Numismatic and History Discussions > Greek Coins

field monograms on cappadocian king coins?

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Ron C2:
I've been looking though the various sources I have, primarily Simonetta's and Mørkholm's works on these coins, in the vain hopes of finding something to make sense of the field monograms on Cappadocian coinage.

After a lot of reading of old scanned copies of numismatic chronicle, all I've really been able to determine is:

Simonetta did the first serious work on cappadocian kingly coinage and his reference numbers are used today alongside HGC to reference these.  That said, there are obvious errors in Simonetta's works, largely argued and documented by Mørkholm, but never consolidated into a useful single reference work.  For example, Simonetta misattributes some Ariarathes V coins to Ariarathes IV, making for interesting attribution challenges today.  HGC 7 tried to wade through this, but does not differentiate much between monogram and exergue marks.

The only solid work that differentiates field monograms by different reference numbers is really Simonetta, but Simonetta didn't cite every monogram and includes remarks like "off flan", "illegible", etc. and it's clear he worked with limited samples, pre-internet.  He also had not defensible theories on the meanings of inner, outer, left and right field monograms. 

Simonetta's hypothesizing about the correlation between exergue letter, in order of the greek alphabet, corresponding to regnal year is accepted by many, but Mørkholm makes an almost unbreakable case that at least in some cases (for example,  :Greek_Gamma:  :Greek_Lambda: corresponding to regnal year 33) this cannot be the case based on incidence of coins in hoards and the period in which they would have had to mint that volume. 

So all that to say, is there a modern definitive work on monograms an exergues of these coins that I am missing?  any updated and good theories on their meanings, sequencing and use? 

And because every good thread needs a photo, here is an example of HGC 811 from my collection, in this case an Arirarathes V that Simonetta mis-attributed to Ariarathes IV (i.e. Simonetta 26).

A lovely coin.  Monograms are frustrating because they usually can be resolved in several different ways.  A wile ago a fellow besieged the Forum with his argument that monograms, rather than representing magistrates' names, indicated the number of coins or the amount of metal issued.  I do not think he convinced many.

Ron C2:
If anything, I was thinking they likely refer to a moneyer or officina official overseeing that batch's production.  But that is only a guess having read a number of theories.

I was also hoping more had been done on whether exergues actually correlate to regnal year, and an accepted explanation for when observed cases make this unlikely.

Portraits do age as the numbers get higher.

Ron C2:
Definitely true. However, there are some rulers where the numbers don't add up.  For example Ariarathes V regnal year 33 coins. There are something like 5 times more of them in circulation than any other regnal year. The output was likely not possible for a single year Mazaka.

I think the regnal year system is likely right, but not universally so, and the exceptions aren't well understood. Mørkholm wrote a paper on this for the numismatic chronicle which I generally accept as accurate.


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