Numismatic and History Discussions > History and Archeology

Anti-Huntingtonian themes

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Hello everyone,

I wanted to get your views on something somehow related to my post here: but broader in the collection theme potential.

I realize that one of the interest I would have with my collection is to tell a historical narrative that would provide insights that are not commonly known. I am describing it here as an 'anti-Huntingtonian' narrative, for lack of better words, that is, type of coins that would go against a 'clash of civilization' narrative, whether it is Western v. Orientalism, Christendom v. Muslim world, etc... Thus highlighting that it was more complex and that there were common influences, syncretism and exchanges between ancient civilization'

What I have in mind so far is for instance the non-European Roman emperors (e.g., Septimius Severus), the Greek Eastern influence (Seleucids/Greco Bactrian/Indo greek/Kushan...), the Aksum/Ptolemaic/Parthian/Sasanian coinage with greek influence, early Arab coinage...

Keen to hear if you have specific suggestions here of coinage that you believe are interesting in highlighting the mutual influence and cultural/religious exchange between ancient civilisations.

Curtis JJ:
It's an interesting topic, and if you collect ancient coins broadly (and/or medieval), I personally think you can see that theme all over the place. (There are, of course, many militaristic and conflict-oriented coins as well.)

I don't own many examples myself, but I find bilingual coinage fascinating -- one of the best illustrations of your theme. You find it a lot in Greco-Central Asian coinage. Such as coins with Karoshti and Greek legends on different sides. In the Holy Land and Mediterranean (esp. Sicily), there are lots of coins that combine Christian/Islamic symbols or and/or Latin/Arabic legends on the two sides of the same coins. You can find Islamic Kingdoms imitating Byzantine coins, and Christian Crusader Kingdoms imitating Islamic coins. In Spain, there are also Islamic coins; the Islamic influences persisted in Spanish culture (not sure how much in coins) after the Islamic Kingdoms of Spain were defeated.

I only have one example myself, but I find Islamic "figural" coinage very interesting, which adopts imagery not only from old Roman/Byzantine coinage, but even revives images from Seleukid Greeks coins over 1000 years old at that point. My one example is here in my gallery:

Very interesting, thanks for your detailed reply. I agree these Islamic coins with portraits are fascinating.

I think the 'clash of civilisations' is in part at least a modern artefact, though there obviously were periods in the past like the Crusades when comparable attitudes would have been common in Europe. You're right about the cross connections; the Middle East and Central Asia in particular were an absolute melting pot, with influences running on all directions.

Interesting idea.

I think there is a lot of scope in Islamic coinage.  Curtis already mentioned the figural coins.  There are also Islamic coins with crosses on them, Islamic copies of Byzantine coins, crusader copies of Islamic coins, etc.



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