My Coins, Up For Sale Right Now

Friday, 28 June 2013

John Tzimiskes: The First Crusader

The barbaric Crusades done by the Franks, which saw anyone who was non-Catholic Christian, killed or persecuted have left an indelible mark on Humanity.

However, 124 years ealier, before those fateful incursions into Anatolia, Syria and the Holy Land, Christian armies had campaigned into Syria and the Holy Land, and if events had been different there may never have been a reason for the Franks to invade.

In 975 A.D. the Byzantine emperor, John Tzimiskes, led contingents from the Byzantine Themes and allied cavalry from the Bagratuni kingdom of Armenia, into Syria and the Holy Land.

The catalyst for the invasion was the fierce invasions of  Syria and the Holy Land by the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, which was resisted by not only the Sunni communities but by the Christian as well.
The Fatimids objective has to conquer the entire Islamic world or bring it into subjection.
They had conquered Egypt in 969 A.D.

Seldom mentioned in online sources is the fact that Syria and the northern Holy Land was occupied by the armies of John Tzimiskes by 976 A.D. and even after his mysterious death, the lands remained under Byzantine control for another 19 years.

By 987 A.D. the Fatimids had retaken the lands, a seven year truce was drawn between the emperor Basil II and the Caliph al-Aziz Billah, though peace would not last long.

Read John Julius Norwich's "Byzantium: The Apogee" to learn in an entertaining way to life of John Tzimiskes.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The circles of Khorasan

The remains of the ancient city of "Konjikala" is near the comparatively younger remains of "Ai- Khanum" on the Afghanistan border with Tajikstan.
It is thought to date to around 2000 B.C.
It seems to have been built to on both banks of the Oxus river, possibly to control  trade that came down it but also to control the valuable water resource.
The layout of the city was circular, in its centre was a mound with a temple.
It is thought that it was here that Zoroastrianism began.

Floods seem to have destroyed much of the walls of the city and it was in ruins when the armies of Alexander III reached it in around 330 B.C.
Viewed on Google Map, my rendering of the original circular layout and the remains of the central complex.

In 209 A.D. the vassal ruler of Fars, Ardashir, rebuilt the ruined city of Khor, renaming it "Khor Ardashir". This was to be his base in his campaign to overthrow the Arshakuni (Arsacid) dynasty in Persia.
The city layout was circular, with four gates.
In the centre was a Zoroastrian temple, built in a spiral, which the Mosque of Samarra was modelled on.
From Google Map, my plottings of the outlines of the city of Khor Ardashir

In 734 A.D. the Abbasid Caliph, al-Mansur, ordered the building of a new city for the Caliphate.
It was built north of the old city of Ctesiphon.
Naubakht Ahvazi, from Khuzistan and Mashallah ibn Athari, from Khorasan, were employed as the Astrologers to deterimine the most fortuitous time to establish the city.
Abu Hanifa, of Khorasani origin, organised the contruction of the bricks needed and a Canal to bring them into the building site.
The city layout was circular, with four gates.
In the centre was a Mosque and the Palace of the Caliph.
Not only does this show the antiquity of Khorasan but also the cultural power it had over neighbouring regions.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Carausius: "The Expected One"

Whilst reading "The Reign And Coinage Of Carausius" by Percy H. Webb, F.R.N.S. and "Carausius, A Consideration Of The Historical, Archaeological And Numismatic Aspects Of His Reign" by Hugh P. G. Williams, I learnt about a type of coin that was issued in his reign.

The type in question has the reverse legend of "EXPECTATE VENI" with the personification of Britannia, standing to the left, shaking Carausius, standing to the right, by the hand.
An example of the "EXPECTATE VENI" type of Antoninianii issued by Carausius, this one found in the county of Hertfordshire, U.K. in 2005.
"EXPECTATE VENI" roughly translates as "The expected one came".
This seems to allude to a British legendary tradition of an "expected saviour or king" who would return to the island in the future.

Carausius, in the grand Roman tradition, made use of coins to carry propagandistic messages.

Yet this seems to refer to an established legendary tradition.

The legend of "King Arthur", of which the work by Geoffrey of Monmouth is what we associate the legend today as, has the Arthur as the "once and future king".

Knowing that this legend is a combination of Bardic tales and the then contemporary Chilvalric ideals of the 13th century, I wonder if this idea of a "once and future king" predates the supposed 6th century era for an "Arturius" and instead goes to the time of the Roman invasion and occupation of the island in the 1st century B.C.
Maybe a legend created in the aftermath of the defeat of the Iceni, Catuvellauni and Brigantes in the 1st century A.D. ?

What possible connection or right would Carausius have to connect himself with such a supposed "British nationalistic" legend?

Well Carausius was not an ethnic Italian, but an ethnic Menapian.

The Menapii were part of the Belgic tribe that had established itself in southern Britain before the Romans invaded, including before Julius Caesar invaded in 55 B.C.

And so, as a Celt and belonging to a tribe that had an ancient link to Britain, Carausius had a right to make such an association of himself with a supposed legend of a "once and future king".

The conclusion is that not only by looking at the coinage of Carausius do we learn about his mind set and the use of propaganda but also see the possible origins that went in toeh making of the legend of king Arthur by the 13th century.