Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.05.10

Oliver Hoover, Andrew Meadows, Ute Wartenberg (ed.), Coin Hoards, Volume X: Greek Hoards.   New York:  American Numismatic Society, 2010.  Pp. viii, 281; 67 p. of plates.  ISBN 9780897223157.  $80.00.  



Reviewed by Lee L. Brice, Western Illinois University (ll-brice@wiu.edu)

It has been nearly a decade since the last volume of Coin Hoards. The tenth volume continues the mission of previous volumes in providing an inventory of new coin hoards and updates on previously published hoards, with references where available. The inventory alone would make this work valuable, but it is the accompanying articles that set this volume apart from the series. These ten discussions focus on new hoards of Seleucid coins or in one case an update on an older hoard.

The first seventy pages of the volume include the inventory of 471 hoards of Greek coins organized regionally into five groups: Balkans and Aegean, Asia Minor and Levant, the West, Egypt and Africa, and Spain. The inventory includes both new hoards and some previously catalogued hoards for which there is new literature or a new inventory or both. The inventories for previously known hoards all include their IGCH or CH number to facilitate research.1 The references to new literature are clear and complete.

The rest of the volume is made up of ten articles focusing on Seleucid hoards. The editors note that the volume “can be seen, in part at least, as supplement to the recently published corpus of Seleucid coinage, Seleucid Coins...” (vii).2 Each article includes a discussion of the hoard, a detailed catalogue of the contents, and high quality plates at the end of the volume. In most of the articles, authors speculate on the circumstances in which each hoard was deposited. While such conclusions are intriguing, tied as they usually are to known political or military events, because most of these assemblages are hoards that appeared on the market with no fixed provenance, such conclusions must, in the words of the authors, remain tentative. The articles are clear and informative and could stand alone, but combined they provide a useful resource, not only to scholars of Seleucid numismatics but to anyone seeking more detailed information on Hellenistic coinage and hoards, as well as potential data for examining the economic history of the Hellenistic Eastern Mediterranean.

The first article, by B. R. Nelson, is an examination of the enormous (5000+) ‘Seleucus I’ hoard that appeared on the market in 2005. The author provides a catalogue and analysis of the hoard contents, focusing primarily on the various regional issues Macedon, Thessaly and Greece, Asia Minor, Cyprus and the Levant, and the East and Egypt (the Seleucid issues that make up the bulk of the hoard have already been published and discussed in Seleucid Coins). The most important contribution of the hoard is the amount of information it adds to our knowledge of the royal coinages minted in the early third century. It is difficult to draw any conclusions about where the hoard was deposited, but the author dates it to c. 281.

Richard Miller tackles the 2002 East Arachosia hoard. This hoard was sold, and was recorded and published previously in Seleucid Coins. The short discussion in this chapter is intended to augment the previous publication. This hoard is important because it is the only Seleucid period hoard found in this area.

The 2002 Achaeus hoard, dated to the late third or early second century BCE, is the topic of the third article by Andrew Meadows and Catharine Lorber. Like so many of the hoards discussed in this volume the 87 coins were recorded before being distributed for sale. The authors acknowledge that there is no way to be certain the entire hoard was recorded so any conclusions remain tentative. In addition to Seleucid coins, issues from Greece, Macedonia, NW Asia Minor and Pamphylia are present.

Oliver Hoover’s discussion of the large “Pamphylia or Cilicia Hoard” of 2000 provides a short discussion of the 745 coins in this hoard and their implications for understanding Anatolian and Phoenician regional mints in the late third and early second centuries BCE. This hoard provides evidence for dating and unique types, but is perhaps less significant for Seleucid studies than some of the other hoards included in these articles. Regardless, taken together with the other hoards it does much to fill gaps in the state of our knowledge. There is a full catalogue and numerous images.

Catharine Lorber’s discussion of the “Demetrius I” Hoard, which was sold but photographed in its entirety in 2003, is valuable for its thorough treatment and discussion. This hoard (532 coins), buried in c. 151 BCE includes gold issues as well as numerous drachms. It is significant not just for chronology but for the light it sheds on Seleucid period mints including New Style Athenian issues, Temnus Alexanders, and Wreathed Tetradrachms minted in Western Asia Minor, and the economy of the eastern Mediterranean. The author does a particularly good job of linking this chapter to some of the other hoards discussed in the same volume, thereby providing readers with a better understanding of the larger implications of these hoards.

The sixth article, by Andrew Meadows and Arthur Houghton, expands on the important Gaziantep Hoard of 1994. Meadows and Houghton open with a discussion of the hoard’s modern history in multiple lots and then move on to its burial in c. 143 BCE. Because of its size (1960 coins) the hoard is extremely important for the number of new issues it contains including (mostly) civic coins, Alexanders, and Seleucids. As with the previous chapter, the authors compare the Gaziantep hoard with other hoards and show how it has changed the dating and how it ties in with them and the Demetrius I hoard. Overall, it is a useful discussion that leaves the reader wanting more analysis and conclusions tying all these hoards and the broader economic network together. There is an addendum to the chapter cataloguing ten additional coins seen in 2009 from the same region as the hoard.

There follows a number of short articles, most of which do not include plates. Meadows contributed a two-page catalogue of the Beth Ummar 2001 hoard, Hoover discusses the Northern Israel hoard of 2002 of bronze coins from c. 120 BCE, and Catharine Lorber discusses the 2002 hoard of 10 coins from “Seleucia on the Calycadnus” hoard.

The final article of the book is Nicholas Wright’s treatment of a hoard of 244 Seleucid bronze coins without context. Wright starts with a discussion of the hoard’s history and significance, and after a detailed catalogue he focuses on other features including provenance and what the hoard tells us about circulation patterns. The author’s lengthy treatment of circulation of bronze coins is welcome.

The volume is supplemented with concordances of IGCH and CH 10 numbers and CH toCH 10 numbers. The helpful indices include hoards, mints, and rulers. The sixty-seven plates are, as noted earlier, clear and well printed, but maps would have been helpful. The volume as a whole is a splendid assemblage, well organized and executed.


Notes:


1.   Thompson, Margaret, Otto Morkholm, and Colin M. Kraay, An Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards, New York: American Numismatic Society, 1973; and Coin Hoards, 9 vols. London: Royal Numismatic Society, 1975-2002.
2.   Houghton, Arthur, Catharine Lorber, and Oliver Hoover, Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue, 2 vols. New York: American Numismatic Society, 2002-2008.

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