Wired Gets All Wired Up About a Denarius

I’m sure most of you have seen this — it’s been making the rounds these past couple of days — from Wired:

*This one features the Moon driving her chariot over a housefly.

*I can’t doubt that this made perfect sense at the time. It’s like: you got drunk, and you went to the gladiatorial games, and you watched half a dozen guys get slaughtered. And then you were broke. And hung over. And then you asked your friend, Julius: “Hey. Can you loan me a couple of houseflies? Just to tide me over till payday?”

“No problem, buddy.” Clink. Clink.

… accompanied by a very large photo:

It was also accompanied by a link to the British Museum catalog, whence it presumably came, but, alas, it didn’t work. So for those of you who were wondering, it’s a Denarius dated to 179-170 B.C. … official description:

(obverse) Helmeted head of Roma, right; behind, denominational mark. Border of dots.
(reverse) Luna in biga, right, with horses prancing; below, mark; in exergue, inscription. Line border.

... the ‘fly’ is designated as an inscription. The BM has several examples of this coin (here, here, here, here, etc.)

The fly is curious, but the one I’ve always wondered about is the grasshopper, e.g. on this one from the 90s B.C.:

… or this one from 92 B.C.:

I’ve often wondered whether these little things (which are often beneath the rearing feet of a horse) are some sort of family/national symbol or something, but have never been able to check that out. Does the grasshopper indicate a year when grain was threatened and the threat averted? Was the moneyer’s family rewarded with an agnomen because of it? Was including the grasshopper the fulfillment of some sort of vow?

Nysa Dig Resumes

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists have begun excavations at the ancient Greek city of Nysa, in western Turkey, where they hope to find new artifacts around the theater, agora and gymnasium.

Professor Vedat İdil, head of the excavation team from Ankara University, said the team, comprised of Turkish, Canadian and American architects, archaeologists and historians, plans to work until October this year.

Nysa is located in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın province, 50 kilometers east of the Ionian city of Ephesus. There are important ruins on the site from the Hellenistic period, the Roman period and the Byzantine era. Much of the open-air Greek theater and its walled entrances are still intact. The library currently has three walls.

There are remnants of a gymnasium, a Roman bath and a bouleuterion. The 100-meter Nysa Bridge, a tunnel-like substructure, was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.

via: Excavations begin in Nysa in western Turkey | Hurriyet

n.b. … in case you were wondering,  this Nysa (in Caria) is not to be confused with Nysa-Scythopolis (in Israel)

Latest from Peperikon

The last bits from a piece at Novinite:

The latest Perperikon finds presented Tuesday include a human idol from the 5th century BC, a bronze axe and a Thracian war knife. The archeologist explained that during the first day of the excavations they also found a medical instrument from Roman times, which has been used to remove from skin a worm-parasite and then clean the wound.

Other unique discoveries include a Roman lamp from the 3rd century with the picture of a scarcely clad female dancer waiving a scarf above her head, a number of antique coins, a silver coin with Tsar Ivan Alexander and his son Mihail, and a medieval silver tiara. The finds are very important because they are not very typical for this area and are proof for Bulgarian presence here in 1343, according to Ovcharov.

The archeologist informed that this summer the digs are subsidized with BGN 118 000 which will allow for 3-month work and a team of over 100. In addition to the connection between the palace and the Perperikon Acropolis, the archeologists will study for the first time the northeastern sector of the Acropolis with the full study of the latter being the final goal.

Ovcharov declared the excavations and the research show Perperikon is the largest ancient city in the Rhodope Mountains and one of the largest on the Balkans during the Antiquity and the Middle Age, much larger than the Bulgarian historical coastal towns of Sozopol and Nesebar.

The first few paragraphs are a response to claims of ‘relationships’ between archaeologists and treasure hunters in Bulgaria.

d.m. Colin Austin

From Cambridge City News:

Cambridge professor Colin Austin, one of the world’s leading specialists on ancient Greek texts, has died of cancer at the age of 69.

Australian-born Prof Austin was educated in England and France – his mother tongue was French.

He studied at Oxford and came to Trinity Hall as a research fellow in 1965.

He was made a director of studies there, and remained a fellow until he retired in 2008.

Prof Austin, a fellow of the British Academy, taught in the Faculty of Classics in Cambridge and was treasurer of the Cambridge Philological Society for 40 years.

Colleagues said he had “a remarkable gift” for reconstructing fragmentary poetic texts preserved on Egyptian papyri.

Prof Austin had been working on a new edition of Greek New Comedy poet Menander.

He is survived by his wife Mishtu, their two children and four grandchildren.