From NY TIMES 9 January 2016---‘Broken System’ Allows ISIS to Profit From Looted Antiquities

"SHUMEN, Bulgaria — Acting on a tip, the police raided four homes in eastern Bulgaria, looking for contraband that regularly traverses this country on the way to markets in Western Europe and America. In one rusting shed behind an apartment block here, they found a cache of looted antiquities: 19 classical statues and fragments of marble or limestone.
Among them was a square tablet depicting a procession. If genuine, its style would make it neither Roman nor Greek, like the rest, but even older, dating back nearly 5,000 years. Its appearance suggested it came from the ancient Sumerian city of Lagash, in what is today southern Iraq."
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‘Broken System’ Allows ISIS to Profit From Looted Antiquities


ROME/Caracalla CE 198-217

AR Denarius , Rome mint, CE 212 , 3.65g 19mm
OBS: laureate bust right, ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT
REV: Serapis wearing polos, raising hand and holding scepter.,
VM 59/1(VB1), RIC 194

In CE 212, Caracalla issued his "Constitutio Antoniniana" granting Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire. Roman historian Cassius Dio (d. CE 235)  was a contemporary to the events of 212 and wrote in his history the following (78:9):

 Now this great admirer of Alexander, Antoninus, was fond of spending money upon the soldiers, great numbers of whom he kept in attendance upon him, alleging one excuse after another and one war after another; but he made it his business to strip, despoil, and grind down all the rest of mankind, and the senators by no means least. In the first place, there were the gold crowns that he was repeatedly demanding, on the constant pretext that he had conquered some enemy or other; and I am not referring, either, to the actual manufacture of the crowns — for what does that amount to? — but to the vast amount of money constantly being given  under that name by the cities for the customary "crowning", as it is called, of the emperors. Then there were the provisions that we were required to furnish in great quantities on all occasions, and this without receiving any remuneration and sometimes actually at additional cost to ourselves all of which supplies he either bestowed upon the soldiers or else peddled out; and there were the gifts which he demanded from the wealthy citizens and from the various communities; 4 and the taxes, but the new ones which he promulgated and the ten per cent tax that he instituted in place of the five per cent tax applying to the emancipation of slaves, to bequests, and to all legacies; for he abolished the right of succession and exemption from taxes which had been granted in such cases to those who were closely related to the deceased. This was the reason why he made all the people in his empire Roman citizens; nominally he was honouring them, but his real purpose was to increase his revenues by this means, inasmuch as aliens did not have to pay most of these taxes. But apart from all these burdens, we were also compelled to build at our own expense all sorts of houses for him whenever he set out from Rome, and costly lodgings in the middle of even the very shortest journeys; yet he not only never lived in them, but in some cases was not destined even to see them. Moreover, we constructed amphitheatres and race-courses wherever he spent the winter or expected to spend it, all without receiving any contribution from him; and they were all promptly demolished, the sole reason  for their being built in the first place being, apparently, that we might become impoverished. 

(http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/78*.html, accessed 01-08-16)

Mary Beard in her recent book "SPQR" seems to differ with the explanation of Dio's that it was for the purposes of taxation that the Constitutio was proclaimed and citizenship was extended to all. She writes that citizenship did not need to be extended in order for taxes to be increased. Nevertheless, the grant of citizenship to all of the free populace of the Empire was an extraordinary development and this coin is one of those that dates from that year.  On the other hand I like this piece because it mentions Britain as one of his titles and has a portrait that appears to have had a frozen grimace for 1,800 years as if he smelled some malodorous scent at the time of striking.  Perhaps he's smelling what became of his reputation despite his extention of citizenship to all. 


ISLAMIC/'Abbasid Governors of Tabaristan; ‘Umar ibn al-‘Ala عمر ابن العلاء CE 771-782

AR Hemidrachm, 24 mm, 2.15 g, 3h, Tabaristan mint PYE 129/AH 164/CE 780/1

Album 56
Malek 80

O: stylized bust of Khushro II, with Arabic inscription in front 
عمر, ("’Umar"), Pahlavi inscription to left "may his glory increase" and in margins "excellent" and "good".

R: Fire altar with two attendants Pahlavi date to left and mint name TPRWSTAN to right.


"Collecting Coins and the Conflict in Syria"

A version of the article published in the ANS magazine 2015:4, pp. 7-13 by 
Ute Wartenburg Kagan.

Interesting article with some constructive suggestions for getting answers to where your coins come from. 

Time for "don't ask/don't tell" in the collector/dealer relationship to end. 

Collecting Coins and the Conflict in Syria by Ute Wartenburg Kagan

Greece/Seleucid/Interregnum, posthumous issue of Antiochus IV, BCE 146/5

AR Drachm, 17 mm, 3.98 g, 12h, Antioch mint c. BCE 146/5

SC 1886c
HSC 745 (R1-2)
Mørkholm, NC 1960, 9

O: diad hd of Antiochus IV r.

R: BAΣIΛEΩΣ on right ANTIOXOY [E]ΠIΦANOYΣ in two lines on left, in ex. Θ

Apollo std l on omphalos, holding arrow, and grounded bow.