

This Fund was established in 2009 with the aid of a generous donation from Classical Numismatic Group Inc. of Pennsylvania USA. The purpose of the Fund is to promote for the public benefit the study of Roman and Byzantine numismatics in its broadest sense.

  1. The RNS Marshall Memorial Fund

This fund was established by the Society in 1945 in memory of Mr W.S. Marshall, who had left his collection to the Society with the request that the interest on the proceeds of sale be used to help young collectors.

Council makes awards form this fund from time to time for educational purposes. This is usually in the form of assistance for young scholars to purchase books, for themselves or their institutions, where the cost would otherwise be prohibitive.

Donations to these funds are welcome and those interested in making a donation to the society, or endowing a new fund, should in the first instance contact: SJansari@britishmuseum.org.

Please join us on our active and regularly updated Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/RoyalNumismaticSociety/

RNS Special Publication SP 52: pre-order

Money in its Use in Medieval Europe Three Decades: On Essays in Honour of Professor Peter Spufford Hardback, 192 pages, ISBN 0 901 405 698.

Available May 2017

The publication of Peter Spufford’s book Money and its Use in Medieval Europe in 1988 was a major landmark in the history of its subject. It has served as an inspiration for generations of scholars, many of whom have contributed to this volume. The twelve chapters in this volume build upon the themes of Money and its Use in Medieval Europe and take them further. The subjects covered include the use of money in various parts of Europe, Italian mint masters and bankers, debasement, and the use of silver ingots or credit instead of coins.

RRP £45.00* Special price for members of the Royal Numismatic Society: £33.75 (one copy) or £30.00 (more than one copy)
*Price excludes postage and packaging.

Please direct all enquiries to Gillian Watson:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4046
Email: books@spink.com

SPINK LONDON, 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 4ET
Tel: +44 (0)20 7563 4046
Fax: +44 (0)20 7563 4066
WWW.SPINKBOOKS.COM

New RNS Special Publication – SP 53

Tony Goodwin and Rika Gyselen, Arab Byzantine Coins from the Irbid Hoard. Including a New Introduction to the Series and a Study of the Pseudo-Damascus Mint. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 53. London, 2015. Pp. ix, 297 including 51 plates. ISBN 09014054487 £60.00

The book summarises the latest research on Arab-Byzantine coins and then examines two enigmatic series: ‘Pseudo-Damascus’ and ʿalwafā lillāh. The name ‘Pseudo-Damascus’ derives from the fact that many of the coins have a mint mark which indicates they were minted at Damascus though the evidence is clear that they were struck elsewhere. They are unique in the Arab-Byzantine series for their extraordinary variety of designs. As well as analysing the typology Goodwin publishes a complete die corpus. The name ʿalwafā lillāh derives from the enigmatic phrase written in the exergue of the reverse and, sometimes, also on the obverse of the coins. Although similar in overall style to pseudo-Damascus the design of the ʿalwafā lillāh is by contrast very standardised. The typology is exhaustively analysed by Gyselen. These two types predominated in the Irbid hoard. Found in Jordan in the 1960s, this is the only substantial hoard of Arab Byzantine coins. The book catalogues and illustrates 658 coins from the Ibid hoard, 501 of which are now in the Cabinet des Medailles in Paris. The historical context of the issues and their suggested attributions are also discussed. They both come from mints located in present day Israel or North Jordan and circulated together at the time of the war between the Umayyads and the Zubayrids. On the basis of our present knowledge they are most likely issues of separate tribal authorities.

For information on how to order see Special Publications.

New RNS Special Publication – SP 50

Jacqueline Morineau Humphris and Diana Delbridge, The Coinage of the Opountian Lokrians. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 50. London 2014. vii + 254 pages, 61 plates. £60 + p&p from Spink and Sons Ltd.

This publication deals with the entire coinage, silver and bronze, of the Opountian Lokrians in Central Greece from the early fourth century BC to the later first century AD. Introductory chapters deal with the history and mythology of the region and the various forms of ethnic found on the coins and in literary and epigraphic sources. They are followed by full die-studies of all series in both metals and discussion of their dates and significance. The silver, belonging mostly if not entirely to the fourth century BC, comprises an abundant series of staters of high artistic quality, drachms, triobols, and smaller fractions in several denominations. The bronze is divided into 42 groups, ranging in date from the mid-4th century BC to AD c.68/69.

For information on how to order see Special Publications.

New RNS Special Publication – SP 51

Robert Bennett, Local Elites and Local Coinage: Elite Self-Representation on the Provincial Coinage of Asia 31 BC – AD 275. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 51. London 2014. xxiv + 178 pages, 31 plates. £50 + p&p from Spink and Sons Ltd.

In this book the author examines the role and representation of the provincial elites in the production and distribution of the abundant local coinages of the Province of Asia in the Roman Imperial period. It includes discussion of local magistracies in general, their antecedents, the various formulae whereby eponyms signed their coinages, and the relationship of iconography to eponyms, denomination and ‘monumentality’. A wealth of case-studies includes detailed discussion of the important mints of Thyateria and Laodikeia on the Lykos, and full type-catalogues of their Roman Provincial output.

For information on how to order see Special Publications.