LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L Archives

CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L@LISTSERV.HEANET.IE


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L  April 2002

CELTIC-L April 2002

Subject:

Re: Vercingetorix coins

From:

John Hooker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Mon, 15 Apr 2002 18:05:52 -0600

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (249 lines) , text/plain (7 lines)

Hi Dan,

>hi.
>sorry it's taken so long to get back to you about these vercingetorix
>coins, it's been a busy month.

I've been busy too so there's no problem.

>my interest in these coins was sparked by a reference in an old book by
>R.H. Allen,"Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning"...in a long discussion
>about the constellation Aquarius, as he is detailing different
>historical conceptualizations of this star group, he relates how this
>constellation has been immemorially connected to the pouring of water
>from a bucket or urn, and that sometimes it was conceived of as the
>container alone(i.e without the attendant pourer)...(it seems this idea
>of an amphora,( or situla, or urna, or kalpis/kalpeis) was specifically
>connected to the stars gamma, zeta, epsilon,and pi-which make a Y shape)
>
>in the middle of this discussion he throws in a reference to
>Vercingetorix' stater marked "diota", a two eared jar.i found this
>rather curious. what led Mr. Allen to the conclusion that the amphora
>was meant to refer to this asterism? he doesn't seem given to wild
>speculation in the book, though in cataloguing all the known references
>to star lore he may be repeating someone else's unfounded speculation.
>if this is the case i wonder what his original source was.

It sounds as if he is making the claim that the coin shows the word itself.
If this is so, then I don't know which specimen he was looking at. One of
them has some marks in the illustration that might mean something more if
one could see the actual coin, but I doubt it.

>ok so here's my own wild speculation:
>1) amphorae in general are a big part of the evidence we have regarding

>the trade between the mediterranean and celtic areas of europe from very
>early on. the wine trade was pretty substantial (i don't know about
>olive oil or other things like garrum [sp?] sauce etc...).

Yes, wine was the most important import to the Celts as far as I can see.

>2) if the cultural hierarchy of the celts was influenced or maintained
>by the ability of "the elite" to provide luxury items to their
>supporters, amphorae might have been a symbol of that status deriving
>from and denoting one's wealth and power...

This seems in keeping with what we know about feasting and the like.

>3) if the gauls borrowed some of the classical world's ideas about
>astrology, they too might have been familiar with the "amphora"
>conception of part of the aquarius constellation.

Classical authors have mentioned the druid's study or discussion of the
cosmos, so this is a reasonable hypothesis. Coming up with more specific
evidence to a specific constellation might be a bit of  task though. A
first step would be to see if what there is that might suggest an attention
to constellations generally, as opposed to solar/lunar cycles. Perhaps
there is something in Strabo or Diodorus, or some later hints in say, Lucian.

>4) we know that vercingetorix, although of an "aristocratic" family, was
>not a king, but rather had the authority of supreme war leader conferred
>upon him in 52 b.c. at Bibracte.

Vercingetorix father, Celtillus, was an overlord of Gaul who had been put
to death when he tried to make himself king of his tribe, the Arverni. This
points to a rather odd political structure. We would think today that
holding power over all of Gaul would be higher than being a king, but
perhaps this overlord position was not as important, in the mind of
Celtillus, to his being king of his own tribe.

It seems that being an overlord was more of an administrative position, or
something like a modern "Speaker of the House" or "Chairman of the Board".
Given that the two main factions were led by the Aedui and the Arverni,
Celtillus might have been closer to being like a modern "Prime Minister"
within a monarchy. There seems to be no direct modern parallel, so I'm
flailing around a bit with this -- it's a bit away from my area of knowledge.

>5) i don't know when exactly this meeting took place, but given that the
>focus of activity formerly centered at Bibracte was moved later to
>Augustodunum, i would guess that this was a meeting similar to the one
>in the territory of the Carnutes which Augustus relocated to Lyon (in an
>attempt to demonstrate 'the unity of Gaul and rome, by equating himself
>with Lugh' as Barry Cunliffe puts it.) Thus i would guess that this
>meeting coincided with whatever continental equivalent of Lugnasad they
>had, with the accompanying council meetings, fairs etc.

The annual meeting of the tribes was, as Caesar says held in the territory
of the Carnutes, and it was the Carnutes who as a prelude to these events,
said that all should stand together, and offered to strike the first blow.
This suggests to me that they did so, not on a whim, but to demonstrate
their traditional role as moderators -- a sort of Gaulish Geneva. It might
have seemed to them appropriate to hold the official pan-Gallic council in
another place (Bibracte) at this time as it was not a meeting for various
reconciliations of opposing factions, but a council of war. So it might
have not just been similar to the meeting in the territory of the Carnutes,
but the same, and held on the established date.

>6) during this festival of Lugh, in early August, the sun would be in
>the constellation Leo. this means that the opposit sign, Aquarius, would
>be dominating the nighttime sky .
>7) we know the celts' emphasis on the "night" half beginning their
>calendar days, so i would speculate that the nighttime sky may have been
>more important than the star group that was occupied by the sun.

>8) if vercingetorix was trying to advertise his authority conferred by
>this council, the amphora might be a symbol of elite status, and the
>associated "gift system", but also might have suggested the council that
>met at Lugnasad.

I'm not too clear on this.

>9) the horse too might be associated with the Lugnasad council, although
>the horse is a pretty common motif and certainly has much more likely
>warrior-elite associations...interestingly none of the coins has any
>chariot symbols, nor wheels, nor weaponry...

That is a problematical area. Speaking generally, the chariot often
vanishes on coins. Sometimes there is a trace left of a wheel that assumes
a special role as a symbol in its own right. The earliest coins of the
Arverni depict the chariot, but the horse does rise to prominence. One
earlier coin appears to have a shield below the horse with a boss and a
strengthening rib that runs above and below the boss. Later, some coins
depict a horse and rider.

In dealing with the significance of the absence of any element, it is
necessary to be discussing more coin types that we have here at our
disposal. For example, I've often commented on the lack of boars as
dominant motifs on gold coins (one exception being the enigmatic scyphate
Corieltauvian coins). No boar is the sole or main motif on any other
Gaulish or British gold coins, but is very common on silver and bronze
coins from most regions. With so few motifs possible on such a small group
of coins, the absence of even a general type of motif might have no
significance. Weaponry on its own is a rare motif, it most often occurs as
something held by a warrior.

>10)the curious s-scroll above the horse on many of the coins might be

>related to the vegetal-style S's that seem to appear everywhere in
>celtic art. these S-scrolls are often on either side of a human head in
>many representations. i have seen it suggested that these S-scrolls are
>somehow linked to representations of the god Lugh, sometimes the head
>may be so abstracted that the S'scrolls may themselves come to stand as
>a sort of a glyph for the god.

Miranda Green shows the figure of the Wheel-God from Le Chatelet with a
thunderbolt in one hand and a ring over that shoulder from which hangs a
number of S shapes. She suggests that these shapes are spare lightning
bolts. The Celtic "Jupiters" have a number of solar signs in attendance.
Berresford-Ellis has Lugus as a Celtic "Mercury", but Rhys says he is much
more than this. There is a large amount of information about Lug and his
various name variations in Rhys (Hibbert Lectures, 1898) but one comment I
will single out: "The Lammas fairs and meetings forming the Lugnassad in
ancient Ireland, marked the victorious close of the sun's contest with the
powers of darkness and death..."

With the S scroll, iconographically, we have a similar problem to the
horse: there are just too many of them. This is both good and bad. Many
times, the S scroll appears as a single motif and not as part of an overall
decoration. This demonstrates that it is much more than just part of the
repertoire of Celtic artists.

>the face that is surrounded by these opposing S-scrolls often has the
>curious "leaf-crown" sometimes interpreted as mistletoe, which is also
>associated with Lugh. on a few of the coins, Vercingetorix's hair is

>abstracted into very similar leaf shapes, like paisley comma shapes...
>in many of the same representations of the face with S-scrolls and leaf
>crown, there can be found a three-form motif sometimes interpreted as a
>triple pointed beard, but sometimes occurring on the forehead of the
>leaf-crown figure, sometimes (e.g. on thestone pillar from Pfalzfeld)
>they are in the form of a fleur-de-lis attached to the head.
>11) if this vegetal-face figure can be interpreted as Lugh, his
>associated symbols then seem to be this S-scroll glyph, this triple
>fleur-de-lis thing, and the comma-like leaf shapes...i have seen Lugh
>also associtaed with dogs...

The fleur de lis is sometimes substituted for the pellet in circle motif at
the top of the sceptre held by the chariot driver on Armorican
(Coriosolite) coins. Clearly a variety of solar symbol. This driver is also
often riding over a figure of a boar where the base line shows a sun
"rising". The leaf crown shape (singular, not opposed) also appears
frequently in front of the chariot on other Coriosolite coins. The S shape
is incorporated, very obviously, into the arrangement of chariot/driver on
the same Coriosolite series that show both of the sceptre designs.

>now looking at the iconography of the 12 different coins, there are only
>8 symbols besides the horse (which occurs on every coin): a "dotted
>disc", an amphora, a "lyre"?, a 4-fold 'cross', a dog, an  S-scroll, a
>"fleur-de-lis" like symbol, and a crescent moon.
>the "lyre" and the "cross" each appear only together, and on only two
>coins. the fleur-de-lis symbol and the dog also appear only together and
>on two coins. on the other  eight coins there is an amphora on seven of
>them. the S-scroll occurs 5 times. the dotted circle may be a solar
>symbol, but it may also be a lunar symbol.( it does not appear in
>conjunction with the crescent)...they might be equivalent symbols (they
>easily might not be)
>the combination of symbols is as follows: amphora and moon-3 times;
>amphora and S-scroll-4 times; S-scroll and moon-1 time.
>i would speculate that of the 10 coins other than the lyre coins,
>thereis a symbol associated with Lugh on seven of them, and a symbol
>associated with the Lugnasad council (not counting the horse) on seven
>of them. every single coin except the lyre/cross coins has a symbol
>either associated with Lugh or Lugnasad.(though the lyre coins also have
>the horse)

I presume that the dotted disc is what I call a pellet in a circle. Some
instances of this at the top of the coin are likely the bottom part of the
lyre. This lyre shape is very common on Armorican coins where it almost
always has four strings. On other Armorican coins of various tribes an
interlocked double S shape at the ear position of the head also has a
pellet in a circle within the lower loop of the lower S.

>i think these coins were an attempt to advertise vercengetorix's
>authority, conferred upon him at Lugnasad, while also associating

>himself with another "dux bellorum" of mythology, lugh himself. (this
>presupposes that Lugh fulfilled a similar mythological function in
>continental myth as he did in insular myth...but if not "dux bellorum",
>at least "transcendent figure"...)
>
>are these interpretations completely ridiculous?

As I said, I'm not sure about the constellation link. As for the rest, I
don't think it is ridiculous at all, and there seems to be plenty of
available evidence to support this association with Lug. I don't, however
find it particular to the coins of Vercingetorix, and can see this same
association on many Celtic coins. The amphora, though, is not very common.
As signifying a Roman import, we might wonder about it in the context of
Vercingetorix. This is complete supposition, but a possible answer to it
being used might mean that it signifies Rome and the horse above it
signifies a Gaulish victory over Rome. This doesn't explain why apparently
earlier coins would also have an amphora unless they are also contemporary
and only some were minted in the name of Vercingetorix. The weights of the
coins do not show any great differences between the amphora coins with the
name or without, but there are not enough of them to establish any
statistical proof of this one way or the other. What is interesting,
though, is that even earlier coins of the Arverni (and some are most
certainly earlier) do not have an amphora, nor do the late silver and
bronze coins that often bear other names.

Cheers,

john
http://www.writer2001.com/
Hooker & Perron, Total Project Coordination
Database-Web...Graphics...Custom Maps...Colour Suites...Expert Systems
Building the Celtic Coin Index on the Web:
http://www.writer2001.com/cciwriter2001/



--- Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free. Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com). Version: 6.0.310 / Virus Database: 171 - Release Date: 12/19/01

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

January 2019
December 2018
September 2018
March 2018
January 2018
December 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
November 2016
August 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
March 2015
February 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
February 2014
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996
September 1996
August 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995
October 1995
September 1995
August 1995
July 1995
June 1995
May 1995
April 1995
March 1995
February 1995
January 1995
December 1994
November 1994
October 1994
September 1994
August 1994
July 1994
June 1994
May 1994
April 1994
March 1994
February 1994
January 1994
December 1993
November 1993
October 1993
September 1993
August 1993
July 1993
June 1993
May 1993
April 1993
March 1993
February 1993
January 1993
December 1992
November 1992
October 1992
September 1992
August 1992
July 1992
June 1992
May 1992
April 1992
March 1992
February 1992
January 1992
December 1991
November 1991
October 1991
September 1991
August 1991
July 1991
June 1991
May 1991

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.HEANET.IE

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager