Welcome, Man-Faced Bull Enthusiasts!

This site features half of the plates in our book:

Nicholas Molinari and Nicola Sisci, Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, with Essays on Origin and Identity (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2016).

To order the special hardcover edition, email njmolinari[at]gmail.com.  US Customer: $100, Shipping Included.  International Customers: $150, Shipping Included.

Italian customers please email: siscinico[at]gmail.com

Abstract:

Potamikon attempts to solve a question that has perplexed scholars for hundreds of years: Who exactly is the man-faced bull featured so often on Greek coinage?  It approaches this question by examining the origin of the iconography and traces its development throughout various Mediterranean cultures, finally arriving in Archaic and Classical Greece in the first millennium BC. Within the context of Greek coinage, the authors  review all the past arguments for the identity of the man-faced bull before incorporating the two leading theories (Local River Gods vs. Acheloios) into a new theory of local embodiments of Acheloios, thereby preserving the sanctity of the local rivers while recognizing Acheloios as the original god of all water.  The second part of the book exhibits many of these ‘Sinews of Acheloios’ as they appear throughout the Greek world on bronze coinage, in each case paying careful attention to the reasons a specific group adopted the iconography and shedding further light on the mythos of Acheloios.

Italian:

Potamikon tenta di dare risposte ad una domanda che per centinaia di anni ha assillato gli studiosi di Numismatica antica: chi è esattamente il toro androprosopo che compare così frequentemente sulla monetazione greca? Lo studio introduttivo pubblicato nel volume affronta tale questione esaminando l’origine preistorica dell’iconografia e tracciando il suo sviluppo nelle varie culture del Mediterraneo antico, per arrivare infine alla sua diffusione nel mondo greco arcaico e classico. Nell’ambito della monetazione greca gli autori passano in rassegna tutti gli argomenti passati riguardanti l’identità del toro androprosopo, prima di integrare le due teorie principali (divinità fluviali locali o Acheloios) in una nuova teoria, che propone di leggere tale figura come declinazione locale di Acheloios, inteso come il dio originario di tutte le acque da cui scaturisce la “deità” dei vari fiumi locali: i ‘tendini’ di Acheloios, così come furono descritti dalle fonti antiche. La seconda parte del libro presenta un repertorio dei ‘tendini di Acheloios’ che furono rappresentati come tori androprosopi nella monetazione in bronzo delle varie zecche greche, prestando attenzione caso per caso alle ragioni che spinsero le comunità emittenti ad adottare tale iconografia, possibilmente gettando ulteriore luce sul mito di Acheloios.

German:

Potamikon versucht, eine Frage zu lösen, die Wissenschaftler seit Hunderten von Jahren verwirrt hat: Wer genau ist dieser menschengesichtige Stier, der so oft auf griechischen Münzen dargestellt wird?Es nähert sich dieser Frage, indem es den Ursprung dieser Ikonographie untersucht und ihre Entwicklung innerhalb verschiedener Kulturen des Mittelmeerraumes nachverfolgt, um schließlich im Griechenland des ersten vorchristlichen Jahrtausends anzukommen. Im Rahmen der griechischen Münzprägung bewerten die Autoren alle bisher vorgebrachten Argumente für die Identität des menschengesichtigen Stiers um dann die zwei führenden Theorien (lokale Flussgötter oder Acheloios) in einer neuen Theorie von lokalen Verkörperungen von Acheloios zusammenzuführen, womit die Heiligkeit der lokalen Flüsse erhalten bleibt, währen trotzdem Acheloios als Gott aller Gewässer anerkannt wird. Der zweite Teil des Buches zeigt viele der “Sehnen von Acheloios”, wie sie in der gesamten griechischen Welt auf Bronzemünzen erscheinen, wobei jeweils großes Augenmerk auf die Frage gelegt wird, warum eine spezifische Gruppe sich dieser Ikonographie bediente und der Mythos von Achelaios näher beleuchtet. (Trans. Andreas Reich)

French:

Potamikon tente de répondre à la question qui embarrasse les chercheurs depuis de nombreuses années : Qui est le personnage figuré par un taureau androcéphale que l’on rencontre si souvent sur les monnaies grecques ? L’ouvrage aborde cette question par l’examen de l’origine iconographique puis de son développement au sein des différentes cultures méditerranéennes au premier millénaire avant notre ère jusqu’aux  époques archaïques et classiques en Grèce. Les auteurs passent en revue les différentes interprétations avancées par les numismates avant de fusionner les deux principales hypothèses (dieux fleuves locaux contre Acheloios) en une nouvelle hypothèse de personnifications locales d’Acheloios  préservant le caractère sacré des fleuves tout en reconnaissant Acheloios comme la divinité originelle de toutes les sources. Dans une deuxième partie, sont recensées les nombreuses représentations de ces “tendons d’Acheloios” que l’on rencontre sur le monnayage en bronze grec. L’examen approfondi des choix iconographiques adoptés apporte un éclairage supplémentaire sur le mythe d’Acheloios. (Trans. Bruno Lambert)

Now Available from Archaeopress (soft cover only): http://www.archaeopress.com

Limited Edition Hardcover copies available from authors soon (only 100 printed).

ΠΟΤΑΜΙΚΟΝCoverDemo

Questions or comments please contact: njmolinari[at]gmail[dot]com.

For our other Man-Faced Bull sites, see below:

Silver Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull: http://manfacedbullsar.wordpress.com/

Gold Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull: http://manfacedbullsau.wordpress.com/

A Map of Cities Issuing Man-Faced Bull Coinage (All Metals):

MFBmapA

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The following firms have generously allowed me to use images from their sales:

ArtCoins Roma: www.artcoinsroma.it

A H Baldwin & Sons Ltd, London: www.baldwin.co.uk

Classical Numismatic Group: www.cngcoins.com

Edgar L. Owen: www.edgarlowen.com

Forvm Ancient Coins: www.forumancientcoins.com

Gemini Numismatic Auctions: www.geminiauction.com

Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger: www.coinhirsch.de

H.D. Rauch: www.hdrauch.com

iNumis: www.inumis.com

Jean Elsen & ses fils S.A.: www.elsen.be

Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG, Osnabrück: www.kuenker.de . Images from Lübke & Wiedemann, Stuttgart.

London Ancient Coins: LAC

LHS Numismatik AG

Nomos AG: www.nomosag.com

Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG: www.arsclassicacoins.com

Numismatik Lanz: www.numislanz.de

Roma Numismatics: www.romanumismatics.com

Spink:www.spink.com

A special thanks to the following people who have allowed me to use images from their books or websites:

M.H. Crawford, N.K. Rutter, A. McCabe

Copyright 2013-2016, Nicholas J. Molinari and Nicola Sisci.  All rights reserved.

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Androkephaler Stier, Androkephalen Stier, Menschenköpfiger Stier, Menschengesichtiger Stier, Stier mit Männergesicht, Stier mit menschlichem Gesicht, Stier mit Menschengesicht, Mann-Stier,Androkephale Stierprotome, Menschenköpfige Stierprotome, Stierprotome mit menschlichem Gesicht, Stierprotome mit Menschengesicht, Stierkopf mit Menschengesicht, Stierkopf mit menschlichem Gesicht, Kopf eines Stieres mit Menschengesicht, Kopf eines Stieres mit menschlichem Gesicht, Toro androcefalo, toro androprosopo, Protome di toro androcefalo, Protome di toro androprosopo, Testa di toro androcefalo, Testa di toro androprosopo, Taureau androcéphale, Protome de taureau androcéphale, Tête de taureau androcéphale, Čovjek lica bull, 人面牛, muž tváří býk, mand-faced tyr, njeri-përballur dem, رجل الثور الوجه, մարդ -ածիլված թանկանալ, man üzlü öküz, Gizon-aurre zezena, Чалавек твар быка, মানুষ মুখবিশিষ্ট ষাঁড়, човек двуличен бик, bou-home de rostre, tawo-nawong vaca nga lake, viro-vizaĝan taŭro, mees näoga pulli, toro tao ang mukha, mies-edessään bull, touro con cara de home, ადამიანის სახიანი ხარი, ο άνθρωπος-που αντιμετωπίζουν ταύρος, માણસ સામનો આખલો, moun-fè fas ti towo bèf, mutum-fuskanci sa, שור איש פנים, आदमी का सामना करना पड़ा बैल, txiv neej-ntsib tus phawv nyuj, man-arcú bull, maður-faced naut, owo osobode ehi, banteng-man berwajah, fear-aghaidh tarbh, 男顔の雄牛, wong-ngadhepi bantheng, ಮನುಷ್ಯ ಮುಖವುಳ್ಳ ಬುಲ್, គោបុរសម្នាក់វិថី, 사람 얼굴 황소, bull ຜູ້ຊາຍຫນ້າ, hominis facies bovis, tauro cum facie humana, cilvēks saskaras bullis, vyras dviveidis jautis, Човекот лице бик, lelaki bermuka lembu, mill-bniedem ffaċċjati barri, puru tangata-pohatu, मनुष्य-चेहर्यावर वळू, хүн тулгарч буй бух, मानिसले सामना साँढे, گاو نر مرد رو, Człowiek twarzy byka, touro com cara de homem, ਮਨੁੱਖ ਨੂੰ-ਦਾ ਸਾਹਮਣਾ ਬਲਦ, taur om cu care se confruntă, Человек с лицом быка, Човек лица бик, muž tvárou býk, Človek s katerimi se soočajo bik, Nin uga tagaa dibi, människa-ansiktet tjur, மனிதன் முகம் காளை, వ్యక్తి ముఖాలు బుల్, วัวที่มนุษย์ต้องเผชิญกับ, man-yüzlü boğa, Людина з особою бика, آدمی چہرے بیل, bò người đàn ông có khuôn mặt, tarw dyn-wyneb, מענטש-פייסט ביק, eniyan-dojuko akọmalu, inkunzi indoda-nakho, viro -faced taŭro, Achelous, Acheloios, Acheloos, Acheloös, Archelous.

6 Responses to Welcome, Man-Faced Bull Enthusiasts!

  1. John L Gomer says:

    This bronze coin of Knossos, Crete is being offered in an upcoming Goldberg auction:
    https://www.sixbid.com/browse.html?auction=2505&category=52260&lot=2113846
    The obverse is somewhat obscured by deposits, but is that a man-faced bull on which Europa is riding?

    • njmolinari says:

      Yes, I believe it is, in the same style as a silver issue from Panormos and, interestingly, matching a gem that features Europa on Jupiter as a man-faced bull. The gem is believed to be a 17th century forgery and this might be, too. Are you going to bid? I’d like to.

      • njmolinari says:

        The more I look at it and compare to other specimens, the more I think the area that resembles the beard is not part of the actual design but instead an encrustation that fused with the coin. That combined with a circular pit that looks like an eye gives the impression of a man-faced bull. But if you discount those two things you see a regular bull head.

  2. John L Gomer says:

    Since you seem to have arrived at the conclusion that this is NOT a man-faced bull, would you still like to bid on the coin?

  3. njmolinari says:

    No, I am no longer interested in bidding. I have come across many “accidental” man-faced bulls that are so utterly convincing, like this one, that in the end turn out to be strange anomalies. I wish this were a real man-faced bull- it would add so much to the debate on the man-faced bull’s identity!

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