Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Program: 'Art in the Round': New Approaches to Ancient Coin Iconography

The final program for the International Workshop 'Art in the Round': New Approaches to Ancient Coin Iconography, November 15-16, 2012 at the University of Tübingen, can now be circulated.

For more information and a printable program, please visit the conference website at

International Workshop
'Art in the Round': New Approaches to Ancient Coin Iconography
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Institut für Klassische Archäologie
15–16 November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

10.00 Welcome and opening remarks

10.30 Keynote Address: Tonio Hölscher (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), Historienbilder der römischen Republik: Das Repertoire der Münzen im Vergleich zu anderen Bildgattungen

Session I: Image and Theory
Chair: Fleur Kemmers (Goethe Universität Frankfurt)

11.30 Gunnar Dumke (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), Sekundäre Ikonographien. Prolegomena zu immobilisierten und imitierten griechischer Münztypen

12.00 Ragnar Hedlund (Uppsala University), ‘Whose image is this’ - again? Exploring new frameworks for the interpretation of ancient coin imagery.

12.30 Lunch

Session II: Coin Iconography in Numismatic and Material Contexts
Chair: Stefan Krmnicek (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

14.00 Clare Rowan (Goethe Universität Frankfurt), Iconography in colonial contexts: the provincial coinage of the late Republic

14.30 Frank Daubner (Universität Stuttgart), Statische Bilder, statische Identitäten? Zu Münzdarstellungen römischer Kolonien in Makedonien

15.00 Marta Barbato (Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza), Flavian typology: the evidence from the "sottosuolo urbano“ of Rome

15.30 Coffee and tea

16.00 Johannes Nollé (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut), Kleinasiatische Lokalprägungen und Inschriften

16.30 Ute Wartenberg-Kagan (American Numismatic Society), The Clazomenae hoard: an archaeological and iconographical puzzle

17.00 Lutz Ilisch (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen), Zur Metamorphose der
konstantinischen Victoria zum islamischen Schutzengel auf nordmesopotamischen Kupferdirham des 12. Jh.

18.30 Reception at the Museum of the University MUT | Ancient Cultures

Friday, 16 November 2012

Session III: Type Specific Studies and the Importance of Coin Iconography
Chair: Nathan T. Elkins (Baylor University)

09.30 Maria Cristina Molinari (Musei Capitolini Roma), The two Roman types with the two-faced god on 3rd century BC coinage

10.00 Kyle Erickson (The University of Wales Trinity Saint David), Zeus to Apollo and back again: shifts in Seleucid policy and iconography

10.30 Mary Jane Cuyler (University of Sidney), Portus Ostiensis on the Sestertii of Nero

11.00 Coffee and tea

11.30 Richard Abdy (The British Museum), Trophy of the hunt: the Hadrianic introduction of the lion skin on coin portraits

12.00 David Wigg-Wolf (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut), Constantine’s silver medallion from Ticinum (RIC 36): “one small step” or “a giant leap”?

12.30 Lunch

Session IV: Coins, Literature, and the Visual Arts
Chair: Klaus Sachs-Hombach (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

14.00 Christopher Simon (Yale University), Image and etymology in republican coinage

14.30 Bernd Steinbock (University of Western Ontario), Coin imagery and Latin
panegyrics as means of imperial communication

15.00 Coffee and tea

15.30 Patrick Monsieur (Ghent University), The relationship between Greek coins, gems and pottery stamps: an introduction through the archaeological evidence of Chios

16.00 Martin Beckmann (McMaster University), The relationship between numismatic portraits and marble busts: the problematic example of Faustina the Younger

16.30 Concluding remarks and farewell

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Synagogue Mosaic Revealed at Huqoq, Israel

This summer I was in Huqoq, Israel where I am a staff member at the excavation of the ancient synagogue and village (I identify, record, and study the coin finds).  This season I could only stay a week because of other obligations.  While on site, I spent some time supervising the sifting operation and instructing field school students how distinguish various sorts of artifacts such as pot sherds, cut stone, glass, etc. from simple rocks.  It was during this time that tiny tesserae (cube-shaped colored stones - the building blocks for mosaics) began to appear in great numbers in the sifter.  This was an exciting indication that we would soon reveal a high-quality mosaic floor as the smaller the tesserae are, the finer the mosaic is.  However, there were so many tesserae in the fill we also feared the mosaic floor may no longer be intact.

The mosaic floor discovered this summer relates to the Biblical story of Samson and a Hebrew inscription encourages readers to do good deeds.  There have been several news articles online and an official press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority.  Recently, CNN and MSNBC have also carried the news.

Here is an excerpt from the CNN article:

(CNN) -- Archaeologists are reveling in the discovery of an ancient synagogue in northern Israel, a "monumental" structure with a mosaic floor depicting the biblical figure of Samson and a Hebrew inscription.

The synagogue -- dating to the fourth and fifth centuries in both the Talmudic and late Roman periods -- is in Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in the country's Galilee region, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said.

Jodi Magness, a professor of early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the building was found in a recent excavation.

She called the find "exciting" and described the "very high quality of the artwork" in the mosaic, crafted with "tiny colored stone cubes." Only a few late Roman period synagogues contained mosaics with biblical scenes, said Magness, one of the leaders of a U.S., Israeli and Canadian team engaged in the digs.

"This discovery is significant," she said, calling the site "extraordinary" and "stunning."
Samson was known for enormous physical strength and his fighting prowess against the Philistines, the enemy of the Israelites.

His story, recounted in the Bible's Book of Judges, mentions Delilah, a Philistine woman who worked to undermine Samson. She cut his hair after she persuaded Samson to reveal that his long hair was the secret to this strength.

Magness said the mosaic scene shows Samson putting torches between the tails of foxes. That image, from a vignette in the Book of Judges, is a reference to Samson exacting revenge on the Philistines by sending out flame-laden foxes to burn their lands.

She said the only other images of Samson in synagogues are at one nearby place in the Galilee known as Wadi Hamam, where Samson is seen "smiting" the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Another is in what is now modern Turkey, depicting scenes from Samson's life.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ancient Coin Dealer Pleads Guilty to Attempted Possession of Stolen Coins

In January of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents seized three rare Greek coins from Arnold Peter Weiss, a partner of the ancient coin auction house Nomos AG, at the New York International Numismatic Convention.  Agents were acting upon information that he told an undercover informant.  In spite of the provenance information that had been supplied in a catalogue for an upcoming auction, he stated: "There's no paperwork. I know this is a fresh coin. This was dug up a few years ago."  The coins were alleged to have been looted in Italy.  The three coins that were seized were worth an estimated $3 million on the market.

Today it was announced that Weiss has plead guilty to trying to sell coins that he thought were stolen, although they turned out to be high quality forgeries.  The fact that they are forgeries was determined through the aid of a scanning electron microscope.  The three coins remain property of the District Attorney's Office and will be destroyed.

As part of his plea agreement, Weiss must complete 70 hours of community service, pay a $3,000 fine, and "must author an article warning of the risks of dealing in coins of unknown or looted provenance for publication in a coin collection publication."

Below is a short bibliography on the trade in looted and unprovenanced ancient coins:

Beckmann, M. 1998. "Numismatics and the Antiquities Trade," The Celator 12 (5) 25-28.

Butcher, K. and D. Gill. 1990. "Mischievous Pastime or Historical Science?" Antiquity 64 (245): 946-950.

Center for the Study of Democracy. 2007. Organized Crime in Bulgaria: Markets and Trends. Sofia: Center for the Study of Democracy. Online available: http://pdc.ceu.hu/archive/00003706/01/organized_crime_markets_and_trends.pdf.

Dietrich, R. 2002. "Cultural Property on the Move - Legally, Illegally," International Journal of Cultural Property 11: 294-303.

Elkins, N.T. 2008. "A Survey of the Material and Intellectual Consequence of Trading in Undocumented Ancient Coins," Frankfurter elektronische Rundschau zur Altertumskunde 7: 1-13. Online available: http://www.fera-journal.eu.

Elkins, N.T. 2009. "Treasure Hunting 101 in America's Classrooms," Journal of Field Archaeology34.4: 481-489  with editorial introduction by M. M. Kersel and C. Luke.

Elkins, N.T. 2012. "The Trade in Fresh Supplies of Ancient Coins: Scale, Organization, and Politics," in P.K. Lazrus and A.W. Barker (eds.), All the King's Horses: Essays on the Impact of Looting and the Illicit Antiquities Trade on Our Knowledge of the Past. Washington, D.C.: Society for American Archaeology Press. 91-107.

von Kaenel, H.-M. 1994. Die antike Numismatik und ihr Material. Schweizer Münzblätter 44 (173): 1-12.

von Kaenel, H.-M. 2009. "Coins in Context - A Personal Approach," in H.-M von Kaenel and F. Kemmers (eds.), Coins in Context 1: New Approaches for the Interpretation of Coin Finds. Mainz: von Zabern. Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike 23. 9-24 (pp. 22-23 discuss the coin trade specifically).

Walker, A.S. 1977. "The Coin Market Versus the Numismatist, Archaeologist, and Art Historian," Journal of Field Archaeology 4: 253-258.

Witschonke, R. 2009. "Guest Editorial," The Celator 23 (1): 4,22.

Consultation with many of the works will reveal further bibliography.

And, of course, there has also been the series of editorials discussing ethics and practice in the past several issues of the American Numismatic Magazine.

UPDATE:(7/5/2012) Contrary to  initial reports in the media, Safecorner is reporting that there is no court order for the destruction of the forgeries.