Hacker News Re-Imagined

Weapons on Ancient Coins

  • 49 points
  • 3 months ago

  • @benbreen
  • Created a post

Weapons on Ancient Coins


@xster 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

I guess the implicit question is why such obsession on fighting and weapons on the coins. Anthropologist David Graeber has a fascinating perspective (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZIINXhGDcs).

He posits that our present assumptions about money (first there's barter, then coins and fiat money, then credit) is actually backwards. And that primitive societies rather had interlocking systems of informal credit between everyone instead, since everyone knew everyone and you only really needed to settle the difference very infrequently.

And coins only really came into play as a supply logistics mechanism for traveling armies. Since a band of people traveling through town can't participate in the informal credit system. And so the taxation system created in such a way that the food producers needed to acquire an "external" currency the army had. And that this was shown archeologically where concentration of coins were denser around militarized border regions of various societies around the world.

Reply


@guerrilla 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

God, some of those coins are so beautiful. It's really hard not to idealize ancient civilizations when we're staring right at some of their best and most beautiful propaganda.

Reply


@Tronno 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

> Note that the soldier is naked except for his helmet, a sensible adaptation to a hot climate. This may also reflect an awareness that garment fibers driven into a wound by a spearpoint promoted infection.

Pretty sure this is erroneous speculation. Nudity in Greek art is meant to symbolize heroism - the Greeks did not actually fight naked.

It makes me doubt the accuracy of the entire article.

Reply


@YeGoblynQueenne 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

That is apparently an auction site, selling off ancient coins for modern money, which I struggle to see as very ethical. Those ancient treasures should be in museums, not in private collections, especially the ones that -according to the article- are "very rare".

Other than that, the article reminded me of something I've always found interesting. The article mentions that "hoplon", in ancient Greek, was the word for the large circular shield carried by hoplites. Accordingly, "arma" is the ancient Greek word for chariot. The interesting thing is that, in modern Greek, "hoplo" (όπλο) means "weapon" and so does "arma" (chariot) when used in the plural, "armata" ("άρματα"). The latter use of "arma" is more common in texts from around the time of the revolution against the Ottomans, in 1821, where we find the "armatoloi", who were originally hired by Ottomans to "bear arms" (I think the latin words is unconnected). The word "armatosia", (αρματωσιά) on the other hand means "armour", or more generally "armament". And now I'm wondering if "arms" is actually unconnected to the modern use of the Greek "arma"...

Reply


@kristopolous 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

I was expecting to see something really exotic that time forgot like a hybrid between a whip and a scythe, a two person operated foot pump based flamethrower or a shadoof with a bucket of snakes that invaders would drop over castle walls...

(Yes I just made these all up.)

Reply


@geuis 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

This is super interesting to me (interested in metallurgy and ancient forms of money).

Went on a bit of a deep dive (i.e. watched some YouTube videos).

Ok jokes aside, what a very interesting topic.

Best video I found so far is about 8 months old. It’s related to a researcher’s PHD. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GSIJIOfpK08

She did some comparative experiments and definitely adds to the general knowledge base.

(There’s a 2007/2008 French experiment video that basically didn’t prove anything they hypothesized and was quoted a few times. I’m disregarding it because of the inclusive results and what looks like lack of follow up.)

The main issue is that there really isn’t a ton of historical knowledge of how money was minted thousands of years ago. Turns out that people back back back in the day valued the knowledge of how coins were minted to the extent that there is almost no archaeological evidence.

It’s a really interesting topic that even in 2021 has a huge amount of room for research.

Reply


@hilbert42 3 months

Replying to @benbreen 🎙

I'll limit my comments to the coins themselves. I've always been amazed at the remarkable quality and the height of the relief on many ancient coins.

Not only are many of these designs quite beautiful but also the fact that the high relief used on many of the dies was transferred with high accuracy to the coins is a great tribute to the excellent skill and craftsmanship of those early metalworkers.

Reply


About Us

site design / logo © 2022 Box Piper