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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Greek Coins (Moderators: Dino, Meepzorp)  |  Topic: Numerical notations on Ptolemy I Soterís gold staters 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Numerical notations on Ptolemy I Soterís gold staters  (Read 436 times)
FEDERICO D
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« on: August 30, 2020, 02:17:37 am »

Hello everyone. I point out this article of mine that appeared in the latest issue of OMNI published a few days ago. The article focuses on the theme of the monograms on Greek coins which in some cases, in my interpretation, are numbers.

https://www.academia.edu/43928165/F_De_Luca_Numerical_notations_on_Ptolemy_I_Soter_s_gold_staters_Revue_Numismatique_OMNI_no_14_08_2020_pp_31_69


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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2020, 08:52:52 am »

A clear example of a number reported in a monogram ...


* 34.JPG (36.36 KB, 1209x175 - viewed 4 times.)

* 1.JPG (37.75 KB, 330x361 - viewed 148 times.)
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 09:23:17 am »

As you will notice, in the previous post all the numbers are expressed on the basis of a single numeral system and have no implied figures. This coin issue is very interesting because, in my interpretation, on each coin there is a monogram that indicates a gradually increasing figure and another monogram that expresses a fixed figure indicating the issue limit, as if we said 1) 90,000 staters in the process of being minted out of a total of 500,000 to be minted; 2) 150,000 staters being minted out of a total of 500,000 to be minted and so on ..
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Brennos
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2020, 02:29:27 pm »

Ciao Federico,

First of all, congratulations for this article ! It's really a thorough analysis of a difficult issue.

It is a tough read... you can't flip through the pages in an armchair near a swimming pool with a fresh beer in hand Smiley

of course i'm not competant enough to judge your work but if i may some questions :

I understand your numeral interpretation of the monograms and your "translation" of each reverse die but what is the logic behind the different values of the ranges ?
e.g. why a range of 120000 staters for the coin 3 (30000-150000) a range of 150000 staters for the coin 14 (150000 - 300000) a range of 50000 staters for the coin 17 (200000 - 250000) a range of 20000 staters for the coin 19 (280000 - 300000) ...

How do you interpret the R12 ? (200000 200000 200000)

How do you explain that five different monograms are used for indicating 1000000 drachms wich, as the issue limit, is the most important number ? i mean it seems odd to me  that five different monograms are used not for writing the same figure but for transcribing the same meaning (i don't know if i'm clear Cheesy)
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2020, 10:24:38 am »

Thank you for your question. The differences in the ranges can be explained by thinking of decisions taken from time to time: as the coins were minted, it was decided which monograms should be used to distinguish the next group of coins. The groups of coins, therefore, had different sizes, the important thing was that, added together, they gave the desired total. The different ways in which the issue limit was then indicated were meticulously studied precisely to create elements capable of more diversifying the groups of coins that were part of the same issue and that were distinguishable from the other groups while indicating the same quantity final of coins to be minted. In my humble opinion this happened at many Greek mints: for example in Velia the recurring size of didrachm emissions was 500,000 pieces often indicated with the Greek letter F (= 500) but also in a variety of other ways. And the reconstruction of an issue of Velia's didrachms, with the tracing of all the obverse dies used, confirms this numerical hypothesis (I made this reconstruction in my book "I numeri svelati. Alla scoperta delle notazioni numeriche riportate sulle monete greche")
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PtolemAE
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2020, 07:03:21 pm »

Ciao Federico,

First of all, congratulations for this article ! It's really a thorough analysis of a difficult issue.

It is a tough read... you can't flip through the pages in an armchair near a swimming pool with a fresh beer in hand Smiley

of course i'm not competant enough to judge your work but if i may some questions :

I understand your numeral interpretation of the monograms and your "translation" of each reverse die but what is the logic behind the different values of the ranges ?
e.g. why a range of 120000 staters for the coin 3 (30000-150000) a range of 150000 staters for the coin 14 (150000 - 300000) a range of 50000 staters for the coin 17 (200000 - 250000) a range of 20000 staters for the coin 19 (280000 - 300000) ...

How do you interpret the R12 ? (200000 200000 200000)

How do you explain that five different monograms are used for indicating 1000000 drachms wich, as the issue limit, is the most important number ? i mean it seems odd to me  that five different monograms are used not for writing the same figure but for transcribing the same meaning (i don't know if i'm clear Cheesy)


It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible.

PtolemAE

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Altamura
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 01:22:12 am »

Quote from: PtolemAE on September 15, 2020, 07:03:21 pm
... It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible. ...
More than twenty pages of pure text without any internal structure (chapters, headlines etc.) is really hard stuff  Undecided.

Sometime I learned in connection with texts: There is one who has to labor, the writer or the reader. In this case it seems to be the reader  Sad.

Regards

Altamura

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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 02:18:37 am »


It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible.

PtolemAE

The article starts from a simple observation. Is there a sampi on the first coin? Is there an apex  on the second coin which in Greek denote numbers? The answer would seem to be yes ... and then we moderns have the duty to understand the meaning of this set of monograms.
If you are willing to accept this novelty then perhaps it will be possible to forgive the complexity of the organization of the exhibition and some harshness in the English translation ...


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* 3.JPG (59.28 KB, 493x510 - viewed 114 times.)
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2020, 02:25:41 am »

Quote from: PtolemAE on September 15, 2020, 07:03:21 pm
... It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible. ...
More than twenty pages of pure text without any internal structure (chapters, headlines etc.) is really hard stuff  Undecided.

Sometime I learned in connection with texts: There is one who has to labor, the writer or the reader. In this case it seems to be the reader  Sad.

Regards

Altamura


I am saddened that the text is difficult to read. It is not that I did not want to suffer and turned the suffering on the reader. The truth is that I have not found at the moment a better way to organize a text that still had to have the cut of an article (therefore without chapters, paragraphs and more) to be inserted in a magazine. I repeat, I am saddened by this and I participate in the reader's suffering. I just hope that the basic concept passes and that is that monograms can be read as numbers and not only, uncritically, as initials of names ...

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PtolemAE
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2020, 01:12:01 pm »


It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible.

PtolemAE

The article starts from a simple observation. Is there a sampi on the first coin? ...


None I can see.

If there *is* a sampi (that I cannot see), so what?

NOTE: It is impossible for someone to make their case by asking someone else questions.

PtolemAE
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PtolemAE
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2020, 01:16:09 pm »

Quote from: PtolemAE on September 16, 2020, 01:12:01 pm

It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible.

PtolemAE

The article starts from a simple observation. Is there a sampi on the first coin? ...


None I can see.

If there *is* a sampi (that I cannot see), I would be at a complete loss to tell anyone what it means. If there is a small die nick on another coin then I have no idea what that means, either, any more than I can explain the small dot below the AV monogram on the first coin.

I also cannot explain the tiny dot above the elephant on that coin. The latter might also be another secret code ...

PtolemAE
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2020, 01:29:23 pm »

Quote from: PtolemAE on September 16, 2020, 01:12:01 pm



NOTE: It is impossible for someone to make their case by asking someone else questions.

PtolemAE


The question was rhetorical...
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2020, 01:33:26 pm »

Quote from: PtolemAE on September 16, 2020, 01:16:09 pm
Quote from: PtolemAE on September 16, 2020, 01:12:01 pm

It's hard to read because it is utterly incomprehensible.

PtolemAE

The article starts from a simple observation. Is there a sampi on the first coin? ...


None I can see.

If there *is* a sampi (that I cannot see), I would be at a complete loss to tell anyone what it means.
PtolemAE



The presence of a sampi may indicate that it is a numerical sequence ... but if you don't like it, don't waste any more time ...
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2020, 03:22:07 pm »

For an easy reading of the article, in case you are interested, it is still advisable to print it and look at the photos of the coins in the plates as they are mentioned in the text, instead of reading on the screen by going up and down with the mouse to see the images...
As I say in the text, I want to remind you that the difficulty of distinguishing figures composed by numbers and
monograms composed by Greek letters, do not only characterize we modern people but also
concerned the same ancient Greeks if they were not aware of the standard by which to interpret the
monograms, like this nice epigram from Alcaeus of Mitylene (Anthologia Palatina, VII, 429)
reminds us:

 I ask myself why this road-side stone has only two  Greek_Phi  chiselled on it.
 Was the name of the woman who is buried here Chilias?
 The number chilia [=1,000] which is the sum of two letters [ Greek_Phi =500;  Greek_Phi x 2= 1,000]
 points to this.
 Or am I astray in this guess
 and was the name of her who dwells in this mournful tomb Phidis [=  Greek_Phi   Greek_DeltaGreek_IotaGreeK_Sigma = twice  Greek_Phi]?
 Now am I the Oedipus who has solved the sphinxís riddle.
 He deserves praise, the man who made this puzzle out of two letters,
 a light to the intelligent and darkness to the unintelligent.

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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2020, 03:30:52 pm »

If, on the other hand, we liquidate everything with a generic "we don't know", "it is not possible to know or hypothesize it" let's close these discussions on the forums, let's limit ourselves only to "what is it worth?" and we leave numismatics immobile where the Jesuit Joseph Hilarius Eckhel theorized it.
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Brennos
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2020, 04:33:52 pm »

Well i would say that your article is too long or too short...

As you propose a new interpretation of the monograms, i would say that a more important bibliographic review on that subject is missing, at least regarding Hellenistic royal coinage.

The idea that certain monograms represent numbers is attractive, but the demonstration that all the monograms are numbers and the resulting arrangement process is not very convincing.

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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2020, 04:14:31 am »

Well i would say that your article is too long or too short...

As you propose a new interpretation of the monograms, i would say that a more important bibliographic review on that subject is missing, at least regarding Hellenistic royal coinage.

The idea that certain monograms represent numbers is attractive, but the demonstration that all the monograms are numbers and the resulting arrangement process is not very convincing.



But I do not propose at all to interpret ALL monograms as numbers, but only those that have, in fact, the characteristic of numbers and that fall within a series of different monograms reported within the same issue which can be interpreted as a numerical sequence.

Monograms that can be interpreted as numbers are found for example in Massalia:
https://www.academia.edu/34086494/Federico_De_Luca_Alphabetical_numbering_and_numerical_progressions_on_drachms_and_Massalia_s_small_bronze_coins_Revue_Numismatique_OMNI_n_11_07_2017_p_74_111


But there are also monograms that CERTAINLY refer to the names of monetary magistrates or, as is well known, full names of magistrates. I don't want to show that ALL monograms are numbers but just that not ALL monograms are names ...
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PtolemAE
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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2020, 12:57:17 pm »

If, on the other hand, we liquidate everything with a generic "we don't know", "it is not possible to know or hypothesize it" let's close these discussions on the forums, let's limit ourselves only to "what is it worth?" and we leave numismatics immobile where the Jesuit Joseph Hilarius Eckhel theorized it.


That this 'theory' is incomprehensible should not cause anyone to fear the collapse of the field of numismatics. It takes courage to admit what we don't know. It will be a pleasure to be proven wrong about either of those assertions.

PtolemAE
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JBF
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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2020, 02:55:41 pm »

I think you skip a few steps.  Maybe if you went back and filled in those steps, it would be more clear, if you can fill in those steps, such as those that would explain how each monogram (with loops and tails, etc) are really letters used in the Milesian system.
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2020, 02:01:04 am »

Quote from: PtolemAE on September 20, 2020, 12:57:17 pm
If, on the other hand, we liquidate everything with a generic "we don't know", "it is not possible to know or hypothesize it" let's close these discussions on the forums, let's limit ourselves only to "what is it worth?" and we leave numismatics immobile where the Jesuit Joseph Hilarius Eckhel theorized it.


That this 'theory' is incomprehensible should not cause anyone to fear the collapse of the field of numismatics. It takes courage to admit what we don't know. It will be a pleasure to be proven wrong about either of those assertions.

PtolemAE


Of course, numismatics, the world and my life go on even if this bizarre "theory" of mine is not accepted. In the end I simply propose to consider the hypothesis that the Greeks, who were able to calculate the circumference of the Earth with extreme precision, kept track of the coins they minted and pinned the numbers on the coins. Nothing transcendental, I think ...
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2020, 02:08:41 am »

I think you skip a few steps.  Maybe if you went back and filled in those steps, it would be more clear, if you can fill in those steps, such as those that would explain how each monogram (with loops and tails, etc) are really letters used in the Milesian system.


Thank you for your suggestion. To avoid writing an even longer article I had to skip some steps. In my other articles (available on Academia.edu) I have tried to find evidence in other sources such as the Egyptian papyri,  see this article for example:

https://www.academia.edu/36962445/F_De_Luca_Monograms_on_Kibyra_s_coins_names_or_numbers_Revue_Numismatique_OMNI_no_12_6_2018_pp_54_84   

and stone inscriptions, see this article about it:

https://www.academia.edu/30598689/F_De_Luca_Numeri_su_monete_ed_epigrafi_greche_Monete_Antiche_n_88_Luglio_Agosto_2016

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glebe
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« Reply #21 on: Yesterday at 12:51:07 am »

Well of course there is a sampi character on these coins (with one in different form in reply 7), coupled with a P it seems.

But do these symbols represent numbers?

Perhaps, or perhaps not. I've seen this argument before, in the context of Athens new style tets I think it was, and I didn't buy it in that case.

And Brennos's arguments here against Federico's specific interpretations are powerful.

But then, as Federico says, these symbols must mean something, and the question of what is certainly worth asking.

Generally speaking they presumably act as some type of auditing aid, although just how they work is unclear, to say the least.

Ross G.
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 03:01:55 am »

Well of course there is a sampi character on these coins (with one in different form in reply 7), coupled with a P it seems.

But do these symbols represent numbers?

Perhaps, or perhaps not. I've seen this argument before, in the context of Athens new style tets I think it was, and I didn't buy it in that case.

And Brennos's arguments here against Federico's specific interpretations are powerful.

But then, as Federico says, these symbols must mean something, and the question of what is certainly worth asking.

Generally speaking they presumably act as some type of auditing aid, although just how they work is unclear, to say the least.

Ross G.


My contribution, with all its limitations, really wants to be a stimulus to investigate the meaning of these monograms ....
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« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 05:05:07 pm »

Hi Federico,

You report in your article 21 obverse and 32 reverse dies for the Soter gold drachms, and I would agree that this could account for 500,000 coins, with coins per die figures of the order of 20,000 or so, although we might quibble with the assumed figure of 500,000 coins rather than 1,000,000.
You have probably covered the bulk of the original dies, but presumably there are still some unknown dies, so it would be interesting to know how many coins were looked at to produce these die figures, so that we could better estimate the original die numbers.

Ross G.
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FEDERICO D
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« Reply #24 on: Today at 06:17:12 am »

Hi Federico,

You report in your article 21 obverse and 32 reverse dies for the Soter gold drachms, and I would agree that this could account for 500,000 coins, with coins per die figures of the order of 20,000 or so, although we might quibble with the assumed figure of 500,000 coins rather than 1,000,000.
You have probably covered the bulk of the original dies, but presumably there are still some unknown dies, so it would be interesting to know how many coins were looked at to produce these die figures, so that we could better estimate the original die numbers.

Ross G.


There aren't many pictures of gold staters by Ptolemy Soter. I managed to find only 113 of which 69 from auction sales (from the early 1900s to today), 9 kept in public museums, and 35 from the bibliography on the subject. Given the scarcity of coins available, it is preferable to favor the hypothesis of 500,000 pieces instead of one million.
I take this opportunity for a clarification: 3 of the 9 coins coming from Museums were photographed especially for me (one from the Metropolitan Museum of New York and two from the British Museum on whose website only the reverses were presented). Overall between rights and photographic services I spent more than 1,000 euros, which I regret bitterly given the coldness with which my work was received at least on this forum ...
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