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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Variant OTD: Milesian lion with dotted truncation 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Variant OTD: Milesian lion with dotted truncation  (Read 21627 times)
rjohara
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« on: April 10, 2006, 06:07:16 pm »

In keeping with the recent theme of small silver, I've attached an obverse image of a Milesian twelfth stater I received today. These are familiar coins, and many people will have an example. But this is the first specimen I've ever seen with a dotted truncation on the lion protome. Has anyone else ever seen this on one of these coins? I'd be very curious to look at other examples, if any exist, to see whether they might have been struck from the same die. There is also a curved line which may be intended as the lion's tail -- also remarkable. Although there is a lot of stylistic variation from one coin to the next within this issue, I've never seen any examples with entirely new features like these. The die engraver must have been having a creative day!

There are some Archaic coins from Samos that have a dotted truncation on the featured bull (I think), but I don't believe I've seen any Milesian coin, of this denomination or any other, with such a feature.

RJO
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Lawrence Woolslayer
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2006, 11:31:48 pm »

Not seen this before. SNG von Aulock -; SNG Cop -; BMC Ionia -; SNG Kayhan -

For reverse, the books say star or rosette pattern. Do you think this actually represent the sun with rays for the star type?
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2006, 06:44:19 pm »

Many thanks for checking those references, Lawrence. I have SNG Copenhagen and Kayhan, but not the other two, so I'm glad to know this variant doesn't appear in them either.

Here's an example of a bull coin from Samos with a dotted truncation:

http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/ionia/samos/McClean_8404.jpg

It's not quite the same, but perhaps illustrates the same general idea. Maybe Pat Lawrence or another of our artistic-archaeologists can educate us about dotted truncations -- have they been around since the beginning of time, or do they represent a particular period or stylistic influence?

With respect to the rosette/sun/star on the reverse of these common coins, I'm not sure anyone is certain what it represents. My conjecture has always been that it is a stylized sun, and so alludes to Apollo, the patron deity of Miletus. Thanks to Lars' translation of Pfeiler's 1966 paper on Milesian coinage, I've since discovered that Pfeiler suggested this also. (I understand that Deppert-Lippitz has since disagreed, but again alas, my ignorance of German makes it hard for me to follow her brief argument.) In the later coinage of Miletus, the reverse is commonly a standing lion looking back at a "star" (which is how it's almost always described). I think this "star" is the same sun/star that appears on the common twelfth staters, but that's just conjecture.
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2006, 08:57:13 pm »

I think I'll reply in two postings.  First: The inspiration for the floral (vel sim.) reverses at Miletus and wherever else they occur is the same as for the lion types that were borrowed.  Mesopotamia, meaning Assyria, and all the places where 'the Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold', such as North Syria (part of which is in Turkey today) and Phoenicia, however defined, and Urartu, to most of which most Armenians lay claim.  So, using Modify for two more pictures, I'll post a map, a stone representation of a rug (from Nimrud), a queen's bracelet or armlet from Nmrud, a wall-painting from Nimrud, and, from Nineveh, two centuries later (Ashurbanipal) one of the famous hunting reliefs (just look at him, and compare his bracelet with the queen's--and you thought Assyrian art was monochrome?).  On the evidence of lots of different kinds of art objects, art historians think that the Greeks got the lion types and floral ornaments first from North Syria (consider the early date of their trading post at Al-Mina) from the mixed Aramaean and sub-Hittite (Luvian) peoples there and, beginning in the 7th century, also from the center, that is, from Assyria itself.
I remember discussing the lions in an earlier thread.
As for Helios (certainly on Rhodes, of course) and Apollo (certainly at Miletos, famously and early), they were never actually identified, and, for that matter, Sol's cult was never really that of Helios, anyway, even nearly a millennium later.  Whatever Late Imperial cult, as under Aurelian, did with them is remote, a world away, from the Milesian reverse, which innocently makes use of a pattern such as 'Geometric' art had never afforded them.  Be assured that they had laid hands on some rugs, and silver bowls, and embroideries even before such things may have been monetized!  This is why art historians, quite innocently and without a hint of political 'incorectness' say that most Early Archaic, 7th century Greek art is Orientalizing.
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2006, 09:07:33 pm »

Actually, there are five images, and three of them were a bit over the limit, so I posted two and stopped to work on the others.  Pat L.
Unable to get the wall painting down to a loadable size, here is a detail of a wristband on a winged 'genius' carrying a water bucket, I assume lined with bitumen?
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2006, 09:29:42 pm »

As for the beading, it too appears in different forms in different media.  I was surprised to see it on the two coins, but craftsmen surely would have been familiar with it.  In decorative metal work it is rows of repoussé dots for borders or even for hair, wherever it looks nice.  Syrian metalwork had it, and the Greeks had some of that (some was dedicated at Olympia).  In ivory it was rows of punched or painstakingly executed raised dots; the Syrian and Phoenician ivories from Nimrud have it, and the Greeks had some of those, too.  In vase-painting, it shows up as rows of white dots; for a while they went crazy with these.  And here it is on a couple of coins.  If it signifies anything at all, it is that a couple of die cutters were obscurely bothered by a termination where none existed in nature, and they marked it in a way emphatically unnaturalistic.  If you want some pictures, I can find some.
Pat L.
Two round aryballoi from the Heraion at Delos, published by Charles Dugas, Délos X (1928), a most exemplary publication.  These Corinthian vases, the larger one not later than c. 600 BC, the smaller one (harder to date, because more perfunctory) about the same time.  The lion on the larger one shows both the adoption of the Assyrian type of lion and the use of white dots (a translation, as Humfry Payne said in his great book Necrocorinthia (1931), from punch work into paint}.  The pattern on the small one (and there are much, much finer examples) exemplifying the use of the Assyrian 'rug' motifs by Greek artisans, eager as magpies.
Pat L.
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2006, 02:47:27 pm »

1. Is this Miletos? The style and the surfaces look so... well, different. Does it have the usual reverse?

2. The dotted truncation would not have struck me, but there seem to be some kind of - er - letters (I can't read them) to the right, which looks even more unusual to me.

Very interesting indeed!

Rupert
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2006, 03:39:26 pm »

Yes, it has the usual reverse. I'll try to attach a picture here (these are the dealer's photos; I haven't taken my own yet). The surfaces are very bright -- it looks to me as though it has been harshly cleaned. The reverse seems somewhat flattened, as though it had been hit with a hammer. (If anyone thinks there's something wrong with the coin, feel free to speak up; I'm no expert at detecting fakes. I have no reason to believe there's anything wrong with this one; it was originally offered by CNG a year ago as part of a lot, and I watched for it until it appeared recently in another online auction.)

When I first saw the coin, I also thought there was a letter behind the truncation; the dealer described it as the lion's tail (either would be unprecedented). Now that I have the coin in hand, I can see the mark as a tail, with the furry knob on the end that lion tails have; it's almost drawn in perspective, receding into the distance. Again, I'm quite open to other interpretations. It is a very unusual specimen, that's for sure.

I found a better illustration of the Samian bull with dotted truncation, and have attached it here from CoinArchives.com. This is a much later, much larger, and much more expensive coin, but the dotted truncation is similar. It's interesting to note that these Samian coins also feature some sort of device, in this case an olive branch, right behind the dotted truncation; this does raise the question again of what the curl on the Milesian specimen might be.

(Samos is just off the coast from Miletus. I've been experimenting with Google maps a bit. Here's an experimental link to a satellite photo of the Miletus region. A corner of Samos appears in the upper left; the NE-to-SW light-colored swath is the alluvial plain of the Maeander River, with the location of Miletus just below the center of the map, a darker green patch in the light surroundings, now several miles inland. The dramatic and mountainous Mykale Peninsula, site of the Panionium, points westward toward Samos. These few square miles have been called the birthplace of the modern world.)

RJO
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2006, 04:25:21 pm »

Wow, Pat. That is wonderful information -- thank you! I'm going to have to print this thread and add it to my permanent collection file.

With respect to the dotted truncation / beaded border: I feel sure I have seen somewhere an illustration of a ceremonial bull wearing an actual ornamental collar -- I thought it was in Barron's "The Silver Coins of Samos" but a quick check doesn't reveal it. If one wanted to find actual (material) precedents for a dotted truncation, such a collar could be cited; but of course the artist's imagination may be the only thing needed, not a material precedent. And further, the dotted truncation of a *protome* would probably not have any precedent in life, unless they put belly belts around their lions and bulls. (It's also interesting that in Medieval heraldry, you'll often see lions with crowns around their necks [not on their heads], and if drawn "erased" they would appear to be heads issuing out of crowns.)

With respect to the sun/star/flower reverses of these Milesian coins (and I'm departing from the "Coin of the Day" theme certainly; if one of the local gods wishes to move this thread into the Greek forum that's fine): The rug design from Nimrud is strikingly like the Milesian reverse. I suspect the design is not so complex that it might not turn up independently in a number of locations (as swastikas do). The reverse on the common twelfth staters is fairly regularized, but there are some earlier issues where the design doesn't seem to have settled. I'll try to post several here in what I believe is rough chronological order.

First two: the quincunx reverses of early Milesian electrum and silver (maybe 575-500BC?)
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2006, 04:30:31 pm »

Next: the lattice and dotted reverses of the comparatively scarce "lion mask" series (maybe 550BC?; no one is really sure). Note how the center of the first one is somewhat like the previous quincunx.
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2006, 04:35:56 pm »

Next: the apparently transitional period for the reverses, when the later "sun" design is being stabilized. The first is from the early "lion mask" group, but with a variant reverse of sun/star within dotted border; the second looks like the familiar twelfth staters, but actually belongs with the lion mask group, sharing with them an unusual metrology (it's not a twelfth).
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2006, 04:48:02 pm »

The final two reverses: first, a familiar twelfth stater with sun/star, in this case one of the varieties that has been said to have "M" carved into the design in the upper left.

Second: One of the imitative coins of the Carian satrap Hecatomnus, circa 380BC, with EKA on the lion's snout as a differencing mark. On some other Carian reverses, lettering appears between the rays of the sun. These are usually said to have been minted at Miletus, but that's largely conjecture based on the design; they may well have been minted in Caria (just a few miles south).

This is all *much* more than anyone here wanted to know about obscure Milesian reverse designs!  laugh
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2006, 05:37:09 pm »

Well, since I'm on a roll, I'll round it out with two more to complete the history of this sun/star device. (Aren't you glad you asked?)

First reverse: the early 4th century bronze of Miletus, roughly contemporary with the Carian silver above, and with a "flow"-type sun (not sure how to describe it; the same rounded, cup-shaped parts also occur in many silver varieties). These bronzes are the first group to show a standing regardant lion. In some varieties, lettering appears between the rays of the sun, as in the earlier Carian silver imitatives. Note that the obverse lion is looking back at letters, not a sun; in some varieties he's looking back at the city's MI monogram, but never a sun in these bronzes (the sun is still on the reverse).

Second reverse: a representative of the first group of Apollo/lion silver of Miletus, circa 330BC. As proposed above, the reverse sun is now shrunken and moved into the upper field as the formerly obverse lion is shifted to the reverse. These small suns almost always have eight rays, just as the earlier full-sized reverse suns typically have eight rays.

I've always wondered if this should be read as follows: lion standing west, looking back to the rising sun of the east ("Orient"="Anatolia"="land of the sunrise").

[Edit: I had two of the pictures out of order; I think I've fixed them now.]
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2006, 05:52:34 pm »

Yes, I'm glad I asked.  This is the only way to jump into studying these.  Your web site is wonderful.  The only ones I have are the lion regardant with the Apollo by Kanachos, Hellenistic bronze.  Pat L.
Now I'll go get Humfry Payne's original line drawings that will justify what I said about the Assyrian 'rug'.  The pointed things derive from the pine cones, which were used as aspergilia, sprinklers, to water trees from those ritual buckets.
As you see from Payne's still basically instructive figures, the one at upper left on p. 147 is from that stone-carved rug in the Br. Mus. that I posted; the others are a succession from the small Corinthian perfume bottles, little globular ones the size of a mandarin orange, like the small one from Delos, but better.
The figures from p. 68 illustrate the difference between 'Hittite' lions, which we'd now call Luvian or sub-Hittite (remember that when Necrocorinthia was published, in 1931, Boghazköy was only beginning to be published), and Assyrian type lions.  The one at lower r. is the same one as I posted in a photo yesterday, from the large round aryballos in Delos.  The first Assyrian-type lions at Corinth are at least a generation earlier, on the Chigi Olpe in the Villa Giulia, which is Late Protocorinthian, about 635 BCE; that is still within the lifetime of Ashurbanipal.  By the time of the one from Delos, shortly before 600 BCE, the Corinthian artists have, as usual, done just what they want to do with what they have borrowed from the Assyrians.
The reason I posted things from the Delos Heraion, rather than from tombs, is that there, on that little island good for nothing but sanctuaries, really, they could be seen, at least for a time, as tomb offerings never can be, and because Delos is a panhellenic sort of place.
Pat L.
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2006, 06:12:56 pm »

The only ones I have are the lion regardant with the Apollo by Kanachos, Hellenistic bronze.

Yes indeed, that's the final "Greek" appearance of the Milesian lion, and now he's so tired he's lying down instead of standing, but still has head reverted looking back at a sun/star. (The reclining lion with head reverted is actually the *first* style of all, appearing, with no sun/star, on the 6th century electrum, but disappearing soon after.)

I only have two poor examples of this late bronze type. Kinns has shown there are two groups which were in fact minted at widely separated intervals: the first group with a magistrate in ex., about 200BC, and the second with MILESION in ex., about 50BC.

Attached first: a poor specimen of the second late bronze group with recumbent lion.

Attached second: coming full circle, one of the earliest Milesian electrum staters, circa 600BC, featuring recumbent lion with head reverted. No sun, but note the reverse quincunx (right-most punch) that links it to the first reverses I posted above. (This is a WildWinds specimen, definitely not one of my own; if anyone feels like getting me a present, though...)

The lion is almost 600 years old by the time we get to the end of the series. No wonder he's lying down. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2006, 07:06:05 pm »

Just one more: at least a century earlier than the coin with which you began, which I guess isn't much before 500 BCE, judging from the lion's head.
This is the breathtaking, 2 1/2-inch-high lion hunt from the main frieze of the Chigi Olpe, the earliest truly Assyrian lion that I know.  On the upper frieze is, famously, the first picture of a Greek phalanx, unmistakably.  Can you work the formation of the phalanx into the history of monetization?  Pat
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2006, 07:44:50 pm »

Oh my!  Though I do not have the expertise to contribute to this discussion, I LOVE it!  Most of these images and their interpretations belong to the realm of specialists, thank you very much for bringing this material to our attention.
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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2006, 09:23:46 pm »

And yet they do have to do with early coinage, and with Miletos, too.  The study of coins has made me put together all over again the picture of early Greece that has been my lifelong specialization and thus to see everything I was taught 50 years ago and everything I published, or studied with a view to publication beginning about about 40 years ago, in a wholly new light.  That is why occasionally I like to bring some bits of it into the study of coins.  Pat L.
We are dealing with the brilliant youth of the civilization that is the one we understand: it is not just Disney studios that sees the Lion King in all his moods that other mammals share with us.  Disney Studios and everything that lies in between come from what this lion from Miletos embodies: seeing big cats not as emblematic but as somehow very like humans.  I have seen small children come up to this lion and talk to it.  Greek art stands on the shoulders of giants, Egypt and Mesopotamia, having just learned to handle large stone from Egypt, but it makes a lion radically new and different from its predecessors (not that they aren't already wonderful).  This lion, incidentally, is one of a pair, but of the other only a haunch is preserved.  The Miletos lion is unique within Greek art just as it is among all its ancestors.  Not that it is detailed in its naturalism; the sculptor concentrated on the essence of it.  I hope you can see it, all reduced and compressed.
P.S. He is the size of the biggest ones in the zoo.
P.P.S: on the electrum stater, is that in the lefthand punch Apollo Didymaios's stag that, in Kanachos's statue, stands on his outstretched hand?
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2006, 08:41:53 am »

When I first saw the coin, I also thought there was a letter behind the truncation; the dealer described it as the lion's tail (either would be unprecedented). Now that I have the coin in hand, I can see the mark as a tail, with the furry knob on the end that lion tails have; it's almost drawn in perspective, receding into the distance. Again, I'm quite open to other interpretations. It is a very unusual specimen, that's for sure.

Just another stupid question about the coin which started this thread.
A dotted truncation line is, first of all, a truncation line. This means, the hind part of the lion has been cut off and is GONE. Then how does the lion's tail get on the coin Huh ?

Rupert
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2006, 11:17:30 am »

As the emphasizied (beaded) truncation is a Sign that this is a protome, so, I think, the fragment of a tail is a Sign that this truncated regardant recumbant lion is of the Type of the early electrum stater, cf. Sear GCV II, no. 3439.  Not that I can find a lot of them.  It would 'say': This is a protome of the lion with its tail double-recurving over its backPat L.
P.S. When the lion is standing, in the walking pose, the double-curved tail is behind, not above, its back: above, reply #12.
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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2006, 12:20:01 pm »

The stag protome on the 4th century Ephesian tetradrachms sometimes also appears with the dotted truncation; attached is a specimen from coinarchives - there are more of those. Ephesos would fit perfectly the geographical patterns for this phenomenon created above; maybe it is an Ionic feature.
Frank
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« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2006, 04:09:51 pm »

So I looked on the Ionia plate, 179, in Kraay & Hirmer's greeat picture book (Franke & Hirmer might have different numbers, but the photos are the same).
Ionia, all beaded at truncation:
no. 594 Griffin 'protomePhokaia ex von Aulock SNG 2117  Electrum hekte
no. 597 Bull-river protome  Phokaia Hess/Leu 4. r. q963, 70  Electrum hekte
no. 600 (this is the spectacular Ephesos tetradrachm that Frank posted) stag protome  Paris.
Lycia, beaded at truncation:
no. 655 Lion protome  Vekhssere, c. 400-380  Hess/Leu 12.4.1962, 312.  Stater 
There are instances where a female neck has a beaded truncation, but that should almost certainly be read as a necklace, and therefore not the same thing.
So I daresay it really is right, what which Phokaia, Ephesos, and Samos, to call it an Ionian feature.
How I wish I were rich; I'd collect early Phokaia!
Pat L.
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« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2006, 11:01:44 pm »

P.P.S: on the electrum stater, is that in the lefthand punch Apollo Didymaios's stag that, in Kanachos's statue, stands on his outstretched hand?

You know, that's the first time I've seen someone suggest that. It is certainly plausible. The stag as a coin mark is most often associated with Ephesus, where later it appears almost as invariantly as the bee. I had wondered whether these early Milesian electrum staters were in a sense being labeled "good at Ephesus, too" by having the stag punch on the reverse, but it may be more reasonable to think of it as Apollo's stag from Didyma.

The central oblong punch on the electrum lions usually has a running fox within it. Any ideas on that reference? I've seen a passing mention of a Lydian fox deity, but don't know any further details.

The other small punch is usually the quincunx, shown above in various forms. I don't know of any special meaning of that design either (and perhaps we shouldn't read too much into it). But there is also another geometric figure that appears in place of the quincunx: a sort-of crossed half-square. That might suggest that these are not just arbitrary punches, but stood for or indicated something.
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2006, 12:07:57 am »

The Apollo that is Ephesian Artemis's twin, the western Asia Minor Apollo, a master of wild things just as she is mistress of wild things, has the stag, and so has she.  Miletos's early statue shows him with it.  It is very old, existing also in Hittite art, for a young god to have a stag.  The running fox I hadn't noticed, and it could be also a running dog; in Protocorinthian vase-painting running dogs, sometimes chasing running foxes, are very popular in minor friezes or, by themselves, on very small vases.  I don't know where they come from, exactly.  I think we need to be careful not to think so much of Symbols as of Badges, of Episemata, if I may make such a distinction.  It's a bit like contrasting Homeric simile with medieval allegory; you have to get pretty deep into late antiquity before you get everything symbolic and allegorical, I think.  Greek coins have badges.  Having mentioned the running dogs, here they are from the tiny lower frieze on the Chigi Olpe, again, and to show them I need to use my digital snapshots from one of the very earliest color reproductions, in Antike Denkmäler.  The hunt is only about an inch high; lesser vases have coursing hounds without the narrative element.  And see the vixen heading for cover.  Pat L.
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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2009, 05:04:53 pm »

Since it has a dotted truncation, it has been suggested that I post where experts will see it the tiny coin I posted yesterday only for a photographic question.  To my shame, I have forgotten, if I ever knew, the attribution, or whom I bought it from, or even whether it is a hemiobol or some fraction of a stater.
The 'dotted truncation' suggests Ionia or its borders (see above).  All I know about it is: As near as I could measure, it is just over 9mm and weighs 0.51g (I don't have digital calipers).
And it is rather difficult to photograph.
Pat L.
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