Sunday, November 24, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Introduction, Collecting and Type Description
Part 1 of a 3 part series
Collecting “Seated Tyche of Antioch Types” can seduce most any ancient coin collector because it offers a wide variety of ancient coin types, cities, history, denominations, metals, and artistic showmanship. Part 1 will cover the concept, history and artistry. Part 2 will cover the cities and coin types. Part 3 will cover the references you'll need while building your collection.
The “Seated Tyche of Antioch” type of coin sports a reverse, and sometimes obverse, of the likeness of the famous statue of ancient Antioch. This likeness shows a seated and draped female, the Tyche, sporting certain symbolic accoutrements: Tyche seated on rocks, draped, wearing a mural crown, holding wheat ears (or other plants), with her foot on the river god Orontes).
Tyche is not a major goddess, but more a personification of a city, more a tutelary deity. Many cities were represented as females, or Tyches, usually standing or seated, with a crown resembling city walls, and holding the rudder of a ship. For many people in the ancient world the city was a lifeline of sustenance, protection, and livelihood. This Tyche directed the fortunes and prosperity of the city, its inhabitants, inside and outside the city. The ship's rudder symbolized the directing of fortune and prosperity and the mural crown resembling the city walls represented the protection the walls provided against invaders and marauders.
This was the most common representation of Tyche on ancient coins (Greek and Roman Provincial), mural crown and ship's rudder. However, the most popular image was the Tyche of Antioch, a sculpture created by the renowned Eutychides of Sicyon, a pupil of Lyssipus, (circa 330-290 BC).
Eutychides built his famous bronze statue in Antioch around the period of the city's founding, around the end of the 4th century BC. He cleverly assembled and conflated a series of symbols that represented both the fortunes and features of Antioch and made it viewable from all sides. Another innovation was her beautiful flowing drapery. It was one of the first of its kind, introducing the illusion of motion. He cleverly sculpted her robes to seem as if they are flowing across her body.
Tyche of Antioch, Roman Copy, Vatican Museum (author's photo)
- Description of the Statue (see annotated photo below of a Roman coin of Antioch, Syria)
- Woman: Tyche, personification of the city of Antioch and its fortunes
- Rocks: Mount Silpius, Antioch lies between its slopes and the river Orontes
- Item Held: Wheat ears representing the abundance of sustenance the city provides or a palm branch representing victory (as in the annotated photo below)
- River god: Orontes river, which flows through the city bringing life giving water
- Crown: Mural crown, in the shape of turreted city walls, representing the protection the city provides.
Roman Provincial coin of Augustus, Antioch Syria (author's photo)
The statue was so popular and the symbolism so powerful that the image and idea spread across the trade routes throughout Syria, Anatolia (Turkey today) and even into some Thracian area cities. The image was replicated on coins, bottles, lamps, jewelry, statuettes and in gold, bronze, and silver.
Due to its popularity and the population's visceral connection with the fortunes of their cities, the statue had a long history. Created around the end of the 4th century BC, it lasted through the Hellenistic and Roman eras and into Byzantine times (shown on a coin of Justinian in 6th century), a period most likely spanning over 700 years.
Because of the artistry and the long history of both the great city of Antioch and the famous statue, this ancient coin type has captured the imagination of many collectors throughout the world.
In the next post I'll discuss the various cities that minted coins of this type, the various coin types, and the variances of imagery encountered with "Tyche of Antioch" type ancient coins.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Seated Tyche of Antioch example from Rome under the reign of Hadrian.
Obverse: HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS
Laureate but right, draped, seen from behind
Reverse: COS III
Tyche seated left on rocks, holding ears of wheat; below, river-god Orontes swimming left; in field to left and right SC
This is a rarer selection of the Seated Tyche of Antioch types, minted in Rome. Hadrian was a great traveler, traveling around the empire most of his reign. This coin was minted at Rome, most likely for circulation in and around Antioch, Syria, especially for his journeys to the area. He spent some time in Antioch, and it's suburb Daphne, and had built several monuments and public works.
RIC 680 (Roman Imperial Coinage)
McAlee 544 (The Coins of Roman Antioch)
For those that are new to Tyche of Antioch types, this is a good conflation theme representing the fortunes of those who resided in or depended on the great ancient city of Antioch for their lives and livelihoods :
- Tyche with turret crown represents the personification of the city and the protection the walls provide. Antioch was situated on the frontier between the Roman Empire and the empires of the Parthians, Sassanians, and Islamic Empires. It was constantly under threat so the city walls were all most had between them and invasion.
- The rocks represent Mount Silpius, the mountain directly behind the city where much of the later city walls surmounted and where much water flowed down to the river Orontes and the city cisterns.
- River-god Orontes represents the river Orontes flowing through the city, providing life giving water and transportation.
- Tyche holding wheat ears represents the abundance of food. Remember, in ancient times the majority of people concentrated on just getting enough to eat to survive on a day to day basis, so famines could become catastrophic in a very short time. Relying on the city for food during the hard times could mean life or death for those less fortunate.
(my first real post, wrote it in a hurry, so if anyone sees something wrong feel free to comment and correct it)