Author Topic: Iceni silver  (Read 75 times)

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Offline Pellinore

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Iceni silver
« on: February 10, 2020, 01:40:33 PM »
After reading some little books on Celtic coins, I thought I would like to show some here.
This one is from the Iceni, a British confederation of tribes living in what's now Norfolk. This coin dates from the early first century AD, when the Iceni were trying to accomodate themselves with the Romans. Only a few decades later, the Iceni were all but wiped out after the Boudicca insurgence - that occurred when the Romans had ravished the rulers of the tribes.
By the way, in this case I'm not sure about what is obverse and reverse. On the horse side there's part of the ruler's name. And the other side looks a bit like a Sasanian fire altar, so there it is.

Iceni, king Antedios (c. 25-47). AR unit. Obv. Two crescents with a bushel? Or fire? Rev. Horse above T (part of monogramme ANTED). Scyphate. Struck with a very worn obverse die. 12 x 16 mm, 0.85 gr.

-- Paul


Offline richtea

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Re: Iceni silver
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2020, 07:11:46 PM »
Now we're talking - this is my kind of coin!

> I'm not sure about what is obverse and reverse
The double crescents are the obverse, and the horse is the reverse.

I think it's one of either ABC* 1642 or 1645.
- 1642, with ANTED, is 'very rare', and your reverse 'S' below the horse's face looks just like the example in ABC.
- 1645, with ANTD - no 'E', is 'very common' and has more of a wave below the horse's face than a reverse 'S'.

I'd go for ABC 1642. Why wouldn't you?  ;D

The other thing that fascinates me about the ancient British coins is that although Rome hadn't properly invaded until AD 43, many of the pre-Roman British coins had Roman lettering, so they were obviously a massive influence well before the Claudius invaded.

*ABC Ancient British Coins:
Ancient British Coins | Chris Rudd

Offline Pellinore

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Re: Iceni silver
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2020, 07:31:04 PM »
Thanks, that’s useful information, and I do share your enthusiasm! Well, only today I learned about the existence of the ABC book by Rudd, is that the standard work for British coins of that period?
— Paul

Offline richtea

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Re: Iceni silver
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2020, 01:28:15 AM »
It's the only 'modern' overview that I know of, although it's getting slightly long on the tooth, and could do with updating/refreshing.
Detectorist finds are continually changing the understanding - which is a great problem!

It's the best overview book, with probably the only letdown being the black/white format, but colour would have made it prohibitively expensive to print I suspect.

There are a couple of nice introductory books - one of them might be yours:
Celtic Coinage in Britain (Shire) - should only be about £5-10, but I can only see expensive ones on the net
The Tribes and Coins of Celtic Britain: Amazon.co.uk: Rainer Pudill, Clive Eyre: - with colour photos

And there are some very specialised ones, which go into detail way beyond my knowledge - but I can still get a few snippets of stuff out them, and marvel at the designs:
Divided Kingdoms: the Iron Age gold coinage of southern England | Chris Rudd
Made for Trade: A New View of Icenian Coinage | Chris Rudd

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Iceni silver
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2020, 07:32:49 AM »
More coins of the Iceni here.

Only a few decades later, the Iceni were all but wiped out after the Boudicca insurgence - that occurred when the Romans had ravished the rulers of the tribes.

Yes, the Iceni met with a bad end and found a number of other tribes there, which raises two questions. Why were the Romans invincible and why didn't they learn anything about the effects of their own cruelty from these insurrections?

I think the horse on the coin is a good clue. Yes, inspired by Roman horses, but the Romand had plenty of reverses to choose from. The bigas must have appealed to the Celts. Perhaps, like the Scythians on the other end of the Roman empire, the Celtic tribes' main strategy was cavalry for attack with fortresses as defence. The Romans had already shown in Gallia (Lutetia) they could deal with a static defence. Their tight formations of infantry would have been able to overcome undisciplined cavalry attacks (disciplined cavalry attacks were used first by settled Normans, a millenium later) with solid walls of spears, something horses will not attack, whatever the rider does. The Iceni were successful only as long as they fought Roman garrison troops in static defence and committed the same cruelty as the Romans.

As for learning, the Latin letters on the coins may be a clue. These letters would have been brought over by traders, who needed to make records and inventories. So what were Celts and Romans trading? The Celts were exploring small mines, so they may have had metals to trade. The Romans must have had large surpluses of pilfered Gallic stuff. If so, the trade would have enriched the Romans and given nothing new to the Celts. It's not a sign of a thirst for learning. The curiosity wasn't there. On the Roman side, Ceasar was a bad example. His conquests were to a large extent a private enterprise and they made him very rich, making him an example for other military adventurers. In his behaviour, there was nothing of curiosity or respect for other cultures either. On the contrary, conquered tribes who had a tendency to resist were enslaved and treated as cattle at best. Why change a successful model?

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