814

Mesopotamia

Anthemusia, between the Euphrates and Edessa (Regling in Beitr. z. alt. Gesch. (Klio), i. 453). Imperial, Caracalla and Maximinus. Inscr., ΑΝΘЄΜΟΥCΙΩΝ or ΑΝΘЄΜΟΥCΙΑ. Type—Head of City turreted.

Carrhae, southeast of Edessa, celebrated for its cultus of the Moon, both in male and female form. Quasi-autonomous and Imperial bronze— M. Aurelius to Tranquillina. Inscr., ΑΥΡ. ΚΑΡΡΗΝΩΝ ΦΙΛΟΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ ΚΟΛΩΝΙΑ, variously arranged and abbreviated; also ΛΟΥΚΙΑ Α[ΥΡΗΛΙΑ] ΚΑΡΡΑ; ΘЄΙΩΝ ΑΥΡΗΛ. ΚΑΡΡΗΝΩΝ; ΚΟΛ. ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙC ΚΑΡΡΗΝΩΝ; ΚΑΡΡΑ ΚΟΛ. ΜΗΤ. ΜΕCCΟΦ; and rarely COL. CAR.; COL. AVR. METROPOL. ANTONINIANA CA.; COL. MET. ANTONINIANA AVR. ALEX.; etc. Types—Crescent and Star; Tyche seated with River-god swimming at her feet, or Bust of Tyche surmounted by a crescent, before which is the figure of a divinity (or Aquarius, see Mac|Donald, Hunter Cat. iii. p. 303) standing on a column. The colony took its name from L. Verus. Carrhae was probably also the mint of the denarii of M. Aurelius, Faustina Jun., L. Verus, and Lucilla, and of the small Ć of Commodus, reading Η ΝЄΙΚΗ ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ, ΥΠЄΡ ΝΙΚΗC ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ, ΥΠЄΡ ΝΙΚΗC ΤΩΝ ΚΥΡΙΩΝ CЄ(βαστων), ΥΠЄΡ ΝΙΚΗC ΤΩΝ CЄΒΑC., etc. These denarii were issued during the campaign of Verus against the Parthians (A.D. 163-166).

Edessa, in Osrhoëne, the chief city in Mesopotamia, was located near the source of a mountain stream (the Seirtus) which flows from Mount Masius southwards towards the Euphrates. It was built probably by Seleucus and named after the ancient Macedonian town Edessa or Aegae.

In the time of Antiochus IV (B.C. 175 - 164), it appears to have temporarily assumed the name of Antiocheia ad Callirhoën, and coin with his portrait struck there read ΑΝΤΙΟΧΕΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΕΠΙ ΚΑΛΛΙΡΟΗΙ.

Shortly afterward it passed into Parthian hands and in B.C. 132 the kingdom of Osrhoëne was founded. The regal coinage, however, does not begin until the reign of Vaël (A.D. 163-165), some of whose coins bear the head of his suzerain Volagases III. There are also Ć of Volagases III himself, struck at Edessa (B. M. C. Parthia, p. 236). For a study of the coins see Babelon, Mélanges, ii. pp. 209-296. The inscriptions are in Estranghelo.

In 166/7 the Romans, having defeated Volagases, placed Mannus VIII on the throne, and denarii were issued with his name, ΒΑCΙΛЄVC ΜΑΝΝΟC ΦΙΛΟΡΩΜΑΙΟC, and the heads of M. Aurelius and his family. Contemporary with these are bronze coins with the Estranghelo inscription Ma'nou malka, and the head of Mannus. Mannus’ successor, Abgarus VIII (A.D. 179-214), struck bronze coins reading Abgar malka, and others with the heads and names (in Greek) of himself and his son Mannus IX (ΜΑΝΝΟC ΠΑΙC); but the majority of his coins combine his head with that of Commodus, Severus, or Caracalla. The coins of Abgarus IX (214-216) with the head of Caracalla are barbarous.

Caracalla made Edessa a colony about A.D. 216; the colonial coins henceforth to the reign of Trajan Decius read ЄΔЄCCΑ or ЄΔЄCCΗΝΩΝ with various titles, such as Ο(πελλια) ΜΑ(κρινιανη), ΚΟΛ(ωνια), ΚΟΛW(νια) ΜΑΡ(κια) ΑΥΡ(ηλια) ΑΝΤ(ωνινιανη), ΜΗΤ(ροπλις) ΚΟ(λωνια), etc. Types—Tyche of the City seated with River-god, Skirtos, at her feet; bust of Tyche (ΤΥΧΗ); in front, sometimes figure of Aquarius(?) on a column. The colonial series was temporarily interrupted in the reign of Gordian III by the restoration of the kingdom under Abgarus X (A.D. 242-244); types—Bust or equestrian figure of Abgarus; Abgarus before Gordian; etc.

Nicephorim, near the Euphrates, about sixty miles south of Carrhae. Imperial coins of Gordian and Gallienus, described as reading ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΙΩΝ, are ascribed to this city on doubtful authority (Mionnet, Suppl., viii. p. 414).

Nisibis, the chief town of the district called Mygdonia. Under Antiochus IV it received the name of Antiocheia, and struck coins with his portrait, reading ΑΝΤΙΟΧΕΩΝ ΕΝ ΜΥΓΔΟΝΙΑΙ (B. M. C. Cat., Seleuc., p. 42). Imperial, Elagabalus to Trajan Decius. Inscr., ΚΟΛ. ΝЄCΙΒΙ., CЄΠ. ΚΟΛΩ. ΜΗΤ., ΙΟΥ. CΗΠ. ΚΟΛΩ. ΝЄCΙΒΙ., etc. The titles Septimina and Julia are respectively in honor of Sept. Severus, probably the founder of the colony, and of Philip Senior. The title Metropolis seems to have been conferred upon the colony by Severus Alexander. Types—Head of Tyche surmounted by constellation Aries, or Tyche seated surmounted by Aries, with River-god swimming at her feet. On the coins of Philip, this statue is rudely represented facing in a temple.

Rhesaena, a considerable town between Edessa and Nisibis. It was made a colony probably by Sept. Severus, the Legio III Pia being settled there. Imperial, Caracalla to Etruscus. Inscr., ΠΗCΑΙΝΗCΙWΝ or CΗΠ. ΚΟΛ. ΡΗCΑΙΝΗCΙWN L. III. P. Types—Constellation Sagittarius; Eagle sometimes in Temple, or as an adjunct combined with various types; Founder plowing; Figure sacrificing; etc. In the exergue is frequently a River-god swimming.

Seleuceia ad Tigrim, founded by Seleucus I at the point where the royal canal connected the Euphrates with the Tigris. Subsequently, the town rose to great commercial importance, even rivaling Alexandreia and Antioch. Under the rule of the Parthians, B.C. 250 to A.D. 226, it seems to have been the chief place of mintage of that Empire. This explains the almost entire absence of autonomous money. Of the few specimens which exist, some bear the dates 270-274 of the Seleucid era. (= B.C. 42-38). Inscr., ΣΕΛΗΥΚΕΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΤΩΙΤΙΓΡΕΙ. Types—Head of Tyche, rev. Tyche seated with River-god Tigris at her feet; Two figures of Tyche joining hands; etc. To the same mint may be assigned various coins without a city name, viz. (1) ΠΟΛΙC Α, Head of City, rev. Tyche seated with horned River-god at her feet; (2) Head of City, rev. no type, ΔΚΣ ΔΙΟΥ Α (= Dios of B.C. 89/88; Wroth, B. M. C., Parthia, p. xlvii n.); (3) Radiate head, rev. Head of City, CΚΤ ΓΟΡΠΙΑΙΟΥ or ΥΠЄΡΒЄΡЄΤΑΙΟΥ (= Gorpiaios or Hyperberetaios of A.D. 14/15); (4) Tyche, rev. Nike, and dates = 39-43 A.D., when the city was in revolt (Wroth, op. cit., p. xiv).

Singara, a colony on the river Mygdonius, southeast of Nisibis. Imperial, Sev. Alexander to Philip. Inscr., ΑΥΡ. CЄΠ. ΚΟΛ. CΙΝΓΑΡΑ (Aurelia Septimia Colonia Singara); ΜΗΤ. ΚΟ. ΑΥ. C. CЄ. CΙΝΓΑΡΑ (Metropolis Colonia Aurelia Septimis Severiana Singara); or, under Philip, ΙΟΥ. CЄΠ. ΚΟΛΩΝ. CΙΝΓΑΡΑ (Julia Septimia Colonia Singara). Types—Head of Tyche surmounted by constellation Sagittarius, or Tyche seated with River-god swimming at feet.

Zautha or Zaitha, on the Euphrates, a few miles below Carchemiah. Imperial, Trajan and Severus. Inscr., ΚΟΛWΝΙΑC ΖΑΥΘΗC or ΖΑΥ. ΘΗΑΤWΝ. Type—Dionysos seated.


Dictionary of Roman Coins



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MESOPOTAMIA, so called, because it lay between the Tigris and Euphrates. 

According to Spartianus, Mesopotamia was brought under the power of Rome as a province of the empire by Trajan; declared free of tribute by Hadrian, and afterwards relinquished to the Parthians by that Emperor; received into the empire again by Verus; lost by Commodus; recovered again by Septimius Severus; ceded to the Persians together with Armenia by Philip.

See on Sestertius of Trajan, the fine group composed of that Emperor standing, armed and sceptered, amidst, the prostrate personifications of the Armenian province, and of the two celebrated rivers above mentioned--with the inscription ARMENIA ET MESOPOTAMIA IN POTESTATEM P.R. REDACTAE. S.C.--See Armenia

MESS.  Messius.--A family Roman name, occupying the praenomen on coins of Trajan Decius, Herrennius Etruscus, and Hostillian


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Mesopotamia

Reprinted by permission from "Artifacts of Ancient Civilizations" by Alex G. Malloy

Tell Halaf, an important site on the Khabur River in Syria, is the name given for the period from the late 6th to 5th millennium B.C. The Halaf period and culture produced the finest, most beautiful pottery in ancient Mesopotamia. Many cities produced this fine Halaf-type pottery. It was this culture that moved into the Chalcolithic Age, from 4300-3100 B.C.

The Ubaid period is named for the site of Tell Al-Ubaid, just for miles northwest of Ur. It covers the period that produced the painted pottery of the deepest level of Ur. The Ubaid culture extended its influence far beyond its frontiers in Mesopotamia. The most interesting artifacts other than pottery are the terracotta elongated standing “mother-goddesses.”

The city or Uruk, modern Warka, marked the beginning of urban development. These unprecedented developments of art and architecture manifested themselves through many different kinds of technology and metallurgy. The unprecedented developments of art and architecture manifested themselves through many different kinds of technology and metallurgy. The temples and public buildings drew attention to the decorated facades of polychrome mosaics. During the Uruk period, the city of Kish produced the first pictographic tablets. The earliest collection of writing on clay tablets known as cuneiform script was found at Uruk. It is from that the transition was made from prehistoric to historic man. Stamp seals are also found at Uruk, as they were at Tepe Gawra in the Ubaid period, but now the cylinder seal and sealings also appear. Sculpture on a large scale came into its own. In the north, almost contemporary with Uruk, is the Gawra period.

The Early Bronze Age, from 3100-2100 B.C., starts in Mesopotamia with the Jemdet Nasr period, from 3100-2900 B.C. Wheel-made pottery was distinctive to the period, with painted geometric and naturalistic patterns. The cylinder seals are much more common than in the Uruk period. The designs, however, are more limited to simple coarse linear patterns. This was the result of the expanded popularity of the use of the seal by more of the populace. The appearance of bronze objects is the beginning of the Bronze Age. During this period, it is felt that a new people came into this area of Lower Mesopotamia. They are identified as the Sumerians. They dominated society up to the Early Dynastic period. The Sumerian literature tells of the goddess Inana. Accounts of creation are found in the epic of Marduk, and the flood in the epics of Atrahasis and Gilgamesh. A similar literary pattern is found in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis.

The Early Dynastic period, from 2900-2371, saw each city as a center, or kingdom. They were ruled by kings mentioned in the Sumerian king list. The typical city-state in this period had a population of 10,000-20,000 inhabitants. Kish, Uruk (Eanna), Ur, Awan, Hamazi, Lagash, Abab, Mari, and Akshak are among the cities. The first dynasty at Kish had no less that 23 kings.

Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the Akkadian dynasty, was the first great conqueror named in history. His conquests became legends of later Babylonians. He first established himself in Akkad, and then Sumer, after which he moved to the east and defeated Elam Amurru in the west, and Subartu in the north. He gained control of Mari, and an area extending as far as what is now Lebanon, and the Taurus Mountains in Turkey.  His son Naram-Sin conquered and destroyed Ebla, a city of 260,000 citizens, and the center of a kingdom that held Syria and Palestine in 2400-2250 B.C.

Art excelled during the Akkadian dynasty. A new, vigorous rendering of the anatomy is revealed in stelae, monuments in the round.

The Ur III dynasty of 2100-2006 B.C. is also known as the Neo-Sumerian period. This began with the Gotian invasion, which caused the collapse of the Akkadian dynasty. The invaders were quickly repulsed, and a new dynasty was established under King Ur-Nammu. The buildings and city were restored 1400 years later, and we can now see the grand design of Ur as excavated by Woolley. The magnificent ziggurat of Ur-Nammu measured 61 × 46 meters at the base. Other structures like the mausoleum and the temples were also built on a grand scale. During this period of over 140 years, five kings ruled over the vast empire. All were great builders. The authority of the state grew with a hierarchy of civil servants. The vast economic records have come to us in the form of cuneiform tablets. These tablets are available to the collector today.

By the turn of the 2nd millennium B.C., the center of power was shifting, Isin, Larsa, and Eshuna gained power, and several new dynasties arose. The Babylonian dynasty was established in 2004 B.C., and eleven rulers reigned in this great empire until 1595 B.C., a period of 409 years. This was known as the Old Babylonian period. During this period, the great ruler Hammurabi resigned for forty-three years, from 1792-1750 B.C. During his tenure, the Hammurabi code of laws was formed, touching commercial, social, and domestic life. He conquered many of the remaining cities of Mesopotamia.

It is during this Babylonian period that the Biblical figure Abraham appears, and leaves Ur and Haran on his journey with God.

Art continued to excel, with relief carvings and fine hard stone sculpture. The cylinder seals were of fine workmanship, but were static in composition with presentation scenes.

The Kassite period is a period of decline, after the Hittite raid on Babylon in 1595 B.C. By the mid-15th century B.C., the Kassites had gained control of Lower Mesopotamia. They had trade contact with Egypt, and later Assyria.

The early 1500s B.C. saw the Mintannians, who were Indo-Aryan, established a small empire by bringing together the states of Northern Mesopotamia. For 200 years, they had political influence on Egypt and the Hittites.

With the weakening of Mitannian influence and strength, Assyria began to rise as an independent power and state. Ashur-Oballit I (1365-1330 B.C.) changed the city of Ashur from a trade city to the capital of the Assyrian empire. Assyria was put into a recession after the region of Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244-1208 B.C.).  This continued for the most part until the 9th century B.C., when its power was unsurpassed. From the period of 200 years from then to the 7th century B.C., Assyria was by far the most dominant power in Western Asia. Under Esarhaddon (680-669 B.C.), this empire controlled Elam, Babylonia, Eastern Anatolia, Palestine, Syria, and even Egypt. The Assyrian national god was Ashur, often represented among wings, and sometimes as a symbol of a winged rosette. The carving of cylinder seals caused a new upsurge in interest. Some of the monumental sculptures created during this period include giant guardian figures of winged human-headed bulls and lions. This relief sculpture from the palace is amazing.

A revolt in Babylon resulted in the fall of Ashur and Nineveh in 612 B.C. After this, a new power emerged, the Chaldeans. With this shift in power began the Neo-Babylonian period. In 539 B.C., the Persian ruler Cyrus II, or the Great, defeated the Babylonians. The Achaemenid Empire became one of the largest of the ancient world. At its greatest point, the Achaemenid Empire contained Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Thrace, Iran, and parts of India.