Well-read and well dead: the Islamic State archaeology book club – day one

Yesterday, after @hasavrat spotted it in Mehmet Nuri Ekinci’s report, I appealed for help in identifying an archaeology-related book, which Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had confiscated from Turkish Islamic State fighters in Syria. Thanks to a lot of help from a lot of people – there’s a less incomplete list of all of the people who have contributed to this effort in the original post – we now know something about that book and more besides…

'New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation' (c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci, Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015

‘New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation’
(c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci, Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015

The first book (or chapter) is a French-language text on Phoenician coins

Historian Christopher Whittell judges that it is ‘an academic type numismatic book‘ or chapter ‘about ancient coins in general’. And Emily Bushold @ArchaeoEmily, Sarah Parcak @indyfromspace, A. Craig Copetas @ACraigInParis, Agathe Ducrayon @a_ducrayon, David Knell David Knell, Twitter, 5th June 2015 and esnible have discerned that it is a French-language text. (For the avoidance of doubt, when I say they have discerned, I mean their eyes work.)

According to Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues‘ Paul Barford, Numismagram‘s Jeremy Bostwick @numismagram, (beyond the web) archaeologist Peri Johnson, Agora AuctionsTom Mullally and (beyond the web) numismatic historian Daniel Reynolds, the text covers pre-Hellenistic and Hellenistic Phoenician coins.(1) Whittell believes that one of the coins is from a mint in Athens.

A participant in a forum on ancient coins and a moderator of a Reddit on ancient coins, esnible, has specified that

The first coin is likely a Persion siglos.
The second coin is an Athenian tetradrachm ((imitation?).
Third is a shekel from Sidon
The fourth coin is a hippocamp stater from Tyre.
Fifth is a different hippocamp stater from Tyre.
Sixth is a starter from Arados.

'New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation' (c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci at Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015

‘New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation’
(c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci, Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015

The second book is a German-language text on the Pyramids in Egypt

Soon after I asked about the first book, @ghumdan was able to identify the second book as the Pyramids [die Pyramiden], which Ancient Heritage‘s David Knell has since identified as Miroslav Verner’s (1998) book.

Did the book have useful information on antiquities? Were they planning on selling the book itself? Were they studying military strategy and political symbols in history? Despite their disavowal of non-Islamic society, did they guiltily enjoy ancient Egyptian history?

'New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation' (c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci, Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015

‘New documents unravel ISIS-Turkish state cooperation’
(c) Mehmet Nuri Ekinci, Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), 3rd June 2015

Update: the third book is another German-language text on the Pyramids in Egypt

So says David Knell.

Footnotes

1: Specifically, the coins seem to be from the mints of Tyre, Sidon, Byblos and Arados, though obviously they were used and may have been deposited elsewhere.

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10 Responses to “Well-read and well dead: the Islamic State archaeology book club – day one”

  1. First book: “… discerned that it is a French-language text.”
    Haha! I did corroborate that myself too! 😉

    I still don’t know which one it is though.

    • I thought I’d seen someone else do it but couldn’t find it again! I was trying not to say “evidently, I can’t see a fucking thing, but every other sod tells me…”. 😉

  2. You must do better, Sam. You’ll never make it to DCI Hardy at this rate! 🙂

  3. The third book appears to be in German and also about the Pyramids in Egypt.

  4. do you need a book these days when google is a click away ,especially a book with bullet holes.i believe people are reading to much into all this [mind the pun].
    kyri.

    • I’m not sure they have stable access in those areas. And, at least sometimes, the Islamic State has actively cut access.

      Even outside those areas, media interviews have shown the use of books of antiquities by illicit dealers and smugglers.

      I suspect the bullet holes were made during the gun battle.

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