Author Archive: Mike Markowitz

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Far From Home:  Ancient and Medieval Coins that Traveled

Far From Home: Ancient and Medieval Coins that Traveled

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz …. MANY ANCIENT COINS circulated in a narrow area, sometimes just a single city-state of a few thousand inhabitants. But there were also long-distance travelers, coins that passed from hand to hand–perhaps for decades–reaching faraway lands in the saddlebags of warriors, the strongboxes of pirates and the satchels […]

Hordes of Hoards: Some Recent and Classic Finds of Ancient Coins

Hordes of Hoards: Some Recent and Classic Finds of Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   It has been said that archaeology stands on a foundation of potsherds, and it would be just as true to say that numismatics stands on a foundation of coin hoards. They provide us with the framework of our classification of ancient coins, and frequently a single […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Mongols

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Mongols

By Mike Markowitz ….   The couriers of the Khan galloped over fifty degrees of longitude, and it was said that a virgin carrying a sack of gold could ride unharmed from one border of the nomad empire to the other. — Harold Lamb, Genghis Khan[1]: The Emperor of All Men, p. 112 The Rise […]

Ancient Coins – Charon’s Obol Coins for the Dead

Ancient Coins – Charon’s Obol Coins for the Dead

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   My advice for those who die, Declare the pennies on your eyes — The Beatles, “Taxman”, Revolver (1966) IN THE HOLLYWOOD EPIC FILM Troy (2004), King Priam of Troy (Peter O’Toole) visits the tent of the Greek hero Achilles (Brad Pitt) by night to beg for […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – Horses on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – Horses on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   MORE THAN ANY OTHER ANIMAL (except perhaps the dog), the horse is beloved for its strength, intelligence, speed, loyalty and beauty. The earliest images of horses created by people appear on the walls of Chauvet Cave in France, dated to almost 30,000 years ago[1]. People first […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coins of the Twelve Caesars

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coins of the Twelve Caesars

By Mike Markowitz …..   Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed. That he is grown so great? — Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2 Julius Caesar ARISTOCRATIC ROMANS USUALLY BORE three names. For example, Gaius Julius Caesar (born 13 July 100 BCE), son of Gaius Julius Caesar[1] (died 85 BCE) belonged to […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – Coinage of the Phoenicians

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – Coinage of the Phoenicians

By the third millennium BCE, a unique culture was emerging on a narrow strip of the eastern Mediterranean coast that would have an enormous impact on Western civilization. CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   A SEMITIC PEOPLE, THE PHOENICIANS developed remarkable proficiency in shipbuilding, seafaring and trade, as the prophet Ezekiel (lived […]

By February 29, 2016 0 Comments Read More →
Ancient Coins – Those Sassy Sasanians: Persian Coinage of Late Antiquity

Ancient Coins – Those Sassy Sasanians: Persian Coinage of Late Antiquity

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   The trouble with the Second Persian Empire was that it was not an empire… And while the tradition … required that the king of kings should be a member of the royal house, it was not specific about which member, so that there was usually a war […]

By February 16, 2016 0 Comments Read More →
Bad Money: Ancient Counterfeiters and Their Coins

Bad Money: Ancient Counterfeiters and Their Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.” — attributed to Petronius, 1st-century Roman satirist AROUND 650 BCE, on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea, coinage was invented. Very soon afterward, counterfeit coinage appeared, and it has been […]

Ancient Coins – Harlan J. Berk’s Buy or Bid Sale #196

Ancient Coins – Harlan J. Berk’s Buy or Bid Sale #196

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek….   *All estimates and prices realized in US$ unless otherwise noted Since 1964, Chicago-based coin dealer Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. has been a major player in the ancient coin market. With their 196th Buy or Bid Sale (closing on February 4, 2016), the firm continues a tradition of offering a […]

al-Andalus: Coinage of Islamic Spain

al-Andalus: Coinage of Islamic Spain

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   But you know, Lieutenant, in the Arab city of Cordoba were two miles of public lighting in the streets when London was a village? —Prince Feisal, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) The Muslim Conquest (711-732) THE VISIGOTHS, WHO HAD MISRULED SPAIN  for two centuries, were unpopular with their […]

By December 29, 2015 0 Comments Read More →
Heavier Metal: Ancient Coins Made of Lead

Heavier Metal: Ancient Coins Made of Lead

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   SOFT, DENSE AND DULL, LEAD is an unattractive coining metal. Lead melts at only 327.5° C (621.5° F) – low compared to copper, which melts at 1,085° C (1,984° F) – so it is easily recycled. It’s also toxic, something that was not well understood in antiquity. […]

By December 15, 2015 0 Comments Read More →
Serenissima: Medieval Coinage of Venice

Serenissima: Medieval Coinage of Venice

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   BETWEEN THE YEARS 1200 and 1600 a handful of feisty Italians created one of the greatest commercial and maritime empires in history. Venetians wrecked the Byzantine state, fought the Ottoman sultans to a standstill, defied a series of Popes and German emperors, and adorned their city with […]

What Were They Worth? The Purchasing Power of Ancient Coins

What Were They Worth? The Purchasing Power of Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   Throughout the history of coinage two contradictory concepts have competed with each other. According to one concept, a coin is a piece of precious metal whose value is essentially equivalent to the value of the bullion from which it was made, and the stamp on its face […]

By November 17, 2015 2 Comments Read More →
Power Couples and Princesses in Purple: Coinage of Byzantine Empresses

Power Couples and Princesses in Purple: Coinage of Byzantine Empresses

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ……   In the Byzantine empire power was technically vested in the emperor. Nevertheless, a number of empresses played an important part in government and even took control… Most commonly empresses came to power as regents for young sons, implying a fixed period of caretaker government until the […]

So You Want to Be a Classical Numismatist? Ancient Coins for Beginners

So You Want to Be a Classical Numismatist? Ancient Coins for Beginners

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   THE HIGHEST PRAISE THAT one ancient coin collector can give another is to say he or she “has an eye for coins.” Someone with this remarkable ability can look at a tray of a hundred nearly identical pieces and unerringly pick out the three or four best […]

By September 28, 2015 0 Comments Read More →
The Gold of Daesh: “Coinage” of the “Caliphate”

The Gold of Daesh: “Coinage” of the “Caliphate”

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek….   On August 31, 2015 the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” or “Daesh”[1], which claims to be a new Islamic Caliphate[2], released a video announcing its first precious metal currency of gold dinars and silver dirhams. The ambitious stated objective of this coinage is to end the “American […]

By September 9, 2015 0 Comments Read More →
Ancient Coins on Postage Stamps

Ancient Coins on Postage Stamps

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz…. COMPARED TO COINS, POSTAGE STAMPS are a very modern invention. The first British stamp, the “Penny Black”, dates from 1840; the first American stamps appeared seven years later. Like coins, postage stamps have long attracted the passion of collectors, including King Farouk of Egypt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and […]

By September 7, 2015 0 Comments Read More →
Bunny Money: Rabbits and Hares on Ancient Coins

Bunny Money: Rabbits and Hares on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   THE LEPORIDAE ARE A FAMILY OF MAMMALS, including some 60 species of rabbits and hares. With a wide range of symbolic associations (good luck, fertility, cleverness, swiftness, et al.), the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and hare (Lepus europaeus) have a long history in Western art, mythology and […]

Monster:  The Coinage of Caligula

Monster: The Coinage of Caligula

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   Oderint, dum metuant (Let them hate, so long as they fear). — Caligula THE ANNALS OF THE ROMAN HISTORIAN TACITUS (56 – 117 CE) survived in one damaged medieval manuscript at the Monte Cassino monastery[1]. The section covering the reign of Emperor Caligula is missing, and we […]

Ancient Coins of Cyprus

Ancient Coins of Cyprus

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   ON A CLEAR DAY, it’s just possible to see the Turkish shore 40 miles (64 km) away from Cape St. Andreas[1] at the northeastern tip of Cyprus. The third-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus was settled in the ninth millennium BCE–possibly even earlier–by […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – The Decline and Fall of Macedon

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – The Decline and Fall of Macedon

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   Abandoned finally by all, the king surrendered himself to the Romans. Brought before the consul’s council, the king was peppered with questions by Paullus, but he stood in silence and wept and then flung himself on the ground as a suppliant for his life. Paullus lost his […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series –  The Paradox of Byzantine Silver

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – The Paradox of Byzantine Silver

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   The position of silver in the hierarchy of metals struck during the sixth century was a curious one. In the East, the currency in ordinary circulation consisted entirely of gold and copper. Though a number of silver coins of different types and modules have survived, they have […]

Nine Ladies Dancing: The Muses on Ancient Coins

Nine Ladies Dancing: The Muses on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   Now let us begin with the Olympian Muses who sing for their father Zeus and delight his great soul, telling with harmonious voices of things past and present and to come. Sweet song pours from their mouths and never wearies; the house of their father Zeus the […]

Coinage of Kyrene: A Greek City in Libya

Coinage of Kyrene: A Greek City in Libya

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   THE JEBEL AKHDAR OR “GREEN MOUNTAINS” OF LIBYA stretches eastward from Benghazi for a hundred miles (160 km) along the coast. With an average annual rainfall of 15-20 inches (375-500 mm), these limestone hills are the most forested region in North Africa. In ancient times, before centuries […]

Ships on Ancient Coins

Ships on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   “We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well and live.” – Quintus Arrius, Ben Hur (1959) BY THE SIXTH CENTURY BCE, when coinage came into wide use in the Mediterranean world, ships had evolved to a high technical level. Most ships on ancient coins […]

Those Darned Etruscans: Coins of the Rasna

Those Darned Etruscans: Coins of the Rasna

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz…   THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN TUSCANY before the Romans are often described as “enigmatic” or “mysterious.” We know them as “Etruscans”[1] from the name that the Romans called them; they called themselves “Rasna.” The last speakers of the Etruscan language probably died out in the first century […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Widow’s Mite

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Widow’s Mite

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek….   And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the […]

The Earliest Coins of Ireland

The Earliest Coins of Ireland

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   WHEN ONE HEARS THE WORD “CELTIC”, one naturally thinks of Ireland (unless one is from Boston, in which case one naturally thinks of basketball). It may therefore seem surprising that none of the vast and complex coinage that numismatists describe as “Celtic” was struck in Ireland. “Celtic” […]

Coins of The Anglo-Saxons

Coins of The Anglo-Saxons

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   Britain after the Romans IN THE YEAR 410 C.E., the Western Roman Emperor Honorius replied to the city magistrates of Britannia, who had urgently requested help against invaders. Rome had no legions to spare; they would have to look to their own defense. The invaders included Germanic […]

By February 24, 2015 0 Comments Read More →
 
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