Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Between the weather and other commitments, I haven't managed much on the allotment the last three weeks or so. I have done a little digging, but that's all. The last three Saturdays have been interrupted by the need for a new fridge, after the last one finally gave up the ghost. We found a nice one reduced in Curry's in town, and arranged for it to be delivered two Saturdays ago. I waited in, and they eventually arrived, smelling of drink. They were unable either to deliver it, due to the lack of a stair climber to get it up to the flat, or to explain the lack of the equipment; they'd been told about the stairs when I ordered it. So I made a complaint. Last Saturday, it finally arrived after another wait, brought by two guys who carried it up unaided by fancy equipment.

Here's a nice Nabataean coin that arrived during the week. It was a locally powerful kingdom in what's now southern Jordan, with its capital at Petra. The coin is of Aretas IV, its most influential ruler, and his wife Shaquilath. Aretas ruled from 9BC to 40AD, when the kingdom gained its wealth from trading frankincense to its Roman masters. They managed to keep the source of the incense secret, and thus became vital middlemen. Because the men spent so much time trading, the women became more influential, so they appear on the coins over a century or so. Aretas married his daughter to Herod Antipas, one of the sons of the original King Herod, who was Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, a small area on the East Bank. When Antipas divorced her in order to marry Herodias, Aretas was so upset that he went to war, and Antipas was trounced. Later, he, or his representatived in Damascus, tried to have the ever-tactless St. Paul killed. The coin is 19mm across, quite thick, and weighs 3.82g, making it noticeably larger and more impressive than the average scrotty little Levantine bronze.

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