Mike Markowitz

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Normans in Sicily

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Normans in Sicily

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   FOR ENGLISH SPEAKERS, THE Norman conquest of England in 1066 is one of the most memorized events in Western history. But few have ever heard of the Norman conquest of Sicily. Descendants of ferocious Vikings who settled in the French province of Normandy, the warlike Normans were eventually […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Collecting Ancient Weights

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Collecting Ancient Weights

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin[1]. — Leviticus, 19:35-36 PEOPLE ARE NOT VERY GOOD AT estimating or comparing weight. Before the rise of market economies, people measured commodities mainly by […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coins Series: How Ancient Coins Were Made

CoinWeek Ancient Coins Series: How Ancient Coins Were Made

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   BRICKS WERE PROBABLY the first mass-produced industrial product. Cast bronze arrowheads, produced by the millions, might well have been the second. But ancient coins were the most challenging mass-produced industrial product in antiquity. The successful mass production of ancient coins required many advances in metallurgy and a complex […]

CoinWeek Ancients Series: War as Depicted on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancients Series: War as Depicted on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   FOR MUCH OF HUMAN HISTORY, WARFARE has absorbed our resources, energy and creativity. War is much older than coinage. One of the earliest images of war in Western art is the “Battlefield Palette”, a carved slate from pre-Dynastic Egypt dated c. 3100 BCE[1]. It depicts the […]

Why Hollywood Gets Ancient Coins Wrong

Why Hollywood Gets Ancient Coins Wrong

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   I have endured what no one on earth has endured before. I kissed the hands of the man who killed my son. I loved my boy from the moment he opened his eyes until the moment you closed them. Let me wash his body. Let me […]

Dogs on Ancient Coins

Dogs on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   You ain’t nothing but a hound dog, crying all the time. You ain’t nothing but a hound dog, crying all the time. You ain’t never caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine. –Elvis Presley, 20th-century American philosopher, covering Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coins, Aliens and UFOs

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coins, Aliens and UFOs

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   On the wall of his office in the FBI building’s basement, Special Agent Fox Mulder of the TV series The X-Files has a UFO poster that proclaims: I WANT TO BELIEVE. The sentiment is widely shared, even among numismatists, who are generally a rather skeptical bunch. The “Alien” […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Jewish War

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Jewish War

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   The other practices of the Jews are sinister and revolting, and have entrenched themselves by their very wickedness. Wretches of the most abandoned kind who had no use for the religion of their fathers took to contributing dues and free-will offerings to swell the Jewish exchequer; and other […]

Comets and Meteorites on Ancient Coins

Comets and Meteorites on Ancient Coins

By Mike Markowitz for Coinweek ….   Ancient Coin Series THE NIGHT SKY WAS ESPECIALLY 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 […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Iconoclasts

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of the Iconoclasts

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them… — […]

Teen Weirdo Emperor: The Coinage of Elagabalus

Teen Weirdo Emperor: The Coinage of Elagabalus

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   …[To] sport with the passions and prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements. A long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among whom was a vestal virgin, ravished […]

The Origin of Specie: How Gold and Silver Became Money

The Origin of Specie: How Gold and Silver Became Money

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   …And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver. –Genesis, 20:16 ABIMELECH, PHILISTINE KING OF GERAR, gravely offended the patriarch Abraham by trying to appropriate his wife, Sarah, having been led to believe that Sarah was actually Abraham’s sister[1]. […]

Ancient Coins – Elephants on Ancient Coinage

Ancient Coins – Elephants on Ancient Coinage

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   STRONG, INTELLIGENT AND LONG-LIVED – yet surprisingly gentle – elephants have long exerted a powerful hold over the human imagination. Prehistoric cave paintings depict elephants and their extinct cousins, the wooly mammoth and mastodon. Ivory from elephant tusks was a precious raw material in the ancient […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Sphinxes on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Sphinxes on Ancient Coins

The business of a sphinx is to be mysterious By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   …somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs…[1] — W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming” (1920) IN […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Janus, God of January

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Janus, God of January

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   ANCIENT ROMANS KNEW even less about the prehistoric origins of their religion than we do, since we have knowledge from centuries of archaeology. Latin writers of the Classical era tried to connect their own native Italian gods to the prestigious gods of ancient Greece, with their complex genealogies […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Bridges on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Bridges on Ancient Coins

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   ROMANS WERE PROUD of their bridges, some of the most spectacular feats of ancient engineering. The high priest of the Roman state religion was called the Pontifex Maximus–literally the “supreme bridge-builder”–a title later adopted by the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church. A number of Roman coins depict […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Modern Fakes of Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Modern Fakes of Ancient Coins

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   “To declare that a forged coin is genuine is a mistake, but to declare that a genuine coin is a forgery is a crime.” –Leo Mildenberg (1913 – 2001)[1] FOR CLASSICAL NUMISMATISTS any discussion of fake ancient coins is… a delicate subject. Dealers worry that fear of fakes […]

Philosopher King:  The Coinage of Marcus Aurelius

Philosopher King: The Coinage of Marcus Aurelius

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. –The Meditations, 2:1 OF ALL THE ROMAN EMPERORS, Marcus Aurelius […]

CoinWeek Podcast #46: Ancient Coins – What We Can Learn. How Coins Changed Us.

CoinWeek Podcast #46: Ancient Coins – What We Can Learn. How Coins Changed Us.

CoinWeek Podcast #46: Ancient Coins – What We Can Learn. How Coins Changed Us. Mobile phone users. Stream this podcast for free by downloading the podomatic app or subscribe to the CoinWeek Podcast on iTunes. CoinWeek Ancients Writer Mike Markowitz sits down with editor Charles Morgan in Baltimore at the 2016 Winter Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo to […]

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The Global War Against Collectors of Ancient Coins

The Global War Against Collectors of Ancient Coins

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   By including antiquities within the political construction “cultural property” nationalist retentionist cultural policies often claim all antiquities from beneath, or on the soil of lands within their borders as cultural property and of importance to their national identity, and their citizens’ collective and individual identities.[1] THERE IS A […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Two Heads Are Better Than One

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Two Heads Are Better Than One

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   THE RICH VOCABULARY OF NUMISMATICS has many terms to describe the things we see on coins. When a coin depicts two heads side by side, the usual description is “jugate busts”. The word derives from the Latin iuga, meaning “yoke”. Think of a pair of oxen yoked together. […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coins of Julius Caesar

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coins of Julius Caesar

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed, that he is grown so great? –Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2 What makes Caesar so Great? PEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING ELSE about ancient history recognize the name Julius Caesar but might be hard-pressed to say what he ever […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Merovingians – Coinage of the Do-Nothing Kings

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Merovingians – Coinage of the Do-Nothing Kings

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   The Franks had little idea of the state as a public institution, and the regnum Francorum (kingdom of the Franks), while remaining a family inheritance, was inherited according to the rules of private law, divided on each occasion between the sons or nearest male relatives of the deceased […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Christianization of Roman Coinage

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Christianization of Roman Coinage

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   We speak sometimes of the Roman religion as though it possessed a firm basis, but in fact it was constantly changing, the gods melting away and being replaced by others (Hale, 73). Decline of Paganism BY THE BEGINNING OF THE FOURTH CENTURY CE, the religious life of the […]

Why Museums Hate Ancient Coins

Why Museums Hate Ancient Coins

The Fitzwilliam Museum – Cambridge, England By Mike Markowitz for Coinweek …. Ancient Coin Series   AS COLLECTORS OF ANCIENT COINS, one of the most Frequently Asked Questions we encounter is “Don’t these things belong in museums?” The answer, sometimes with a patient sigh, sometimes with a snort of derision, is an emphatic “No!” The Dirty Little […]

Turtles and Tortoises on Ancient Coins

Turtles and Tortoises on Ancient Coins

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz ….   A hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.” … On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never […]

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of Pergamon

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Coinage of Pergamon

By Mike Markowitz for CoinWeek ….   NOW AND THEN IN HISTORY, economic, political and social forces come together in just the right combination to make a particular city the dynamic locus of cultural creativity. We see this in Athens in the time of Pericles (c. 495 – 429 BCE), Florence during the Renaissance (c. 1350 […]

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 […]

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 Podcast #31: 193 – The Year of Five Emperors – Audio: 11:07

CoinWeek Podcast #31: 193 – The Year of Five Emperors – Audio: 11:07

CoinWeek Podcast #31: 193 – The Year of Five Emperors CoinWeek Ancient Coin Writer Mike Markowitz’s insightful article “193: The Year of Five Emperors” recalls one of the bloodiest and most treacherous years in Roman history. A year that makes Game of Thrones’ Westeros seem like a quaint and stable fiefdom. In this episode of the […]

 
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