Author Topic: Elementary, my dear Cantii  (Read 74 times)

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Offline Pellinore

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Elementary, my dear Cantii
« on: July 25, 2020, 02:54:05 PM »
This Celtic coin jumped at me when I saw it at a recent auction. It is a potin of the Cantii or Cantiaci, a Celtic tribe living in (you could guess it) the modern county of Kent in easternmost Britain. It might not immediately strike you as an ordinary classical coin with a god on the obverse and a sacred or allegorical animal on the reverse - but that's exactly what it is. The left picture portrays the god Apollo (head to the left) and the right one a bull, charging to the right.

Depiction is reduced to a few effective lines and brackets, or crescents. In other words, a forceful work of primitive art. I had to have it, and here it is.

Celtic coinage, Cantii. Uninscribed. Early 1st century BC (c. 75-55 BC according to Holman). Cast potin unit. Obv. Elementary head of Apollo. Rev. Angular elementary bull t.r. 18 mm, 1.72 gr. Cantian F type Talbot Classification System (David Holman, 'A new classification system for the Flat Linear potin coinage', 2016) p. 62. 

-- Paul

Offline Pellinore

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Re: Elementary, my dear Cantii
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2020, 02:55:20 PM »
PS. If you scroll fast through the many tiny variations of these coins in the Holman article, you will effectively start to hallucinate.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Elementary, my dear Cantii
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 11:37:05 AM »
I understand your enthusiasm, Pellinore. There is something spiritual about that design, revolving around two dots in forms that seem purely geometrical, until you realise that they are based on natural forms. Once you see the natural forms, the geometry recedes irrevocably.

I find your description of a god and an allegorical animal quite apt. This is not Apollo and a charging bull, even less a Hellenistic central Asian ruler with a Mitresh cult object or a horseman and Nandi from South India and yet, the connection is there. Could it be that the common central idea is something like "honour the god(s)/ruler"? There is a significant body of opinion that the potins were sacrifice tokens, not money in the later sense of the word. Something like "give the priest a chicken, receive a few tokens for sacrifice."

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