collage art, Christof Maupin art, amphora

Articles of interest from our sister blog

As many of our regular readers know, I started a “sister blog” a few months ago, dealing with my exploration of the intersection of art from the past and art from the present, and specifically how this impacts my own work as an artist. As so much of my work is impacted by art from the distant past, I thought it worth sharing some of my posts from the other blog site. Comments welcome:

Some Thoughts on the Persistence of Classical Imagery

https://pastpresentartsandcrafts.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/some-thoughts-on-the-persistence-of-classical-imagery/

A few thoughts on the art of printmaking, views of antiquity and modern prints

https://pastpresentartsandcrafts.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/a-few-thoughts-on-the-art-of-printmaking-views-of-antiquity-and-modern-prints/

The art of enameling, ancient and modern

https://pastpresentartsandcrafts.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/the-art-of-enameling-ancient-and-modern/

A case study in reinterpreting an old technique: English slip decorated earthenwares and modern counterparts (including my own)

https://pastpresentartsandcrafts.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/a-case-study-in-reinterpreting-an-old-technique-english-slip-decorated-earthenwares-and-modern-counterparts-including-my-own/

Broken Things

https://pastpresentartsandcrafts.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/broken-things/

 

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Roman Provincial Coinage: A Brief Review

Roman provincial coinage is an area of study in which non-academics, especially avid collectors and dealers, can make real contributions to the study of the ancient Roman world. While many thousands of different provincial types or variants are known, new ones are still routinely being discovered.They offer a much wider range of imagery than the Roman Imperial issues, with reverses that touch upon religious, economic and social phenomenon, political events and foreign relations. The images used in this article are Roman provincial coins sold by Clio Ancient Art over the last several years.

Roman provincial coins, Antioch coin, Philip II, ancient coins, Tyche

Syria, Antioch, Bronze 29 mm of Philip II, AD 247-249, with turreted, draped & veiled bust of Tyche right, leaping ram above, star below. Photo Credit: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities.

The Roman provincial coin issues dating between the late 1st Century BC and the end of the 3rd Century AD were initially struck in both the western and eastern portions of the Empire, from points as distant from one another as Rhesaina in the province of Mesopotamia to Emerita Augusta near the Atlantic coast of Hispania. But by the end of the 1st Century AD, provincial coinage had become an exclusively eastern phenomenon, with coins being struck at mints in southeastern Europe, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria/Palestine and Egypt.

Roman coins, ancient coins, Augustus, antiquities

Bronze 24 mm coin of Julia Traducta in Spain, with head of Augustus. Photo Credit: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities.

Most Roman provincial coins were issued in the name of individual cities or leagues of cities. A city could receive permission from the Roman Senate or the Emperor to issue coins, and these would mainly be used as small change, supplementing the official coinage of the Roman state apparatus struck at Rome and a few other Imperial mints. City coinages were nearly always bronze.

Other provincial coins were literally that: coins issued by a particular province, such as Syria or Egypt. These coins usually included silver issues of several values based on the Tetradrachm, as well as a range of bronze denominations. These currencies were intended to be sealed into their provinces, creating a closed economic system.

c_14_278_stitch

Egypt, Alexandria. Potin Tetradrachm of Diocletian, AD 284-305.

Victory (Nike) advancing right, holding wreath and palm branch. Photo Credit: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities.

Roman Syria, Roman Empire, Roman Coins, Ancient Coins

Syria, Antioch. Bronze 30 MM of Phillip I. 244-249 AD. Laureate and cuirassed bust of Phillip facing left holding spear and shield. Photo Credit: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities.

Both Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch in Syria had continuous histories of coin production in both bronze and silver, lasting from the time of Augustus until AD 298. The later Egyptian teradrachms were struck in an alloy called Potin, comprised of bronze, tin and lead. This alloy patinates in very particular ways during burial in the ground, resulting in some especially beautiful surfaces on the coins.

Provincial coins are an endless source of information and enjoyment. Because most were struck in bronze, even large and very well preserved examples sell for very reasonable prices, especially when compared to Imperial bronze coins of similar size and quality.

Roman Provincial, Nicopolis, Roman coins, ancient coins, Clio Ancient Art Antiquities

Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis Orichalcum 5 Assarion (28 mm) of Gordion III, AD 238-244 Reverse of Demeter standing, facing left, holding torch and ears of grain, VP CAB MODECTOV NIKOPOLEITWN PROC ICTR (in Greek). Photo Credit: Clio Ancient Art and Antiquities.

To learn more about Roman provincial coins, we recommend the following –

  • The Roman Provincial Coinage Initiative online. Organized through Oxford University, the site includes an excellent overview of Roman provincial coins and an extensive database with good, clear images (over 19,000!) and descriptions. http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/intro/
  • The Wildwinds ancient coin site online. Although Wildwinds combines Greek with Roman Provincial coins, they are easily distinguished through use of an alphabetical list of issuing authorities, a geographically ordered index and other tools for narrowing a search. http://wildwinds.com/coins/greece/i.html
Clio Ancient Art Antiquities

A Fascinating Article About the Importance of Teaching Classics, Greek, Latin, etc.

Here is a link to the article in The Guardian: Classics for the people – why we should all learn from the ancient Greeks

VIDEO – “Amazons: Warrior Women in Myth, Art and History”

Adrienne Mayor, Research Scholar, Stanford University Classics Department, reveals surprising details and new insights about the lives of flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes who were mythologized as Amazons: http://youtu.be/dD58YEj71Ow

Remarkable News from Greece on the Amphipolis Tomb and More.

An important update on continuing work at the Amphipolis Tomb: Human remains have been found in a built structure beneath the 3rd chamber, as well as sophisticated ornamentation from the now disintegrated wood coffin. Details here: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2014/11/human-remains-found-at-amphipolis.html#.VGOph8lSq0M.

As if the news from Amphipolis were not amazing enough, now comes news of an unlooted high status male tomb in northern Greece (Vergina) from the time of Alexander the Great: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/11/12/new-alexander-the-great-era-tomb-found-in-vergina/

Temple of Portunas, Piazza della Bocca della Verita, Roman antiquities

The Aventine Hill: One of Rome’s Lesser Known Treasures

When in Rome, most visitors focus on major tourist itinerary monuments clustered in and around the Capitolium, Forum and Palatine. Yet many Roman neighborhoods are home to very important monuments of the ancient past and it can be well worth the effort to get off the beaten path to visit these. This writer’s favorite such neighborhood is the Aventine Hill, located along the eastern bank of the Tiber. It is the southernmost of Rome’s famed Seven Hills.
Compared to the frenzy and traffic found in much of the central City, the Aventine is a relative island of calm. Most of the area is residential, with several large green open spaces, and it is connected to the equally quiet Trastevere neighborhood across the Tiber by two bridges. Getting there is easy, with major transit stops at Circo Massimo and Bocca della Verita. Alternately, one may take a long leisurely stroll along the Tiber from central Rome, starting where the Ponte Fabricio connects to the Tiber Island.
Most of the neighborhood’s major monuments, and those with the most charm in this writer’s view, are to be found in a small area centered on the Piazza della Bocca della Verita. This Piazza is so named for the famous “Mouth of Truth” located inside the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which has foundations going back to the 6th Century. According to a many centuries old tradition, the visitor would insert their hand in the mouth and the mouth would snap shut if the visitor had told lies. The Mouth was made all the more famous by a scene in the 1953 film ‘Roman Holiday” with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. In fact, this huge white marble disc with the face of a river god may simply have been a large drain cover during the Roman imperial period.
ClioAncientArtBocca della Verita, Portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Roma

Bocca della Verita, Portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin

Just around the corner is the Arch of Janus. Dating from the first half of the fourth century, probably during the reign of Constantine the Great or one of his sons, the Arch today is almost completely stripped of its original decorative elements, giving it a strangely stark and modern look. It is an imposing structure, just the same.
Arch of Janus, Roman antiquities, Aventine Hill, ancient Romw

Arch of Janus

Alongside the Tiber, just a couple of hundred steps away from the Arch of Janus, shaded by umbrella pines, are the temples of the Forum Boarium. These two small temples are famed for both their remarkable state of preservation and for being almost unique in the repertoire of Roman architecture as survivors from the Roman Republic. Both buildings date from the 2nd Century BC. The more conventional of the two is the Temple of Portunus, dedicated to the god of rivers and ports, as there were once docks and related facilities here for the unloading of goods coming up the Tiber. Set on a high podium, the harmonious facade features simple lines and beautiful Ionic columns. The more unusual of the two, due to its circular format, may have been dedicated to Hercules and features elaborate Corinthian column capitals.
Temple of Portunas, Piazza della Bocca della Verita, Roman antiquities

Temple of Portunas, Piazza della Bocca della Verita

Temple of Portunas, Piazza della Bocca della Verita, Roman antiquities

Detail, Portico of the Temple of Portunas, Piazza della Bocca della Verita

Temple of Hercules, Piazza della Bocca della Verita, Rome

So-called Temple of Hercules, Piazza della Bocca della Verita

Among the many churches with ancient foundations in this area, one stands out – San Giorgio in Velabro. Dating mainly to the 7th Century and incorporating many ancient Roman columns, along with a Roman “mini-arch” of the Severan period, a charming 12th Century bell tower and 13th Century frescoes in the apse, the church also incorporates numerous inscribed ancient fragments in its portico and in the walls of the nave itself. This building is a sort of palimpset of Rome itself and is well worth a visit.
Late Roman Funerary Inscriptions, San Giorgio in Velabro, Roman antiquities

Late Roman Funerary Inscriptions Embedded in Walls of the Portico, San Giorgio in Velabro

While there is much more to see in this small area, one more spot at the southernmost end of the Aventine is also worth visiting. Very close to the Pirimide Metro station is the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius. This is actually a tomb constructed for a Roman official of the same name who died in 30 BC. This was the time when Egypt had come under Roman control with the death of Cleopatra VII and “Egyptomania” was all the rage in high end Roman artistic circles – some things never change! Unlike the true Egyptian pyramids of over 2,000 years earlier, this structure was built of concrete encased in white marble. In the late 3rd Century AD it was incorporated in the Roman defensive walls completed by Aurelian.
Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, Aurelian Walls, Porta San Paolo

Pyramid of Gaius Cestius on the Aurelian Walls at Porta San Paolo

Just across the street from the Pyramid – and watch out for the traffic here – there is an island of peace at the Protestant Cemetery, so called because during the many centuries of Papal rule non-Catholics could not be buried inside the walls of Rome, the same walls built by Aurelian. Here one finds the final resting place of many famous visitors to the Eternal City, including the great English romantic and poets and lovers of antiquity, Percy Shelley and John Keats.
This post is a slightly expanded version of a “Travelogue” from the Clio Ancient Art website http://www.clioancientart.com/index.html
If you found this post useful or interesting, please let us know and we will post additional stories about travel to Rome and other ancient sites.