Sold Antiquities 2017

With the new year well under way, this seems a good time to share with our readers a sample of the many antiquities and antiquities-related artwork we sold in 2017. In addition to these, we also sold many more ancient coins, antique prints and books dealing with antiquities and ancient art.

 

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A sampling of antiquities available for holiday shopping

As we approach the holiday shopping season, we thought you might enjoy a simple photo montage of some of the fine antiquities we have available for purchase this year. We can be found online here:

Our Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClioAncientArt

Our eBay store: https://www.ebay.com/usr/clioantiquities

Our Amazon book shop: www.amazon.com/shops/ClioAncientArt

Special Offer in our Etsy Store: 15% Off!

We’ve created a customer Coupon for use in our Etsy store. Receive 15% off every item over $25 between now and January, 2017.

Use coupon code JAN20172 at checkout to receive your discount!

And, if you make a purchase between now and January 31 you’ll also receive an email from Etsy with another discount coupon for use in our shop good for 15% off a future purchase, valid through June 30, 2017.

Visit our Etsy shop at: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/ClioAncientArt

Clio Ancient Art Antiquities, Roman coins

This Week’s Featured Item: A Small Coin with a Big Story

This week’s featured object is a small bronze coin of the Roman Emperor Constantius II. That may not be a name that jumps out from the pages of history the way Roman Emperors like Augustus, Nero or Hadrian do but in his own way Constantius II was a remarkable ruler.

Born in what is now Serbia to Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great, and the Empress Fausta, he was one of three sons, along with his brothers Constantine II and Constans. Constantine I elevated Constantius to the rank of Caesar in AD 324. While serving in this role Constantius fought against barbarian incursions along the Danube frontier and gained valuable experience that would serve him later.

constantius-ae3-antioch-obv

Upon the death of his father Constantine I, who by any measure was surely one of the most remarkable, energetic and dynamic figures in Roman history, the three sons met to divide the Roman domains among themselves as co-emperors. A purge had taken place upon Constantine’s death that included the murder of two male cousins whom Constantine had apparently intended to serve as co-rulers with his sons. Roman commentators place the blame for this purge squarely on Constantius but the bias in these sources makes this less than certain. Constantius’ share of the Empire included the Balkans and Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor (modern Turkey), while the European and North African provinces were governed by his brothers.

In the years that followed, Constantius demonstrated great vigor as both a military leader and an administrator. Clearly, the trust his late father Constantine had placed in him was justified. In addition to managing a long and bloody (though inconclusive) war against the resurgent Persian Empire in the east, he countered numerous barbarian thrusts into the west along the Rhine and Danube frontiers and put down multiple serious revolts led by usurper would-be emperors in Europe. At a time when the allegiance of the legions to the legitimate Emperor or a usurper was never a sure thing, the reverse legend on this coin – GLORIA EXERCITUS or Glory of the Army — conveyed the image of loyalty and stability. The mint mark visible on the bottom, reading SMANAI, refers to Antioch, then in the province of Syria (now in modern Turkey), where Constantius spent considerable time during his campaigns against the Persians.

Clio Ancient Art Antiquities, Roman coins

Bronze coin of Constantius II struck at Antioch

Constantius ruled as sole legitimate Emperor from AD 353 until his death in 361 but in total, from his elevation to the rank of Caesar in 324, he ruled for 29 years, making him one of the longest reigning Roman Emperors. He reigned in a troubled period of Roman history, one in which lesser men might have floundered. Whatever his shortcomings, he did hold the Empire together against many threats both internal and external. This tiny coin, worth very little in its day and still quite inexpensive today, as these were made in their countless thousands by the Imperial mints and a great many survive in excellent condition, tells part of that story.

bust-of-the-roman-emperor-constantius-ii

Marble portrait of Constantius II excavated in Syria and now in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology

For those interested in acquiring this objects it may be found in our Etsy store here –

https://www.etsy.com/listing/478001671/roman-empire-constantius-ii-ad-337-361?ref=shop_home_active_1

And our eBay store here –

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Roman-Empire-Constantius-II-Bronze-AE-3-of-Antioch-/131935182141?hash=item1eb7f31d3d:g:XagAAOSwFe5X1H1d

 

Discovery of Unique Late Roman Coin Hoard in Spain

Here are links to 2 different news articles about this recent spectacular accidental find. The unique context of the find may reveal much about the nature of monetary policy and / or military pay in the late Roman Empire in the west.

BBC News article – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36172538

The Guardian article, with video – https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/apr/29/massive-haul-ancient-roman-coins-unearthed-spain

From the British Museum Blog: Mystery of the Fetter Lane Hoard

An intriguing story from The British Museum Blog. In 1908 workers in London found 46 Roman coins. But these were minted in Alexandria, Egypt. How did they get there? The Museum’s Curator of Greek and Roman Provincial Coins explores. Link opens in a new tab or window – http://blog.britishmuseum.org/2015/08/27/the-mystery-of-the-fetter-lane-hoard/

Roman Coins. Roman antiquities, ancient Rome

Roman Silver Coin Hoard Discovered During Excavation in Bulgarian Capital

A large hoard of Roman silver coins of the 1st and 2nd Century AD has been discovered by archaeologists working in the Bulgarian capital city, Sofia. Known to the Romans as Serdica, Sofia was once a major Roman urban site. A detailed article on this discovery, including many excellent photographs, may be found here (opens in a new tab or window) – http://archaeologyinbulgaria.com/2015/09/04/archaeologists-discover-treasure-of-silver-roman-coins-during-excavations-of-ancient-serdica-in-bulgarias-capital-sofia/

Christian (and Pagan) Symbolism on Some Late Roman and Byzantine Coins

Although not all Christians celebrate Christmas Day on December 25 (some still use the Julian Calendar date corresponding to January 7), as we are, in  either case, a few days away from Christmas this seemed an appropriate time to examine a few ancient coins on our website that carry early Christian symbols, all created after the Roman Empire had adopted Christianity as the state religion.

We begin with a bronze Centenionalis of Aelia Flacilla (died AD 386), wife of the Emperor Theodosius I. The reverse of this fairly large medium value coin bears an image of the formerly Pagan personification of Victory seated and inscribing a shield with the “Chi-Rho” symbol that had been used by Constantine I, the first Emperor to adopt Christianity some 50 years earlier, as his standard at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

Image

Despite popular belief the Chi-Rho, formed by combining the Greek capital letters chi and rho to form the sound of the first two letters of Christ’s name,  has its roots in Paganism, having been used by much earlier Greek scribes as a means of indicating in the margins of a scroll or manuscript a key passage, abbreviating the Greek word “chreston” (good). This scarce coin is shown in its entirety below, with a link to it on our website.

Next is the reverse of a tiny bronze coin of Theodosius II, Emperor from AD 408-450, struck at Constantinople, which had long since replaced Rome itself as hub of the Empire. This is a very early instance of the cross or christogram appearing as the sole decorative device on the reverse of a coin.

ImageThere is no text to accompany the image, simply a laurel wreath surrounding it (the wreath again conveying much pre-Christian symbolism). The issuer of this coin, Theodosius II, is perhaps best known for 2 achievements: the Theodosian Code, a compilation of laws issued in the Empire since the time of Constantine I, and building the great land walls of Constantinople, which survived all siege attempts until the final Ottoman assault in 1453. Here is the coin again, showing both obverse and reverse, with a link.

Finally, we have a medieval coin of the Byzantine Empire (even at this stage, the Byzantines certainly thought of themselves as Romans), dating to AD 1185-1195, the reign of the Emperor Issac II Angelus, There is little to say about Issac II, other than he was the first of 3 consecutive incompetent rulers whose mismanagement resulted, just 20 years later, in Constantinople falling into the hands of western armies for 50 years, before liberation under dynamic new rulers who helped inspire the final flowering of Byzantine art and culture.

There is much to say about the coin. It is made from about 2.5% silver with the rest copper. These poor quality coins, usually very badly struck, were made in great numbers and are today quite affordable. Our example is fairly well struck with relatively clear images. The obverse depicts the Virgin seated and supporting the head of the infant Christ.

ImageUnlike Roman coins of the Christian era, Byzantine coins carry the Emperor’s image on the reverse, with purely Christian images or symbols on the obverse. In this case, the emperor is depicted facing, holding an elaborate ceremonial cross and ceremonial clothing rich in Christian symbolism. Here is the coin in its entirety with link.

All of these small objects are heavy with symbolism, both Christian and Pagan, and should remind us of how the images and ideas of so long ago have shaped our world today.