Author Topic: Sinope, drachm or stater?  (Read 470 times)

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Offline Pellinore

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Sinope, drachm or stater?
« on: September 26, 2017, 06:23:26 PM »
My second period of coin collecting was sparked off by my late father-in-law, whose small but interesting coin collection was left to me. He had a number of Greek coins, that I only put piecemeal into my system. One of his hobby horses was the Black Sea town of Sinope, a Greek colony, afterwards an outpost in the province of Bithynia et Pontus. It was the birthplace of Mithridates of Pontus.

Here is the nicest Sinopian coin in his collection. And these are the data that my father-in-law put in his book (reviewed by me): Obv. Head of nymph left. Rev. Eagle with dolphin in its claws in incuse. 18 mm, 6.14 gr. BMC Sinope 6. SNG Von Aulock 198. Bought from Busso Peus (cat. 288 nr. 223)  1975, DM 380.

But... it's far too heavy for a drachm. Can you call this a half stater? How is this coin to be classified?
By the way, this is the first picture I made using the whiskey glass method of Figleaf, that works pretty well!

--Paul


Offline Quant.Geek

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2017, 06:33:49 PM »
And I thought you were writing something about Snoke  ::)


A gallery of my coins can been seen at FORVM Ancient Coins

Offline Pellinore

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2017, 11:55:05 PM »
No. The difference is, ugly Snoke had a gash on the top of his skull, whereas the lovely Sinope nymph was scratched at her cheek. But is it a stater or a (di?)drachm?
-- Paul

Offline Pellinore

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 11:43:26 AM »
Found a reference. In Sinope, the Aeginetic standard was used, with a stater of 12.3 gr. and a half-stater or drachm of 6.15 gr. My coin is Hoover 389, struck between 410 and 350 BC. Here's a page of Hoover's quite recent book about the Greek coinage of Anatolia.
-- Paul


Offline EWC

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2017, 03:48:52 PM »
one might also see it as an Egyptian half beqa, or two bullion dirhems or 4 troy pennies, according to Skinner, as he claims they all adhere to the same system and standard (ie all 128 Egyptian wheat grains)

Rob T

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2017, 08:37:12 PM »
In view of the importance of Black sea grain for Egypt, I have no trouble accepting that Sinope would use Egyptian weight, but still find it very interesting in view of the other contenders for the same grain, notably Athens and Macedonia.

Now, 4 troy pennies is another matter altogether.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2017, 08:08:57 AM »
In view of the importance of Black sea grain for Egypt, I have no trouble accepting that Sinope would use Egyptian weight, but still find it very interesting in view of the other contenders for the same grain, notably Athens and Macedonia.

I judge this a fundamental mistake that nearly everyone on the planet is now making. 

Around 2150 BC Shulgi defined a mina weight, surely using a unique stone, as 60 x 180 (Mesopotamian) grains.  At that moment the word "grain" got a new meaning - as a measurement.  It is no more to do with organic grains than the foot has to do with a human foot.

Now, 4 troy pennies is another matter altogether.

The claim is that they weigh the same because they are in fact still using the same (Egyptian) measurement system.  Egypt used the same mina (amongst others) as Mesopotamia - around 500g - but in Egypt it was 40 x 256 = 10,240 grains.  Note that that number is closely related to the 'binary thousand' of modern computing - again for rather fundamental reasons.

Actually, for the me the, only big question here is - how has ignorance of such matters has become so widespread over the last century?  My comments would have been rather common knowledge in the 18th and 19th centuries

Rob T

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2017, 09:46:26 AM »
In my mind, it is not enough that two weights are the same. You also have to show causality: a reason why the people of A would choose to use the weight system of B. The most common reason to do that is likely to be trade. Example:Western European countries commonly (but not exclusively) use the metric system because it facilitates trade among them and because in their trade pattern, mutual trade dominates. The exception is oil, which is measured in barrels. This is because many oil-producing countries use this standard and the market is producer-driven.

I find the argument that a hundred or so years ago people thought otherwise unconvincing. We are living in a time of almost free dissemination of information. Knowledge doesn't get lost, but increases. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with a new approach, but it does mean you need either good arguments or new information. BTW, measure your foot between heel and big toe and you will appreciate that there is a (loose) connection between a foot measure and a human foot.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2017, 10:32:47 AM »
In my mind, it is not enough that two weights are the same.

Perfectly correct.  The necessary historical background is here

https://www.academia.edu/6882687/Coin_Weight_and_Historical_Metrology

with amendments here

https://www.academia.edu/10433448/Early_World_Coins_-_2015_Revision_of_the_Anglo-Saxon_Metrology_Section

I find the argument that a hundred or so years ago people thought otherwise unconvincing.

I think you mean to say you find my claim unconvincing, since you have not heard my argument, and it is rather unwise to pre-judge it - surely?

We are living in a time of almost free dissemination of information. Knowledge doesn't get lost, but increases.

My opposite conclusion - professionalisation of culture is driving over-specialisation which, along with political intervention in the education system, threatens a new dark age.  Every new generation is after all completely stupid at birth is it not?

BTW, measure your foot between heel and big toe and you will appreciate that there is a (loose) connection between a foot measure and a human foot.

I suggest you get out a ruler and measure your hand – that is - at the base of the four fingers.  I think you will find it is close to three inches,.  I rather think ‘a foot’ derives in fact from 4 hands = 16 fingers.  That seems to be, both actually and historically, more correct.


Rob T

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2017, 11:03:42 AM »
My remarks were neither personal nor specific to the discussion but generic and referring to methodology and logic. I will admit they were also meant to motivate you to display more of your vast knowledge of the subject of ancient weights, though. They succeeded quite well in that respect ;) Thank you.

I am interested in the subject of loss of knowledge. I often marvel at the design of Byzantine coins in comparison with Roman coins. Could it happen today? I doubt it. As long as ideas are as freely available as they are on Academia.edu and are allowed to compete freely, intervention in education will not work, just as it never worked in previous ages.

A modern example. Japanese history schoolbooks are notoriously skewed against Japanese misbehaviour in the second word war. Japan's neighbours regularly get quite officially excited about this issue. Nevertheless, I have yet to meet a Japanese who does not realise that the books are unreliable or worse. The exceptions are some arch-conservatives I know about but haven't met, who all seem to work as civil servants. There may be others so misled in the military, but a large majority of the Japanese work neither as civil servants, nor in the military. Far right adherents can be found in any country. Extremists seldom have real credibility.

I have no doubt that authorities of all stripes have always meddled in education. Whether it's Roman children being taught about the pantheon or Oxford medical students taught to put their faith in classical Greek and Roman medical text rather than research, policies and propaganda cannot stop change in the long run.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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Re: Sinope, drachm or stater?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2017, 11:39:57 AM »
My remarks were neither personal nor specific to the discussion but generic and referring to methodology and logic.

Thanks Peter, and I found your comments, as playing devil's advocate, most helpful.  Apologies if my replies often seem terse – ‘ars longa vita brevis’

I am interested in the subject of loss of knowledge. ………………..I have no doubt that authorities of all stripes have always meddled in education.

Here is I think a very apt example - concerning the history of metrology in the context of money use.  In the course of switching from philosophy to economics – around 1925 – Keynes took a deep interest in the history of metrology.  But then he scoffed at his own ideas calling them “Babylonian madness” - and they played no part in his “Treatise on Money” in 1930

Is that because he was wrong in 1925, or because the facts he found did not suit his political message?  I fear it was the latter.

After Keynes took up Economics he promoted Wittgenstein as a kind of philosophical mouthpiece – (right down to 1939 when K secured the professorship at Cambridge for W).  Like Russell, I judge Wittgenstein did great damage to modern thought.  Here is an interesting direct quote from Wittgenstein

In his diary of 1931 he wrote

“If my name survives, then only as the terminus ad quem of the great philosophy of the West. As the name of him who burnt the library of Alexandria”

Rob T