Author Topic: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made  (Read 12938 times)

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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2014, 12:50:31 PM »
I think the word token is used in a more general sense (symbol) in this text. The weak point of this scenario is that the piece would have been part of the woman's inheritance. There is no good reason to think it would be used as a burial gift. Sure, women were sometimes buried with jewellery, but AFAIK not money.

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

Offline metalsincoin

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2014, 11:16:49 PM »
A well-known Swedish historian/archeologist, Sven Rosborn, has recently come up with the theory below and I will do my utmost to translate it correct:

The object itself is so small that it could hardly have had a function as a gift. I find the wedding gift theory highly unlikely.

The object must had a great symbolic value as it was produced in gold which was completely unique for the time being. Harald Bluetooth introduced Christianity in Denmark. Outside each of his ring castles, so called Trelleborg Fortresses, there was a church, and these seem to be consecrated to St. Clement. This saint became very popular in the late 900s, especially in Kiev where they built a new church over the saint's cranial transferred to the city. There is a vague indication that Harald was "eastward" in his youth. He may therefore have been strongly influenced by the Byzantine Christian culture. I have in my book, see https://www.academia.edu/3349556/Den_sk%C3%A5nska_historien._Vikingarna._2004 (only in Swedish) demonstrated that the runic materials from Harald´s time have quite clear Byzantine influences, including the Byzantine emperor's warship, the so-called dromones. The large animal on the rune stones and on its frontal image, the so-called mask image, can also be a symbol which inspired Harald from the large metal lion that guarded the east Roman Emperor throne.

The dating of the object ought to be after Harald conquered eastern Denmark and Scania, i.e. after about 978 according to the dendrochronology results from the fortress of Trelleborg, Slagelse, Denmark. This shows that the object is made at the end of his life or shortly after his death. It also makes sense as Norway is not mentioned on the object and we know for sure that Harald loosed control over Norway (Oslo area) during this period. Harald was badly wounded after the battle with his son Sven and after he returned to Jumne he eventually died there. He must, of course, as a Christian, have been buried in a church in Jumne. There are theories that he was later transferred to Roskilde and buried there but the first burial must have been in a church in Jumne.

According to Greek religion Charon was the man on the ferry who brought the dead across the river Styx to Hades. When Christianity became popular in the Byzantine Empire this belief did not disappear, it was rather strengthened. Charon plays a prominent role in the Byzantine epic of Digenis Akritas. The tradition from ancient history was thus brought into Christianity. The belief in this tradition was that each and everyone had to pay Charon for the journey to the underworld. As a consequence a valuable coin was placed under the deceased's tongue before the funeral. This tradition was strong even in the Nordic countries. I once met in person the famous P.V. Glob, a Danish archaeologist and the General of Museums and Antiquities of the state of Denmark. He told me that until almost modern times the fishermen on the west coast of Jutland had a gold ring in their ear. If the fisherman were drown the survivors could not put the Charon´s coin in the drown fishermen’s coffins. By constantly wearing a gold earring they were assured to have means of payment for the death journey even if they disappeared into the sea.

Thus, the object may be a Charon´s coin, specially manufactured for Harald Bluetooth after his death and before his burial which now appeared.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2014, 12:38:48 AM »
I am not convinced at all. This theory has three weak points!

1) Norsemen conquered Kiev in 882, but the Varangian guard was established in 988. Such an important cultural Byzantine religious influence cannot have come back to Denmark already when Harald died in 985 or 986. In fact, the practice of grave gifts is much older and not necessarily Byzantine, let alone Christian.
2) The dating of the object cannot have been posthumous by years if it was a grave gift.
3) Charon's obol was not a very expensive gold coin, but a low value silver coin. At the time of Harald, oboli were the smallest coins. Gold was used as grave gifts, but in the form of jewellery (pendants, crosses). Gold coins were also used, but in the 5th and 6th century, when gold was more widely available.

As for the size of the object: since gold was quite scarce in the 10th century, even a small size object would have been a powerful symbol of generosity.

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

Offline metalsincoin

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2014, 02:54:19 PM »
The enclosed coin was found in the same box after the heritage as the Golden Piece. Does anybody have an idea of the age of coin?

Offline metalsincoin

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2014, 10:47:15 PM »
Looks very much like the coin on page 8, see http://www.numismatas.com/Forum/Pdf/David%20Ruckser/Coins%20of%20Cologne.pdf Otto I. or II. Anyone agree?

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2014, 12:30:53 AM »
Dannenberg 331 (var.), Cologne, denar Otto I 936-962. Left picture should be turned 90° counter clockwise.

obv: cross with pellets between arms in circle (note: D shows a pearl circle, this coin has a closed ring) + OTTO REX
rev: S / CoLoNIA / AG (Agrippina). Note that the S on this coin is retrogade, while Dannenberg draws a correct S. This is a common mistake on medieval coins.

Since Otto II was already emperor when his father died, he would not have used the title REX. There are similar coins with the title imperator that may be of either Otto I or Otto II.

Peter
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 12:44:26 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline LUstudent

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2014, 10:42:39 PM »
The cross on the back looks like a typical ceremonial cross from 9th or 10th century. A Ceremonial Cross could be a religious or a royal symbol and together with an octagon (symbol of baptism) on one side, and Harald's name, title and his lands on the other, it may actually be a sign of recognition of Harald being a Christian ruler and an insignum of his power.

In Cologne at Schnütgen Museum, there is a unidentified cross from X century. Its shape shows remarkable similarity to the cross on this unidentified object. The picture, I found, was on this page: http://www.kornbluthphoto.com/Gold3.html

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #38 on: November 11, 2014, 01:11:42 PM »
Welcome to WoC, LUstudent. Thank you for that contribution.

I have no doubt that the use of the cross was symbolic for the christian religion. Leaving out the name Bluetooth in the titles is another sign that the object was made by Christians. However, the message was packaged in a rather common coin reverse by adding the circle and the four dots.

Let's not forget that in this age, the church and (especially the HRE) state were fighting over their respective power. Could the emperor appoint bishops? Was Ireland a fief of the pope? Could the pope appoint the emperor of the HRE? If Bluetooth was a strategically important convert, he was important both to the church and the HRE, but neither could claim him completely, hence the "spin" with circle and dots. Compare the reverse of the Cologne coin above.

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

Offline metalsincoin

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #39 on: November 11, 2014, 01:50:05 PM »
Back side of the Golden Piece

If you take a look on the back side of Sweyn Forkbeard´s coin from 995 there are four images which reminds of rune inscriptions besides the cross. Perhaps the four dots on the golden piece could be something similar.

Spelling of Danes

Regarding the misspelling of REX AD DANER (REX AD TAN ER) it may have been the correct spelling at that time if you take a look on the Jelling stones were Denmark is spelt tanmaurk on the runestone of Harald Bluetooth (Jacobsen & Moltke, 1941-42, DR 42) and tanmarkaR on the runestone of Gorm (Jacobsen & Moltke, 1941-42, DR 41)

When Sweyn had his coin in 995 he spelt:
SVEN REX AD DENER (compared with HARALD GORMSEN REX AD TAN ER)

Sweyn´s son Cnut the Great (1014-1035) also had his own coin. The latin inscription was:
CNVT REX IN DENORVM (now there is change from king of the people to king of the nation)

Perhaps there was a change in the spelling from the time of Gorm and Harald to Sweyn and Cnut.
I have also heard that Daner and Taner were two spellings of the same people who settled in Denmark. Anybody have a clue regarding this?

Offline metalsincoin

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #40 on: November 11, 2014, 07:02:59 PM »
Thanks LUstudent!

The shape is really identical, please see below! We have tried other types of cross in the Golden Piece but this is the only one that fits perfectly.

Offline LUstudent

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2014, 09:17:35 PM »
It is truly amazing but unfortunately that's probably just a coincidence and if a connection ever existed then it was almost certainly accidental. It is however not entirely impossible that the Schnütgen cross was used as an unintentional visual pattern during manufacturing of your object. The text on the front suggests that the source was clerical, in other words the author was a chronicler working for an archbishop, most likely archbishop Bruno of Cologne (if dating of the object is correct) and he was seeing Schnütgen cross every day each time he attended the Holy Mass or processions.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 11:35:54 PM by LUstudent »

Offline LUstudent

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #42 on: November 13, 2014, 11:31:25 PM »
It is worth mentioning that you are investigating an object which dates from an intriguing phase of European history where conflict between HRE and papal states began to reach some new dimensions. It was all about political power and money and the conflict escalated in Investiture Controversy 100 years later. However, we should not forget that during OTTO I's reign there were many more rivals at the lower ranks, like clergy (concurrent bishopric and dioceses),  feudal families, counts and margraves, all wanting to gain power. The Danish Realm as well as other pagan lands, Wends and Polans, were all pawns in this war for profit. Whoever managed to claim a major role in conversion of some of these territories would certainly get access to tribute, land and or/and new powerful ally.

Offline metalsincoin

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2014, 12:09:08 PM »
Thanks! Are you suggesting that it could be a gift trophy from Otto I?

I also enclose a Pectoralcreuz from Oldenburg which I also thinks reminds of the cross. It is hard to find other cross that are similar to the one in the object.

I also wonder regarding the weight of 25,23 gram. With a loss of a few gram (3-4 according to the testing firm) the weight would be appr. 28-29 grams from the beginning. This is like an ounze and I read that the Troy ounce is deriving from the troy weight of Bremen which derives from Troy weight of Hamburg. Could the object also has something to do with weights?

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Age of golden coin? Two metal tests have been made
« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2014, 02:30:16 PM »
I would argue that searching an exact cross amounts to over-interpretation. Keep in mind that the object is very small and that dies were made by hand. A die sinker doesn't need a model to make a cross. If the die sinker used a model at all, he may have used a coin. The only requirement for a coin die with a cross is that the cross is centralised. The exact length and thickness of the arms is irrelevant. There were no instruments to overlay a large 3D cross on a small 2D one on a die and no instruments to scale a large design into a small one.

As for the weight, the likeliest option, because of its purity, is that the gold came from a Roman object and that all the gold available was used. In that case, the weight is Roman and does not relate to any medieval standard. Another option is that only part of the Roman object was used, in which case the weight is significant, if only because it determined the value of the object when it was made.

I can see where the weight thought is coming from. Weight was determined with balanced scales and a counterweight. We know many such instruments, though I am not aware of any this old - the scales are quite fragile and they are kept in a vulnerable wooden box.

The counterweights are brass and normally have an abstracted, much less detailed picture of both sides of the coin. There are some examples on our coin weights board The side with the cross could have served very well for a counterweight: it cannot be confused with the real coin, yet it can be seen as a symbol for a coin. It is even possible that the side with the cross was made with a die used for making counterweights, though in view of its clerical origin, that option is not too likely. It is more tempting to thing of a die for a lead token for the poor.

However, both the text side and the use of gold plead against the counterweight option. Weighing was the business of lowly merchants, jewellers and bankers. Noblemen would not necessarily be able to read, let alone calculate and convert weights. Lower social classes would have preferred an abstraction of the other side of the coin, rather than a text that carries a "render to Caesar what is Ceasar's" risk.

This does not exclude that an object of a specific medieval weight was ordered. I am only being sceptical about the further thought that the the object served as a counterweight.

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