ARTICLES about the
PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS and ECONOMICS behind
ANCIENT & MEDIEVAL NUMISMATICS
This is the index to some of my recent articles on early world coins. Click the links to get to the individual pieces.
All the articles are attempts to get at a more objective form of economic
and political history, by trying to make the texts agree with the coins,
trying to synchronise words with objects.
Please send any comments or criticisms to me at this address firstname.lastname@example.org
© copyright Robert Tye.
Users are permitted to link, quote, download, use, reproduce, and distribute any parts, or all, of my linked articles freely and without prior permission, as long as the final product is not to be sold, and proper attribution is given to authorship and publication
Wang Many created the world's first modern state in China in 9 AD, funding it with a suite of fiduciary copper coins. He was maybe the first to abolish slavery, to introduce income tax, to experiment in manned flight & much much else. His reign closed in perhaps the bloodiest civil war ever fought. My booklet on Wang Mang has been out of print for about 5 years. Here is a revised version of the text. The account is followed by a review of other 20th century accounts of Mang's reign. (Ask yourself - how did such prominent academics get things so wrong?)
'GYGES MAGIC RING' - THE ORIGINS OF COINAGES AND OPEN SOCIETIES
Sketches the common intellectual backdrop to first coin use in Europe, India and China at the dawn of history. Draws primarily upon the insights of Karl Popper and Ibn Khaldun (Still in Print - £3/$5 including P&P)
THE HORSEMAN TYPE ON MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN COINAGE
Idealised versions of Spartan & Cretan hierarchical political systems were used as templates for a proposed reactionary restructuring of society by Plato. Reactionary Roman politicians used hierarchical tribal German ideologies to much the same ends. Less well publicised is the way that, via Islam, ancient Scythian hierarchical idealised social systems were apparently implanted into the conceptual framework of medieval European elites. As usual, if we 'follow the money' the picture becomes much clearer. (Unfortunately the web version lacks the pictures and the map…)
THE ENGLISH MINT IN THE 18th CENTURY
A New History of The Royal Mint, edited by Dr Challis, lays before us a history of the English mint from Anglo-Saxon times, in great detail, copiously annotated and backed up by scores of statistical tables. But what of the central issues, are they really addressed? In a work which even tells us who swept the floor of the 18th century Royal Mint, we cannot find an answer to the central question: Why was the mint not striking coins? (This review mysteriously failed to appear in a provincial UK numismatic journal some years back)
Outlines Gesell's notions of market economies without capitalism. Raises the possibility that medieval change-of-type mechanisms in Europe, Islam and Japan were launched to achieve similar ends as Gesell’s stamp money, but one thousand years earlier. (The policies of the Anglo-Saxon ruler Aethelred II (978-1014) which spread to Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, and then to certain German principalities and then perhaps to Byzantium and then perhaps on to a phase which had its roots in the policies of Persian Ilkhan Uljaitu, 1304-16. )
Academic clientelism in numismatics and beyond. By 'academic clientelism' I mean the problem that academic institutions sometimes become clients of wealthy external agencies, and then tailor their conclusions to suit their pay masters, without regard to scholarly integrity.
Josep Pico (Clientelism issues)
Offers an excellent bibliography related to the Franco-American 'post-modern'
redirection of the course of academia, of the doings of Annales,
The Ford Foundation, etc etc
For parallel Anglo-American operations to direct the course of scholarship - see below 'Who Paid the Piper?'. The implications of the Anglo-American affair were of less consequence, but the study gives an excellent overview of the general methodology (apparently arising within military intelligence during WWII)
Wray/Kurke (Origins of coins/open society issues)
"As Kurke’s analysis makes clear, through their ignorance of history …….. economists have wholly misinterpreted the nature of money and the importance of government to the formation of democratizing market exchange, and would instead promote a return to the embedded economy with elite, hierarchical gift exchange and with precious metal at the apex."
It is odd that classics scholars continue to play a central role in addressing the fundamental issues of the political economy. Like Seaford, Kurke/Wray independently formed conclusions somewhat similar to my own on the origins of coins.. I am puzzled however that Kurke, Seaford & co continue to pay lip service to such anti-democratic theorists as Polanyi. Readers of 'Origins' & 'Clientalism' above should note that Polanyi was intellectually linked to Braudel, [and to Levi-Strauss (via Sahlins), and also to Moses Finlay at Oxford]. And Polanyi also got paid by the Ford Foundation…..
Hierarchy, History and Human Nature, Donald
A really useful approach to the history of writing objective history. Traces the common notions of objectivity in history through four continents and the two and a half thousand years. Brown does not seek to forge the link between objective history writing and coin use, but if you read this and then 'Gyges Magic Ring' completing the corollary requires little imagination. Pinker has located Brown in a group of scholars associated with Chomsky, who, in a tradition going back through Russell, seek to keep Voltaire's candle flickering.
'Who Paid the Piper? Francis Stonor Saunders.
(called The Cultural Cold War in the USA)
Vital reading if you thought Orwell's '1984' was just fiction. Koestler's role in a CIA plot to direct the course of Anglo American culture and much more!. (Koestler was Orwell's brother in law)
Jitals, Robert & Monica Tye
A catalogue and account of the day to day coinage of Medieval North West India and Afghanistan. Covers the coins, and the forces I think influenced their development (few copies left @ £34 including post - sea mail outside UK). I would welcome informed criticism of the hypothyses concerning the competing roles of finance houses and Sultans in the control of the money supply.