Sunday, December 12, 2010

Numismatics at the 2011 APA/AIA

Once again there will be no shortage of numismatic topics presented at the next Joint Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (APA) and the Archaeological Institute of America on January 6-9, 2011 in San Antonio. A total of three panels will be devoted to numismatic research.

The Friends of Numismatics have organized an APA panel (session 12) on "Coinage and Art: Techniques and Production" that takes place on Friday, January 6 at 11:15AM. See the full list of APA panels and abstracts.

There are two AIA sessions. The first is an organized colloquium (session 4C) on "Production and Consumption Mechanics in Hellenistic and Classical-Period Coinage," which begins on Saturday, January 7 at 8:30AM. The second is an open session (6F) on Numismatics on the same day at 2:45 PM. See the AIA's preliminary program.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Somerset Hoard Declared Treasure

The discovery of a hoard containing around 52,500 Roman coins from Somerset has been widely covered in the media. The PAS blog has presented some initial findings ("Metal-Detectorist Finds Largest Pot of Roman Coins in Britain").

Today, BBC News reported that the Coroner has formerly declared the Somerset Hoard treasure. It is hoped that the enough money will be raised for the Museum of Somerset to acquire the hoard. Initial estimates suggest it may cost about £1 million.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

N&A Postings

I read in a post by David Gill (here) that this website has 49 subscribers by RSS feed. In spite of the decrease in the number of posts since last summer/fall, daily traffic remains steady.

In case readers did not already know, less frequent posting here is a consequence of my final push to complete the dissertation. I am submitting in early August. I still have many additional obligations to prepare for in the fall as soon as it is behind me. Nevertheless, I expect to give more attention to discussing numismatic topics here (e.g. research, resources, news, recent discoveries) in the fall. I am grateful to those who still frequent the website and hope to provide further content on a more regular basis in the fall. As always, suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Major Discovery in Peril

The discovery of the source of the Aqua Traiana, an aqueduct built by Trajan for the city of Rome, was announced earlier this year. The physical remains of the aqueduct's source had been unknown until recently, but what is believed to be abbreviated representations of its castellum survives on bronze coins of Trajan with the legend AQVA TRAIANA.

Unfortunately, efforts at preserving and studying this important site further are now being jeopardized.

The Telegraph reports:

In January father and son team Edward and Michael O'Neill discovered the headwaters of the aqueduct, which was built by the Emperor Trajan, hidden beneath a crumbling 13th century church north of Rome.

A sophisticated example of Roman hydraulic engineering, the aqueduct, known as the Aqua Traiana, was inaugurated in 109AD and carried fresh water 35 miles to the imperial capital.

But since the discovery was publicised, the archeologists claim that the farmer on whose land it stands has begun a crude excavation of the site in the hope of finding valuable Roman treasure.

They claim to have photographic evidence that the owner has burned vegetation around the entrance to the underground grotto, cut down mature fig trees which are holding the fragile structure together with their thick roots and started to dismantle sections of masonry.

"It's a complete tragedy," Edward O'Neill told the Daily Telegraph. "He's doing some kind of treasure hunt.

"What is needed is an expert process by archeologists to preserve the site." Repeated telephone calls to the landowner, Davide Piccioni, went unanswered yesterday.

In an attempt to stop the alleged damage to the site, the O'Neills and two American archeologists – Prof Katherine Rinne of Virginia University and Prof Rabun Taylor of the University of Texas at Austin – have sent a letter to Italian heritage authorities.

They have called for urgent intervention in order to prevent the landowner from further damaging the site, which they say has been "completely transformed" in the last six months.

They have also complained that the farmer has closed off access to the site since the grotto and spring were discovered five months ago.

The mayor of the local town, Lucia Dutto, said she too was concerned. "We have asked the superintendent of archaeology to carry out an immediate inspection of the site, so that further interference can be prevented. But until that happens, we can do nothing because it is private property."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gladiator Cemetery Found in Northern England?

From CNN:

Heads hacked off, a bite from a lion, tiger or bear, massive muscles on massive men -- all clues that an ancient cemetery uncovered in northern England is the final resting place of gladiators, scientists have announced after seven years of investigations.

The archeological dig has found "what may be the world's only well-preserved Roman gladiator cemetery," the York Archaeological Trust said.

Scientists have found 80 skeletons in the "unique" cemetery under the city of York, northern England, since 2003.

They announced their discoveries on Sunday, ahead of a documentary about the site due to air in Britain on June 14. This was one of two big archaeological developments, with Israeli scientists announcing the discovery of a huge cache of ancient religious objects.

They first thought the graveyard might contain the remains of criminals or political purges.

But that doesn't explain the teeth mark.

"One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark - probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear -- an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context, " said Kurt Hunter-Mann, the lead archeologist on the dig.

"Nothing like them has ever been identified before on a Roman skeleton," said Michael Wysocki, who examined the remains in the forensic anthropology laboratory at the University of Central Lancashire.

He said the bite marks suggest the remains were of someone who fought as a gladiator.

"It would seem highly unlikely that this individual was attacked by a tiger as he was walking home from the pub in York 2,000 years ago," he said.

One arm was bigger than the other in many remains, the scientists found -- a suggestion that the men were gladiators who trained from a young age with a weapon in one hand.

Other clues include healed and unhealed weapon injuries, possible hammer blows to the head, and burial with "grave goods" such joints of meat or pottery -- a sign of respect.

It's not certain that the men were gladiators, Hunter-Mann cautioned.

"The research is continuing and we must, therefore, keep an open mind," the archeologist said.

But "almost all the individuals are male, very robust and mostly above average height -- features which would also be consistent with a gladiator interpretation. Many also have muscle attachment marks on their arm bones suggesting severe muscle stress," he said.

They also appear to come from all over the Roman empire, which straddled the Mediterranean for hundreds of years, starting more than 2,000 years ago.

"These are internationally important discoveries. We don't have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world," Wysocki said.

The skeletons are between 1,600 and 1,900 years old.

The most impressive grave was that of a tall man aged between 18 and 23, buried, probably in a coffin, in a large oval grave about 1,700 years ago. He had been decapitated by several sword blows to the neck, the scientists said.

Buried with him were what appear to have been the remains of substantial joints of meat from at least four horses -- that left behind 424 horse bones -- possibly consumed at the funeral, plus some cow and pig remains.

Other graves also had joints of horse, sheep or chicken, possibly remains of funeral feasts, the archeologists speculated.

The site was first discovered when archeologists probed an area scheduled for a housing development in 2003.

Also on Monday, Israeli archeologists announced the discovery of a huge cache of religious objects about 3,500 years old -- older than the Bible itself, and nearly twice the age of the Roman skeletons.

"It would appear that the vessels were used in a pagan cult that worshipped idols. During this period it was customary that each city had a temple of its own where special cultic vessels were used," said archaeologists Uzi Ad and Edwin van den Brink.

They include a vessel that was used for burning incense, a sculpted face of a woman that was part of a cultic cup used in dedicating a libation to a god, goblets and bowls with high bases and tableware that was intended for eating and drinking, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Donate to the ANS Seminar Online

The ANS appeal to alumni for donations to the ANS summer seminar was the subject of the previous post. The ANS now has put a donations link on their seminar page that will make it easy to donate by credit/debit card and to earmark them automatically for the seminar.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Support Numismatics and the ANS Summer Seminar - An Appeal to ANS Seminar Alumni

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) annually hosts the Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar in Numismatics. This year, the ANS hopes to admit nine or ten students, but the endowment has not been so productive in light of the current economic situation. The ANS is appealing to ANS seminar alumni for support:

The ANS has received an excellent crop of applications for the 2010 Seminar, including some outstanding Islamicists (which we encouraged this year). We will have Islamic numismatic scholars Stefan Heidemann, Jere Bachrach, and Michael Bates lecturing and advising the students, and Romanist Berhard Woytek of Vienna as our Visiting Scholar. It promises to be an outstanding Seminar, and we hope to admit nine or ten students, but due to our endowment performance we find we will only be able to underwrite four stipends ($4000 each). A number of the applicants have indicated that they are willing to attend even without financial support, but we would like to offer at least one additional stipend, and are therefore appealing to this group for assistance. If you can make even a small contribution to help underwrite a student it would be very much appreciated.
(via the Friends of Numismatics list)

I urge anyone who has benefited from the ANS Graduate Seminar to contribute to this most worthy cause. The contact persons for the seminar are the co-directors, Peter van Alfen ( and Rick Witschonke (r

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 ANS Graduate Summer Seminar

The 57th Annual Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar at the American Numismatic Society will be held from June 7 through July 30, 2010. A stipend of $4,000 is awarded to successful applicants. The application deadline is Feb. 12, 2010.

Details here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"The Wicked Which"

Just for fun...

Writing is also a process of learning. I felt that I learned much about English grammar, word structure, and writing from studying Latin and Greek as an undergraduate. But I still have difficulties with my own writing style. These become more apparent to me as I write the remaining chapters of my dissertation and prepare articles for publication.

A few months ago, I showed a draft of the article that I was submitting to the Proceedings of the XIVth International Numismatic Congress to a colleague. He commented that I employ the "Archie Bunker use of 'which'." I did not know what this meant exactly; I never watched the show. That fountain of haphazardly reliable information, Wikipedia, tells me that Archie Bunker was known for peculiar "Archie-isms," and so I suspect that the comment may have referred to my simple misuse of the word.

Since then I have tried to be more cognizant of how I use "which" and "that." At the AIA/APA meetings last week, one of the books I picked up was M. Golden's Greek Sport and Social Status (Austin, 2007). I have recently started reading it and was encouraged to see the following in his preface (p. xii): "At University of Texas Press, Nancy Moore saved me from many errors and obscurities and helped me slay the Wicked Which (that, I know)." It is reassuring to know that senior and well-published scholars have also struggled with grammatical uses as seemingly basic as the use of "which."

Reading this prompted me to see what I could find on the internet about the use of "which." I quickly came across "Which versus that" on the "World Wide Words" website. It is written in an accessible way with many clear examples. It also explains that many people are confused about the proper usage because it has changed over the past century. Essentially, the hard and fast rules have changed and there is some disagreement even among grammarians.

In any case, I hope to be more vigilant when it comes to the "Wicked Which" that plagues my prose.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CFP - Coinage and Art: Technique and Production

Speakers delivered stimulating papers in the panel on "Memory in Greek and Roman Coins" at the APA/AIA Meeting in Anaheim last week.

The Friends of Numismatics have already announced the theme for next year on "Coinage and Art: Technique and Production" at the San Antonio meeting. The call for papers and submission details can be found here. Deadline for submissions is February 15, 2010. The 2011 APA/AIA Joint Annual Meeting will take place January 6-9, 2011.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Numismatic Events at the 2010 AIA/APA Meeting

The 111th Joint Annual Meeting of the AIA and APA will be held in Anaheim from January 6-9, 2010. As at last year's meetings, several events of numismatic interest will take place. Several individual papers will no doubt make use of numismatic evidence, and there will be a session devoted to "Memory in Greek and Roman Coins" on Friday, January 8.

The session, organized by W.E. Metcalf, will feature five speakers plus a discussant:
1. Dennis Trout, The University of Missouri - "Romulus and Remus in Theodoric's Rome and the Roma invicta Series." (abstract unavailable online)

2. Karen L. Acton, The University of Michigan - "Spes and Imperial Succession: Claudian and Vespasianic Narratives."

3. Clare Rowan, Macquarie University - "Mythical Memory: The 'Commemorative' Medallions of Antoninus Pius and the Temple of Venus and Rome."

4. Kyle Erikson, The University of Exeter - "Remembering One's Father: Paternal Images on Seleucid Coins." (abstract unavailable online)

5. Edward M. Zarrow, Westwood High School - "The Image and Memory of Julius Caesar in the Coinage of the Triumviral Period." (abstract unavailable online)

Discussant: Alain Gowing, The University of Washington

As at past meetings, there will be a Friends of Numismatics reception and also the Friends of Numismatics committee meeting. Details can be found in the respective AIA and APA programs.