54 out of 410 Days: Sign of Tanit

The fabulous Dr. Hannah of Oxford pointed out in comments that this type would be relevant to yesterday’s post. That Victory carrying a caduceus: with victory comes peace! Such a perfect summation of Roman ideological rhetoric during the Civil Wars. I’ve been turning a blind eye to everything post Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, because that’s when the book terminates, but, of course, it is still the same monetary system. The chaos of the symbolism of that later period through Augustus really does deserve its own book and I prefer the earlier periods, but I am missing out on some fun with the present schema.

This type is really intriguing to me because of the other side:

Reverse Image

The RRC description reads “Lion-headed Genius terrae Africae (head surmounted by disk), holding ahkh in r. hand…” That is no ahkh, that is the sign of Tanit, the patron goddess of Carthage.  [A scholarly friend has suggested that there might in fact be a connection between the two symbols.]

A flickr search or a google image search can give you a sense of the variations on this symbol and its contexts. And the image as a whole is clearly the same as this statue in the Bardo:

The connection was made in 1918.  The publication is now in the public domain; see p. 241-242 for the relevant discussion.  The identification as Genius Terrae Africae comes from the resolution of the  “C . T . A”  legend on the coin above the figure’s head by Babylon.  I wonder if any other epigraphic parallels exist for this abbreviation or even the existence of this Genius in this form?   Crawford (and others? ) see a link with the “Genius of Carthage”  (Δαίμονος Καρχηδονίων) of Polybius 7.9.2.

Based on the abstract this might be relevant: Salcedo Garcés, Fabiola. – El relieve tetrarquico de Rapidum (Sour-Djouab, Argelia) : política y religión en el Africa romana. Antiquités africaines 1996 32 : 67-85.

Gabriela Vlahovici-Jones has given the type some discussion online.  She treats the deity as “Sekhmet holding ankh” without any reference to Tanit.

Much of the concern over the identity of the Genius Terrae Africae or the Genius generally in N. Africa, seems to be in scholarship on the Late Antique and the Church Fathers, so for example this discussion and notes.

Linderski, Jerzy. “Q. Scipio Imperator.” In Imperium sine fine: T. Robert S. Broughton and the Roman Republic. (1996), pp. 144–185 is probably the most through description of the coin series.

And while we’re at it, I might as well mention that the sign of Tanit is often combined with a symbol similar too (and perhaps the same as?) the caduceus.

I’m no expert on North Africa so I’m going to stop here before I say anything stupid.

[Oh. And I think Victory is holding a shield not a patera (possibly even a Macedonian shield?)]

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One thought on “54 out of 410 Days: Sign of Tanit

  1. Thank you for the mention!
    Yes, I agree that Victory is holding a shield. On the sign of Tanit and the Caduceus, Jennifer Moore has written an article on “The Caduceus in the Second Punic War”, to be published (last I heard) in the proceedings of the Colloque international, L’iconographie et Religions dans le Maghreb antique et medieval (Tunis, February 2008).

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