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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Provincial Coins (Moderators: slokind, jmuona, tjaart)  |  Topic: Unknown beauty from Marcianopolis 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Unknown beauty from Marcianopolis  (Read 29416 times)
Jochen
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« on: January 09, 2006, 03:44:05 pm »

Hi!

Today I got this coin which was already attributed (I hope correct!) but it is absolut unknown what is depicted on the reverse. Therefore I hope I could find help on this wonderful Forum!

It is an AE27 from Marcianopolis struck under the legate Furius Pontianus for Macrinus and Diadumenian.

AE27, 13.58g
obv. AV K OPPELCEVH MAKREINOC / KM OPPEL AN - TWNINOC DI / ADOYMHN
        confronted busts of Diadumenian, bare-headed, l., and Macrinus, laureate, r.
rev. VP PONTIAN - OY MARKIAN - OPOLITWN
       female figure, with chignon, nude to hip(?), sitting on rock l., holding in extended r. hand
       bunch of flowers(?), resting with l. arm on font(?), rabbit r. on ground
       E in l. field (for Pentassarion)
 AMNG 755 (only 1 ex.)

There are very beautiful details on the rev. (bunch of flowers, rabbit!) but actually I don't not even wether my description is correct!

Anyone does know the figure? Is it a bunch of flowers she is holding? What is that where her l. arm is resting?

My alternatives are a deity of the region or a river-goddess(?).

Any information highly welcomed!

Best regards
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2006, 03:56:19 pm »

Oh my god, what a beauty again, Jochen!

I've found this specimen with different obverse, but from the same reverse die, on Coinarchives (AMNG 756). The description states it probably is a "Bergnymphe" (so a mountain nymph, in English); here the complete reverse image description:

Bergnymphe (?) mit Zweig in der Rechten und auf Felsen gestütztem linken Arm nach links gelagert, rechts unten nach rechts laufender Bär (?); im Feld links E.

Lars
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2006, 04:04:08 pm »

Pat will love this one.  It is an interesting variant.  It shows all the attributes of the River god (male), branch and overflowing jug of water, but represents a mountain nymph.  For comparison, here is the Markianopolis river god.
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Jochen
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2006, 04:17:48 pm »

Thanks for your inputs! A mountain nymph would make sense! But the animal I think is actually a rabbit or better a hare on the reverse. I can see clearly his long ears on my coin!

best regards
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slokind
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2006, 04:32:59 pm »

The female figure is a topographic personification like the Haimos, but for something that has a feminine-gender name.  Particularly if that was a Spring, perhaps the source of a tributary river, then it is quite all right, I think, to call it a Nymph; similarly, if she is a particular named Peak in the Haimos range, if it had a feminine-gender name, a female figure would be used.  For, as Pick observes, she also occurs on a Pontianus reverse in Nicopolis.
As it happens, I don't own the Marcianopolis ones, and the one with busts is very important to me, because it shares that reverse with one of the confronted heads dies of Pontianus at Marcianopolis that all but certainly are the work of an engraver who worked for him at both places.  A couple of the dies used with such Pontianus obverses at Nicopolis (these are the sharp-chinned ones that look like no other Macrinus heads anywhere) continued to be used with reverses bearing Agrippa's name instead, as Pick noted (AMNG I, 1, p. 432), and I am extremely interested to see that the confronted busts die is the multiply-linked one that it is!
Now I want to do a bit of hunting off line.  Meanwhile, here is a pair of coins illustrating the sort of style I alluded to.  Never mind whether it is the very same hand or not; it is the crossover that is significant.
Pat L.
Here is a stylistically more emphatic Marcianopolis E coin to make the same point.
23 06 03 AE 26+ 14.97g  Marcianopolis  Issued by Pontianus.  Heads of Diadumenian, to r., and Macrinus, laureate, to l.  AV K OPPEL SEVEta MAKRINOS and below K M OPPELI / ANTONIN / OS.  All sigmas and epsilons squared.  (This is the rare die Pick, AMNG I, 1, p. 235, no. 716, known to Pick only through a cast of Imhoof's, and p. 246, no. 773 with a Liberalitas reverse = 770, ex. 3, pl. XIX, 2).  Rev., Homonoia. bareheaded, stg. l. with cornucopiae and patera, making libation over burning garlanded altar.  VP PONTIANOV MARKIA[NOPO] and in exergue LITON.  The E for 5 is rounded, but the other letters recall those on obverse, though a little less spiky. (Not in Pick, but reasonably regarded as a variant of p. 245, no. 767).
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2006, 04:55:47 pm »

For starters, here are Pick's Taf. XVIII, 7 (Nicopolis) and 8 (Marcianopolis).
For Jochen's, the plaster cast in the image is from Bucharest, the only specimen at Pick's disposal.  For the Nicopolis one, fig. 7, it is from the Löbbecke collection, since dispersed.
Yes, Jochen, I am sure that if Pick had seen yours, he'd have seen the rabbit!  And that recalls, of course, the animals on the Haimos reverses, tending to strengthen, if ever so slightly, the association of this feminine type with that masculine one: the same kind of a topographic personification.
As for Nicopolis, for real metal instead of a photogravure of a cast, here is one of my two (the other has more patina, but this one is more legible on screen):
10 07 03 AE 29  14.72g  Issued by Pontianus at Nicopolis ad IstrumMacrinus, laureate, head to r., the crossover die also used by Agrippa (Pick, p. 432).  [AV K] OPPEL SE    VE MAKRINOS, with squared E and sigma.  Rev., bareheaded topographic female (Moesia?), as on Marcianopolis nos. 755-6, pl. XVIII, 8, seated on chair but leaning her l. elbow on rocks behind her; in her r. hand flowers (?).  VP PONTIANOV (partly faint) NIKOPOLITON and in exergue PROS IST, squared sigmas.  Both dies, Pick, AMNG I, 1, p. 432, no. 1682, pl. XVIII, 7.  This example is more than 4.5g heavier than the Loebbecke one (10.10g), but very yellow where flecks of patina are missing.
One of you said, Pat will really love this one.  Indeed!  I thought I had a Marcianopolis, but very likely I only bid on 'em unsuccessfully!
Pat
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Bacchus
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2006, 12:36:14 am »

This is my example, which appears to be a die match of Jochens.  It does not help in determining what exactly is depicted in the bottom right though.  ~I'm not 100% convinced I see a rabbit/hare.  Using a bit of imagination I can see a dolphin sitting on her lap as well Smiley.

Also, is "she" nude to hip?  I thought I saw some folds of drapery on her shoulders - perhaps very diaphanous though?

Just thoughts-

-:Bacchus:-
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Jochen
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2006, 05:23:33 am »

Thanks, Bacchus, for sharing your coins! First I thought my coin would be rare, but now I see how many coins of this type exist.

Ok, then I think it is more probably a bear, coming out of his cave! That would match the depictions of the Haimos rev. too! And a closer look on the drapery shows the deity is draped above the hip too! 

Best regards 
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2006, 06:01:27 am »

I think that these are still scarce (rather than rare) and yours is by far the best preserved example - (so I wouldn't get too disheartened  Cheesy ).  It is a worthy addition to your enviable collection -

I think I had assumed that the deity was leaning on just a rock, her elbow taking the weight - the rock detail perhaps indicating a spring or water source - It would be a true friend indeed (animal or human) that would allow her to lean on their head like that.  However it is possible that it does represent a cave etc.

All the best

-:Bacchus:-
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slokind
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2006, 01:20:32 pm »

Bacchus wrote "she"--thus.  Her hair and garment are feminine.  In another thread I referred to the blousing at the waist, called a kolpos (not that the word is fundamentally about garments).  She certainly is fully clad.  Her cloak, himation, seems to be largely draped over that rock of hers.  I do think Jochen was right the first time: the animal is crouching like a rabbit and does have long ears; the Haimos engraver captures the pacing, prowling, nose to ground body-language of a bear.   Haimos is a whole mountain range and may have been as well known for its bears as the American ozarks are for wild pigs.
The figures are very alike, as Pick saw, at the two mints, but I think they may have had different names: the details on and about the seat are different.  But the flowers, as they seem to be, should indeed have similar signification.
It is not impossible that these coins, so rare till recently, all were found together though I don't mean in one hoard.  We may be very fortunate indeed to know them better than Pick and Imhoof-Blumer did.  But, guys, if another Marcianopolis turns up, I've got dibs, unless a suitable permanent repository gets it.  But I do have both the obverse dies, and Jochen's specimen is pretty surely the best we shall see.  Pat L.
These coins always remind me of lines from my early youth:
And the nymphs of the fountains
Descend from the mountains
Edith Sitwell, Façade, Waltz (set to music by the very young William Walton)
The classical tradition is so strong in everything we know (my generation at least); Sitwell toured the USA performing Façade in 1950, and everyone in my art school also had the 10" vinyl LP recording of it (still have it).
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2006, 02:10:57 pm »

I must be going blind.  For the life of me, I do not see a bear or rabbit.  In the river god specimen, you can see the curl of water spilling from the jug.  I see that same curl in the goddess specimens.  Perhaps the water is spilling down a mountain in the latter specimen?
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curtislclay
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2006, 02:22:15 pm »

Whitetd,
    The bunny is just left of the N of MARKIAN, crouching right on all fours.
    Some years ago when I was cataloguing this type for our stock, it occurred to me that this lady reclining on rocks, holding branch ending in twigs and leaves, and with rabbit below, is virtually identical to the reclining HISPANIA of Hadrian's province series!  But what can have caused Spain and her rabbit to migrate to the lower Danube?
Regards,
Curtis
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2006, 02:37:59 pm »

An epiphany, I see it!  Just to make it worse, the same rabbit is also present on the river god specimen that I posted.  In response to your question, perhaps these reclining figures with water and rabbits are stock reverses celebrating the abundance of the land?
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Bill Perry
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2006, 02:43:28 pm »

But what can have caused Spain and her rabbit to migrate to the lower Danube?

Cults, their gods and goddesses along with all their symbols and accoutraments followed and traveled with but one force! The legions Smiley
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curtislclay
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2006, 02:49:43 pm »

     But Hispania is a geographical personification, not a cult figure.  I doubt that even the presence of a large Spanish contingent in the legions of Lower Moesia would lead to a depiction of Spain on the provincial coins.
     Rabbit and olive branch seem specific to Spain, not general attributes of fertilitySpain was famous for its rabbits:  Stevenson cites Pliny reporting that rabbits undermined one whole Spanish town with their burrows.
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2006, 03:01:50 pm »

Granted coins used women to represent cities or provinces - but I was thinking more along the lines of the roman goddess Flora - as opposed to a representation of spain. And provinicials tended to copy coins and I'm sure cross train die makers - so its not surprising that the coins share a common theme accross the empire. Especially in the provicincial mints where latin and greek mixed in wierd ways on the coins themselves - let alone the themes. Having said that I'm very inexperienced and bow to the greater wisdom of the experienced ones - I'm merely guessing.
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Jochen
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2006, 04:42:53 pm »

I think the advice from Curtis at the coins of Hadrian with the reclining HISPANIA is an evidence that the animal is a rabbit. They both have the same shape.

The coin is Hadrian RIC 306 From Wildwinds.

Best regards
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slokind
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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2006, 05:19:53 pm »

Tentative revelation:  That Hispania proves what an infallible eye (excuse my enthusiasm, please) Curtis has!  That is why someone (was it Pick?  was it I?--it is in my notes), but SOMEONE suggested that the lady is Moesia (Inferior), and now that seems to me the leading idea.  It also explains why both Marcianopolis and Nicopolis, the very two mints that were used for Macrinus and Diadumenian and were both used by Pontianus, have the same figure.  And, indeed, the Hadrianic type might have been suggested as a model to the engraver or might have been known to him as a stock in trade type.  It is (by and large) a fact, Greco-Roman artists invented nothing if they could borrow instead (not just laziness; such a type would have been easy for anyone to register correctly as a region or province).
Thank you, Curtis.  What a great lesson (IMHO).
Pat Lawrence
Possibly the pre-existent Haimos type encouraged including the Spanish rabbit (it is so cute, anyway), having as many as three animals (on the one issued by Gallus); the Haimos, first issued by Tertullus for both Septimius and Domna, also had been issued for Macrinus by Longinus at Nicopolis, only months, perhaps, earlier than the present coins, perhaps Moesia, the province dominated by the Haimos as much as by the Ister--which you don't see the way you see the mountains.
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2006, 05:48:45 pm »

In the river god specimen, you can see the curl of water spilling from the jug

Isn't that coin (the one you posted earlier) the same reverse as Jochen's?  Or are we talking about another coin?

Steve
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2006, 05:51:23 pm »

   I think Pat and I corresponded privately about this question a couple of years ago, and I may have told her I had hit on the Spain idea while cataloguing the coin, before I had acquired a copy of AMNG, then was pleased to find Pick too had had the same idea after obtaining his work.
P. 194, note 3: "Friedlaender and von Sallet regard the figure as the personification of the region, Ge or Tellus."  Note 4:  "The type is also reminiscent of some of the personifications of provinces on the famous coins of Hadrian, for example HISPANIA."
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« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2006, 06:36:04 pm »

Steve, I posted the third picture, the male figure.  Interestingly, they both have the curl of water and the rabbit!
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« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2006, 06:53:41 pm »

Maybe I am getting very confused here, but I see no male figure - unless I am mistaken the coin you posted is from the same rev die as Jochen's?

Steve
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« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2006, 07:02:22 pm »

I'm sorry, Jochen's original post shows a female figure, note the hair.  Bacchus (I believe) posted another example from the same reverse die.  Then I posted the "normal" river god reverse (male) for comparison.  Thus began the "mountain nymph" variant discussion.
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« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2006, 07:29:11 pm »

Whitetd,
       I have to agree with Steve, it can't be a male on your coin, because it is from the same reverse die as the previous two coins of Jochen and Bacchus, and the same dies both sides as Jochen's!  It's just that on your specimen the hair bun and falling locks were not struck up.
Curtis
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« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2006, 07:35:47 pm »

OK, I see it now.  The wear on the coin, especially the hair, fooled me.  No wonder the other details were the same!
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