Metapontum and early Latin Coinage

Crawford’s suggestion of a Metapontum as the mint for the first Roman didrachm is very much out of favour.  Here’s the relevant footnote in RRC vol. 1 p. 46 n. 9 third (!) paragraph:

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Here’s Vagi in the brilliant new Essays Russo 2014 (p. 80):

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And so we find Russo’s son also following his father in the catalog of the JD collection part II:

 We have decided to share Rutter’s opinion who in Historia Numorum Italy attributes these coins to the Naples mint contrary to Crawford who assigns them to the mint of Metapontum. That said however, we have decided to refer to the coin as an obol and not as a litra as suggested by both Rutter and Crawford. The reasons for this decision are very simple: we obviously agree that this coin belongs to Crawford’s series 13, which was intended for trades with Magna Grecia. On this basis, it seems only logical that we refer to it as an obol and not a litra. Its weight and its general appearance are consistent with coaeval obols of Camapianian mints such as: Fistelia, Peripoloi Pitanai and Allifae, which most probably were circulating along with this coin.

The JD collection of Roman Republican Coins part II – Session I; Obol, Neapolis 320-300, AR 0.66 g. Head of Mars r., wearing Corinthian helmet; behind, oak spray (?). Rev. Head of horse r.; behind, corn ear and before, ROMANO downwards. Fiorelli Annali 1846, p. 23 and pl. I, fig, 29. Garrucci pl. 77, 18. Bahrfeldt RN 1900, pp. 33-34, 31 and pl. 26, 1 (possibly this obverse die). Sydenham 2. Crawford 13/2. Historia Numorum Italy 267.

So I got thinking about this because of how Norba borrows Metapontum’s type for its obol during the Pyrrhic War:

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HN Italy 248

There is only one of these coins known, but it comes with a good archaeological provenance. The original report is online here.

Vagi makes a very plausible explanation for the corn-ear with the horse head to allude to the Festival of the October Horse, a harvest festival in honor of Mars.  Metapontum is a red herring for the Roman series, but what does Metapontum have to do with the Latin obols?  Why do we find her type borrowed on the coins of Norba?

Also RRC 13/2 as an obol perhaps helps set a precedence that influenced the denominational choice for the Latin mints (Norba, Signia, and Alba Fucens) of the Pyrrhic War.

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