A July 2, 2015 Pocket Change blog article by Ute Wartenberg of the American Numismatic Society discusses a scholarly numismatic
book found in the hands of ISIS fighters there. -Editor
In preparing a session on cultural property issues for the Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar, I was reading more of the news about the
systematical looting of Syria.
What I had missed until I read Sam Hardy’s blog on conflict antiquities is the discovery of a numismatic book among an unlikely assortment
of weapons and somehow academic-looking publications. The photograph below was one taken of materials confiscated by the Kurdish People’s Defence
Unit after a battle with Turkish Islamic State fighters.
An open page shows what numismatists and archaeologists identified immediately as a group of various Persian and Phoenician coins, with
some text below. I knew right away that I had seen this page some time in the past, and after a few minutes I was able to decipher the
title of the article, ”La Syrie sous la domination achéménide” by Maurice Sartre. A Google search quickly confirmed that this was published
in the volume Archéologie et Histoire de la Syrie II, edited by Winfried Orthmann and Jean-Marie Dentzer and published in 1989.
Towards the end of the book, there is a map of archaeological sites of Hawran, an area in southwestern Syria
The confiscated book is missing the first pages, its dark-green hard cover, and very last page (p. 591). The page with the text and
images of coins in the Syrian photograph is page 17. Incidentally, the first volume of Archéologie et Histoire de la Syrie was
published in 2013.
ANS Library copy
Now how this very scholarly book on archaeology of Syria ends up in the hands of ISIS fighters is an interesting question. I, for one,
have never underestimated the often erudite knowledge people who are involved in looting ancient sites in the Mediterranean. For people
interested in a general overview of coins from Syria, this book is indeed helpful. Articles by Christian Augé on “La monnaie en Syrie à
l’époque hellénistique et romaine” (pp. 149–190, with four plates illustrating 71 coins) and by Cécile Morrisson (who won the ANS
Huntington Medal in 1995) on “La monnaie en Syrie byzantine” provide excellent and well-illustrated introductions to the coins of this
region. Her article gives a considerable amount of detailed scholarly information on site finds of coins in Syria.
So this is an extremely unlikely find—a scholarly, not exactly inexpensive, and heavy—book on the archaeology of Syria in the hands of
ISIS fighters. If anyone doubts the multifaceted connections between looted antiquities and war in Syria, this discovery has to make one
To read the complete article, see:
ISIS, NUMISMATICS, AND CONFLICT ANTIQUITIES
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster