Monday, March 31, 2008

Drilling Down (and Up)

Charles Watkinson doesn't blog often, but when he does, he blogs well. His latest post is entitled The "drill down" dilemma. Why can't we link archaeological publication to the underlying data? It's worth reading the whole thing and I have to say that I largely agree with his summary of the current state of affairs. But I do have some reactions that I'll put into words...

First, a little full disclosure: I've known Charles for a long time; he's a good guy and a friend so that this should be seen as a respectful exchange within a longer conversation.

Charles notes that it is difficult to move from works of archaeological synthesis to the original data. I won't paraphrase more than that since you can and should read the original for yourself.

The first explanation/reason he offers for an inability to drill-down is that "Nobody wants to share their data." Taken as a stand-alone statement, this may under-represent the extent to which sharing is already taking place. I'll name names.
  • Martha Joukowsky, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Brown University and former President of Archaeological Institute of America shares data from her excavation at Petra. A large dataset is available on the OpenContext website.
  • Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati and current Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, shares data from the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project. See under "Project Databases" in the Table of Contents. I work on this project and as I've noted we are beginning to make the data available under a Creative Commons license. See the website for the other project directors and participants who are likewise sharing.
  • I also share my work with Billur Tekkök, Associate Professor at Başkent University, on pottery at Troy. By implication then, Brian Rose, James B. Pritchard Professor of Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania and current President of the Archaeological Institute of America, shares since we confirmed with him that it was OK to distribute our work under a Creative Commons license.
  • Ian Hodder, Dunlevie Family Professor of Anthropology at Stanford, also shares. The entire Çatalhöyük website is published under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non-Commercial - Share Alike license. That's about as generous as you can be.
I'm going to look at the Çatalhöyük website more closely but I do just want to say that I'm dropping names and being explicit about fancy titles to suggest that you can't get much more senior than the Drs. Davis, Hodder, Joukowsky and Rose. If they're sharing, at some point people will have to ask themselves, "why aren't I?"

Because it shares so much, the Çatalhöyük site allows drill-down. Here's an example. I. Hodder and C. Cessford. 2004. Daily Practice and Social Memory at Çatalhöyük American Antiquity 69.1: 17-40 explores "the social processes involved in the formation of large agglomerated villages in the Neolithic of the Near East and Anatolia, with particular reference to Çatalhöyük in central Turkey." (p. 1). Among other information, work in Buildings 1 and 5 of the North Area is presented with a focus on evidence for variable activities within the distinctly marked spaces in each house (p. 24-21) and also on the presence of individuals buried under house 1 who would have been alive when the earlier and underlying house 5 was in use (fig. 10).

Within the text, analysis of the elemental composition of the floors in Building 5 showed the NW platform to have been distinctive, "probably as the result of both the reuse of different floor materials in the construction of different areas, and as a result of differential use of different parts of the floor." (p. 27-28 and fig. 9). The earlier fig. 3 indicates that this platform lies in front of Feature 230, a north-south running wall. That feature number, usefully published in this interpretive article, is key to drilling down.

The project's website links to the Çatalhöyük Image Database hosted at Stanford. Here we can search for images of Feature 230. For example:


Humans make good scales and it's nice to see just how cramped the NW platform of Building 5, running from the upside down 4 to the wall, would have been. Seeing these images makes the following passage of high-level synthesis more believable:
Taking the past and present excavations together, there is evidence to suggest that as a child grew up in a house at Çatalhöyük, it would have learned that different types of people were buried beneath certain platforms, that different plasters were used for different platforms, and that refuse was swept up more carefully from some areas... Social rules would have been learned through daily practice involving the movements of the body in the house. This is one way in which each indvidual would have learned and incorporated social rules. (p. 30)
To be sure, the drill-down wasn't effortless; I had to put quite some time into figuring out the image database. The "Aha!" moment came when I noticed the link between it and the numbers used in the article. But the idea is there. Sharing data improves ones ability to test and appreciate hypotheses presented in secondary literature.

Now, I'm pretty sure that Charles would not find what I've said objectionable. I just don't want to let anybody off the hook by not stressing that archaeologists are already sharing, that those doing it are senior, and that there is a technological and legal infrastructure that makes links from interpretive work to source data possible.

Charles also writes of drilling "sideways and upwards". Just for fun, I'll take the concept of drilling "up" to mean moving from data to interpretation. I mean by this doing the opposite of what I did at Çatalhöyük: you're on the website, you see a reference to Feature 230 and you want to find where it's been discussed. As we move forward to the world that Charles envisions, it may be that the tendency of academic journals to use services such as JSTOR and Atypon will impede the ability of scholars to drill-up. Certainly, anyone not associated with a subscribing library would not be able to access American Antiquity. It also seems that the commercial imperatives of JSTOR and Atypon, as well as of their contributing journals, are interfering with any moves to make article text available in useful formats, i.e. not as unduly encumbered PDFs or poorly structured texts. One hopes that this will change. Drilling in all directions will be increasingly important for future academic efforts.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

JRA from Librairie Archéologique

I received a printed catalog from Librairie Archéologique today. I occasionally use their website to order French books so I've made it on to their mailing list. This isn't really news, of course.

It was surprising to find volume 20 of the Journal of Roman Archaeology offered on page one of the catalog for the price of 180.00 Euros. According to, that's $284.35! The JRA's own website gives a list price of $135.00 and an individual price of $68.75 + shipping. No matter how you calculate it, that's a steep markup.

Perhaps the most telling part of seeing this price was guessing that it's not a typo. Between the dollar being so low and European books being so expensive, it's probably pretty easy to get to that number.

I suppose my point is that in a world of overpriced books, it's still worth commenting when the system for distributing printed information so clearly mis-serves its audience.

Or maybe it is just a typo. If so, I can always be outraged that D. and N. Soren's A Roman Villa and a Late Roman Infant Cemetery: excavation at Poggio Gramignano, Lugnano in Teverina costs $608.00 from As of writing, there are only two left in stock so get it while you can!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mediterranean Ceramics Reference Stability Report, Number 6

The MCRSR first appeared in October, 2007. For the sixth installment, I am again making only one addition, no. 17, the section "Abbassid Ceramics" in the Discover Islamic Art exhibition from the Museum With No Frontiers. This is a very well done website that has received substantial European Union and other funding. It will be interesting to see if the information it offers remains available over the long term.

The previously listed URLs for MCRSR items 1 through 16 remain valid. At the time of writing, I can't access number 3, Lattara 6, but I believe this is only a temporary disruption.

Number 10, the Perseus Vase Catalog, announces that "Perseus is changing! Please visit Perseus 4.0 for the current version". The new URL is At some point, it may be appropriate to update item 10, but for now I am going to hold off until the current URL becomes invalid.

1. Walters' Catalogue of the Roman Pottery in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum from Google Books:

2. Robinson's Agora V from JSTOR:

3. Lattara 6:

4. K. Greene's AJA article on Early Roman lead glazed pottery:

5. Heath and Tekkök, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia):

6. Vessel from Çatalhoyuk (via Flickr):

7. A Late Minoan III Pyxis from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

8. An undocumented ARS Hayes 70 bowl from the dealer Classical Numismatics Group:

9. Fifteenth Century Mosque Lamp from Jerusalem now in the British Museum:

10. The Perseus Project Vase Catalog:

11. Wikimedia Commons Image of a Greek Geometric Skyphos in the Louvre:

12. Sagalassos from Pleiades:

13. Inscribed pot from Aphrodisias (HTML):

14. Inscribed pot from Aphrodisias (XML):

15. Hellenistic lamp from Assos, Turkey at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

16. Open Context record for Halaf period jar from Domuztepe, Turkey:

17. Abbasid Ceramics from the Museum With No Frontiers:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roman Pottery at Caerleon

The website of the National Museum Wales has a nice page on the Roman Pottery at Caerleon. Although brief, the text and images raise such wide ranging issues as military supply, ancient literacy and modes of archaeological reasoning. Be sure to read the captions on the images.

The overlap between roman military studies and ceramic studies is of long standing. Remaining in the British Isles, chapter 11 of the online version of J. Curle's 1911 A Roman Frontier Post and its People: The Fort of Newstead in the Parish of Melrose briefly surveys the use of military history to establish ceramic chronology as understood at the time. That text is out of date, of course. See the Potsherd site for more current thinking.

Wales is at one edge of the cultural ambit of the ancient Mediterranean world. Jumping to the east, the 2005 JRA supplement Excavations on the site of Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha'Uma) has added an interesting data point to the discussion of legionary ceramic supply during the Hadrianic and Antonine periods in ancient Palestine. Jodi Magness' Chapter 7 on the pottery from kilns associated with the presence of Legio X in Jerusalem has a conclusion (p. 104) that cites further bibliography. Earlier, she writes that "petrographic analysis has indicated that all of the pottery from the site is made of Motza clay or local Terra Rosa soil and was therefore produced in Jerusalem." (p. 70) This statement is based on work by Yuval Goren described on p. 193 of the same volume. These results are surprising given the range of types cataloged, which includes slipped tablewares, thin-walled wares, and utilitarian vessels. As Magness notes, "without petrographic analysis, we might have assumed that the pottery at the convention site is imported." (p. 106). She goes on to suggest that two or more of the potters had worked on the Rhine or Danube frontiers. It is interesting work that highlights the distinctive nature of Roman military supply.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ankara and Gordion

This is the first post since hearing of the passing of Ross Scaife, among whose enduring accomplishments is the Stoa. There is something very fitting about this link. So with his legacy in mind...

I am in Ankara after attending Kültürel Mirası Koruma’da Yeni Yöntem ve Uygulamalar Sempozyumu/Symposium of The Preservation of Cultural Heritage: New Methods and Applications. The talks were all interesting and I'm grateful to my Turkish hosts for their hard work in putting the meeting together.

Today a group went to Gordion and to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Wikipedia). This was my first visit to both so it was a great coda to an all-round wonderful trip.

The most impressive monument at Gordion is the so-called "Midas Tomb" (Tumulus MM), visible from the main highway as one drives to and from the site. Midas died c. 695 BC and Peter Kuniholm's dendrochronological investigations have put the cutting-date of the trees in the burial chamber some fifty years earlier. Hence the "so-called". Regardless of date, it's a must see site if you ever get the chance.

The museum is excellent and recently re-installed. The gallery past the opening one holds a series of cases that are generous in their use of pottery to illustrate trends in the history of the city. Flickr has a few illustrative images:

Middle Phrygian Dinos with creatures peeking over the rim.

Middle Phrygian Architectural Terracottas

Attic Import

A further note on absolute chronology: As discussed by Mary Voigt (p. 195), the destruction level that had been associated with the Kimmerian invasion and death of Midas has been pushed back to 830-800. There is some discrepancy between this chronology and some of the signage and labeling at the site and museum. But if one keeps this recent work in mind, it is interesting to ponder its implications for understanding the site.

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is superb, both in the quality of its collection and in the care with which it is displayed. Again, the installation is recent. It seems to be a popular spot since I quickly found many images on flickr. Try "museum anatolian civilizations". Explore for yourself but here is just a tiny sampling of what I enjoyed:

Hittite Ceramic Bulls. They are about waist high.

A 1st-2nd century AD tomb containing ceramics. This is a great image and you may want to download the full-size version. And here's a detail.

A 3rd century hoard of denarii in a small pot. This example is typical of the vessels used to protect buried hoards around the Mediterranean. The closing date (235) stands at around the transition from denarii to antoniniani. I might have hid my money, too.

Don't be misled by this post. The strength of the museum is its material from sites such as Catalhöyük, Alacahöyük, Boğazköy, Carchemish and elsewhere. Again, go if you can or enjoy the images on flickr.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Research Note: Dining and Numismatic Imagery during the Roman Empire (Version 1)

This post is offered as in-process research note. Nothing about it is complete, neither the evidence it collects, nor the citations to secondary scholarship that it makes, nor the conclusions that it reaches. It is also an unfinished translation of existing text and scanned images from desktop editing tools into a blog post. The planned venue for publication of the finished version is volume 1.2 of the new journal Past Discussed Quarterly (PDQ). I am making this very early draft available now so as to encourage "community review" prior to submission and, I hope, eventual acceptance. I therefore welcome comments and look forward to incorporating those into later versions of this note.

[A note on process: Some of the editing of the first version of this text happened directly within the Blogger interface. I'm sure this has introduced various typos and other misfortunes. My plan is to hit the "Publish" button and then copy-edit in-place. When I make major changes to content, I will publish those as a whole new post. This is all an experiment so bear with me.]

The following paragraphs provide a preliminary survey of the use of numismatic imagery in the decoration of objects related to dining during the Roman empire. Such use includes the actual incorporation of coins into the material culture of dining and also the copying of numismatic imagery into different media. In form, this note is essentially a list of objects that are examples of such incorporation and reuse.

Dining is defined very broadly and the objects listed below may well have been used in religious activities as opposed to daily meals. There is no need, however, to draw a very strong line between religion and daily life so that the objects collected below do all bear upon the issue of dining when the group is taken as whole. The importance of empire extends beyond merely the definition of the chronological bounds of the study, which at the current time focusses on the second and third centuries. Roman imperial coins, as well as most provincial issues, usually bore images of the current emperor and/or his family so that they are inherently "imperial" objects. Coins also have reverses whose legends and imagery can be understood to communicate themes of imperial propaganda, though the efficacy of this communication is a hotly debated topic in the field of ancient numismatics. Accordingly, when possible the list below will make clear which image, imperial portrait or reverse message, is displayed or reproduced. Doing so can make a small contribution to the problem of the extent to which numismatic imagery was actively examined and responded to by ancient viewers. Preliminary conclusions along these lines are made during the course of presenting the relevant objects.

Italian and Gaulish Sigillata Vessels
An article by Marabini Moevs (AJA 84 [1980]:322) makes reference in its text and notes to Italian and Gaulish Sigillata vessels whose decoration includes direct copies of coins. These are made by pressing the face of a coin into the molds in which such vessels were produced.

Partial list:
  1. An Arretine Krater with impressed coin of Augustus repeated 8 times. The legend "AVGVSTVS CAESAR" is legible. (ArchCl 7 [1955]).
  2. Impressions of a coin of a "Julio-Claudian prince" appear on a Southern Gallic bowl.(Knorr 1919:87)
  3. A single sherd of a late Italian Sigillata bowl partially preserves an obverse portrait of the empress Sabina (Marabini Moeves 1984)
  4. Arretine or Gallic bowl with impression of a coin with eagle. (ArchCl 7 [1955])

Even in the absence of a complete list of published pieces, it should be stressed that the direct reproduction of numismatic imagery on sigillata vessels is a sporadic phenomenon. Nonetheless, when such reproduction does occur it certainly illustrates an avenue for the incorporation of the imperial image into the visual setting of the meals at which such vessels were used.

Appliqué Medallion's on Claire-B Vessels from the southern Rhone valley
Claire-B is the name given to a well-slipped tableware manufactured in the Rhone valley around Lyon and further south. Table jugs with appliqué medallions are a regular part of this series and were meant for pouring wine and other beverages. Though they are larger than coins, the circular shape of these medallions means that they share some of the formal constraints and appearance of numismatic imagery. The following example drawn from Déchelette's 1904 survey of decorated vases from Gaul has obvious similarities with both coin and medallion reverses also showing scenes of imperial interaction with an assembled populace.

A medallion celebrating the defeat of Armenia shows a personification similar to those appearing on Antonine coinage:

It is probably not useful to say that either the ceramic or numismatic version of this image is the "original" that influenced the copy. Rather, they are both small-scale versions of visual motifs that appeared in larger media. To put this another way, provincial reproduction of imperial propaganda does not prove that numismatic reverses were the route by which such propaganda reached the provinces. It does suggest that coins existed in a milieu of images and that the numismatic versions may not have been ignored. Indeed, motifs that appear on coins were actually brought into people's homes in the form of ceramic vessels. This domestic acceptance of imperial imagery is a reminder of Greg Woolf's observation that the material correlates of "Romanization" are often the work of provincial craft industries. The combination of coin and vessel indicates that there was frequent interaction between imperial and provincial agency during the reception of images.

A bronze vessel now in Boston (
In 1963, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston acquired a bronze vessel from the well-known numismatic collector H. von Aulock, with the purchase being made in Istanbul and the object being understood to have come from western Asia Minor. In form it is a deep pot with rounded-walls and a flat handle extending from the rim. In these aspects it is unremarkable. More distinctive are the five coins attached to the exterior surface, with all showing their reverse side. As listed on the MFA's website, the coins are:
  1. Cyzicus. Dionysos seated on pantheress, holding thyrsos. (Commodus)
  2. Hierocaesarea. Artemis with a quiver or bowcase on shoulder facing Apollo (?) with lyre and cloak. (Commodus)
  3. Hierocaesarea. Artemis standing to right discharging arrow. Stag running at left, beside her. (Marcus Aurelius)
  4. Smyrna. Bull standing right. (Antinous)
  5. Smyrna. Bull standing right. (Antinous)

[These coins are sufficiently well-known and distinct so that the chronology can be inferred.]
In addition to these pieces, two coins were purchased later but are believed to have been attached to the vessel as well:
  1. Troy. Marcus Aurelius/Aeneas right bearing on left arm Anchises and looking left at Ascanius
  2. Koinon of Bithynia. Hadrian/Distyle temple with star in pediment; Hadrian stands between Bithynia and Roma, who crowns him.

Assuming that the two detached coins are part of the original ensemble and also had their reverses visible, this collected group of images contains an eclectic mix of local gods and sacred animals, along side a hint of Roman sympathy/loyalty in the form of a reference to Aeneas and to the image of the emperor accompanied by Roma and a loyal province. In this provincial context, it is the reverse images that are chosen to achieve the transformation of this vessel from functional object into a bearer of meaning.

The Rennes Patera

Now in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Rennes Patera was discovered in that French city in 1774 along with 43 aureii, the latest of which was issued during the reign of Aurelian (d. 275). The object is a shallow, gold plate, 1.315 kilos in weight - or aproximately 4 Roman pounds - with a central medallion showing a drunken Hercules standing next to a seated Bacchus, the two being engaged in a contest that pits strength against wine. The latter prevails, as shown by the surrounding motif of Bacchus' triumphal march, in which the victor rides in panther-drawn chariot, with the loser languishing bareback a few ranks behind him. While there is perhaps some humor to be found in this arrangement of images - though this much gold makes the joke expensive - there is also an explicit imperial context. The outermost band of decoration consists of 16 aureii depicting emperors ranging from Hadrian to Septimius Severus, alternated with junior and female members of the imperial families, including Severus' sons Caracalla and Geta as Caesars. In all cases the obverse is showing, though descriptions of both sides of each coin can be given following their removal and resetting, notes on which were published in 1858. The list of coins (Obverse/Reverse), starting from the top as indicated by the orientation of the central medallion and moving clock-wise, is:
  1. Hadrian/Hispania Reclining/HISPANIA
  2. Caracalla/Geta r.
  3. Marcus Aurelius/Victory advancing
  4. Faustina, Jr./Laetitia stg.,LAETITIA
  5. Antoninus Pius/Liberalitas stg.
  6. Geta/Severus btw. std. sons.
  7. Commodus/Liberty, LIBERT
  8. Diva Faustina/Ceres stg.
  9. Septimius Severus/Caracalla and Geta,AETERNIT IMPERI
  10. Caracalla/Severus and Julia Domna, CONCORDIAE AETERNAE
  11. Antoninus Pius/Jupiter std.
  12. Diva Faustina/Ceres
  13. Antoninus Pius/Liberalitas stg.
  14. Commodus/Hilaritas, HILARITAS
  15. Septimius Severus/Julia Domna btw. Caracalla and Geta
  16. Julia Domna/Laetitia stg., LAETITIA
(Based on Chabouillet1858]:360-363)

Although the accompanying hoard dates the deposition of this object to the reign of Aurelian or later, it is presumably Severan in composition. The combination of this date with the objects Bacchic/Dionysiac, Herculean and Imperial associations makes several categories of evidence useful as context for understanding this object. The first category is epigraphic and relies on the overlap between Severus' manufactured ancestry as implied by the patera and as advertised in public inscriptions. Taking just one example, CIL VIII.9317, from Caesaria in Mauretania, begins with the following dedication:
To Imperator Caesar, son of the divine Marcus Antoninus Pius Sarmaticus Germanicus, brother of the divine Commodus, grandson of the divine Antoninus Pius, great-grandson of the divine Hadrian, descendant of the divine Trajan Parthicus, descendant of the divine Nerva, Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus…
While the patera does not stretch back so far as Nerva, the emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus do appear. This suggests considerable awareness of, and sensitivity to, Severan dynastic concerns on the part of the designer/patron of this object. That Pertinax is not represented among the depicted emperors is not a surprise given Septimius' emphasis of his manufactured Antonine descent. [On a practical note, the gold of Pertinax may not have so readily available.] The alternated family portraits, culminating to some extent in the then current heirs Caracalla and Geta, only add to the dynastic context.

Further Severan links are found in the Bacchic and Herculean imagery. Both gods are depicted on the reverse of a coin of Severus issued in 194 (RIC IV.25).
Courtesy of CNG Coins, via Wildwinds
The pairing of Bacchus and Hercules is also found in the Basilica at Severus' hometown of Leptis Magna. Here the pilasters to the left and right of the apse are decorated with scenes from the lives of each divinity. (flicker, flickr [both with cc licenses]).

The coin is an official issue and the architectural sculpture is part of an imperially sponsored program of public display. Both Bacchus and Hercules were popular gods at this time as well (ANRW II.17.2:684-702; LIMC V:158) so that the motif of their contest also appears in private domestic contexts. It is found in the second-century mosaic decoration of the so-called Atrium House at Antioch (Illustrated at Ling 1998: fig. 33) and in an early third-century version from nearby Seleucia (Ling 1998:fig. 36).

These comparanda, not all of which would have been known to any single ancient viewer, reveal the Rennes Patera to be an extremely sophisticated object. It brings together a set of ideas that were current at the highest levels of both society and government. It belongs in this study because numismatic imagery is an essential component of the "program" of its visual composition, which highlights the role of coins in providing imperial portraits that could be re-used in non-commercial contexts. Of course, one cannot say that the patera was used during dining. It is plausibly a ritual object - perhaps a part of the imperial cult - and almost certainly used during extra-ordinary circumstances, and not during the repetitive occurrence of everyday meals. Nonetheless, authors such as Athenaeus create a place for Bacchus, Hercules and the Emperor at the Roman meal so that the Rennes Patera may give a window into the thoughts of drunk and loyal Roman aristocrats as they conversed merrily with each other during evening gatherings.

A final note is necessary when discussing this object. There are rumors that the patera is an 18th century fake; but without having found such an opinion in writing, I find this unlikely.

It was noted above that the Rennes Patera need not have been used in the setting of a meal. The same can be said of jewelry which incorporates coins. Bruhn's study of coins and costume is an excellent introduction to the topic (8-16,30-32). Her fig. 6, showing a necklace ( with aurei of Lucius Verus, Julia Domna and Alexander Severus in pendant settings, is a good example of the prevalence of such pieces in the third century. Bruhn (32) also cites a 2nd century Egyptian funerary portrait, now in Detroit ( Zooming in on the deceased's necklace shows that the pendant holds a coin. It may also be reasonable to suggest that the obverse is showing.

A Late Antique Coda
The focus of this note is the pagan empire. A late Roman silver plate in Munich in which the central medallion copies a quinquennalia issue of Licinius II is relevant (cf. Leader-Newby 2004:20). A later example of a similar phenomenon is a silver plate, now last, incorporating a gold solidus of Theodosius II.

(After Barrate 1993:fig. 20)
Finally, I note an ARS lamp type (cf. Hayes 1980:313) which has the alternated impressions of the obverse and reverse of a gold coin (tremisses?) of Theodosius II impressed on its shoulder.

(After le Blant 1886:plate ii, for additional examples see Bejaui 1997:283)

At a time when the emperor stressed the religious unity of the state, it is fitting that these lamps' manufacturer would choose to show both the obverse and reverse of an imperial coin.

Appendix on Primary Texts
[Needs more passages and to be integrated into main text]

With the objects described above in mind, it is appropriate to consider some of the textual evidence for Roman attitudes towards coins. Suetonius relates that Augustus gave foreign coins as gifts during the Saturnalia.(Aug. 73) Philostratus in his early third century life of Apollonius of Tyana relates a story set during the reign of Tiberius, in which a slave-owner was convicted of impiety because the slave he struck was carrying a coin with the image of the emperor on it. Cassius Dio, also writing in the early third century, refers to coinage on numerous occasions. He relates that "...Brutus stamped upon the coins which were being minted his own likeness and a cap and two daggers, indicating by this and by the inscription that he and Cassius had liberated the fatherland." (LXVII.25) He also writes of a young equestrian was sentenced to death for taking a coin into a brothel and that a senator was similarly punished for wearing a coin of Augustus set in a necklace when he went to the toilet. Finally, he relates that under Elagabalus a certain “Valerianus Paetus was executed because he had because he had stamped some likenesses of himself and plated them with gold to serve as ornaments for his mistresses.”(LXXIX.4) This was seen as a precursor to rebellion. Although hardly unanimous, these and similar passages tend to confirm that it was the imperial likeness on coins that often drew the particular attention.