Aksumite, Anonymous. Draped bust right, wearing headcloth (‘King’); Greek cross within circle, with greek legend (‘May this please the country’); Circa AD 340-425
Reference : Munro-Hay Type 52; BMC Aksum 140; 1.12 g, AE

The kingdom of Axum occupies the coastal region of what is now Ethiopia and was a trading hub between Africa, Arabia, and India, and it had ties to the Mediterranean World, as evidenced by the Greek writing and cross.

This coin is of a particularly common type and is often attributed to King Ezana, the first Christian king of Axum. The kingdom remained a vital trading center until the rise of Islam in the 7th century, when they were slowly edged out by Muslim competition, but the kingdom maintained peaceful relations with the Caliphs because of early friendship shown by the Axumites to the first followers of Muhammed.

Axum was also the only kingdom to mint coins in antiquity in sub-Saharan Africa.

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During the “Lisa’s Substitute” episode, all the way back in season two of Season 2 of The Simpsons, substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom declares to his students that “everybody has a talent” and asks to see theirs saying, “There has to be something you do better than anyone.”

Japanese Twitter-user @thumb_tani’s special talent is building awesome, gravity-defying coin towers, calling it “my one, worthless talent.” One look at these two photos and we know that Mr. Bergstrom would say otherwise.

Just in case you think there’s some Photoshop trickery happening here, head over to RocketNews24 to watch a video of @thumb_tani demonstrating this special talent.

[via RocketNews24]

Largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins found in recent years goes on display

Rare treasures from the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins discovered in recent years, found by a metal detectorist, have been put on display at the British Museum.

The archaeological hoard, of about 5,200 coins, buried during the reign of Cnut in the 11th century, was discovered in the Buckinghamshire village of Lenborough shortly before Christmas wrapped in a lead sheet.

A total of 300 coins will be on display at the British Museum while the collection goes through the “treasure process” of valuation ahead of a potential sale, possibly to a Buckinghamshire institution. Read more.

Celtic Billon Stater of the Curiosolites, Northwest Gaul, c. 100-50 BC

The Curiosolites or Curiosolitae were a people in the French region now called Brittany, in Celtica, who are mentioned by Julius Caesar in the Bellum Gallicum several times. He names the Curiosolites along with the Veneti, Unelli, Osismi, and other tribes that he calls maritimae civitates (maritime cities). Not much is known about this Celtic tribe.

This exceptional coin shows a Celticized head facing right, hair in large spiral curls, S-like ear; pearl strings flowing around. The reverse shows a devolved charioteer driving a biga; ornaments around; below, boar right; pearl string flowing above. 

Map of the Curiosolites’ territory…

Dozens of Greek and Roman coins are part of a collection of ancient coins that was donated to the University at Buffalo in 1935. But it was only recently that the school realized how special they are.

For years, the coins sat on a shelf in the school’s library, mostly ignored — until a classics professor asked specialists to come to the archive and examine them.

“I must have been the first person to touch them in almost 40 years,” says Philip Kiernan, an assistant professor who became curious about the collection after he heard a rumor about it in 2010.

U.S. College Finds Priceless Coin Collection — In Its Own Library

Photo Credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo

For 80 years, ancient gold treasure rested undisturbed in UB library

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Finding a $20 bill could make your day. Find priceless, 2,500-year-old gold and silver Greek and Roman coins, and you’ve made the discovery of a lifetime.

That’s what happened to University at Buffalo faculty member Philip Kiernan, who heard a rumor from a UB alumnus in 2010 that the UB Libraries housed the rare coins.

Three years later, Kiernan, an assistant professor of classics, channeled his inner Indiana Jones and journeyed to the depths of the UB archives to find them.   

The collection, he was shocked to learn, was real: 40 silver Greek coins, three gold Greek coins and a dozen gold Roman coins — one from each era of the first 12 Roman emperors, from Julius Caesar to Domitian. Read more.

Silver Stater from Abdera, Thrace, c. 411/10-386/5 BC

The figure of Herakles on the reverse of this coin is considered to be one of the finest depictions of him in Greek coinage. The composition, although showing him at rest, clearly illustrates his power and strength. The griffin on the obverse is shown as if it is at the moment of landing, as its wings are slightly open giving the impression that they are still lightly fluttering. This stater of Abdera is one of the finest engraved of that series.

(Obverse: ABΔH inscribed , griffin seated to left, its wings slightly spread, a cicada on left. Reverse: EΠIΦIΛA / ΔOΣ inscribed , Herakles seated facing three-quarters to left on a rock draped with a lion’s skin, his torso and head turned facing, he holds a club in his right hand that rests on his right knee, and he rests his left elbow on his thigh, all within a shallow incuse square.)

Abdera saw its height of prosperity soon after 544 BC, when the majority of the people of Teos (including the poet Anacreon) migrated to Abdera to escape the Persian yoke (Herodotus i. 168). The chief coin type, a griffin, is identical with that of Teos’ coinage. The Teans brought the Gryphon myth with them to Abdera.

In 513 BC and 512 BC, the Persians conquered Abdera. In 492 BC, the Persians again conquered Abdera, this time under Darius I. It later became part of the Delian League and fought on the side of Athens in the Peloponnesian war. Abdera was a wealthy city, the third richest in the League, due to its status as a prime port for trade with the interior of Thrace and the Odrysian kingdom. A valuable prize, the city was repeatedly sacked: by the Triballi in 376 BC, Philip II of Macedon in 350 BC; later by Lysimachos of Thrace, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, and again by the Macedonians. In 170 BC the Roman armies and those of Eumenes II of Pergamon besieged and sacked it. The town seems to have declined in importance after the middle of the 4th century BC.

Abdera (map) is not far from the mouth of the Nestos River, almost directly opposite the island of Thasos.The site is occupied by the modern town of Ávdhira in the Xanthi regional unit of Thrace, Greece.

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Islamic coins found in a Viking Age grave from Norway
Source: http://irisharchaeology.ie/2015/02/islamic-coins-found-in-a-viking-age-grave-from-norway/

The Viking grave (PHOTO: RAGNAR VENNATRØ / NTNU / SCIENCE MUSEUM) Archaeologists have uncovered a Viking Age grave in Skaun, Norway that most likely contained the remains of a warrior. The person died in circa 950 AD and was buried with their weapons, which included a well preserved sword and shield boss. Remains of a leather purse were found inside the shield boss………Read More