An examination of the government techniques in the ancient world

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An examination of the government techniques in the ancient world

Dating The dating of Lydian Lion coins is "the most challenging question in ancient Greek numismatic scholarship," according to Nicholas Cahill and John H. Alyattes was the father of Kroisos Croesusthe Lydian king of legendary wealth who was likely the first to strike coins of pure gold and silver.

Alyattes is infrequently referred to as Alyattes II. One well-respected ancient coin auction house recently changed its attributions of these coins to Alyattes II, and a few other auction houses and dealers have since followed suit. Wikipedia uses "Alyattes II," based on the online Encyclopaedia of the Orientthough this online work provides no references.

This may have been the source used by the online Encyclopaedia of the Orient as well. It's likely that Classical Dictionary based it usage on ancient epigraphs or on works whose usage was based on ancient epigraphs, epigraphs being lists of kings on clay tablets and other media.

According to the epigraphic tradition, "Alyattes I" was an earlier king of Lydia, during the eighth century BC, and part of the Tylonid dynasty. According to these lists, the demigod Herakles was the progenitor of the Lydians.

Using old references can shed interesting light on the state of scholarship in the past, but it can be problematic with ancient coin attributions when done in isolation.

Epigraphic lists are known by historians today to be generally unreliable as historical documents. For one thing, they sometimes combine kings from different regions. Stecchini contended, for instance, that Gyges was the first Lydian king and those before him, including the earlier Alyattes, were kings of nearby Maionia, a Phrygia dependency.

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Even Wikipedia acknowledges that the Lydian dynasties earlier than the Mermnads were wholely or semi-mythical. In general when consulting ancient sources, from Herodotos and Plutarch to Xanthos and Nikolaos of Damaskos, the further back in time you go, the more history recedes into legend and myth.

The ancient historians Herodotos and Strabo both refer to Kroisos' father as Alyattes and make no mention of an earlier King Alyattes of Lydia in their writings on Lydia. The same is true of modern historians, archeologists, and numismatists who have focused on Lydia, including George M.

An examination of the government techniques in the ancient world

Wallace, Koray Konuk, and Andrew Ramage. No ancient coin attribution reference that I've found uses "Alyattes II" either. Because of the unreliability of the epigraphy and because of the uncertainty about where "Alyattes I" reigned or whether he even existed, it makes little sense to refer to the historical Alyattes as Alyattes II in describing these coins.

The first auction house has just gone back to using "Alyattes," and no doubt the auction houses and dealers that copied it will follow suit as well. My dating of the above coins to the reign of Alyattes is based on the archeological evidence uncovered in and by D.

Hogarth and the British Museum at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos, also called the Ephesian Artemision which would later evolve into one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient worldon archeological work done by a team from Harvard University and Cornell University led by Hanfmann beginning in the late s, on evidence uncovered there more recently by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, [76] on interpretations of the archeological evidence by various scholars, and on the timing of the subsequent spread of coinage throughout the Aegean world.

Early numismatists such as Barclay Head believed that Lydian coins were minted as early as c. Jenkins in "no earlier than in the late seventh century BC," [80] Carradice in likely from "the late seventh to early sixth centuries BC," [81] and Le Rider in not "before [BC].

Sear dated them in his standard Greek Coins and Their Values. Other times they're dated very broadly -- before c. This is both overcautious and potentially misleading, suggesting the possibility that they could have been minted at any time before Kroisos. A minority of numismatists have diverged from these dating patterns, dating them earlier [83] or later.

Just as there are negatives in basing a conclusion on insufficient evidence, there are negatives in failing to suggest a conclusion when evidence, even if sparse or debatable, supports it.

An examination of the government techniques in the ancient world

While it's not certain that these coins were minted by Alyattes, the body of evidence and opinion strongly suggests they were, and attributing them to Alyattes who reigned for about half a century strikes me as being no more rash than the putting forth of much else that has become knowledge in ancient numismatics.

With the caveats in mind, I'm dating the first coin illustrated on this page, the first coin below, and all coins of its type to c.Government, Religion, and the Ancient World What do we know?

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