The Dated Coins of Herod the Great: Towards a New Chronology

The Dated Coins of Herod the Great: Towards a New Chronology
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  1 This is a revised version of a paper I presented at the Fourth Annual Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History: Empires and Imperial Control in Comparative Historical Perspective  , March 19-20, 2004. 2 In this paper, I will be using the term “friendly king” to denote semi-independentmonarchs such as Herod who were allied with Rome and inside Rome’s sphere of in fl uence. Past scholarship has referred to these rulers as “client kings.” David Braund,in his monograph, Rome and the Friendly King  , has argued persuasively that the term“client king” is slightly misleading because it implies a relationship, which was exactlyparallel to the relationship between a Roman  patronus  and his personal clientes  . Instead,he argues for the use of the term “friendly king” or “allied king.” On the one hand,these allied kings subordinated themselves and their interests to Rome in a way simi-lar to that of a Roman cliens  . Further, these monarchs did have certain obligationsincumbent upon them, which are somewhat parallel to the obligations of a Roman cliens  , and conversely, Rome and Augustus had obligations to these kings, which par-tially mirror those of a Roman  patronus  . However, I agree with Braund that the Romansnever referred to kings such as Herod as their “clients,” and that the relationship isnot exactly parallel to the patron/client system that functioned in Roman civil society. THE DATED COINS OF HEROD THE GREAT:TOWARDS A NEW CHRONOLOGY 1  ADAM KOLMAN MARSHAK Yale UniversitySummary This paper discusses and proposes a new chronology for a series of Herodthe Great’s coins, known as the dated series, which are largest and mostartistic of his coin issues. While earlier scholarship dated these issues tothe early Herodian period, this paper argues instead that the coins werestruck in 27 B.C.E. to commemorate the rebuilding and renaming of Samaria/Sebaste in Augustus’ honor. Herod minted these coins as a spe-cial series to celebrate this great achievement, an accomplishment thatsimultaneously advertised Herod’s power and magni fi cence as well as hisloyalty to the new Augustan regime. Herod the Great, who ruled Judaea from 40 until 4 B.C.E., skillfullysurvived two Roman civil wars and emerged as one of the most successfulsemi-independent monarchs known as “friendly kings.” 2 Although ruthless ©Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2006Journal for the Study of Judaism,XXXVII,2Also available online  – !"! $%&'($$)(')'*'+, %-$-,. +/)0 12 1345 ')'                  213 For Braund’s analysis see David Braund, Rome and the Friendly King: The Character of the Client Kingship (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984). 3 The hypothesis that there were two Herodian mints is not new. However, there isnot a consensus among scholars about the location of the mints. Some, such as UrielRappaport, have argued that the dated coins were struck in Ascalon. Others such as Josef Meyshan argue for Tyre as the minting city. The majority of scholars, however,agree with Meshorer that the coins were stuck in Samaria. For Rappaport’s theory see Rappaport, “Ascalon and the Coinage of Judea,” La Parola del Passato 201 (1981):353-366. For Meyshan’s theory, see below. and oppressive, he was also a capable and stable ruler. When he roseto the throne, he inherited a territory ravaged by Roman and Judaeancivil wars. Within his own lifetime, however, he turned it into a pro-ductive and stable kingdom. Throughout his reign, Herod engaged inan extensive propaganda program using architecture, public works andcoins to advertise his power, success and close relationship with Romeand its leaders. Herod broadcasted a dual message to his Roman and Jewish audiences. To the Romans, he appeared as a friendly monarch,eager to highlight his close relations fi rst with Marc Antony and thenwith Augustus. To the Jews, he loudly proclaimed his importance inthe new Roman regimes as well as his strong Roman support.In this paper, I will focus on the series of coins known in modernnumismatics as the “Herodian dated series” due to the date on thecoins. While earlier scholarship dated these issues to the early years of Herod’s reign, I will argue instead that the coins should be dated to27 B.C.E. and that they were minted to commemorate the rebuilding and renaming of the city of Samaria/Sebaste in Augustus’ honor. Ibelieve that Herod minted these coins as a special series to celebratehis grand achievement, which was the fi rst of a string of cities aroundthe Roman world rebuilt and named in honor of Augustus. It was alsoHerod’s fi rst major building project designed to glorify the imperialfamily. Simultaneously, through his utilization of symbols and coin typesassociated with Augustus and the Principate, Herod strongly assertedhis allegiance to the new regime.In order to prove my theory, I will review the evidence for the exis-tence of two mints in the Herodian kingdom, one in Jerusalem, andone in Samaria/Sebaste. I will argue that the mint at Samaria producedthe dated series. 3 Before I discuss this two-mint hypothesis and the loca-tion of the dated series at Samaria, I will provide a general introductionto the dated coinage and a brief discussion of the previous theoriesand and their de fi cencies. !"! $%&'($$)(')'*'+, %-$-,. +/)0 12 1345 ')$  214         4 There is no consensus on the reverse image of this coin. David Hendin thinks theimage on the reverse of this coin is a helmet with cheek pieces and strap rather thana p›low . In his most recent monograph, Ya a akov Meshorer argues that the image is anapex, a ceremonial hat of the Roman augurs. (In his 1982 work  Ancient Jewish Coinage  ,Meshorer argued that the image was a helmet with cheek pieces, and indeed, the cat-alogue of TJC  identi fi es the reverse image as a “helmet with cheek pieces.”) David M. Jacobson was the fi rst person to suggest that this image might be a Dioscuri hat.As Jacobson notes, the coin type is actually a composite of two images with a slightspace between them. The upper image is a Dioscuri p›low and the lower image is acouch on which is rests. Although the Dioscuri hat on the coin is a little more squatand ogival than the norm, a very similar image, which is clearly a Dioscuri hat, appearson two stone slabs found in excavations at Samaria/Sebaste. These slabs will be dis-cussed in greater detail below. In the latest edition of his Guide to Biblical Coins  , Hendinprovides additional support for this hypothesis. First, he notes that the star above theimage, which he calls a “soldier’s helmet,” “parallels similar designs commonly foundon coins depicting the caps of the Dioscuri” (Hendin 2001, 162). Further, there seemsto be a wreath surrounding the hemispherical portion of the image. The slabs at Samariareveal the same wreath surrounding the Dioscuri hats.I agree with Jacobson’s hypothesis. In my own examination of the dated coins, Ihave found additional support for Jacobson’s thesis. After examining Herodian datedcoins in the collections of the American Numismatic Society, the Ashmolean Museum,the British Museum and Yale University, I have determined that there is a spacebetween the upper, hemispherical part of the image, and the lower part. Secondly, thehemisphere is in high relief and the rest of the image is not. This suggests that thereare two central images being displayed not one. For Meshorer and Hendin’s discussionof the image see Ya a akov Meshorer,  A Treasury of Jewish Coins  (Nyack, NY: Amphora,2001), 61-64, 221; Ya a akov Meshorer,  Ancient Jewish Coinage  : Herod the Great through Bar Cochba  (vol. 2; New York: Amphora Books, 1982), 18-22; David Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins  (4th ed.; New York: Amphora, 2001), 161-162. For Jacobson’s argument see DavidM. Jacobson, “A New Interpretation of the Reverse of Herod’s Largest Coin,”  ANSMN  31 (1986): 145-165. For the stone slabs with Dioscuri hats see David M. Jacobson,“Herod the Great Shows His True Colors,”  Near Eastern Archaeology 64 (2001): 101.  Description of the Dated Herodian Issues  Numismatists have established two classes of Herodian bronze coins.The fi rst group, which appear in far greater numbers, are often light-weight and are of a relatively low artistic quality. They do not havea date, and are thus called the “undated coins.” They contrast starklyto another series of Herodian coins that modern numismatists call the“dated series,” due to the L  G  (year 3) that appears on every issue inthis group. A monogram, TP  , also accompanies this date. These coinsare heavier and of higher artistic quality than the undated issues. Thereare four combinations of coin types that appear on the dated series.They are in obverse/reverse combinations: (1) a tripod with a lebes  standing on a podium/a wreathed Dioscuri hat ( p›low  ) on a ceremonialtable fl anked by two palm branches (Coin 1); 4 (2) a crested helmet with !"! $%&'($$)(')'*'+, %-$-,. +/)0 12 1345 ')+                  215 In this paper, I will be dealing primarily with the dated coin issues. Hereinafter, Iwill refer to them as the “dated series,” “dated issues,” or “dated coins.” The remain-der of Herod’s coinage, which is lightweight (ranging from 0.85 g to at most 3.14 g)and of lower quality will be called the “undated series.” For this paper, I will be iden-tifying the dated coins as follows: Coin 1 ! Hendin 486 (H486), Coin 2 ! Hendin 487(H487), Coin 3 ! Hendin 488 (H488), Coin 4 ! Hendin 489 (H489). 5 There is not a consensus on the reverse image of this coin either. For reasons thatwill be explained below, I agree with Meshorer that it is a poppy stalk. 6 Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus  (trans. Alan Shapiro; AnnArbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), 82-84, 92-97. For examples of other Augustansymbols that appear on Herod’s coins see Harold Mattingly, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum: Augustus to Vitellius  (vol. 1; London: British Museum Press, 1923),Pls: 6:2 (laurel branches and oak leaves), 6:4.13-15 (shield). Cf. Zanker, The Power of Images  , 92-93 (Figs. 75-76), 96 (Fig. 80), 300 (Fig. 231). cheek pieces/a decorated shield (Coin 2  ); (3) a winged caduceus/apoppy head on a stem with leaves (Coin 3); 5 and (4) an aphlaston/apalm branch with a fi llet (Coin 4). The TP  monogram always appearson the right of the main image and the date always appears on theleft. Every coin of this series has the inscription HRVDOU BASILEVS (of King Herod), which starts on the left side below and forms a closedcircle. The lettering is neat and orderly with no change in shape. Previous Discussions of the Dated Herodian Issues  Previous hypotheses concerning the dated issues often proceed frompreconceived notions of what is historically appropriate rather thanfrom the material itself. For example, most of the chronology theoriesassume that Herod’s high quality coinage must have srcinated earlyin his reign because they presume that Herod would have needed tocommemorate his amazing rise to power with memorable coinage.However, the symbols on the coinage do not necessitate an Antonianera dating. It is more likely that the symbols are post-Actium and fromthe Principate of Augustus. The aphlaston symbol, which appears onthe obverse of Coin 4, is an indication of this. According to PaulZanker, after 31 B.C.E. the aphlaston, which was already a generalemblem of naval victory, became a common symbol for Augustus’ naval victory at Actium over Marc Antony and Cleopatra. 6 Further, the shieldon Coin 2 might be an allusion to the so-called First Act of Settlement.We know from Suetonius, Cassius Dio and the Res Gestae  that in early27 B.C.E. Augustus announced that he was resigning all of his extra-ordinary powers. It took the Senate three days to determine how torespond. On January 16, 27 B.C.E., the Senate voted to give Octavian !"! $%&'($$)(')'*'+, %-$-,. +/)0 12 1345 ')6  216         7 For the Senate granting Octavian the new name Augustus as well as voting himthe right to decorate his doorposts with laurel and oak leaves and the gift of a goldenshield see Suetonius,  Dei    fi  ed Augustus  7.2; Dio Cass. 53.16.6-8; Res gest. divi Aug. 34. 8 While there have been a variety of interpretations of the TP  monogram, ranging from a crux anasata  , a life-symbol of the ancient Egyptians, to it being an indication of the numismatic value of the coin, most scholars interpret the monogram as an abbreviation.Scholars such as A. Reifenberg have argued that the TP  were the initials of Vraxvn›tiw ,a region in the northern Transjordan, which Augustus gave to Herod after the previ-ous ruler Zenodorus died. They claim that this land grant occurred in 27 B.C.E., three years after Augustus had recon fi rmed Herod’s kingship, and thus the “year 3” shouldbe read in conjunction with the TP  . Kanael was the fi rst to show the major problemswith this hypothesis. He successfully argued that Herod did not receive the grant of  Vraxvn›tiw until 24/23 B.C.E., which was not “year 3” by any reckoning. Further,Kanael asserts that Herod would not have restarted the numbering of the years of hisreign in 30, even though Augustus recon fi rmed him as king then. As Kanael states, “Itwould, indeed, seem strange to fi nd a vassal king recommencing his reckonings everytime his rule was con fi rmed by a new overlord” (Baruch Kanael, “The Coins of King Herod of the Third Year,”  JQR  42 (1951-1952): 262-263. As I will argue later, Herod’sdating is based not on a recounting of regnal years, but on a new royal era. 9 Kanael,  JQR  , 263-264. Kanael notes that Josephus twice remarks that Herod’sreign began the day of his coronation by the Roman Senate, not the day he seized Jerusalem and defeated Antigonus. In  A.J. , Josephus writes, that after the Senate hadproclaimed Herod king, Antony “entertained him (Herod) on the fi rst day of his reign.”(  A.J. 14.389;  B.J. 1.285). the name Augustus, to decorate his doorposts with laurel and to adornhis door with oak leaves and a civic crown ob cives servatos  (on behalf of the citizens who were saved). Finally, the Senate presented him witha golden shield, which was set up in the Curia Julia and which com-memorated his “virtue, clemency, justice and piety.” 7 While this historyis certainly not de fi nitive proof, it does allow us to question the validityof simply assuming an early date for the series and to begin to examineother possibilities. As I will explain in detail below, a later chronologyfor the series is more persuasive, and we should date the series to 27B.C.E., the year that Octavian became Augustus and the year thatHerod began Samaria/Sebaste, his fi rst “imperial” city. The Date and the Monogram 8  Baruch Kanael  . In his article “The Coins of King Herod of the ThirdYear,” Kanael argues that “year 3” refers to 37 B.C.E. when Herodtook Jerusalem and defeated the last Hasmonean, Mattathias Antigonus.He asserts that although Herod did not become king de facto until 37,he started counting his regnal years from his appointment by the RomanSenate in December 40 B.C.E. 9 Ya a akov Meshorer, in his early book  !"! $%&'($$)(')'*'+, %-$-,. +/)0 12 1345 ').
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