The Age of Gallienus
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Denarii of Otho
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Maps of the Ancient World
Museum Collections Available Online
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Excellence Award
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
VERY soon after the publication of the Historia Numorum, now a quarter of a century ago, I began to realize that for my book, as indeed for all similar textbooks of progressive science, the old memento mori held good—
As so one as wee to bee begunne
Wee did beginne to bee undunne.
During all the five-and-twenty years which have elapsed since that time there has been no interval, pause, or standstill in the steadily increasing output of numismatic works, all necessitating changes of some sort in the text of the Historia.
Catalogues of public and private collections, and innumerable special articles in the periodicals devoted to classical numismatics and archaeology, have all had to be taken into account.
In Great Britain alone no fewer than seventeen volumes (x-xxvi) have been added to the still unfinished Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, while the Hunterian Collection at Glasgow has been scientifically arranged and described by Dr. G. Macdonald in three stately quartos (1899-1905).
Hill’s Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins (1899), his Coins of Sicily (1903), his Historical Greek Coins (1906), and MacDonald’s Coin Types (1905) are also well illustrated books now in general use, which I have frequently had to consult.
In France, within the same period, M. Babelon, the learned Conservateur du Cabinet des Médailles in the Bibliothèque Nationale, has brought out his Rois de Syrie (1890), his Perses Achémenides (1893), his Inventaire de la Collection Waddington (1897), and, in collaboration with M. Th. Reinach, the first two volumes of the Recueil general des monnaies grecques d’ Asie mineure (1904-8). He has, moreover, with exemplary courage, undertaken and already made good progress with his voluminous Traité des monnaies grecques et romaines (1901- ), a great work which he justly calls ‘une tache lourde et de longue haleine’ (a difficult and time consuming task).
In Germany the Beschreibung der antiken Münzen in the Berlin collection (three vols.), begun in 1888, has, since 1894, fallen into abeyance, but, on the other hand, the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences has adopted Mommsen’s ideal scheme of a general Corpus of all known Greek coins, a colossal undertaking, of which, since 1900, it has published three quarto volumes of the first instalment entitled Die antiken Münzen Nordgriechenlands, compiled by H. Gaebler, B. Pick, and K. Regling, under the general supervision of Dr. Imhoof-Blumer. To the numerous contributions to the study of Greek coins by this doyen among numismatists I am indebted more than I can adequately express, for without t his Griechische Münzen (1890) and his Kleinasiatische Münzen (1901-2) (to mention only his most important recent works) this new edition of the present work must inevitably have reproduced many an erroneous attribution or statement which he has enabled me to correct.
To Lehmann for his numerous metrological researches and to Haeberlin for his remarkable Systematik (1905), and for his Metrologische Grundlagen der ältesten Mittelitalischen Münzsysteme (1909), my acknowledgments are also due.
I must further express my obligations to M. Svoronos, the Keeper of the National Numismatic Museum at Athens, and the founder and indefatigable mainstay of the Journal international d'archéologie numismatique, not only for the patient labor which he best owed upon the Historia Numorum in making it available to his compatriots in a Greek dress and accompanied by an excellent atlas of collotype plates (1898), but for all the new information which I have been able to gather from his Numismatique de la Crete ancienne (1890), from his Νομισματα του κρατους τον Πτολεμαιον (1904-8), and from his many interesting papers in the Journal International.
For the rest, the accompanying select Bibliography will be sufficient to give the student some idea of the quantity of new material which I have had to refer to in the course of the preparation of the present volume.
It is possible that, among those who are familiar only in a general way with the old edition of this work, there may be some who, on comparing with it the present revised edition, will, at first sight, be inclined to think that some portions at any rate of what has been omitted were of greater interest than what has been added, notwithstanding the fact that the additions amount in all to no less than 160 pages. The working student and numismatist, however, will not fail to appreciate the practical value of the many inconspicuous additions, not only of new coins but of a great number of new references, chiefly to illustrated works, while he will hardly, if at all, feel the loss of a certain amount of matter, doubtless readable enough, but either superfluous or εξο του πραγματος, which has been sacrificed to avoid the necessity of splitting the book into two volumes, a course which would not only have detracted from its convenience as a manual, but would also have added not a little to its cost.
The publication, since 1887, of such a large number of very fully illustrated numismatic catalogues, independent works, and monographs, to which I have been able to add references, has rendered it possible to curtail much descriptive matter, while at the same time it has made it unnecessary to add to the number of cuts in the text, which latter in deed are intended to serve only as reminiscences of some of the more remarkable specimens.
Had so vast an accumulation of numismatic literature, both popular and scientific, been accessible in 1883, when I began the compilation of the original work (though even then it was very considerable), I doubt whether I should have had the courage to face the task single-handed, and most assuredly when, some years ago, a new edition was called for, I should have felt incapable of undertaking to complete it, especially after my retirement from the British Museum in 1906, had not some of my friends and late colleagues generously offered to come to my assistance in revising and bringing up to date each a section of the work with which he was most familiar.
To Mr. G. F. Hill I am indebted for the revision of the following sections: Spain, Gaul, Britain, Sicily, Lycia, Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Cilicia, Cyprus, Phoenicia, Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the coast of Africa.
Dr. George Maonald has rewritten the sections dealing with the coins of the Seleucidae, the Ptolemies, and Egypt under the Romans.
To Prof. E. J. Rapson also I am beholden for revising the descriptions of the Bactrian and Graeco-Indian coins, and for preparing a new Plate of the forms and values of the characters of the Kharoṣṭhī alphabet; and lastly, I have to thank Prof. R. S. Conway for making corrections in the Plate of the Italic alphabets.
IN few departments of historical research has more advance been made within the last half-century than in Greek Numismatics, and in none perhaps is it more difficult for the student to gain access to the papers, scattered up and down the pages of the publications of learned societies, which deal with the subject. The time is fast approaching when Greek Archaeology and Numismatics will take their due place, too long denied them, in the curriculum of study at our English and American Universities. It has therefore become incumbent upon the few, who in this and other countries hold the key of knowledge, to pause for an interval to take stock of their possessions, to count their gains and arrange and classify the mass of new material which has been accumulated in years of patient enquiry, to eliminate the ore from the dross, of which there is no small quantity, and to piece together for the benefit of younger students the scattered fragments of truth which their predecessors and contemporaries have been at the pains of collecting.
The last thorough retrospect of the science with which we are now called upon to deal was Eckhel’s monumental work Doctrina Numorum veterum, published at Vienna during the closing years of the last century, a marvelous compendium of wide research and profound erudition, a work which can never be altogether superseded, and which the Numismatist may always consult with advantage for the first principles of the science of his predilection. But since Eckhel’s time much has been accomplished; whole fields of study of which Eckhel was entirely ignorant have been opened up and explored, and hoards upon hoards of ancient coin s have been brought to light, such for instance as the electrum staters of Cyzicus, of which at the present time no fewer than 150 varieties are known, though not one single specimen had ever come under Eckhel's observation, a circumstance which led him to doubt the evidence of the ancient writers and seriously to dispute the fact that such coins had ever existed (Prolegomena, p. 42). Other series such as those of Elis and of Corinth, although known to Eckhel, were wrongly attributed by him, the former to Falerii in Etruria, the latter to Syracuse. Eckhel again had never seen a gold stater of Athens, and disbelieved in the genuineness of the few specimens which had been described by others. Hence the following statement, startling as it now appears in the light of our fuller knowledge, concerning the coinage of Cyzicus, Phocaea, Corinth, and Athens, was by Eckhel’s disciples accepted as the final decision of the master:—‘At ne horum quidem populorum vel unus repertus est aureus et Corinthiorum quidem nullum omnino habemus numum certum ex quocunque metallo antequam romanam coloniam recepissent.’
Passing from Greece to the East, we find Eckhel’s work all but useless to the student. The Lycian, the Cypriote, the Arian and Indian Pali alphabets and syllabaries were absolutely unknown in Eckhel's time. All these and many other series of coins, some now thoroughly, and others as yet but partially investigated, were, in the beginning of the present century still silent witnesses to the history of a dead past, lying undiscovered, though fortunately uninjured by the lapse of ages in the safe keeping of that mother-earth to whom they had been committed more than two thousand years ago.
I have still to mention two very important subjects concerning which the author of the Doctrina was very imperfectly acquainted: (i) The history of the development of Greek art, and (ii) Metrology. With regard to the first it is only indeed within quite recent years that archaeologists have been aware of any strict scientific basis of criticism for determining the exact age of works of ancient art. Archaeology as a science can hardly be said to have existed in the last century. There was little or nothing in the nature of things which precluded the possibility of assigning almost any uninscribed coin, within certain limits, to almost any age. All this is now changed, and we may approach the study of Greek Numismatics armed with at least a general knowledge of the laws which hold good in the growth, the development, and the decay of Greek art. Numismatics and Epigraphy have been of immense assistance in determining these fixed laws of criticism, and it is now a matter of no great difficulty for the experienced numismatist to place a coin within certain definite temporal and local limits often surprisingly narrow. It is thus possible with a tolerably complete series of the coins of anyone city at our disposal to arrange them in the order in which they were issued, and so to reconstruct the numismatic history of the town. How much light may be thrown upon the dark spaces of political history by a series of coins classified and duly arranged in order of date can only be fully appreciated by those who are familiar with the science of numismatics and accustomed to handle and study minutely the money of the ancients.
One of the distinctive features of the present work is an attempt to set forth clearly the chronological sequence of the various series, and thus to build up in outline the history of the ancient world as it existed from the seventh century before our era down to the closing years of the third century A.D., a space of nearly a thousand years. If in some districts this historical outline is of the barest and most. fragmentary kind, it will generally be found that this is due to the absence of numismatic evidence. Wherever coins are at hand in any quantities, there we have authentic documents on which to work. However rash therefore and tentative some of my chronological hypotheses may be thought to be by more cautious numismatists, I have preferred to submit such judgments as I may perhaps sometimes too hastily have formed to the criticism of all who are competent to give an opinion on these matters rather than to shield my ignorance under the convenient cloak of silence. I shall be only too glad if any errors into which I may have fallen may serve to call forth discussion and so to elicit the full truth.
Next, as regards Metrology, Eckhel was perfectly justified in refusing to discuss the subject in detail in his great work. Much, it is true, had been written about the weights of ancient coins before Eckhel’s time, but scarcely anything of solid and permanent value. ‘Fatendum est etiam,’ he says (Prolegomena, p. 34), ‘multa esse adhuc in hac causa dubia atque incerta, multa Cimmeriis adhuc noctibus involuta, quod satis ex eruditorum litibus atque dissidiis apparet.’ The true reason why it was not possible at that time to draw any inferences from the weights of Greek coins was also duly appreciated by Eckhel, who however does not seem to have anticipated that this then valid reason would not always apply. So long as it was impossible to assign definite dates to the various issues of cities of the ancient world, so long were all metrological theories vague and worthless; as he most justly remarks, ‘arduam tamen is sibi provinciam imponet qui volet monetae argenteae, v. g. Syracusanorum, pondere mirum differentis certam secum rationem reperire. Tempora, inquies, esse distinguenda, atque aliis aliud pondus adsignandum. At enim quis noverit haec apte tempora distinguere?’ Not Eckhel himself, much less the metrological writers of his own and the preceding century. Now however this is happily no longer the case, and the metrologists of the nineteenth century, Boeckh 1838, Queipo 1859, Mommsen 1865, Brandis 1866, Lenormant 1878, Bortolotti 1878, and Hultsch 1864 and 1882, have, in the light of their fuller knowledge of the exact dates of the coins on which their theories are based, placed the science of ancient numismatic metrology at last on a firm footing. It can no longer be maintained that this branch of our subject is shrouded in ‘Cimmerian darkness’; the night has at last broken and we are beginning to see well enough to feel our way. It is true that much still remains to be done, and all is not quite clear, and it is doubtless possible that before many years have passed those portions of the present work which deal with the origin and extension of the various systems of weight will need careful revision or may have to be entirely re-written. I am quite ready to admit that many of my opinions are hypothetical, and that some of my inferences may be based upon insufficient data. Further discoveries may confirm or modify my views on many points which are now obscure. My introductory chapters on metrology will perhaps be accepted as they are intended, merely as plausible theories. This portion of my Manual may therefore be passed over by those who look only for facts, of which I trust a sufficient abundance will be found in the body of the work.
One word more with regard to the scope and intention of the present Manual. In the first place it lays no claim to be a complete ‘Corpus' of Greek coins. The time has not yet arrived for such a colossal undertaking, nor will it, I fear, ever be possible for a single student, by his own unaided efforts, to compile such a work. When the great Catalogue of the Greek coins in the British Museum is completed, and when the French and German Museums have followed the example set by England and have published full catalogues of all their coins, then and not till then will the task be feasible, if competent scholars can be induced to undertake it. Meanwhile Mionnet’s voluminous work in fifteen volumes, Description de Médailles antiques grecques et romanies, Paris, 1807-1837, will, in spite of its many inaccuracies, continue to hold the field as, longo intervallo, the nearest approach to a complete if not to a scientific Corpus.
In the second place this Manual is not a general treatise or series of essays like Lenormant’s valuable and suggestive, though alas! unfinished, work, La Monnaie dans l'Antiquité, Paris, 1878-9, 3 vols.
My aim has been to produce a practical handbook in a single portable volume containing in a condensed form a sketch of the numismatic history of nearly every city, king, or dynast, known to have struck coins throughout the length and breadth of the ancient world. I do not attempt to provide a complete catalogue of all the known coins of any city, nor even to describe in minute detail the specimens which I have found space to mention. Either course would have involved the addition of at least a second volume, and the scope and object of the work would not have been the same. All that I have found it possible to accomplish in a Manual of moderate size has been to draw attention to the leading and most characteristic coin-types of each city and king, as far as possible in chronological order, taking care to distinguish the dialectic forms of the ethnic noun or adjective, to note the metrological standards in use in the various periods, the local myths, and the names and epithets of the deities chiefly revered in each locality, and to indicate remarkable palaeo-graphical peculiarities, in so far as this could be done without having special types cut for the purpose, which would have necessitated a large addition to the price of the volume. In the Imperial period I have endeavored to give the titles, though not the names, of all the local magistrates, and the names of the chief religious festivals and public games, and I have also been careful to note the local eras wherever the coins bear dates.
The vexed question of the best mode of spelling Greek names I have not attempted to solve. Any system carried out with undeviating consistency can hardly fail to lead to unsatisfactory or pedantic and sometimes even to absurd results. I have therefore preferred to be a little inconsistent, but have adhered as much as possible to the following rule. For all names of cities, kings, and dynasts, I have chosen the Latin spelling, as the Greek would have involved an alphabetical arrangement different from that which has been generally adopted in numismatic works and in the coin-cabinets of all the great museums of Europe. The names of the Greek divinities, heroes, and other mythological personages, on the other hand, I have kept approximately in their original Greek forms, as Zeus, Kybele, Odysseus, instead of Jupiter, Cybele, Ulysses, but I have never ventured upon such ugly and unnecessary transliterations as Odysseus or Akhilleus.
For the rest, I commit my book to the kindly judgment of numismatists, not without much misgiving and an inward consciousness of its many shortcomings and of the countless errors which in spite of all my strivings after accuracy of detail cannot fail to have crept into its pages.