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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Siscia c.305 AD - guess the emperor ! 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Siscia c.305 AD - guess the emperor !  (Read 262 times)
Heliodromus
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« on: January 09, 2021, 10:18:52 pm »

On a couple of recent threads we've been discussing the confusion between Galerius and Maximianus at Siscia at the start of the second tetrarchy, so I thought it might be interesting to see how many of the emperors from this time can really be identified by bust alone.

If you want to play, please reply to this indicating who you think these busts A-I are.

The candidates are:

Diocletian
Maximianus
Constantius
Galerius

Please don't cheat and try to find these coins online! The point isn't to see who gets most right, just to see which of these are identifyable. I'm guessing most arn't.

You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

I'll post the answers in a couple of days.

Ben


* siscia-busts.jpg (1704.09 KB, 2381x1187 - viewed 21 times.)
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Lech Stępniewski
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2021, 02:55:49 pm »

I recognize two coins from my page and two coins form the British Museum so it wouldn't be fair to participate. Well, this task is really really hard. It immediately reminded me the title of the chapter from Faces of Power: "The Tetrarchy: Do We All Look the Same?"

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328802669_TETRARCHY_DO_WE_ALL_LOOK_THE_SAME

And in this case the only honest answer is: yes, you do.
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Lech Stępniewski
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otlichnik
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2021, 03:56:41 pm »

It is difficult! 

There is the famous nose - but even it is not always clear on coins of its owner.  (I am being cryptic here so as not to give anything away.) 

I know that Maurice spilled quite a bit of ink on this subject in his Numismatique Constantinienne.  Even though the 1st tetrarchy was before his official start period I think he addressed its busts too in his book, but it has been over 12 years since I read it that I might be wrong.

SC
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SC
(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2021, 11:27:55 am »

Thanks, guys.

Well, it doesn't look like anyone even wants to take a try, and I really don't blame them!

Here are the "answers".

Note that none of these are Maximianus, since I've never been able to find a specimen for him from this  crescentVI issue (RIC 144b). I've only ever seen one (your coin, Lech) for the preceding  crescentV issue (RIC 142b). The only one of these coins where there could be any ambiguity is "F", which I'm assuming is Galerius RIC 156a, not Maximianus 144b. I'm not sure why Maximianus appears to be so rare.

These coins weren't picked to be difficult - they are basically all I could come up with for this issue.

It's interesting that a couple of the specimens for Constantius and Galerius as caesar do look a bit "Herculean", and also the different styles for same emperor such as Diocleatian "A' and "D".

A couple of questions that come to mind:

1) How were the mint workers informed of the types, including bust styles and legends they were meant to be using? We do see apparently official bust changes and legend changes, so it doesn't seem these where at whim of the engravers, other than some minor execution detail. There are examples such as the famous Trier tetrarchy abdication type evidentially, used as a model at Cyzicus, where we see Cyzicus stupidly copying the "PTR" Trier mintmark as part of the type, so specimens from one mint do appear to have been used as models at other mints in some cases, but for a brand new type the initial design/etc must have been communicated some other way.

2) How did the bust engravers and legend engravers work together, and were they typically/always the same person or not? I've read references to them being separate workers. It appears that busts were engraved first, then legends added working around the bust (and sometimes running out of space because of it).

In cases like Siscia, here, or indeed in general, I wonder if the worker engraving the bust told the legend engraver who it was meant to be ?! We do see cases occasionally where there are what appear to be legend vs bust "mules" .. a bust looking  like a caesar with a legend of an augustus, or vice versa, indicating that perhaps there were mistakes of this nature made due to a disconnect between bust and legend engraving.

Anyways, it does appear that at Siscia at this time c.305, it's really hard to read too much into the bust style. This type, Sacr Monet, the Iovi/Hercvli tetrarchic series and the Genio fractions all appear to be suffering from the same confusion (assuming that's indeed what it is).

Ben


* siscia-answers.jpg (1887.29 KB, 2381x1187 - viewed 8 times.)
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Per D
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 03:39:57 am »

Hi Ben,

Bruun wrote a couple of papers touching upon the subject (“Portrait of a Conspirator” and “The Transmission of Imperial Images in Late Antiquity”), but hasn’t much to say about the work of the die engravers. Sutherland (RIC VI: 108) has a discussion about the possible use of master punches and refers in a footnote to a few older texts.

Job-titles for mint workers are known (at least from an earlier period) including “scalptores” and “signatores”, and it’s generally assumed the former were responsible for engraving the portraits, the latter the legends. There is an article by Woytek, “Metal and System in Roman Imperial Mints” dealing with this (and other things) in the recent anthology Debasement: Manipulation of Coin Standards in Pre-Modern Monetary Systems (Kevin Butcher, ed.).

Per
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Lech Stępniewski
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 09:04:05 am »

A couple of questions that come to mind:

I am very pessimistic about the possible answers. We know something how the coins were struck, we know the names of the production stuff (praepositi, officinatores, signatores, scalptores etc.) but we know virtually nothing how detailed were the orders for the engravers. Probably not so very detailed and many things were indeed at whim of the engraver. The case with Trier/Cyzicus abdication issue is enlightening because it was a brand new type and the situation was extremely important and delicate (how to inform people that it is not a palace coup but peaceful and voluntary abdication). Therefore this type should be exactly the same in the whole Empire. So they sent the model to Cyzicus and stressed "yours must be absolutely identical". And we know the result...

The division of work (busts - legends) seems reasonable and many mistakes (or something which we see as a mistake) could be explained as the lacks of communication. It is a good explanation but maybe sometimes too good and too easy. Anything odd could be categorized as a mistake.

As far as I know the Woytek's article deals with mints in the high Principate but we are now in Siscia two centuries later. Also Sutherland cites sources from the time of Trajan (p. 106). Nothing changed during that time?

Master-punch for portraits mentioned by Sutherland ["(not necessarily complete in detail, but accurate in general outline) from which the mass-production of individually chased and finished dies could be undertaken"] is a strange hypothesis for me. I would like to see some examples, i.e. nearly identical (not just similar) portraits with different arrangement of obverse legend.
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Lech Stępniewski
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 10:31:35 am »

Quote
As far as I know the Woytek's article deals with mints in the high Principate but we are now in Siscia two centuries later. Also Sutherland cites sources from the time of Trajan (p. 106). Nothing changed during that time?

I guess the lack of other sources makes it (perhaps too) tempting to quote those same texts from Trajan’s time over and over again. Still, this kind of work division would make sense, not least in the presumably very busy mints of the early Dominate.
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2021, 03:34:48 pm »

We know that there was an official image of the Emperor referred to as the imago.

Numerous people have written about it.

Among other things it appears to have had legal standing - for example it could substitute for the Emperor as a recipient of an oath.

We know the imago was sent out to places like provincial capitals, legions and mints as soon after an Emperor came to power as was possible.  We don't know if this imago was a 3D bust, a relief carving, a painting, or any of the above.

There are many cases where the bust on the first coins struck for a new Emperor look very much like those for the old Emperor, then next issues bear what becomes known as the proper bust.

I will try do dig up references for all of this as it is very interesting stuff.

SC
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SC
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Lech Stępniewski
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2021, 04:29:13 pm »

We know that there was an official image of the Emperor referred to as the imago.

But we also know that during the period of tetrarchy there was also tendency to emphasize similarity. And it is not easy to express individuality and similarity at the same time. On the other hand, in ambiguous political situation it could be sometimes a good reason to engrave somehow ambiguous portraits.
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Lech Stępniewski
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