Author Archive: Mike Markowitz

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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 →
Eroticism on Ancient Coins (Adults Only)

Eroticism on Ancient Coins (Adults Only)

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz…. Through a long chain of pious frauds and medieval myth-making, the February 14 feast day of St. Valentine, an obscure third century martyr, became a day for celebrating romantic Love in Western popular culture. It may be no surprise to the reader that classical numismatics has relatively little […]

Greek Coinage of Baktria

Greek Coinage of Baktria

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….   “The handsome coins of the Greek kings of Bactria have always enjoyed high renown among both collectors and scholars, because of their excellent artistic qualities and their great historical value…And what portraits they are! They possess not only the purely objective and brutal frankness of later Roman […]

First Read: Coinage in the Roman Economy

First Read: Coinage in the Roman Economy

First Read, a continuing series of essays about classic and contemporary works of numismatic literature… Essay by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek….   Coinage in the Roman Economy by Kenneth Harl, Ph.D.   Buy the book before you buy the coin. -Numismatic proverb (attributed to Aaron Feldman)   I’m always a little embarrassed when CoinWeek describes […]

Coinage of the First Caliphate

Coinage of the First Caliphate

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz… BY THE BEGINNING of the seventh century, the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean had been ravaged by plague, earthquake and decades of war between the Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) and Sasanian Persian empires. Along the coast, the great cities were mostly Greek-speaking. In the fertile hill country, villagers spoke […]

By December 30, 2014 0 Comments Read More →
The Nativity on Coins

The Nativity on Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz… The Nativity of Jesus is such a familiar image in visual media–from greeting cards to stained glass windows–that it is startling to discover that it does not appear anywhere in Western art until the fourth century, and – with one unique medallic exception – not on coinage until […]

By December 15, 2014 0 Comments Read More →
The Last Ancient Coin

The Last Ancient Coin

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz… “What was the last ancient coin?” The question is unanswerable. There was no “last” ancient coin, just as there was no “last” ancient person. Classical antiquity didn’t just stop — it morphed gradually into the medieval world, which morphed, in turn, into what we understand as the modern […]

Metal Monsters: The Biggest Ancient Coins

Metal Monsters: The Biggest Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series By Mike Markowitz…. In 2007, Canada captured a world record by producing five examples of a 100 kilogram gold piece (220.5 pounds, or a bit over 3215 troy ounces). It was 53 centimeters in diameter (21 inches) and three centimeters thick, denominated at one million Canadian dollars. “Why did the Royal […]

By November 18, 2014 0 Comments Read More →
The Magnificent Ancients of the Nelson Bunker Hunt Coin Collection

The Magnificent Ancients of the Nelson Bunker Hunt Coin Collection

Ancient Coin Series: Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek….   Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me. Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.[1] In the arcane language of Classical Numismatics, when coins are described as “important,” it means they cost a lot. How much? If you have to ask, you can’t afford them. Nelson Bunker […]

By November 10, 2014 0 Comments Read More →
This Little Piggy Went to Market: Boars, Hogs, Sows and Piglets on Ancient Coins

This Little Piggy Went to Market: Boars, Hogs, Sows and Piglets on Ancient Coins

Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek…. Intelligent, adaptable and omnivorous, pigs have long been companions to humans. We know from cave paintings that Palaeolithic hunters pursued wild boars. The earliest evidence for the domestication of pigs dates from about 8000 BCE (Larson). Even though it is surrounded by many cultural and religious taboos, […]

Small Change: The Tiniest Ancient Coins

Small Change: The Tiniest Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: By Mike Markowitz “Parva Ne Pereant” In 2014 the British Royal Mint issued a gold proof 50p coin only 8 mm in diameter*, weighing in at 1/40 Troy ounce (0.8 grams.) This is the smallest coin the UK has ever struck and surely one of the smallest modern coins. For comparison, […]

The Ancient Coinage of Crete

The Ancient Coinage of Crete

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz….  Labyrinths and Minotaurs and Bulls, Oh My! For the Ancient Greeks, Crete was a place of myth and legend. It was the birthplace of Zeus and the site of the Labyrinth. It was home to the Minotaur and the Cretan Bull. It was also the center of Minoan […]

193: The Year of Five Emperors

193: The Year of Five Emperors

Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek…. The Death of Commodus In Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator (2000), demented emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) is slain in the Colosseum by mortally wounded general-turned-gladiator Maximus (Russell Crowe). In the closing scene, we are left to imagine that wise Senator Gracchus (Derek Jacobi) and lovely princess Lucilla (Connie […]

Ancient Coins: What about Sparta?

Ancient Coins: What about Sparta?

Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek… Spartans disdained many things that other ancient Greeks valued. One of these things was money. Hundreds of different Greek cities issued coins between the birth of coined money around 650 BCE and the end of Greek civic coinage some time after 300 CE. The apparent exception was Sparta. Many […]

By September 23, 2014 0 Comments Read More →
Ancient Coins: Coinage of the Barbarian Invaders

Ancient Coins: Coinage of the Barbarian Invaders

Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek… Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas? Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts, and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds? Why are they carrying elegant canes beautifully worked in silver and gold? Because the barbarians […]

By September 8, 2014 0 Comments Read More →
Ancient Coin Insights: Coinage of Parthia

Ancient Coin Insights: Coinage of Parthia

by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek…. Parthian royal history (c. 247 BC – 228 CE) is a dismal record of sons murdering fathers, and brothers slaying brothers to seize a shaky throne. Yet for most of this era, Parthia provided reasonably efficient government to a population of Greeks, Persians and Arabs; tolerating Christians, Jews, Pagans, Zoroastrians […]

Medieval Numismatics: Coins of the Crusaders

Medieval Numismatics: Coins of the Crusaders

CoinWeek Medieval Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ……….. Crusader coins survive in surprising abundance and have much to tell us about this distant era, which has so many parallels to contemporary events. Between 1096 and 1291, the Church of Rome, the aristocracy, and the peoples of Western Europe launched a series of military campaigns against the Muslim […]

The Coinage of Aksum

The Coinage of Aksum

by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek…. Ancient Coin Series Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty… –Herodotus, The Histories, Book 2 (c. 450 BCE) Five days march inland from the Red Sea, on the hilly Tigray Plateau, […]

The Coinage of Carthage

The Coinage of Carthage

by Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek…. Ancient Coin Series Most of what we know about Carthaginians was written by their enemies–first the Greeks, then the Romans. They are described as greedy, treacherous and brutal. Yet even Cicero, a Roman politician born 40 years after Carthage was wiped out, grudgingly admitted that “Carthage would never have held […]

Comets and Meteorites on Ancient Coins

Comets and Meteorites on Ancient Coins

By Mike Markowitz for Coinweek….. Ancient Coin Series The night sky was really important to ancient people. This can be hard for us to understand, living as we do in a world where light pollution denies us a clear view of the stars. What people saw in the sky – or thought they saw – […]

 
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