Exhibition: Roman Coins in India

Augustus Coin found in the Pudukottai Hoard India
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting item from the Times of India:

Coins are not only used as a mode of exchange but they also reflect heritage. Indian-Roman relations was one such area where coins played a major role in establishing and strengthening ties between two countries.

At a special exhibition on Roman coins and other Roman antiquities found in South India, inaugurated by the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre director Angela Trezza at the Government Museum in Egmore on Tuesday, rare coins and antiquities were put on display for the public. “The exhibition will showcase the story of Rome-India contacts through artefacts, photographs and charts. The museum has the biggest collection of Roman coins 4,000 outside Europe,” TS Sridhar, secretary and commissioner of museums, told The Times Of India.

The exhibition, jointly organised by the Government Museum, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre and Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be open everyday between 10am and 4.30pm till February 2 at the museum’s centenary exhibition hall.

Historically, trade between ancient Rome and India can be traced to the rule of Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). Romans came to India in search of gemstones (mainly beryl), silk, cotton, ivory, spices (pepper and cardamom), sandalwood and peacocks. In return, India obtained coral, wine, olive oil and metals like gold, silver and copper.

Metals imported from Rome were mostly in the form of coins and medals. “The most striking feature of Roman coins found in India is that they have slash marks on them, generally 1 to 2 mm long and marked by a knife or a chisel or a file. In Tamil Nadu, Pudukkottai and Soriyapattu are the most important Roman coin hoards containing such slashed coins,” said N Sundararajan, curator, Numismatics section of Government Museum.

Another peculiar feature of the coins found in India is the occurrence of countermarks on some. Roman coins found in India are of gold, silver and copper mostly between 2nd century BC and 6-7th century AD the closing years of the Roman Republic to the time of Byzantine rulers. A majority of the Roman coins found in India occur as hoards buried underground in earthenware pots.

The range of coins is somewhat surprising, but even more surprising (isn’t it?) is that revelation that hoards have been found in India in pots just as they have been found all over the Empire. That would suggest settlement, wouldn’t it? Or was burying coins in pots a sort of ‘universal’ thing? The slash thing (as seen on the accompanying photo … not sure if it is part of the exhibition) is also a very interesting feature and clearly seems to be a way to check whether a coin was solid or merely plated.

Caligula Tomb Silliness

Caligula 02
Image via Wikipedia

Hot on the heels of Adrian Murdoch’s podcast on the nutty emperor, and just a few weeks before we mark the anniversary of the nutty emperor’s assassination,  comes nutty news from the Guardian (tip o’ the pileus to Tim Parkin, who first ‘broke’ the story on Facebook last night):

The lost tomb of Caligula has been found, according to Italian police, after the arrest of a man trying to smuggle abroad a statue of the notorious Roman emperor recovered from the site.

After reportedly sleeping with his sisters, killing for pleasure and seeking to appoint his horse a consul during his rule from AD37 to 41, Caligula was described by contemporaries as insane.

With many of Caligula’s monuments destroyed after he was killed by his Praetorian guard at 28, archaeologists are eager to excavate for his remains.

Officers from the archaeological squad of Italy’s tax police had a break last week after arresting a man near Lake Nemi, south of Rome, as he loaded part of a 2.5 metre statue into a lorry. The emperor had a villa there, as well as a floating temple and a floating palace; their hulks were recovered in Mussolini’s time but destroyed in the war.

The police said the statue was shod with a pair of the “caligae” military boots favoured by the emperor – real name Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; as a boy, Gaius accompanied his father on campaigns in Germany; the soldiers were amused he wore a miniature uniform, and gave him his nickname Caligula, or “little boot”.

The statue is estimated to be worth €1m. Its rare Greek marble, throne and god’s robes convinced the police it came from the emperor’s tomb. Under questioning, the tomb raider led them to the site, where excavations will start today.

The first thing we might advise the Guardian about is to not take the word of the police when it comes to matters historical/archaeological — Romans generally didn’t entomb folks on country estates is one obvious thing to point out. Another thing worth pointing out is the passage in Suetonius, which relates what happened to Caligula’s perforated corpse (ch. 59 via Lacus Curtius)

His body was conveyed secretly to the gardens of the Lamian family, where it was partly consumed on a hastily erected pyre and buried beneath a light covering of turf; later his sisters on their return from exile dug it up, cremated it, and consigned it to the tomb. Before this was done, it is well known that the caretakers of the gardens were disturbed by ghosts, and that in the house where he was slain not a night passed without some fearsome apparition, until at last the house itself was destroyed by fire.

Just to be legit, here’s the Latin (via the Latin Library):

Cadaver eius clam in hortos Lamianos asportatum et tumultuario rogo semiambustum levi caespite obrutum est, postea per sorores ab exilio reversas erutum et crematum sepultumque. Satis constat, prius quam id fieret, hortorum custodes umbris inquietatos; in ea quoque domo, in qua occubuerit, nullam noctem sine aliquo terrore transactam, donec ipsa domus incendio consumpta sit.

It is sometimes assumed (as in the Wikipedia article, which has already added the ‘discovery of the tomb’ story) that Caligula’s ‘reburial’ was in the Mausoleum of Augustus. This is not attested in any ancient source and as Anthony Barrett suggests in his biography of the guy (p. 167), it is “unlikely, but not impossible” that he was so interred. Knowing Roman burial practices, however, it is pretty much unlikely and impossible that Caligula would have been interred at the villa at Nemi, especially with all the haunting he supposedly did in the Lamian Gardens …

For the record, Mary Beard is also expressing her doots: This isn’t Caligula’s tomb | Times

UPDATE (later the same day): Rosella Lorenzi’s excellent coverage(Caligula Statue Hints at Lavish Villa) links to an item in the Corriere della Sera (Il tombarolo con la statua dell’ imperatore La villa di Caligola svelata da un furto) which is possibly the source of the Guardian piece and includes speculation about a ‘mausoleum’ and the possibility his remains might be there:

Proprio in quel paesino a due passi da Roma si era sempre immaginata l’ esistenza di una dimora fatta costruire dallo stravagante nipote di Tiberio, magari con un mausoleo. Ma non se ne erano mai trovate le tracce. Tanto meno decisive come una statua dello stesso imperatore: ragion per cui gli esperti sono quasi certi che villa fosse lì, affacciata sul piccolo lago vulcanico, in un punto spettacolare, da cui si vede il mare fino ad Anzio, dove Caligola era nato. Anzi, potrebbero essere lì anche i suoi resti.

… There are also details about the statue, including that it was headless and made of Parian marble. It depicted the emperor (presumably) as Zeus and had been broken in two pieces, apparently in antiquity.

CONF: The Hellenistic Court

Seen on the Classicists list (please direct any queries to the folks mentioned in the item and not to rogueclassicism):

The Hellenistic Court

Hosted by The Centre for the Study of the Hellenistic World (CSHW), School
of History, Classics & Archaeology, The University of Edinburgh, 25th-27th
February 2011.

This conference aims to demonstrate the centrality of palace institutions
in the cultural and political milieu of the disparate societies that made
up the Hellenistic world, and will re-establish the importance of
recognizing the royal court as a major component in the culture of the
Greek-speaking world in the period c 323-31 BCE.

Eran Almagor (Jerusalem) ‘Plutarch’s Hellenistic Courts’
Kostas Buraselis (Athens), ‘Beyond and inside the polis. Aspects of
recruitment and synthesis of Hellenistic court and society’
Laurent Capdetrey (Poitiers), ‘The Seleucid Court, the King and the
Territory: integration and disintegration’
Livia Capponi (Newcastle), ‘Court Jews’
Paola Ceccarelli (Durham), ‘Protocols of communication in the Seleucid
David Engels (Université libre de Bruxelles) ‘The Achaemenid and the
Seleucid Courts – Structural Continuities, Personal Changes’
Danielle Fatkin (Knox), ‘Purity, Power, and the Invention of the Hasmonean
Bathing Tradition’
Oleg Gabelko (Kazan State University), ‘The Court Society, Die Herrschende
Gesellsсhaft, Ethno-Сlasse Dominante: the Example of Bithynia and
Erich Gruen (UC Berkeley), ‘Hellenistic Court Patronage and the Non-Greek
Craig Hardiman (Waterloo), ‘Court-ing the Public: The Attalid Court and
Domestic Display’
Maria Kopsacheili (Oxford), ‘The Hellenistic Palace and the Ideology of
the Court’
Silvia Milanezi (Nantes) ‘Flatterers and Parasites at Court’
Peter Franz Mittag (Köln), ‘Seleucid Kings and their Courtiers’
Janett Morgan (Royal Holloway London), ‘At Home with Royalty: Constructing
the Hellenistic Palace’
Kevin Osterloh (Miami), ‘From Common Benefactor to Protector of the Human
Rome in the Eyes of the Judean Court’
Olga Palagia (Athens), ‘The royal court in ancient Macedonia: evidence
from art and archaeology’
Ivana Petrovic (Durham), ‘Callimachus’ gods and the Ptolemaic royal
family: models and echoes’
Ivana Savalli-Lestrade (Paris), ‘Bios aulikos. The Multiple Ways of Life
of Courtiers in the Hellenistic Age’
Daniel Selden (UC Santa Cruz), ‘Reading the Rosetta Stone: Language,
Literacy, and Power at the Ptolemaic Court’
Rolf Strootman (Utrecht), ‘Eunuchs, Renegades and Outsiders: The Favorite
at the Hellenistic Royal Courts’
Dorothy Thompson (Cambridge), ‘Outside the capital: the Ptolemaic court
and Courtiers’
Shane Wallace (Edinburgh), ‘Remembering the Past at the Hellenistic Courts’

Full details and registration at:

CFP: Postcolonial Latin American Adaptations of Greek and Roman Drama (APA Panel)

Seen on the Classicists list (please direct any queries to the folks mentioned in the item and not to rogueclassicism):

Postcolonial Latin American Adaptations of Greek and Roman Drama

143rd Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association

January 5-8, 2012, Philadelphia, PA

Organized by Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos (Saint Joseph’s University)

Research on the reception of classical drama has focused on Europe, Northern America, Africa, and
Australasia, but has ignored, for no justifiable reason, Latin America. Greek and Roman tragedies
regarded as canonical in the West migrated to this region since the early colonial years and have
been rewritten, especially in recent decades, to suit modern social and political concerns. For
example, Griselda Gambaro’s Furious Antigone (1986) and Jose Watanabe’s Antigone (1999), two of
the many Latin American adaptations of Sophocles’ play, appropriate a seminal story of protest
against state oppression to discuss the issue of the desaparecidos, the thousands of "missing"
civilians who were abducted, tortured, and murdered in secret by military and paramilitary forces
during the Dirty War in Argentina and Peru respectively. Similarly, in Medea in the Mirror (1960)
Jose Triana blends motifs from Euripides and Seneca to comment on the social and racial
inequalities in pre-Revolution Cuba, whereas Jorge Ali Triana revisits Sophocles in his film Oedipus
Mayor (1996) to document aspects of the Colombian Civil War waged between the army and
peasant guerillas.

The attention that Latin American adaptations of Greek and Roman drama have so far received
from Anglophone classicists (Nelli 2009, 2010; Nikoloutsos 2010, 2011; Torrance 2007) is
disproportionate to their number and geographical spread. Seeking to raise awareness about this
important area of research, this panel–the first of its kind to be organized at a national level–
solicits papers that examine case studies and approach the topic from a variety of theoretical and
interdisciplinary perspectives. Questions to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the

1. What is the artistic and sociohistorical context for these adaptations?
2. Are they direct derivates of the Greek or Roman original, or are there other texts or traditions
involved in this hybridization?
3. Are these rewritings dominated by or emancipated from the ancient prototype in terms of
narrative structure, character development, and ideology?
4. Does this blending of classical themes with postcolonial experiences leave room for indigenous,
mestizo, mulatto, or other mixed-race identities to be expressed?
5. What conclusions about the migration of ideological topoi and stylistic features across Latin
America can we draw from these adaptations?

Abstracts must be received in the APA office by February 1, 2011. Please send an anonymous
abstract as a PDF attachment to apameetings AT sas.upenn.edu. Be sure to mention the title of the
panel and provide complete contact information and any AV requests in the body of your email. In
preparing the abstract, please follow the APA’s formatting guidelines for individual abstracts. All
submissions will be reviewed anonymously. Inquiries can be addressed to
Konstantinos.Nikoloutsos AT sju.edu.