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On the Facial Detail of Sophytes

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  • Lloyd
    I draw discussion board members attention to this remarkable AV stater of Sophytes (Roma Numismatics Auction II Lot 366)
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 17 5:51 PM
      I draw discussion board members attention to this remarkable AV stater of Sophytes (Roma Numismatics Auction II Lot 366) http://www.sixbid.com/nav.php?p=viewlot&sid=454&lot=366 in particular the prominently defined elevated facial scaring on a sunken cheek. The expansive historical and numismatic notes accompanying the auction lot provides detailed background (I commend the Roma Numismatics catalogue to discussion board members – it sets a new high water mark in catalogue production).

      Most workers have interpreted the obverse image of this and the associated silver drachms with the same obverse iconography to be that of Sophytes, or perhaps a generalized portrayal of the heroic male leader. With a few others, I held onto the possibility (now incorrect in light of this coin) that the image portrayed on the obverse of the coin may be that of Seleukos I based on the general similarity of the image to the obverse of the Trophy coinage of Susa.

      Facial Detail
      A previously unremarked upon and apparently unnoticed detail is that of the raised facial scar tissue extending from the base of the nose down the sunken cheek of the male head. These aspects are prominently detailed on this exceptionally well preserved stater.

      These details are suggestive of significant past facial trauma inflicted on the male portrayed. This scar feature and the accompanying sunken cheek have been deliberately detailed on the die. Inspection of the associated emission of silver drachms shows that this detail is also evident in varying degrees on the silver coinage, although often les prominently defined. This indicates that these are features intended by the engraver, rather than an accident of engraving. They constitute key elements of the portrait.

      Some examples of its definition on the Sophytes drachms follow (enlarge the images to see the detail of the scar and sunken cheek):
      http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76055
      http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=102941
      http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=431044
      http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=432471
      http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76127

      Such a facial scar and accompanying sunken cheek is unknown on the proven numismatic portraits and portrait busts of of Seleukos (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=123162 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seleucus_I_Nicator ), most of which clearly post-date the Sophytes coinage. Nor are the scar and sunken cheek in evidence on the portrayals of the male head on Susa Trophy series (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=460908). Written historical records do not indicate that Seleukos suffered such facial trauma at any stage in his career and it is unlikely that such an injury would go unremarked upon given its probable association with valour in battle.

      Implications and questions
      The facial scar and sunken cheek indicate that the image is a portrait, most likely of Sopythes, rather than Seleukos, or a stylized portrayal of the ideal male heroic leader.

      The portrayal is clearly that of an aged and well worn veteran, consistent with the Greek veterans that Alexander forced to garrison the Baktrian frontier.

      Bopearachchi (The Enigmatic Sophytes) placed Sophytes coinage in the period after 305 BC, prior the opening of a Seleukid mint in Baktria ca. 295/4 BC. The portrayal of Sophytes as an aged veteran leader suggest that the dating of the Sophytes series is more readily accommodated in the period between Alexander's death and the assertion of Seleukid control over Baktria in 305 BC (as proposed in the Roma Numismatics description of the lot). Such being the case the apparent obverse iconographic co-incidence between the Baktrian Sophytes and Susa Trophy series is nothing more than that, co-incidence.

      Some `young head' silver drachms of Sophytes are to be found in the numismatic market. These portrayals contrast with the `old head' drachms not simply in the youthful features, but also in the full cheek development, without any evidence of facial scar. This `young head' may be an idealization of the Sophytes portrait, perhaps following his death. On a conventional interpretation, they cannot precede the `old head' issue by virtue of bearing the same control, a kerykion that sits at the end of what is conventionally interpreted as a progressive series of controls: grape bunch, grapes and leaf on vine, grapes and leaf on vine plus kerykion and finally kerykion. However, the prominent display of the Kerykion on the reverse of this AV stater suggests that the latter is a symbol associated with Sophytes, rather than a mint control. This calls into question the conventional interpretation of the succession of mint controls and opens the possibility that the rarely encountered `young head' emissions precede the `old head' in which case some decades must be represented between the portrayals. Alternatively, the rarely encountered 'young head' drachms might be considered of uncertain authenticity.

      Conclusions
      The detail of the portrait of Sophytes depicted on this coin is remarkable, in so far as it appears to depict the consequence of facial trauma in the portrait.

      The clear portrayal of an older veteran leader potentially has implications for the dating of the Sophytes emissions, pointing to the period prior to 305 BC.

      The prominent kerykion reverse calls into question the conventional wisdom that this symbol was a mint control on the silver drachm issues of Sophytes. Rather it appears to be associated with and of some significance to Sophytes himself.

      Finally, the existence of `young head' silver issues of Sophytes suggests the possibility that the duration of Sophytes emissions may have been over decades, if the concept of the parallel emission of an idealized `young head' image on the silver coinage is rejected.

      I'd be interested in the perspectives of others on this coin and its significance.

      Regards
      Lloyd
    • Jens
      Lloyd, I agree that the scar could well be an authentic faces trait, presented to depict Sophytes as the seasoned commander he very likely was. An interesting
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 20 1:03 AM
        Lloyd,

        I agree that the scar could well be an authentic faces trait, presented to depict Sophytes as the seasoned commander he very likely was. An interesting observation.

        The study of portraits on Bactrian coins has unfortunately fallen into disrepute, as older scholars used the estimated age differences on coins not only to lengths of reigns, but also for fictional character studies. As a consequence, modern numismatists are very cautious.

        But I tried to show, in my Numismatic Chronicle article III from last year (A Possible New Indo-Greek King Zoilos III, and an Analysis of Realism on Indo-Greek Royal Portraits), that what we perceive as age markers on the royal effigies should often be taken seriously, though there are noted exceptions. It is possible to divide many Bactrian and Indo-Greek series into rough categories such as Young/Grown/Aged, which corresponds well to what little we can estimate of the backgrounds of these kings.

        (For instance the coins of Apollodotos I have no dynastic associations, so it seems likely that he was also a seasoned commander who made himself independent in India, and he appears aged. Euthydemos I had a long reign and appears aged on some later coins, while Euthydemos II was probably a young prince with a short reign, and his portrait is idealised and without signs of aging. And so on.)

        Sophytes is indeed much earlier than any of these cases, but there are aged portraits of Antiochus I from Bactria as well. Are you working on an article about Sophytes?

        Regards
        Jens Jakobsson

        --- In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, "Lloyd" <lloyd.taylor@...> wrote:
        >
        > I draw discussion board members attention to this remarkable AV stater of Sophytes (Roma Numismatics Auction II Lot 366) http://www.sixbid.com/nav.php?p=viewlot&sid=454&lot=366 in particular the prominently defined elevated facial scaring on a sunken cheek. The expansive historical and numismatic notes accompanying the auction lot provides detailed background (I commend the Roma Numismatics catalogue to discussion board members – it sets a new high water mark in catalogue production).
        >
        > Most workers have interpreted the obverse image of this and the associated silver drachms with the same obverse iconography to be that of Sophytes, or perhaps a generalized portrayal of the heroic male leader. With a few others, I held onto the possibility (now incorrect in light of this coin) that the image portrayed on the obverse of the coin may be that of Seleukos I based on the general similarity of the image to the obverse of the Trophy coinage of Susa.
        >
        > Facial Detail
        > A previously unremarked upon and apparently unnoticed detail is that of the raised facial scar tissue extending from the base of the nose down the sunken cheek of the male head. These aspects are prominently detailed on this exceptionally well preserved stater.
        >
        > These details are suggestive of significant past facial trauma inflicted on the male portrayed. This scar feature and the accompanying sunken cheek have been deliberately detailed on the die. Inspection of the associated emission of silver drachms shows that this detail is also evident in varying degrees on the silver coinage, although often les prominently defined. This indicates that these are features intended by the engraver, rather than an accident of engraving. They constitute key elements of the portrait.
        >
        > Some examples of its definition on the Sophytes drachms follow (enlarge the images to see the detail of the scar and sunken cheek):
        > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76055
        > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=102941
        > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=431044
        > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=432471
        > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76127
        >
        > Such a facial scar and accompanying sunken cheek is unknown on the proven numismatic portraits and portrait busts of of Seleukos (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=123162 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seleucus_I_Nicator ), most of which clearly post-date the Sophytes coinage. Nor are the scar and sunken cheek in evidence on the portrayals of the male head on Susa Trophy series (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=460908). Written historical records do not indicate that Seleukos suffered such facial trauma at any stage in his career and it is unlikely that such an injury would go unremarked upon given its probable association with valour in battle.
        >
        > Implications and questions
        > The facial scar and sunken cheek indicate that the image is a portrait, most likely of Sopythes, rather than Seleukos, or a stylized portrayal of the ideal male heroic leader.
        >
        > The portrayal is clearly that of an aged and well worn veteran, consistent with the Greek veterans that Alexander forced to garrison the Baktrian frontier.
        >
        > Bopearachchi (The Enigmatic Sophytes) placed Sophytes coinage in the period after 305 BC, prior the opening of a Seleukid mint in Baktria ca. 295/4 BC. The portrayal of Sophytes as an aged veteran leader suggest that the dating of the Sophytes series is more readily accommodated in the period between Alexander's death and the assertion of Seleukid control over Baktria in 305 BC (as proposed in the Roma Numismatics description of the lot). Such being the case the apparent obverse iconographic co-incidence between the Baktrian Sophytes and Susa Trophy series is nothing more than that, co-incidence.
        >
        > Some `young head' silver drachms of Sophytes are to be found in the numismatic market. These portrayals contrast with the `old head' drachms not simply in the youthful features, but also in the full cheek development, without any evidence of facial scar. This `young head' may be an idealization of the Sophytes portrait, perhaps following his death. On a conventional interpretation, they cannot precede the `old head' issue by virtue of bearing the same control, a kerykion that sits at the end of what is conventionally interpreted as a progressive series of controls: grape bunch, grapes and leaf on vine, grapes and leaf on vine plus kerykion and finally kerykion. However, the prominent display of the Kerykion on the reverse of this AV stater suggests that the latter is a symbol associated with Sophytes, rather than a mint control. This calls into question the conventional interpretation of the succession of mint controls and opens the possibility that the rarely encountered `young head' emissions precede the `old head' in which case some decades must be represented between the portrayals. Alternatively, the rarely encountered 'young head' drachms might be considered of uncertain authenticity.
        >
        > Conclusions
        > The detail of the portrait of Sophytes depicted on this coin is remarkable, in so far as it appears to depict the consequence of facial trauma in the portrait.
        >
        > The clear portrayal of an older veteran leader potentially has implications for the dating of the Sophytes emissions, pointing to the period prior to 305 BC.
        >
        > The prominent kerykion reverse calls into question the conventional wisdom that this symbol was a mint control on the silver drachm issues of Sophytes. Rather it appears to be associated with and of some significance to Sophytes himself.
        >
        > Finally, the existence of `young head' silver issues of Sophytes suggests the possibility that the duration of Sophytes emissions may have been over decades, if the concept of the parallel emission of an idealized `young head' image on the silver coinage is rejected.
        >
        > I'd be interested in the perspectives of others on this coin and its significance.
        >
        > Regards
        > Lloyd
        >
      • Lloyd
        Jens, Thanks for the comments. Significance and Limitations of Portraiture I agree that making character assessments and even interpretation of reign durations
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 23 6:28 PM
          Jens,

          Thanks for the comments.

          Significance and Limitations of Portraiture
          I agree that making character assessments and even interpretation of reign durations based on portrait characteristics on coins is problematic.

          However, in the case of the Sophytes coin I believe that we have a clear facial detail that is not a function of poor engraving, or an accident of striking. Moreover the detail is not identifiable on other portraits or recorded as a characteristic of any other roughly contemporaneous Hellenistic ruler. Hence my conclusion that this scar and sunken cheek is a genuine feature of Sophytes and one that distinguishes this as a realistic portrait and distinctively defines his portrait from others, while removing from consideration the possibility that it is some sort of idealized composite of the heroic male leader.


          Idealized Young Portrait – a propaganda response?
          On the subject of the young portrait head Sophytes, I believe, but cannot prove, that these were probably issued in the last year(s) of his existence, rather than being an early emission indicative of a long reign.

          Factors bearing on this include the the exact match in style, iconography and legend of the reverse between old and young head coins and the fact that there is no progression of development of Sophytes' portraits (as occurs in the case of Euthydemos I roughly a century later). Rather we have the stark contrast of a rarely encountered idealized young portrait coinage with the much more frequently encountered realistic portrait of an old veteran. This hints at a short duration emission for the young head portraiture.

          The catalyst for the issuance of the idealized young portrait appears to have been the eastern anabasis of Seleukos I Nikator around 306/5 BC. I believe that a propaganda response to this threat to Sophytes was the idealization of the old veteran leader's portrait into that of a young robust portrait.

          The Numismatic Analogy – Euthydemos Idealized Portrait and Antiochos III
          This situation is analogous to what happened with the portraits of Euthydemos I a century later later when Antiochos III invaded Bactria in 208-206 BC. At the time Antiochos was probably about thirty years younger than Euthydemos. Suddenly Euthydemos' coinage reverted from a middle aged portrait (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 2) to that of an idealized robust young head (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 3) almost unrecognizable as Euthydemos. After the treaty with Antiochos III and the latter's departure from Baktria realistic portraiture returned with highly realistic portrait of Euthydemos in old age (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 4). The idealized Euthydemos portrait (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 3) was a propaganda response to the threat of the younger Antiochos III.

          However, unlike Euthydemos I, in the case of Sophytes the idealized youthful portrait was probably the last he issued before succumbing to Seleukos I Nikator.


          The Legend - another chronological pointer!
          Notable in this discussion is that the Hellenistic leaders did not adopt the title of king, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, until 306/5 BC. This legend of the Sophytes coins, without the title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, is a pointer to his existence before this defining event. No self respecting secessionist/leader after 306/5 BC would have omitted the royal title. Hence my preference for the sequencing that has Sophytes leading the Baktrians before 305 BC and succumbing to Seleukos I during the latter's eastern anabasis some time around 305 BC.


          Worthy of an Article?
          You asked whether I intend to write a paper on this. This was not my intention and being an amateur numismatist with no affiliation to any numismatic research institution is probably problematic from a publication perspective. In bringing this matter to the attention of the discussion list I was hoping for some feedback as to whether the argument stacks up.

          I have always been doubtful of the explanations of Sophytes and the contrivances undertaken to give him a slot in history. This coin portrait and the associated considerations, clear up some of the uncertainty and remove the various contrivances of either an Indian prince issuing Greek coinage and by implication leading Greek settlers in Bactria, or Seleukos appointing an historically unrecorded satrap with the authority to mint non-Seleukid coinage in the period 305-295 BC as proposed by Bopearachchi.

          It is highly improbable that the Greek settlers in Bactria survived leaderless and without coinage from Alexander's death in 323 BC until Seleukos asserted control over the province around 306/5 BC. The numismatic evidence and scant historical record I think can be fully reconciled to the existence of Sophytes (or is that really Sophytos) as a quasi-independent, if not independent, leader in Bactria in at least the later part of period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and 305 BC when Seleukid control was established over the province by Seleukos I. No contrivances needed, nor any twisting of the known data or facts are required under this explanation. This interpretation passes the test of Occam's Razor, or lex parsimoniae, but is it worth documenting in a formal paper?

          Regards
          Lloyd

          --- In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, "Jens" <jens.jakobsson@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Lloyd,
          >
          > I agree that the scar could well be an authentic faces trait, presented to depict Sophytes as the seasoned commander he very likely was. An interesting observation.
          >
          > The study of portraits on Bactrian coins has unfortunately fallen into disrepute, as older scholars used the estimated age differences on coins not only to lengths of reigns, but also for fictional character studies. As a consequence, modern numismatists are very cautious.
          >
          > But I tried to show, in my Numismatic Chronicle article III from last year (A Possible New Indo-Greek King Zoilos III, and an Analysis of Realism on Indo-Greek Royal Portraits), that what we perceive as age markers on the royal effigies should often be taken seriously, though there are noted exceptions. It is possible to divide many Bactrian and Indo-Greek series into rough categories such as Young/Grown/Aged, which corresponds well to what little we can estimate of the backgrounds of these kings.
          >
          > (For instance the coins of Apollodotos I have no dynastic associations, so it seems likely that he was also a seasoned commander who made himself independent in India, and he appears aged. Euthydemos I had a long reign and appears aged on some later coins, while Euthydemos II was probably a young prince with a short reign, and his portrait is idealised and without signs of aging. And so on.)
          >
          > Sophytes is indeed much earlier than any of these cases, but there are aged portraits of Antiochus I from Bactria as well. Are you working on an article about Sophytes?
          >
          > Regards
          > Jens Jakobsson
          >
          > --- In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, "Lloyd" <lloyd.taylor@> wrote:
          > >
          > > I draw discussion board members attention to this remarkable AV stater of Sophytes (Roma Numismatics Auction II Lot 366) http://www.sixbid.com/nav.php?p=viewlot&sid=454&lot=366 in particular the prominently defined elevated facial scaring on a sunken cheek. The expansive historical and numismatic notes accompanying the auction lot provides detailed background (I commend the Roma Numismatics catalogue to discussion board members – it sets a new high water mark in catalogue production).
          > >
          > > Most workers have interpreted the obverse image of this and the associated silver drachms with the same obverse iconography to be that of Sophytes, or perhaps a generalized portrayal of the heroic male leader. With a few others, I held onto the possibility (now incorrect in light of this coin) that the image portrayed on the obverse of the coin may be that of Seleukos I based on the general similarity of the image to the obverse of the Trophy coinage of Susa.
          > >
          > > Facial Detail
          > > A previously unremarked upon and apparently unnoticed detail is that of the raised facial scar tissue extending from the base of the nose down the sunken cheek of the male head. These aspects are prominently detailed on this exceptionally well preserved stater.
          > >
          > > These details are suggestive of significant past facial trauma inflicted on the male portrayed. This scar feature and the accompanying sunken cheek have been deliberately detailed on the die. Inspection of the associated emission of silver drachms shows that this detail is also evident in varying degrees on the silver coinage, although often les prominently defined. This indicates that these are features intended by the engraver, rather than an accident of engraving. They constitute key elements of the portrait.
          > >
          > > Some examples of its definition on the Sophytes drachms follow (enlarge the images to see the detail of the scar and sunken cheek):
          > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76055
          > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=102941
          > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=431044
          > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=432471
          > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76127
          > >
          > > Such a facial scar and accompanying sunken cheek is unknown on the proven numismatic portraits and portrait busts of of Seleukos (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=123162 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seleucus_I_Nicator ), most of which clearly post-date the Sophytes coinage. Nor are the scar and sunken cheek in evidence on the portrayals of the male head on Susa Trophy series (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=460908). Written historical records do not indicate that Seleukos suffered such facial trauma at any stage in his career and it is unlikely that such an injury would go unremarked upon given its probable association with valour in battle.
          > >
          > > Implications and questions
          > > The facial scar and sunken cheek indicate that the image is a portrait, most likely of Sopythes, rather than Seleukos, or a stylized portrayal of the ideal male heroic leader.
          > >
          > > The portrayal is clearly that of an aged and well worn veteran, consistent with the Greek veterans that Alexander forced to garrison the Baktrian frontier.
          > >
          > > Bopearachchi (The Enigmatic Sophytes) placed Sophytes coinage in the period after 305 BC, prior the opening of a Seleukid mint in Baktria ca. 295/4 BC. The portrayal of Sophytes as an aged veteran leader suggest that the dating of the Sophytes series is more readily accommodated in the period between Alexander's death and the assertion of Seleukid control over Baktria in 305 BC (as proposed in the Roma Numismatics description of the lot). Such being the case the apparent obverse iconographic co-incidence between the Baktrian Sophytes and Susa Trophy series is nothing more than that, co-incidence.
          > >
          > > Some `young head' silver drachms of Sophytes are to be found in the numismatic market. These portrayals contrast with the `old head' drachms not simply in the youthful features, but also in the full cheek development, without any evidence of facial scar. This `young head' may be an idealization of the Sophytes portrait, perhaps following his death. On a conventional interpretation, they cannot precede the `old head' issue by virtue of bearing the same control, a kerykion that sits at the end of what is conventionally interpreted as a progressive series of controls: grape bunch, grapes and leaf on vine, grapes and leaf on vine plus kerykion and finally kerykion. However, the prominent display of the Kerykion on the reverse of this AV stater suggests that the latter is a symbol associated with Sophytes, rather than a mint control. This calls into question the conventional interpretation of the succession of mint controls and opens the possibility that the rarely encountered `young head' emissions precede the `old head' in which case some decades must be represented between the portrayals. Alternatively, the rarely encountered 'young head' drachms might be considered of uncertain authenticity.
          > >
          > > Conclusions
          > > The detail of the portrait of Sophytes depicted on this coin is remarkable, in so far as it appears to depict the consequence of facial trauma in the portrait.
          > >
          > > The clear portrayal of an older veteran leader potentially has implications for the dating of the Sophytes emissions, pointing to the period prior to 305 BC.
          > >
          > > The prominent kerykion reverse calls into question the conventional wisdom that this symbol was a mint control on the silver drachm issues of Sophytes. Rather it appears to be associated with and of some significance to Sophytes himself.
          > >
          > > Finally, the existence of `young head' silver issues of Sophytes suggests the possibility that the duration of Sophytes emissions may have been over decades, if the concept of the parallel emission of an idealized `young head' image on the silver coinage is rejected.
          > >
          > > I'd be interested in the perspectives of others on this coin and its significance.
          > >
          > > Regards
          > > Lloyd
          > >
          >
        • Jens
          Lloyd, just a few closing comments. First of all, journals like that of the Oriental Numismatic Society (www.onsnumis.org) accept articles from amateurs (I was
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 24 3:58 AM
            Lloyd,
            just a few closing comments.

            First of all, journals like that of the Oriental Numismatic Society
            (www.onsnumis.org) accept articles from amateurs (I was first published
            there), so if you have enough new observations, publication is
            certainly possible.

            I did not know that the idealised portraits of Euthydemos I may have
            been a propaganda move against Antiochos III; that was most
            interesting. His first portraits are certainly not personal, but adapted
            from Diodotid models. And subsequently, Euthydemos' important decision
            to start issuing realistic portraits, after Antiochos III had gone,
            could then also be a political decision with the intention of stressing
            his long rule, now that he had been accepted as legitimate by the
            Seleucid king.

            I also agree about the significance of the lack of royal title. That is
            a marker that Sophytes ruled before 306/5 BC. There are however some
            exceptions, like the coins of Andragoras presumably from the 240s BCE,
            without royal title.

            Regards,
            Jens Jakobsson


            --- In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, "Lloyd" <lloyd.taylor@...> wrote:
            >
            > Jens,
            >
            > Thanks for the comments.
            >
            > Significance and Limitations of Portraiture
            > I agree that making character assessments and even interpretation of
            reign durations based on portrait characteristics on coins is
            problematic.
            >
            > However, in the case of the Sophytes coin I believe that we have a
            clear facial detail that is not a function of poor engraving, or an
            accident of striking. Moreover the detail is not identifiable on other
            portraits or recorded as a characteristic of any other roughly
            contemporaneous Hellenistic ruler. Hence my conclusion that this scar
            and sunken cheek is a genuine feature of Sophytes and one that
            distinguishes this as a realistic portrait and distinctively defines his
            portrait from others, while removing from consideration the possibility
            that it is some sort of idealized composite of the heroic male leader.
            >
            >
            > Idealized Young Portrait – a propaganda response?
            > On the subject of the young portrait head Sophytes, I believe, but
            cannot prove, that these were probably issued in the last year(s) of his
            existence, rather than being an early emission indicative of a long
            reign.
            >
            > Factors bearing on this include the the exact match in style,
            iconography and legend of the reverse between old and young head coins
            and the fact that there is no progression of development of Sophytes'
            portraits (as occurs in the case of Euthydemos I roughly a century
            later). Rather we have the stark contrast of a rarely encountered
            idealized young portrait coinage with the much more frequently
            encountered realistic portrait of an old veteran. This hints at a short
            duration emission for the young head portraiture.
            >
            > The catalyst for the issuance of the idealized young portrait appears
            to have been the eastern anabasis of Seleukos I Nikator around 306/5 BC.
            I believe that a propaganda response to this threat to Sophytes was the
            idealization of the old veteran leader's portrait into that of a young
            robust portrait.
            >
            > The Numismatic Analogy – Euthydemos Idealized Portrait and
            Antiochos III
            > This situation is analogous to what happened with the portraits of
            Euthydemos I a century later later when Antiochos III invaded Bactria in
            208-206 BC. At the time Antiochos was probably about thirty years
            younger than Euthydemos. Suddenly Euthydemos' coinage reverted from a
            middle aged portrait (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 2) to
            that of an idealized robust young head (Kritt Dynastic Transitions
            Portrait Model 3) almost unrecognizable as Euthydemos. After the treaty
            with Antiochos III and the latter's departure from Baktria realistic
            portraiture returned with highly realistic portrait of Euthydemos in old
            age (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 4). The idealized
            Euthydemos portrait (Kritt Dynastic Transitions Portrait Model 3) was a
            propaganda response to the threat of the younger Antiochos III.
            >
            > However, unlike Euthydemos I, in the case of Sophytes the idealized
            youthful portrait was probably the last he issued before succumbing to
            Seleukos I Nikator.
            >
            >
            > The Legend - another chronological pointer!
            > Notable in this discussion is that the Hellenistic leaders did not
            adopt the title of king,
            ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, until 306/5 BC. This
            legend of the Sophytes coins, without the title
            ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, is a pointer to his
            existence before this defining event. No self respecting
            secessionist/leader after 306/5 BC would have omitted the royal title.
            Hence my preference for the sequencing that has Sophytes leading the
            Baktrians before 305 BC and succumbing to Seleukos I during the latter's
            eastern anabasis some time around 305 BC.
            >
            >
            > Worthy of an Article?
            > You asked whether I intend to write a paper on this. This was not my
            intention and being an amateur numismatist with no affiliation to any
            numismatic research institution is probably problematic from a
            publication perspective. In bringing this matter to the attention of
            the discussion list I was hoping for some feedback as to whether the
            argument stacks up.
            >
            > I have always been doubtful of the explanations of Sophytes and the
            contrivances undertaken to give him a slot in history. This coin
            portrait and the associated considerations, clear up some of the
            uncertainty and remove the various contrivances of either an Indian
            prince issuing Greek coinage and by implication leading Greek settlers
            in Bactria, or Seleukos appointing an historically unrecorded satrap
            with the authority to mint non-Seleukid coinage in the period 305-295 BC
            as proposed by Bopearachchi.
            >
            > It is highly improbable that the Greek settlers in Bactria survived
            leaderless and without coinage from Alexander's death in 323 BC until
            Seleukos asserted control over the province around 306/5 BC. The
            numismatic evidence and scant historical record I think can be fully
            reconciled to the existence of Sophytes (or is that really Sophytos) as
            a quasi-independent, if not independent, leader in Bactria in at least
            the later part of period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323
            BC and 305 BC when Seleukid control was established over the province by
            Seleukos I. No contrivances needed, nor any twisting of the known data
            or facts are required under this explanation. This interpretation passes
            the test of Occam's Razor, or lex parsimoniae, but is it worth
            documenting in a formal paper?
            >
            > Regards
            > Lloyd
            >
            > --- In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, "Jens" jens.jakobsson@ wrote:
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > Lloyd,
            > >
            > > I agree that the scar could well be an authentic faces trait,
            presented to depict Sophytes as the seasoned commander he very likely
            was. An interesting observation.
            > >
            > > The study of portraits on Bactrian coins has unfortunately fallen
            into disrepute, as older scholars used the estimated age differences on
            coins not only to lengths of reigns, but also for fictional character
            studies. As a consequence, modern numismatists are very cautious.
            > >
            > > But I tried to show, in my Numismatic Chronicle article III from
            last year (A Possible New Indo-Greek King Zoilos III, and an Analysis of
            Realism on Indo-Greek Royal Portraits), that what we perceive as age
            markers on the royal effigies should often be taken seriously, though
            there are noted exceptions. It is possible to divide many Bactrian and
            Indo-Greek series into rough categories such as Young/Grown/Aged, which
            corresponds well to what little we can estimate of the backgrounds of
            these kings.
            > >
            > > (For instance the coins of Apollodotos I have no dynastic
            associations, so it seems likely that he was also a seasoned commander
            who made himself independent in India, and he appears aged. Euthydemos I
            had a long reign and appears aged on some later coins, while Euthydemos
            II was probably a young prince with a short reign, and his portrait is
            idealised and without signs of aging. And so on.)
            > >
            > > Sophytes is indeed much earlier than any of these cases, but there
            are aged portraits of Antiochus I from Bactria as well. Are you working
            on an article about Sophytes?
            > >
            > > Regards
            > > Jens Jakobsson
            > >
            > > --- In seleukids@yahoogroups.com, "Lloyd" <lloyd.taylor@> wrote:
            > > >
            > > > I draw discussion board members attention to this remarkable AV
            stater of Sophytes (Roma Numismatics Auction II Lot 366)
            http://www.sixbid.com/nav.php?p=viewlot&sid=454&lot=366 in particular
            the prominently defined elevated facial scaring on a sunken cheek. The
            expansive historical and numismatic notes accompanying the auction lot
            provides detailed background (I commend the Roma Numismatics catalogue
            to discussion board members – it sets a new high water mark in
            catalogue production).
            > > >
            > > > Most workers have interpreted the obverse image of this and the
            associated silver drachms with the same obverse iconography to be that
            of Sophytes, or perhaps a generalized portrayal of the heroic male
            leader. With a few others, I held onto the possibility (now incorrect
            in light of this coin) that the image portrayed on the obverse of the
            coin may be that of Seleukos I based on the general similarity of the
            image to the obverse of the Trophy coinage of Susa.
            > > >
            > > > Facial Detail
            > > > A previously unremarked upon and apparently unnoticed detail is
            that of the raised facial scar tissue extending from the base of the
            nose down the sunken cheek of the male head. These aspects are
            prominently detailed on this exceptionally well preserved stater.
            > > >
            > > > These details are suggestive of significant past facial trauma
            inflicted on the male portrayed. This scar feature and the accompanying
            sunken cheek have been deliberately detailed on the die. Inspection of
            the associated emission of silver drachms shows that this detail is also
            evident in varying degrees on the silver coinage, although often les
            prominently defined. This indicates that these are features intended by
            the engraver, rather than an accident of engraving. They constitute key
            elements of the portrait.
            > > >
            > > > Some examples of its definition on the Sophytes drachms follow
            (enlarge the images to see the detail of the scar and sunken cheek):
            > > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76055
            > > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=102941
            > > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=431044
            > > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=432471
            > > > http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=76127
            > > >
            > > > Such a facial scar and accompanying sunken cheek is unknown on the
            proven numismatic portraits and portrait busts of of Seleukos
            (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=123162 and
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seleucus_I_Nicator ), most of which clearly
            post-date the Sophytes coinage. Nor are the scar and sunken cheek in
            evidence on the portrayals of the male head on Susa Trophy series
            (http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=460908). Written historical
            records do not indicate that Seleukos suffered such facial trauma at any
            stage in his career and it is unlikely that such an injury would go
            unremarked upon given its probable association with valour in battle.
            > > >
            > > > Implications and questions
            > > > The facial scar and sunken cheek indicate that the image is a
            portrait, most likely of Sopythes, rather than Seleukos, or a stylized
            portrayal of the ideal male heroic leader.
            > > >
            > > > The portrayal is clearly that of an aged and well worn veteran,
            consistent with the Greek veterans that Alexander forced to garrison the
            Baktrian frontier.
            > > >
            > > > Bopearachchi (The Enigmatic Sophytes) placed Sophytes coinage in
            the period after 305 BC, prior the opening of a Seleukid mint in Baktria
            ca. 295/4 BC. The portrayal of Sophytes as an aged veteran leader
            suggest that the dating of the Sophytes series is more readily
            accommodated in the period between Alexander's death and the assertion
            of Seleukid control over Baktria in 305 BC (as proposed in the Roma
            Numismatics description of the lot). Such being the case the apparent
            obverse iconographic co-incidence between the Baktrian Sophytes and Susa
            Trophy series is nothing more than that, co-incidence.
            > > >
            > > > Some `young head' silver drachms of Sophytes are to be found in
            the numismatic market. These portrayals contrast with the `old head'
            drachms not simply in the youthful features, but also in the full cheek
            development, without any evidence of facial scar. This `young head' may
            be an idealization of the Sophytes portrait, perhaps following his
            death. On a conventional interpretation, they cannot precede the `old
            head' issue by virtue of bearing the same control, a kerykion that sits
            at the end of what is conventionally interpreted as a progressive series
            of controls: grape bunch, grapes and leaf on vine, grapes and leaf on
            vine plus kerykion and finally kerykion. However, the prominent display
            of the Kerykion on the reverse of this AV stater suggests that the
            latter is a symbol associated with Sophytes, rather than a mint control.
            This calls into question the conventional interpretation of the
            succession of mint controls and opens the possibility that the rarely
            encountered `young head' emissions precede the `old head' in which case
            some decades must be represented between the portrayals. Alternatively,
            the rarely encountered 'young head' drachms might be considered of
            uncertain authenticity.
            > > >
            > > > Conclusions
            > > > The detail of the portrait of Sophytes depicted on this coin is
            remarkable, in so far as it appears to depict the consequence of facial
            trauma in the portrait.
            > > >
            > > > The clear portrayal of an older veteran leader potentially has
            implications for the dating of the Sophytes emissions, pointing to the
            period prior to 305 BC.
            > > >
            > > > The prominent kerykion reverse calls into question the
            conventional wisdom that this symbol was a mint control on the silver
            drachm issues of Sophytes. Rather it appears to be associated with and
            of some significance to Sophytes himself.
            > > >
            > > > Finally, the existence of `young head' silver issues of Sophytes
            suggests the possibility that the duration of Sophytes emissions may
            have been over decades, if the concept of the parallel emission of an
            idealized `young head' image on the silver coinage is rejected.
            > > >
            > > > I'd be interested in the perspectives of others on this coin and
            its significance.
            > > >
            > > > Regards
            > > > Lloyd
            > > >
            > >
            >
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