Monday, November 13, 2017

Himyarite coin with ancient South Arabian script

Unicode has included letters for the ancient South Arabian script used in Himyarite coins for a long time but I have never seen them used except in sites about Unicode itself.

Here is a coin from mint 𐩧𐩺𐩵𐩬 (=RYDN, Raidan/Raydan, at Zafar in Yemen).

I am not sure what is needed to use South Arabian script on your computer. I have a nice font of them on Mac OS 10.12 rendered under Safari but not under Chrome or Firefox.

The mint name, Raydan, is encoded as follows:

𐩧 = R
𐩺 = Y
𐩵 = D
𐩬 = N

I had more difficultly with the name of the ruler. It is 𐩲]𐩵𐩬𐩽𐩨𐩺𐩬 (= ʿMDN BYN, Amdan Bayyin Yanuf). Two of the letters on the coin did not make sense.

𐩲 ?= is this ʿ (Ayn, the rough breathing mark)?
] ?= I couldn't find this one in the table
𐩵 = D
𐩬 = N
𐩽 ?= This looks like their digit 1, but I couldn't find any reason it appears here.
𐩨 = B
𐩺 = Y
𐩬 = N

HIMYARITES. ‘Amdan Bayyin Yanuf, 2nd century AD. AR Scyphate Quinarius (1.16 gm) of Raidan mint. 13mm Obv: Male head right, within torc Rev: Himyarite/Sabatean legend 𐩲]𐩵𐩬𐩽𐩨𐩺𐩬 ʿMDN 1 BYN 𐩧𐩺𐩵𐩬 RYDN; Small male head, monogram to left, scepter symbol (or monogram?) to right. Ref: Sear, GIC 5717. Munro-Hay 3.2ai. ex-Pegasi Numismatics, Auction XXXIV, May 2016, lot 243 (unsold)

I don't actually have Stuart Munro-Hay's book Coinage of Arabia Felix so I have been using his article “The coinage of Shabwa (Hadhramawt), and othe ancient south arabian coinage in the national museum, Aden” which is available online and includes information on inscriptions.

I would be curious to know which computer/browser combinations can see the ancient South Arabian characters above. I would also be curious if anyone knows the correct Unicode way to encode the letters I am uncertain of.

1 comment:

Ed Snible said...

Another online paper worth reading for these coins is Kirfel, Kockelmann, and Yule, NON-DESTRUCTIVE CHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF OLD SOUTH ARABIAN COINS, FOURTH CENTURY BCE TO THIRD CENTURY CE, Archaeometry 53, 2011, pages 930-949.