Just Published – An Important New Work on The Seleucid Mint of Aï Khanoum
Kritt, Brian, The Seleucid Mint of Aï Khanoum [Classical Numismatic Studies No. 9]
. Lancaster, PA, and London, 2016. Hardbound with dust jacket. 183 total pp., consisting of 19 coin catalog listings, and 63 plates of numismatically-related material, as well as in-text illustrations and coin photographs. (GR355) $45
In his previous works, Brian Kritt has explored the coinages of the recently discovered Seleucid Colony at Aï Khanoum in far northest Afghanistan. Based on his detailed analysis of the bronze coins found in the excavations at this site, he has shown that this was the mint of origin of the extensive series of the Seleucid coinages bearing the Δ-in-Ο control mark and its many variant forms - a coinage which had been previously attributed by Newell and others to Bactra.
Now he has undertaken a corpus and die study of the complete range of Seleucid precious metal coinages of Aï Khanoum, for the entire period of Seleucid control of Bactria, from the gold staters down to the smallest silver fractions. Not only has this never before been attempted, but even the corpus of the known specimens has not been advanced with any serious effort since the time of Edwart T. Newell. This study has coincided with the recent appearances of a large number of new varieties and dies for the coinage. Needless to say, the resulting data base has vastly exceeded anything known previously.
The die study has led to a new understanding of the nature and internal structure of the coinage, and has resulted in some significant new discoveries. The identification of portrait models in this coinage has resulted in a clearer understanding of the relationship of the mint of Aï Khanoum to the other eastern Seleucid mints. Along with type and control connections, this has extended the previous hints from the coinages of the presence of an overall Seleucid imperial administrative policy. A number of examples are revealed of Seleucid officials traveling to the new Bactrian mints to assist with the establishment of their coinages. But more generally, we begin to see the fluidity of the continuing interplay between the Eastern Seleucid mints with regard to coinage matters. In addition, the die study has led to a new detailed internal chronology for the coinage issues of Aï Khanoum. In this regard one series of issues from the reign of Antiochus I has been identified as a rapid burst of intense coinage, likely connected to historical events in the early 260’s BC.
An examination of the die and control progressions during the reign of Antiochus I has led to a rationalization of the perplexing mix of old and youthful portraits in his coinage.
The role of the Aï Khanoum gold issues has been studied, with regard to the dominance of this coinage against the backdrop of an extremely low contemporary gold production at other mints in the empire.
The coinage of the enigmatic Bactrian dynast named Sophytes has been examined, previously dated to the fourth century BC by all of the prominent scholars who have studied it going back to the nineteenth century. But this coinage is now shown to have many parallels to the Bactrian Seleucid coinages, in particular to those of Aï Khanoum. The Sophytes coinage has now been successfuly downdated to the time of the operation of the Seleucid Bactrian mints, and for the first time it has been identified as that of a trading partner of Seleucid Aï Khanoum. This analysis is closely interwoven with that of a somewhat cryptic anepigraphic Aï Khanoum bronze issue, which has been used by previous researchers to suggest a now unsupportable early foundation date for the Seleucid colony at Aï Khanoum.
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