Polish archaeologists have uncovered a treasure trove of Roman denarii coins. They date from the first and the second century BC, and they probably belonged to a member of a Germanic people who lived in the area at the time. The coins are providing experts with an insight into a dramatic period when desperate people made their last stand before invaders.
The coins were found on farmland near Cichobórz, Hrubieszów County, not far from Lublin in 2019. They were unearthed completely by chance, being revealed by agricultural equipment that was churning the soil. They were found by Mariusz Dyl, a farmer who was out looking for antlers that were shed by deer. He spotted coins that had been scattered over the churned field and knew they were very old. Mr. Dyl quickly contacted the Hrubieszów Museum.
The field where the denarii coins were found after being churned up by farm equipment. (Stanisław Staszic / Muzeum Hrubieszow )
He and a group of archaeologists returned with volunteers to the site and “they discovered another 137 coins,” reports The First News . The coins were scattered over many meters. But by following the trail, they were able to identify the original location of the treasure.
In total 1753 silver coins were found, and they are all Roman denarii. According to the Hrubieszów Museum website, the find is “the largest treasure from the Roman period in the Lublin region and one of the largest found so far in Poland.”
The Roman denarii coins found in the Lublin region are one of the largest treasure trove finds in Poland ever. (Stanisław Staszic / Muzeum Hrubieszow )
Depictions of Roman Emperors
The coins weigh over 12 pounds (5kg) and they bear the portrait of Roman emperors. They have depictions of rulers from “ Emperor Nerva (96-98 AD) to Septimius Severus (193-211 AD),” reports the Hrubieszów Museum . Dyl has been widely praised for his prompt reporting of the find, which probably saved many of the coins from being lost.
Treasure Owned by Vandals
The First News quotes Andrzej Kozłowski from the Archaeology Institute in Lublin as stating that “this treasure will be the crown of Polish archaeology.” The hoard of coins would have been quite valuable at the time, but they would not have been worth a fortune. The local museum director Bartłomiej Bartecki told The First News that “you couldn't buy a village for this, but it was not a small amount, especially for barbarian tribes.”
Archaeologists think that the denarii coins were abandoned in the last stand of the Vandals before fleeing the area after conflicts with the Goths at the end of the second century AD. (Stanisław Staszic / Muzeum Hrubieszow )
Based on the evidence, the experts believe that the coins were probably originally owned by Vandals. They were a Germanic people who lived in this part of Poland during the Roman Empire. They possibly acquired the denarii by trade or by serving as auxiliaries with the legions. It is theorized that the Vandals abandoned them as they were pushed from the region by the Goths, sometime around 200 AD.
Evidence of Brutal Fighting
The original container that held the coins has not survived, but it was probably a wooden casket or a leather bag. Whatever it was, it was adorned with rivets made of silver, as eight of them have been discovered at the site. The archaeologists believe the fact that the coins were abandoned, and that no one came back to retrieve them is significant.
- Finds from Alken Enge Provide New Perspective on ‘Barbaric’ Germanic Tribes
- Va-Va-Vandal: The Life and Times of Gaiseric, the Vandal King of North Africa
- How Ancient Rome Dealt with the Barbarians at the Gate
Vandal cavalryman, c. AD 500, from a mosaic pavement at Bordj Djedid near Carthage.
This is because the abandoned treasure adds to the evidence that the Vandals were pushed out of the area with great violence. These coins were abandoned by the owners because they were fleeing for their lives. This is backed up by other archaeological finds from the period.
First News reports Mr. Bartecki as stating that the displacement of the existing occupiers by the Goths “didn’t happen without fighting. From this period, we know of numerous Vandal cemeteries, where warriors were buried with ritually destroyed weapons.”
Last Stand of the Vandals
Some believe that the treasure marks the place where the Vandals made their last stand before the Gothic onslaught. Kozłowski is quoted by The First News as saying that “it seems that this is where the Vandals lost the means to continue fighting.” The discovery suggests that they no longer had enough soldiers to continue the war and therefore, abandoned their homeland and never returned.
Later, the victorious Goths moved into modern-day Ukraine, where they established a powerful kingdom. They played an important role in the downfall of the Roman Empire. The Vandals also played a role in the Fall of Rome. In the 5 th century AD they invaded Gaul, made their way through Spain and eventually created a kingdom in North Africa. They later attacked and devastated the city of Rome, before they were conquered by the Byzantines in the 6 th century AD.
The coins are now the property of the local museum. They are expected to be analyzed by a group of experts from the University of Warsaw, which will take up to twelve months. The museum is unable to put the coins on public display due to the current COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they have launched a virtual exhibition that will soon be available online. A publication based on the hoard of coins is also planned.
The History Blog
A massive hoard of 1,753 Roman silver coins left behind by Vandals fleeing the invading Goths has been found in southeastern Poland. The coins were discovered last year by farmer Mariusz Dyl while he searched for antlers in a field outside Cichobórz, a village 8 miles south of Hrubieszów near the border with Ukraine. They were scattered over a large area. Dyl collected what he could and then reported the find to archaeologists at the Hrubieszów Museum.
Aided by Mr. Dyl, a team of archaeologists excavated the area and unearthed another 137 denarii up to 100 meters away from what they believed to be the original burial spot. That’s where the finder discovered the largest grouping of coins. Eight silver-plated bronze rivets were found amidst the coins there, likely the surviving remains of a wood or leather container they were buried in.
The coins are silver denarii from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, the reigns of the emperors Nerva (r. September 18, 69 A.D. – January 27, 98 A.D.) and Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.), indicating the hoard was buried in the late 2nd or early 3rd century. They weigh more than 12 pounds (5.5 kilos) in total, making it by far the largest Roman treasure found in the Lublin province and one of the largest ever found in Poland.
When those coins were in circulation, the Hrubieszów area was inhabited by Vandals, eastern Germanic peoples who in the late 1st century allied with Rome against opposing Germanic tribes. Cassius Dio, who like Tacitus called them Lugii, wrote in Roman History that Domitian sent them 100 horses in support of their fight against the Suebi, the first recorded appearance of Roman troops in what is now Poland. In the second half of the 2nd century, they fought with other Germanic tribes against the Roman Empire in the Marcomannic Wars, but in the last two decades of the century, pressure from the Goths moving south drove the Vandals west.
Archaeological material discovered in the Lublin region attest to what a dangerous time it was. There are a large number of Vandal cemeteries with warrior burials where the deceased was interred with ritually destroyed weapons.
Andrzej Kozłowski from the Archaeology Institute at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin believes that the buried treasure represents the last stand of the Vandals in the Lublin region.
“The situation was so bad for the Vandals retreating, or rather the fleeing from the Goths that they hid everything that was most precious,” he said.
“It seems that this is where the Vandals lost the means to continue fighting!” he added.
The archaeologist underlined how important the find is for understanding the downfall of the Vandals in the region.
“They had to get rid of huge financial resources that were necessary to wage war with the Goths, and therefore they ended up helpless. The hidden coins remained under Hrubieszów.
“They couldn’t come back for them and could not recruit soldiers. That is why the Goths peacefully spread to the whole south-east and occupied Ukraine,” he said.
A Roman legionary at that time earned about 300 silver denarii a year, so the hoard constituted a vast sum for anyone even in the most expensive urban centers, geometrically more so for Germanic tribesmen at the outskirts of the empire.
The hoard will now be conserved and examined by experts at the University of Warsaw. With so many coins to go through, the process is expected to take at least a year. The Hrubieszów Museum wants to put them on display, but given all our current givens, the hoard will be an online exhibition before visitors have the opportunity to see them in person.
It’s 10 o’clock in Lausanne and all is not well
For 615 years, Lausanne’s designated night watchman has called out the hour from the bell tower of Lausanne’s cathedral and assured the townspeople that all is well. From his watchtower atop the 153 stone steps of the cathedral belfry, he emerges every hour from 10PM to 2AM, cups his hands around his mouth and cries the hour to each cardinal direction: “This is the watchman! The bell has rung [whatever the hour is]!”
The tradition was established after a fire devastated the city in 1405. During the fire itself, the bells were rung continuously as calls to action. People rallied to put out the fire under their peals of encouragement. The night watchman was appointed to look over the city from the height of the bell tower and keep an eye out for any signs of smoke or fire, shouting the hour to check in and connect with a network of watchmen on the ground who could rapidly rouse the city in case of need.
The job continued unchanged until 1960 when the city trimmed the hours of the watchman to the current four from the original full night coverage of 9PM to dawn. The hourly ringing of the bells had been automated a decade earlier, fire alarms and sirens had been installed on buildings in 1907 fire emergencies were handled by professionals, and everyone had clocks and watches of their own to figure out the time.
The local press expressed concern that this change sounded the death knell, as it were, of the longstanding tradition and residents rallied to defend their beloved watch, showering the city government with letters demanding the night watchman remain on duty in perpetuity. Today the tradition continues undeterred, a proud holdover of the Middle Ages, a landmark symbol of the city’s history and community spirit. Lausanne is now one of only seven cities in Europe that have a night watchman on duty 365 days a year.
Since 2002, the watchman has been Renato Häusler. For nigh on two decades he has embraced his role for its connection to the city’s past, its significance as intangible cultural heritage and for the unique opportunity it affords him to experience the city at night from on high. Now that another peril is abroad in the land, the night watchman’s vigil has taken on new meaning. He shouts the hour and then he peals Clémence, the bell designated to sound in an emergency, swinging the clapper by hand. Three strikes followed by six strikes and again warn the people of danger.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne was built in the 13th century, but the oldest of the bells, Lombarde, dates to 1493. Clémence is the next in seniority, cast in 1518. With a diameter of 174 cm (5.5″) and weighing four tons, she is the second largest of the cathedral’s bells after the bourdon Marie-Madeleine. She rings a C note.
(The article erroneously states Clémence is made of steel. Like most of her kind, she’s made of bell metal, a high-tin bronze alloy that is more rigid and sonorous than regular bronze. The clapper is soft steel.)
The canton of Vaud of which Lausanne is the capital has the highest coronavirus rates in Switzerland. There is no stay at home order in place yet, but public gatherings of more than five people have been banned and the thriving night life that the watchman once watched over has gone silent, lending him fresh insight into what his predecessors experienced.
“Since these restrictive measures urging people to stay at home, it has completely changed,” said Hausler.
“It is quiet all week, even from 8:00pm, and when I get here, there is hardly any activity around the cathedral or even in the city so it brings a tranquility that I have never experienced before.
“There is a real calm which resembles what it would have been like in the past, before there was all this traffic noise.
“There is perhaps just one last thing that would bring us right back to how things were in the Middle Ages: turning out the lights.”
Bronze Age warrior toolkit found at battlefield site
Here’s a follow-up post that’s been almost a decade in coming and is all the richer from the long wait. The original story reported in 2011 was about the discovery of human, animal and material remains in the Tollense Valley of northern Germany strongly suggesting a major Bronze Age battle had taken place nearby. This was the first evidence of a battle from this period, perhaps even the earliest ever found.
Dating to around 1200 B.C., the bones were almost all confirmed to be of young men some of whom had suffered fatal blunt and sharp-force trauma. There were no indications of formal burials — the remains appear to have been washed down to the find site from a battlefield up the Tollense River — and the remains of wooden clubs and horses found also added to the evidence of a prehistoric battle. Evidence of violent events and conflicts going back to the Stone Age has been found, but nothing like the bones of a hundred individuals, their horses and weapons.
Human bones had been pulled out of the Tollense River since the 1980s, most significantly a humerus with a bronze arrowhead still embedded in it found in 1996. It was that arrowhead, whose design dated it to between 1300 and 1100 B.C., that gave archaeologists the first temporal classification of the Tollense Valley remains. Later discoveries narrowed down the dates of the battlefield activity to ca. 1300-1250 B.C. The first systematic excavation of the area was done in 2008 and the first research published in 2011.
All told, more than 12,000 pieces of human bone have been unearthed at the Tollense site, and more than 140 individuals have been identified from the bone material. They were young adult men in good general health who suffered perimortem trauma from long and short-range weapons. Some healed bone lesions indicate they were experienced fighters. Initial DNA and stable isotope analyses found some of the individuals were not local to the Tollense Valley, although it’s not clear where they came from originally.
In 2016, a new archaeological exploration of the site discovered something unusual and highly significant: a group of 31 objects that are believed to have been the personal toolkit of a Bronze Age warrior. The artifacts were found by divers in the riverbed at the location dubbed Weltzin 28. Several bronze artifacts — tools, pins, arrowheads — had been found at this location before, but this group of bronze scrap metal pieces was packed closely together even after millennia in a river, so they must have been in a wooden container of a wrapped in a textile that has long since disintegrated.
The assemblage includes a bronze awl with a birchwood handle, a rare curved sickle knife, a chisel, bronze sheet fragments, ingot fragments, bronze scrap pieces, a star-decorated belt box of the Dabel type, three dress pins and a bronze spiral. Three bronze cylinders in the assemblage may have been the fasteners of the rotted container.
Radiocarbon dating of the collection of objects demonstrates that the finds belong to the battlefield layer and they were probably the personal equipment of one of the victims. The finds were studied in a Master’s thesis by Tobias Uhlig and the new results make it increasingly clear that there was a massive violent conflict in the older Nordic Bronze Age (2000–1200 BC). In fact, recent evidence suggests that it is likely to have been on a large scale, clearly stretching beyond regional borders.
Professor Thomas Terberger, from the Department of Pre- and Early History at the University of Göttingen, says, “This is the first discovery of personal belongings on a battlefield and it provides insights into the equipment of a warrior. The fragmented bronze was probably used as a form of early currency. The discovery of a new set of artefacts also provides us with clues about the origins of the men who fought in this battle and there is increasing evidence that at least some of the warriors originated in southern Central Europe.”
The study of the recent discovery has been published in the journal Antiquity.
8-foot mammoth tusk found in Bavaria
Archaeologists have discovered an impressively large mammoth tusk in the Bavarian town of Riekofen. The team was expecting to find remains of the 15th century town so the discovery of mammoth remains from the Ice Age came as a surprise. The tusk has yet to be radiocarbon dated, but mammoths went extinct in what is now Bavaria about 20,000 years ago.
At a length of eight feet, the tusk still includes the tip tooth. Its size indicates it likely belonged to an adult bull. Mammoth bones are not uncommon finds, but nearly complete tusks of significant length are extremely rare. Another mammoth relic was found right next to the tusk. It’s a bone about one foot by two feet in dimensions probably also from a mammoth. It is not known right now whether it came from the same animal as the tusk.
Dr. Christoph Steinmann, archaeologist with the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments, thinks the tusk and bone were underwater for some time, which helped preserve them. There used to be a bend in the Danube in this area, and the thick, wet soil applied constant pressure to the external layers of the tooth. Even when the dentin forming the structure inside the tusk cracked and fell apart, the outer layers remained intact. Had they been in dry soil and exposed to air, they would have disintegrated.
To prevent this dangerous exposure, paleontologists coated the tusk with plaster strips, ensuring it could be lifted whole without any loss of bone material. Conservators with the State Office of the Preservation of Monuments will remove the moisture from the tusk gradually over the course of the next year or two (either freeze-drying or PEG, I’d guess). Once it is stabilized, it will go on display in the museum.
The team did find what it was originally looking for, by the way. They discovered a well, rubbish pits, an oven, potsherds and the remains of a Grubenhäuser, a pit-house or sunken featured domestic dwelling, from the Medieval village.
Interesting note from the press release. In Bavaria archaeological excavations abide by the same safe distance regulations that govern construction sites, so digs are continuing in Germany, which has an atypically low rate of coronavirus deaths, when they’ve been shut down as non-essential in so many other countries.
Polo donkey bones found in Tang Dynasty noblewoman’s tomb
Archaeologists have identified the bones of probable polo donkeys in the tomb of a Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) noblewoman. Tang-era texts do describe the sport of lvju, or donkey polo, played by royalty and nobility, but this is the first archaeological evidence of it.
The tomb was discovered in 2012 in Xi’an, ancient Chang’an, onetime capital of the Tang Dynasty. The brick structure has a vertical entrance, a corridor and a burial chamber with brick-lined floors. The contents had been looted in antiquity, but there were some artifacts found, including a lead stirrup and a stone epitaph. The tomb and murals of servants and musicians at a funerary feast indicate she was a member of the societal elite. The epitaph confirmed her status, identifying the tomb as that of the Lady Cui Shi, wife of Bao Gao, governor of two administrative regions in the late Tang Dynasty. The inscription notes she died October 6th, 878, when she was 59 years old, and was buried August 15th, 879.
Chang’an was located at the beginning of the Silk Road and donkeys were highly valued as pack animals to transport goods along the trade routes. Tang Dynasty texts refer to them being used in households and pack animals and in military and governmental transports. An edict of the period prohibited donkeys being killed or eaten. Commoners were known to ride them for transportation, but not the upper classes.
Polo is believed to have developed in Persia and spread east through the influence of the Parthian Empire (ca. 247 B.C. – 224 A.D.). Polo played on horseback was established as a prestigious sport in central China. At the Tang court it was valued as a proving ground for cavalry skills, but it was dangerous, even fatal to play. Lvju used sturdier, shorter, easier to handle donkeys and therefore appealed to women and older players.
Only two pottery figurines of donkeys wearing saddles have been unearthed in Tang tombs in Xi’an. The discovery of skeletal remains of three donkeys among piles of animal bones in the corridor and on the coffin of Cui Shi’s tomb gave researchers the unique opportunity to analyze their bones and determine what they were used for in life and why they were buried in a noble woman’s tomb.
Dental analysis identified the different equid species in the mix. Their ages were determined by tooth eruption on the jaws and wear patterns. Measurements of metatarsals from three individuals determined their sizes. Stable isotope analysis was done on the metatarsals of two specimens. Micro-CT scans were done of three humeri from two donkeys to determine the biomechanical stress they were subjected to, a marker of whether these donkeys were pack animals in life. Radiocarbon dating found the donkeys’ date range coincides with the one in the epitaph, 856-898 A.D.
One hint to why they were in Cui’s tomb, [Washington University in St. Louis anthropologist Fiona Marshall] says, may lie in the identity of her husband, Bao Gao. Ancient texts reveal that the polo-obsessed Emperor Xizong promoted Bao to the rank of general because of his skills on the polo fields. Polo was wildly popular during the Tang dynasty—for both women and men—but it was also dangerous riders thrown from their horses were frequently injured or killed. If a woman like Cui wanted to join a game, then riding a donkey—slower, steadier, and lower to the ground—might have been a safer alternative.
When the researchers, led by archaeologist Songmei Hu of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, analyzed the size of the donkey bones in Cui’s tomb, they found that they were too small to have been good pack animals. Computerized tomography scans of the leg bones revealed patterns of stress similar to an animal that ran and turned frequently, rather than one that slowly trudged in a single direction. Taken together, the evidence suggests Cui played polo astride a donkey, the researchers report today in Antiquity. The noblewoman’s donkeys may have been ritually sacrificed when she died to allow Cui to continue to play in the afterlife.
“There’s no smoking gun … [but] there’s really no other explanation that makes sense,” Marshall says, adding that the finding suggests Tang dynasty donkeys were held in higher regard than believed.
Neanderthal surf and turf
A new study has found that contrary to popular belief, Neanderthals loved them some sea meats. Remains of marine foods are lacking at Neanderthal sites in Europe, whereas the anatomically modern humans living in Africa at the same time left behind extensive evidence of regular consumption of aquatic foods. Because marine foods are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the brain development, this dietary disparity was thought to have played a role in how advanced cognitive skills grew among humans of modern anatomy and not in other archaic human species.
However, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as the aphorism goes, and a great deal of coastal Europe was churned up in the last Ice Age by the growth and movement of icecaps and the rise of sea levels after their thaw. Gruta da Figueira Brava, a seaside cave 20 miles south of Lisbon, Portugal, on the other hand, was uniquely protected from erosion and submersion because of its position on a steep shelf off the Arrábida mountain range.
Today the cave has three entrances in a cliff overlooking the water, but during the Last Interglacial period when Neanderthals lived there about 86,000 to 106,000 years ago, it was just over a mile from the sea. A team of international researchers led by João Zilhão from the University of Barcelona excavated the cave shelter and found clear evidence that the Neanderthal population regularly and thoroughly exploited marine animal resources.
They ate crabs — brown and spider — an assortment of mollusks — limpets, mussels, clams — fish — sharks, eels, sea bream — seabirds — cormorants, egrets, gannets, auk — waterfowl — loons, mallards, geese — and marine mammals — dolphins and seals. The density of the remains is comparable to that found at African Middle Stone Age and Last Interglacial sites in Africa. It even exceeds the latter in terms of crab and fish.
Their gastronomic enjoyment of aquatic species was not exclusive. They also hunted hoofed game — deer, goats, horses, aurochs — and other small land animals like tortoises. Plants — olives, figs — were on the menu as well. They foraged extensively, storing mature pinecones to eat the nuts during the winter.
Figueira Brava provides the first record of significant marine resource consumption among Europe’s Neandertals. Taphonomic and site-preservation biases explain why this kind of record has not been previously found in Europe on the scale seen among coeval African populations. Consistent with rapidly accumulating evidence that Neandertals possessed a fully symbolic material culture, the subsistence evidence reported here further questions the behavioral gap once thought to separate them from modern humans.
Care for a little ginger beer with your lead?
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
This February, 600 Victorian stoneware beer bottles were found under an old cellar staircase in Leeds. They had been carefully stacked under the steps of what was once the Scarborough Castle Inn in the late 19th century. In 1931, the site of the former inn was acquired by the Tetley company and became part of Tetley’s Brewery, an Art Deco factory that is now being excavated in advance of for redevelopment.
The excavation is being undertaken to examine an area spanning the former line of Hunslet Lane on the southern approach to during the medieval and later periods.
Along with the road, there are the remains of the Scarborough Castle Inn, properties along the former South Terrace and workers housing have been targeted for excavation.
This excavation is providing archaeologists with a rare chance to explore the social development of this part of Leeds from the late medieval period through to modern day.
David Williams, at Archaeological Services WYAS, said: “This excavation is giving us a great opportunity to uncover a part of Georgian and Victorian Leeds. The results so far are giving a real insight to the daily lives of the former residents of Leeds during this period.”
Rather perilous daily lives, as it turns out. The bottles appeared to be were mostly ginger beer. Labels indicated most of the bottles were produced by J. E. Richardson of Leeds, although several different local breweries were represented.
NB: The original ginger beer made in England in the mid-18th century, it was not the sweet carbonated soft drink it is today. It was a fermented beverage with the punch of beer but the taste of ginger. Water, ginger, sugar and a combination yeast and bacteria starter culture known as the ginger beer plant (GBP), were fermented to create a bubbly, spicy alcoholic drink. Ginger beer could pack a goodly wallop getting up to 11% alcohol.
Stoneware bottles like the ones in the Leeds find were key to the success of ginger beer as a popular and commercially viable export product. England produced stoneware bottles of such high quality that they could be shipped without catastrophic breakage. Ginger beer got even more popular after 1835 when an improved stoneware glazing process was invented. The bottles, corked and wired like champagne today, lasted indefinitely, the beer inside preserved by the alcohol and natural carbonation.
Some of the Leeds bottles had their corks intact and liquid still sloshing around inside. Two of the bottles that contained liquid were sent to West Yorkshire Joint Services for testing. The results were surprising. The alcohol content was a modest 3%. The lead content was an impressive .13 mg/l, making this weak beer but strong poison. According to the World Health Organization, the safeish lead concentration in water is .01 mg/l (it’s zero for children), but really there is no safety to be found in lead ingestion because it accumulates in the body over time and irreversibly damages the nervous system.
The likely source of the contaminated ginger beer was lead water pipes. The water was contaminated before it even made contact with the other ingredients that would make it ginger beer, so the high lead level was present in the drink from day one.
New date for dugout canoe
A dugout canoe pulled from Squam Lake in central New Hampshire in 1939 is significantly older than previously believed, dating to the mid-16th century.
It was discovered by James King and Harold Smith of Tilton when they were fishing on Squam Lake in 1936. It was under 14 feet of water, so they didn’t recover it right away. They did keep an eye on it, and in August 1939, their friend Horace Wheaton was able to raise it to the surface. It took him 15 dives to remove the stones pinning the canoe to the lakebed and raise it to the surface. The canoe was 14 feet long, three feet wide and 15 inches deep, and there was a paddle inside too, but it had disintegrated when Wheaton touched it. The three men put the canoe on display in a garage in Tilton and it got a lot of visitors for a couple of weeks.
When it first raised from the lake, the assumption was that it was an old Indian canoe, but by early September a new origin story had taken hold. Locals claimed it has been carved in the second half of the 19th century by one Bartlett Smith of Holderness. He felled a large tree and dug it out to use on the lake as a personal watercraft. Alas, he had overestimated his canoe-making skills and on Smith’s first attempt to cross the lake from Holderness, the vessel sank. He abandoned it on the lake floor and there it remained until 1939.
There was some desultory talk about preserving the canoe as a sort of quaint artifact of the quaint olden times, but ultimately nobody in New Hampshire cared to take on the boat, so eventually it wound up in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont whose experts correctly identified it as a Native American artifact.
In 2019, the canoe returned to New Hampshire, now in the care of the Holderness Historical Society. Again it was subject of local interest, increasing visits to the historical society tenfold. They decided to undergo a new analysis to date the canoe and help determine its real history.
The highly complex process for dating the canoe began with the taking of a small sample of the wood and exposing it to a series of stress tests: freeze-drying it to minus-107 degrees Celsius to remove all moisture, then heating it to more than 110 degrees Celsius to remove any trace of iron and calcium carbonates.
Using sterilized instruments, the sample was placed inside a quartz tube with cupric oxide and silver added before it was “hydrogen flame-sealed” under vacuum and combusted at 820 degrees.
The sample was then radiocarbon dated to the mid-17th century, a good hundred years before English settlers discovered Squam Lake. When Samuel Lane surveyed its shores in 1751, he saw evidence of settlement and agriculture by the Penacook-Abenaki People of the Algonquin Federation. Artifacts connected to the Cowasuck Band have been unearthed around the lake and river.
Experts theorize that, with no saw or metal tool marks evident, and an upturned stern with bow and sides of varying thickness, that the Holderness canoe is undoubtedly made by Native Americans during the “Early Contact Period.”
By the mid-1600s the more maneuverable birch bark canoe had replaced the cumbersome dugout, so this Squam Lake artifact most likely had been abandoned.
The canoe is scheduled to go on display June to September at the Holderness Historical Society Museum. Fingers crossed.
Tour the Winchester Mystery House
The famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is closed until at least April 7th, but the museum has compiled a comprehensive 41-minute video tour for our remote enjoyment.
The manchester was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of rifle tycoon William Wirt Winchester. When he died in 1881, his wife inherited a huge fortune in cash and stock, making her worth a half billion dollars in today’s money and one of the richest women in the world. Legend has it — and it is very much legendary as Sarah left no correspondence or journals on the subject, nor did any family, friends or loyal employees ever volunteer an explanation — that, devastated by the loss of her husband and daughter, she sought the advice of a Boston medium named Adam Coons. After a séance, he told her that she was haunted by the thousands of Civil War soldiers and Indians who had been killed by Winchester firearms, and that the only way to appease the vengeful spirits was to use the Winchester money she’d inherited to build them a house. Another origin story claims that a medium told her she would die as soon as the house was finished, so she saw to it that construction continued until her last breath. There is zero evidence that any of this ever happened.
In 1884, she moved to California and bought a 161-acre farm in Santa Clara Valley from Dr. Robert Caldwell. There was a modest eight room farmhouse already on the property, but Sarah’s vision was far vaster. For 38 years, she had her crew of carpenters and masons work in shifts so construction continued 24-7, 365 days a year. (Again, this is the legend somebody probably took some time off now and again.) built and built, creating a mansion with hundreds of rooms, rooms-within-rooms, unfinished rooms, mazes of corridors, dead ends, staircases that are short cuts from one part of the house to the other, staircases that lead nowhere, doors that open up to walls, doors that open to the outside two stories up, small doors, big doors, cupolas, turrets, windows of every shape and size, skylights in floors, prime numbers, especially 13, everywhere. There was even a seven story tower at one point, but it was destroyed in the 1906 Frisco quake.
When she died on September 5th, 1922, work immediately stopped. There are still nails half-hammered in to the walls. The rich reclusive widow and her labyrinthine mansion were already famous by then. The villa was known as the Spirit House and rumors abounded of nightly séances, copious hauntings and “evil spirits” confounded by Sarah Winchester’s architectural follies.
She left her estate to the charities she supported, dedicated employees and family. The furnishings of the house were sold and the mansion itself opened to tours in 1923. Millions of visitors have trod its eccentric floors in the century since then. You can now join them virtually from the comfort of your home, maybe chasing the tour with a viewing of the horror thriller Winchester starring Helen Mirren now showing on Showtime and streaming on Hulu.
You can also buy discounted ticket vouchers for a visit to the mansion that will be valid through May 2021. The vouchers cost $26, $13 off the regular ticket price. The income from the voucher sales will help keep the lights on and food on the table for the museum’s employees while the Winchester House is closed.
Coin hoard found under Slovakian church floor
A hoard of 500 coins from the early 18th century has been discovered under the floor of a church in the town Obišovce, near Košice, eastern Slovakia. The trove of coins had been stashed in a ceramic mug covered with a slab or stone.
It was found in the foundations of the Renaissance church which was demolished in the 19th century and the current church built over it. The foundations were discovered when the floor of the church was removed. Archaeologists explored the structural remains and came across the hoard that had been stashed under the original stone floor near the western entrance.
Most of the coins are salary plates issued by the many mines in what was then Upper Hungary. Copper, iron, silver and gems had been mined in the east Slovakian fields since the 9th century arrival of the Hungarian tribes. In the 15th century, the five main mining towns including Košice, had united to promote their interests. They had mints that produced coinage and salary plates with which the miners were paid. The hoard also includes silver coins, believed to have been wrapped separately in a linen textile, and a few Polish coins. From the dates on the coins, the earliest the hoard could have been buried was 1702.
When the coins were cached, Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary ruled by the Catholic Habsburgs and under regular attack by the Ottoman Empire. In the 17th century, Protestant Magyar nobles fleeing Turkish incursions moved to Upper Hungary, modern-day Slovakia, temporarily tipping the demographics of the region to majority Protestant. They allied with Transylvanian prince István Thököly in the failed Magnate conspiracy to overthrow Leopold I in 1670, and again with his son Imre Thököly in his anti-Habsburg rebellion in 1678.
Imre, allied with the Ottoman sultan, took control of territories in eastern and central Hungary, creating the short-lived Principality of Upper Hungary which largely conforms to the boundaries of Slovakia. By 1685 he had managed to be defeated in battle by the Habsburgs and to piss off the Turks so the putative principality was no more. The Great Turkish War between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League ended in 1699 with the Habsburgs in control of Hungary.
Thököly’s peasant army kept fighting against the Habsburgs, however, and in 1703, Hungarian prince Francis II Rákóczi led them in an uprising against the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire, then engaged in the War of Spanish Succession. The Rákóczi rebellion lasted until their surrender in 1711.
With the region mired in so much religious and political turmoil in the late 17th and early 18th century, hoarding and hiding coins doubtless seemed prudent.
Preservationists say it is probable that the priest from the local church and parish collected the money and hid it under the floor in times of unrest. It is probable that when he left, he omitted to say anything about the money under the floor and it was forgotten about.
The historic sources state that after the Thӧkӧly uprising was over, sometime between 1685 and 1687, a Catholic priest returned to Kysak parish. Obišovce at that time belonged to this parish. The priest was a Pole, he was blind in one eye and sometime in the 1690’s he went blind completely. The church was under the administration of the Catholic church until 1705 when rebels plundered it and it was left as a ruin for three years. The Polish priest was expelled and he returned to Poland.
Fulvia wife of Mark Anthony the first Roman woman to appear on Roman coins.
Fulvia (c. 83 BC – 40 BC) was an aristocratic Roman woman who lived during the Late Roman Republic. She gained access to power through her marriage to three of the most promising men of her generation, Publius Clodius Pulcher, Gaius Scribonius Curio, and Marcus Antonius. All three husbands were politically active populares, tribunes, and supporters of Julius Caesar. Though she is more famous for her involvement in Antony’s career, many scholars believe that she was politically active with all of her husbands.
Fulvia is remembered in the history of the late Roman Republic for her political ambition and activity. She is most famous for her activities during her third marriage and her involvement in the Perusine War of 41–40 BC. She was the first Roman non-mythological woman to appear on Roman coins.
Birth and early life
Fulvia was born and raised either in Rome or Tusculum. Her date of birth is not known.Fulvia was a member of the Fulvia gens, which hailed from Tusculum. The Fulvii were one of the most distinguished Republican plebeian noble families in Rome various members of the family achieved consulship and became senators, though no member of the Fulvii is on record as a consul after 125 BC. Fulvia was the only child of Marcus Fulvius Bambalio and Sempronia. Her father Marcus received the nickname Bambalio, from the Latin to stutter, because of his hesitancy in speech. Her maternal grandfather was Sempronius Tuditanus, who was described by Cicero as a madman, who liked to throw his money to the people from the Rostra
Marriage to Clodius Pulcher
Her first marriage was to Publius Clodius Pulcher, circa 62 BC. Fulvia and Clodius had two children together, a son also named Publius Clodius Pulcher and a daughter, Clodia Pulchra. As a couple they went everywhere together. Clodia later married the future Emperor Augustus.
Clodius was a popularis aristocratic politician who was extremely popular with the urban masses Plutarch considered him a demagogue.He is most famous as an enemy of Cicero’s owing to his involvement in the Bona Dea affair. In 62 BC, Clodius dressed as a woman and entered the house of Julius Caesar while the sacred (and female-only) rites of the Bona Dea were being performed. Charged with “incestum”, Clodius defended himself by stating that he was not in Rome the day of the sacred rites, an alibi that was refuted by Cicero in court, which started a lifelong enmity between the two men.
In 52 BC, Clodius ran for praetor and political competition with a consular rival, Titus Annius Milo, escalated to violence. Milo and his gang killed Clodius on January 18 on the Appian Way, the road built by Clodius’s ancestors. Fulvia first appears in the record after his death.She grieved over his body publicly and dragged it through the streets of Rome which, due to his popularity, incited an angry mob that took his corpse and cremated it in the senate. Fulvia and her mother Sempronia were present at the trial of Milo, and Fulvia’s was the last testimony given by the prosecution. Milo was exiled for his crime.
While alive, Clodius had control of many gangs, and Fulvia retained the power and status that came with their loyalty. There is some evidence that she may have been involved in organizing the collegia. As Clodius’ widow and mother of his children, she was also a symbol and reminder of him, and was able to transfer this power to her future husbands.
Marriage to Scribonius Curio Her widowhood did not last long, as the customary period of mourning for Romans was ten months. Fulvia most likely married her second husband, Gaius Scribonius Curio, soon after this period had passed. They were married in 52-51 BC. Like Clodius, Curio was very popular with the plebeians. He was from a less distinguished family than Clodius, being from a new consular family, but he may have had more wealth Though initially an optimate, Curio became a popularis soon after marrying Fulvia, and continued many of Clodius’ popularist policies. He soon became important to Gaius Julius Caesar and Clodian supporters. In 50 BC, the year after he married Fulvia, Curio won election as a tribune.
Curio was killed while fighting for Julius Caesar in North Africa in 49 BC, by the army of King Juba I of Numidia. During the civil war, Fulvia was most likely in Rome or nearby, due to Caesar’s troops taking over Italy. At the time, she would have had her two children by Clodius and was either pregnant with Curio’s son or had delivered him.
Fulvia With the Head of Cicero by Pavel Svedomsky
After Curio’s death in Africa, Fulvia was still an important widow in elite circles. She provided an important tie to Clodius and his clientele, had proven her fertility, and could offer a husband money and political organization. Also, her husband would become the stepfather of Clodius’ children, further linking him to Clodian politics.
Fulvia’s third and final marriage was to Mark Antony in 47 or 46 BC, a few years after Curio’s death, although Cicero suggested that Fulvia and Antony had had a relationship since 58 BC. Cicero wrote about their relationship in his Philippics as a way of attacking Antony. According to him, while Fulvia and Antony were married, Antony once left a military post to sneak back into Rome during the night and personally deliver a love letter to Fulvia describing his love for her and how he had stopped seeing the famous actress Cytheris. Cicero also suggested that Antony married Fulvia for her money. At the time of their marriage, Antony was an established politician. He had already been tribune in 49 BC, commanded armies under Caesar and was Master of the Horse in 47 BC. As a couple, they were a formidable political force in Rome, and had two sons together, Marcus Antonius Antyllus and Iullus Antonius.
Plutarch believed that Fulvia heavily influenced Antony, and that former Clodian policies were continued through him. Throughout their marriage, Fulvia defended Antony from Cicero’s attacks, sustained his popularity with his soldiers and hindered Octavian’s ascension to power. better source needed] In fact, Fulvia still retained the support of gangs formerly ruled by her first husband, Clodius. Antony was able to gather that support by publicly associating himself with Clodius’ children. Through Fulvia, Antony was able to use Clodius’ gangs in his own gang wars against Dolabella
After Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated, Antony became the most powerful man in Rome. Fulvia was heavily involved in the political aftermath. After Caesar’s death, the senate realized his popularity and declared that it would pass all of Caesar’s planned laws. Antony had attained possession of Caesar’s papers, and with the ability to produce papers in support of any law, Fulvia and Antony made a fortune and gained immense power. She allegedly accompanied Antony to his military camp at Brundisium in 44 BC. Appian wrote that in December 44 and again in 41 BC, while Antony was abroad and Cicero campaigned for Antony to be declared an enemy of the state, Fulvia tried to block such declarations by soliciting support for Antony
Antony formed the second triumvirate with Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus on 43 BC and began to conduct proscriptions. To solidify the political alliance, Fulvia’s daughter Clodia was married to the young Octavian. Appian and Cassius Dio describe Fulvia as being involved in the violent proscriptions, which were used to destroy enemies and gain badly needed funds to secure control of Rome. Antony pursued his political enemies, especially Cicero, who had openly criticized him for abusing his powers as consul after Caesar’s assassination. Although many ancient sources wrote that Fulvia was happy to take revenge against Cicero for Antony’s and Clodius’ sake, Cassius Dio is the only one who describes the joy with which she pierced the tongue of the dead Cicero with her golden hairpins, as a final revenge against Cicero’s power of speech.
Perusine War (41 BC to 40 BC) and Fulvia’s death
In 42 BC, Antony and Octavian left Rome to pursue Julius Caesar’s assassins, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. Fulvia was left behind as the most powerful woman in Rome According to Cassius Dio, Fulvia controlled the politics of Rome. Dio wrote that “the following year Publius Servilius and Lucius Antonius nominally became consuls, but in reality it was Antonius and Fulvia. She, the mother-in‑law of Octavian and wife of Antony, had no respect for Lepidus because of his slothfulness, and managed affairs herself, so that neither the senate nor the people transacted any business contrary to her pleasure.”
Shortly afterwards, the triumvirs distributed the provinces among them. Lepidus took the west and Antony went to Egypt, where he met Cleopatra VII. Octavian returned to Rome in 41 BC to dispense land to Caesar’s veterans, divorced Fulvia’s daughter and accused Fulvia of aiming at supreme power. Fearing that Octavian was gaining the veterans’ loyalty at the expense of Antony, Fulvia traveled constantly with her children to the new settlements in order to remind the veterans of their debt to Antony. Fulvia also tried to delay the land settlements until Antony returned to Rome, so that the two triumvirs could share the credit. With Octavian in Italy and Antony abroad, Fulvia allied with her brother-in-law Lucius Antonius and publicly endorsed Mark Antony in opposition to Octavian.
These actions caused political and social unrest. In 41 BC, tensions between Octavian and Fulvia escalated to war in Italy. According to Appian, Fulvia was a central cause of the war, due to her jealousy of Antony and Cleopatra’s affair in Egypt she may have escalated the tensions between Octavian and Lucius in order to draw back Antony’s attention to Italy. However, Appian also wrote that the other main causes were the selfish ambitions of the commanders and their inability to control their own soldiers.
Together with Lucius Antonius, she raised eight legions in Italy to fight for Antony’s rights against Octavian, an event known as the Perusine War. The army occupied Rome for a short time, and Lucius organized his troops at Praeneste, but eventually retreated to Perusia (modern Perugia), where Octavian besieged him. Lucius waited for Antony’s legions in Gaul to come to his aid. However, unaware of the war, Antony was still in the eastern provinces, and his legions were unsure of his commands and did not assist Lucius. Although during this conflict, Fulvia was at Praeneste, there is evidence she helped Lucius. According to Appian, she “urged Ventidius, Asinius, and Calenus from Gaul to help Lucius, and having gathered another army, she sent it to Lucius under the command of Plancus.” During the war, Octavian’s soldiers at Perusia used sling bullets inscribed with insults directed at Fulvia personally and Octavian wrote a vulgar epigram directed at her in 40 BC, referring to Antony’s affair with the ex-courtesan queen of Cappadocia Glaphyra. It is recorded by Martial within one of his own poems:
Spiteful censor of the Latin Language, read
six insolent verses of Caesar Augustus:
“Because Antony fucks Glaphyra, Fulvia has arranged
this punishment for me: that I fuck her too.
That I fuck Fulvia? What if Manius begged me
to bugger him? Would I? I don’t think so, if I were sane
“Either fuck or fight”, she says. Doesn’t she know
my prick is dearer to me than life itself? Let the trumpets blare!”
Augustus, you certainly grant my clever little books pardon,
since you are the expert at speaking with Roman frankness
The siege at Perusia lasted two months before Octavian starved Lucius into surrender in February 40 BC. After Lucius’ surrender, Fulvia fled to Greece with her children. Appian writes that she met Antony in Athens, and he was upset with her involvement in the war. Antony then sailed back to Rome to deal with Octavian, and Fulvia died of an unknown illness in exile in Sicyon, near Corinth, Achaea. After her death, Antony and Octavian used it as an opportunity to blame their quarrelling on her. According to Plutarch, “there was even more opportunity for a reconciliation with Caesar. For when Antony reached Italy, and Caesar manifestly intended to make no charges against him, and Antony himself was ready to put upon Fulvia the blame for whatever was charged against himself.” After Fulvia’s death, Antony married Octavian’s sister, Octavia Minor, to publicly demonstrate his reconciliation with Octavian. Antony never regained his position and influence in Italy.
Once Antony and Octavia were married, she took in and reared all of Fulvia’s children. The fate of Fulvia’s daughter, Clodia Pulchra, after her divorce from Octavian is unknown. Her son Marcus Antonius Antyllus was executed by Octavian in Alexandria, Egypt in 30 BC. Her youngest child, Iullus Antonius, was spared by Octavian and raised from 40 BC by Octavia Minor. Iullus married Octavia’s daughter and Octavian’s niece Claudia Marcella Major and they had a son Lucius Antonius and possibly a daughter Iulla Antonia.
Rare silver penny found by detector sells in London auction for $ 54,000
A rare silver penny of Ludica realized £41,216 ($54,004 U.S.), including fees totaling 28.8 percent, during Dix Noonan Webb’s March 10 auction.
Images courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.
A metal detectorist’s find, a silver penny of Ludica, a virtually unknown Saxon king of Mercia, realized nearly three times its high estimate during a March 10 auction in London.
The coin was discovered by Andy Hall while metal detecting in Wiltshire. It realized £41,216 ($54,004 U.S.), including the 28.8 percent buyer’s fee.
The coin’s estimate was £10,000 to £15,000 ($13,103 to $19,654 U.S.).
After attracting significant interest in the room and on the Internet, the coin was purchased by a collector in the United Kingdom the firm said.
The coin has on the obverse a diademed bust of Ludica facing right with the legend LUDICA REX MER, while the reverse features the inscription LUN/DONIA/CIVIT in three lines. Ludica reigned for just over a year in A.D. 826 to 827.
At Coombe Bissett, in Wiltshire, in January 2016 during an organized search on farmland, the coin was found buried 3 to 4 inches deep in a rotted stubble field. Hall, using an XP Deus metal detector, found the coin in a ball of thick mud.
Hall had been detecting for two years when he found the coin. He saw that it was a Saxon silver penny and took it home before carefully removing the mud.
After researching online, he sent details to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where new discoveries of early medieval coins are registered. Initially the coin’s authenticity was questioned because it was unique and so historically significant.
Hall then spent the next three years having the coin examined by experts, and he paid for metallurgical analysis before it was declared genuine, according to the auction house.
The earliest documented currency in the Romanian territory was an 8- gram silver drachma , issued by the Greek polis (πολις, city) Histria (in the region that is now the Dobrogea ) in the year 480 BC. It was followed by other coins issued by other Greek poleis in Dobrogea. In the 4th century BC , the coins of Macedonian kings Philip II and Alexander the Great were used in Dacia , but also indigenous coins including the celebrated gold kosoni (named so after the Dacian King depicted on most of the coins, Koson or Coson ). In the 3rd century BC or 2nd century BC , Dacian minting increased in intensity. In parallel with the local coins in Dacia, coins from Macedonia Prima, Thasos , Apollonia and Dyrrachium also circulated. Similarly, Roman coins such as Republican and Imperial dinarii also circulated in the Dacian territory, even before the Roman occupation, much as they continued to circulate even after the Aurelian retreat , later replaced by Byzantine money.
For macro photos of the cosons, and copies please see
the best website for coins with photos and descriptions at http://romaniancoins.org/
Cel mai mare tezaur dacic monetar de aur descoperit până acum pe teritoriul României a fost prezentat în premieră, ieri, la Alba Iulia. Tezaurul conţine 144 de monede de tip koson, din aur, care cântăresc peste un kilogram. Monedele care datează din anul 42 înainte de Hristos vor fi evaluate la Bucureşti. Specialiştii spun că acestea nu aveau valoare comercială şi erau acordate drept recompensă soldaţilor din legiunile romane. Majoritatea sunt făcute din aur din Munţii Apuseni şi au o greutate cuprinsă între 8,20 şi 8,80 de grame. În tezaur se găsesc şi 44 de monede considerate originale şi care au fost bătute în Imperiul Roman.
Dacian and Celtic Imitations of Republican Denarii
Reprinted from May, 2004 issue of The Celator, Vol. 18, No.4. Other than the addition of one bibliography item, and the correction of a few typos, the version presented here is unchanged from what appeared in the magazine. (I've also added Class E, Group Iaa, Plated Imitations in Roman Style--Hybrids, to the catalogue, but not to the article.) I've presented it that way with some reluctance, because there have been some careful comments made which I eventually hope to address. In particular, a very astute collector and student of Republican coins both imitative and official, gently but firmly described the "Anomalous" category as "ludicrous". Certainly it bears a certain resemblance to Einstein's Cosmological Constant, a more or less arbitrary factor introduced into a theory to make it work. My only defense is that the "Anomalous-Light" notion seems to yield meaningful results. It's "Heavy" cousin, alas, may be on its way to the dustbin of history.
Perhaps no series of ancient coins is as consistently misunderstood, vaguely described, or incorrectly attributed, as are the so-called "Celtic" imitations of Roman Republican denarii. Even the placement of these coins in sale catalogues is erratic sometimes they are found in the Celtic section, sometimes alongside official Republican coins, sometimes as a subsection at the end of a run of official coins. They're variously ascribed to Gaul, Pannonia, Dacia, or the "Danube River basin". This confusion is frustrating, considering how interesting and attractive many imitations are. The wild array of horses with extra or missing legs, flying charioteers, alien Roma heads, and gods on a stick, often clearly identified with legends like IOIOIV, is like nothing else in ancient numismatics. They've appealed to me in a general way for some time, but I only recently began to systematically acquire and examine them. It turns out that much of what I thought I knew about these imitations is wrong. They don't originate in Gaul, although there is a well-known series of smaller Gallic coins, the so-called quinarii, which often also derive from Roma head and chariot or other Republican types. These however are generally signed by the Gallic tribe that struck them, and are a different category of coin altogether. The majority of denarius-sized imitations of Republican coins aren't even Celtic.
In fact these coins were struck further east, in Hungary and the Balkans, more often by Geto-Dacians than by Celts. There is a considerable literature about them in the "source" countries, but much of it is difficult to obtain, and generally written in languages that are not well understood in Western Europe or the US. Numismatists, mostly in the Balkans, who have studied imitations, have often focused on the coins found in their home countries. I'm not aware of an attempt in any language to distinguish the various sorts of imitations. Certainly, there is no such classification in English. I've tried to address this in the system that follows. A true catalogue of these coins will probably never be feasible, as each die combination would require its own listing, but hopefully the following arrangement can at least provide a framework for looking at the diverse coins presently lumped into the catchall category "imitations."
CLASS A Geto-Dacian
Group Ia Monetary Copies. Transfer dies from Republican denarii
Group Ib Monetary Copies. New dies, faithful copies
Group II Monetary Imitations. New dies, derivative, crude and/or fanciful copies
Group III Hybrids.
CLASS D Anomalous
Group Ia Light debased silver, thin flan, and/or unusual fabric
Group Ib Heavy unusually large flan
CLASS E Ancient Forgeries
Group Ia Plated imitations in Roman style
Group Ib Plated imitations in near-Roman style
Group II Plated imitations in non-Roman style
Class A, Geto-Dacian. The Geto-Dacians were a Thracian people with a long tradition of coinage, initially comprising mostly imitations of Macedonian types. As economic contact between the expanding Geto-Dacian world and the expanding Roman Republic intensified, these earlier Macedonian-style tetradrachms were almost entirely replaced by massive numbers of Republican-style denarii. Some 25,000 denarii of Republican type have been found in Romania on present estimate, more than have survived anywhere outside Italy itself. How many of these denarii were official coins imported from Rome, and how many were produced locally, is very much an open question, as is their economic function. Michael Crawford has proposed, in "Republican denarii in Romania: the suppression of piracy and the slave trade", that these coins were utilized almost exclusively in said trade, but that notion has been universally rejected by Romanian numismatists, who consider them to be a true national coinage of the relatively developed Dacian proto-state. Whatever the ratio of official coins to imitations, there's no doubt that imitations were produced in Dacia in substantial numbers. Most of the good-silver, denarius-sized imitations of Republican types encountered today in the numismatic market, although typically described as "Celtic", are unquestionably Geto-Dacian, based on find-spots and patterns of circulation. Any Republican denarius was a potential model for a Dacian die engraver, but certain types, such as the coins of C. Vibius Pansa, Q. Antonius Balbus, and C. Naevius Balbus were particularly popular. Some imitations are serrate, generally but not always following the prototype in this a few are partially serrate. In at least one case (see n.1, below), two coins are known from the same dies, one serrate, one not. The date the Dacian imitations were minted is uncertain, but the bulk of the Republican prototypes were struck within a narrow time band, roughly 90-70 BC, with a few at least as early as 148 BC. Plausibly allowing 15-30 years for the originals to reach Dacia gives an approximate date range of 75-40 BC for the imitations, if the few early pieces are disregarded as "strays" copied many years after they were minted. This corresponds closely with the reign of the great Dacian king Burebista, c.70-44 BC. (The imitation of Roman denarii in Dacia continued well into Imperial times, probably at a reduced rate, but the Augustan and later imitations won't be considered here.) The location of the mint or mints is uncertain the finds are weighted towards Transylvania, but not overwhelmingly so.
Groups Ia, Ib, Monetary Copies. The term "monetary copies" was coined by Maria Chitescu in "Numismatic Aspects of the History of the Dacian State." She includes within this term both dies mechanically transferred from actual coins and newly engraved dies that reproduce accurately, although not always perfectly, their Republican prototypes, but it seems desirable to more clearly distinguish the two. Examples of both types of die were included in the remarkable hoard of dies found at Tilisca, Romania, in 1961. The British Museum catalogue, for example, notes that most of the Tilisca dies were faithful copies, and "in some cases dies appear to have been made from actual Roman coins." Crawford, in "Imitation of Roman Republican Denarii in Dacia," has identified an example of this phenomenon, a die match between a coin in the Maccarese hoard (Cr-382/1, illustrated on pl. LXV of "Roman Republican Coinage"), and one of the Tilisca dies. The Tilisca die would have produced a coin in shallower relief than the Maccarese specimen, from which Crawford concludes that the die was transferred from a worn original. There are further complications in certain Romanian denarii hoards, including one Augustan-era hoard found in Breaza which consists in part of cast forgeries of Republican coins, accurate even to various bankers' marks on the originals. Crawford calls these coins "horrifying." Some other complex problems can't be addressed here, such as Chitescu's assertion that all the monetary copies can be detected by their slight but consistent reduction in diameter and weight relative to official Republican coins, and their relative lack of bankers' marks. The five examples of this group described below average 3.71 grams.
Group II, Monetary Imitations. The term "monetary imitations" was also coined by Chitescu. It refers to coins which markedly diverge from their Republican prototypes. The designs are more or less fanciful, stylized or "barbarous," often with mismatched obverse and reverse types the legends are also more or less garbled, or completely absent. Usually the prototypes can still be determined with reasonable certainty, but in extreme cases can only be guessed at. The eleven coins of this group described below average 3.74 grams.
Group III, Hybrids. "Hybrid" may be a surprising description in a series in which a mismatch of obverse and reverse types is typical, but at least one coin exists which is a true hybrid, struck from dies not intended to be used together. This coin combines an obverse of Group Ia, mechanically transferred from an "official" coin of L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, with a reverse of group II. It seems likely that the obverse die was an earlier one reused later. See n. 17, below, for further discussion of this piece.
Class B, Pannonian. The bulk of imitative Republican denarii are sometimes considered Pannonian. Michaela Kostial's catalogue of the Lanz Collection describes most of the imitations in the collection as "ungarische Gruppe", generally with a parenthetical interrogative. This seems to be an echo of Robert Forrer's 1908 work, "Keltische Numismatik." Only Class B coins however can be assigned with confidence to Hungary.
Group I, Uninscribed Series. This is a compact, closely die-linked body of coins, described in the BM catalogue as the "uninscribed series" (BM 252-260.) "Uninscribed" seems an inapt term, as most of these coins do in fact bear legends presumably it is used here in the sense of "unsigned," to distinguish them from the later, signed Eraviscan coins. The uninscribed series is relatively well known, being also included in De la Tour's Atlas. The BM catalogue treats these coins as very typical of the imitations in general, but in fact, while they are common enough in public collections like that of the BM, which contains a number of examples apparently from a single hoard, or of the Biblioteque Nationale, they are quite scarce in the marketplace. The Budapest National Museum contains some 150 examples of these coins, reinforcing their attribution to Hungary. The 13 coins of this group in the BM average 3.77 grams, with an unusually wide variation, from 2.79 to 4.59 grams.
Group II, Eraviscan. The Eravisci were a Celtic tribe living in the area of modern Budapest. From roughly 50 BC until perhaps 20 BC, they struck a well-known, thoroughly catalogued series of coins derived from Republican originals. These coins form a tightly die-linked, readily identifiable group, although occasionally other imitations have been described as "Eraviscan." Rob Freeman has published a preliminary die study of the Eraviscan coins in "Essays Hirsch," and extensive runs of them are found in the BM catalogue, Gunther Dembski's catalogue of the Vienna Celtic cabinet, and elsewhere. Many of these coins bear the legend RAVIS or other variations on the tribal name others, die-linked with the RAVIS pieces, bear legends such as DOMISA which are apparently names of tribal chieftains. They are consistently lightweight relative to their prototypes, the specimens in Freeman's hoard averaging around 3.25 grams. These coins are the only imitative denarii with an unquestioned claim to the appellation "Celtic." The "uninscribed series" coins may well prove also to be Eraviscan, or at any rate Celtic, an earlier manifestation of the same coinage tradition, but that's no more than a reasonable surmise on present evidence.
Group III, Other Pannonian. There are hints of other Pannonian imitations beyond the two series described above, but no coins have been firmly identified as such.
Class C, Other Balkan. Likewise, there are hints of imitative coinages beyond those of Dacia and Pannonia. These peripheral coinages, if they exist, may well be associated with the expansion of the Dacian state under Burebista around 50 BC, as the notion of coinage, or the need for it, spread in tandem with the advancing Dacian armies.
Group I, Serbian. A hoard in the Belgrade National Museum, consisting solely of imitations (fifteen coins), was published by Petar Popoviac in 1974. Popoviac presumes it was a local find. These coins are light, averaging 3.21 grams, with a wide variation from 2.25 to 3.69 grams. Suggestively, most of them form a die-linked sequence (a specimen from one pair of dies is also in the Budapest Museum.) It seems quite likely that these coins were not only found in Serbia, but that they hadn't traveled very far from the place they were struck. If there were coins struck in Serbia from dies not represented in the Belgrade hoard, I see no way at present to distinguish them from Dacian imitations.
Group II, Bulgarian. Imitations have also been found in some quantity in Bulgaria, mostly of Dacian style and fabric. If there was an independent tradition of imitations in Bulgaria, the coins have yet to be clearly identified.
Group III, Other Balkan. The BM catalogue illustrates, but regrettably omits in the text, certain coins of distinctive style, crisp strike, and broad flan, BM 285-289, pl. XII. Richard Abdy of the BM has kindly provided weights for these pieces, which range widely from 2.67 to 4.47 grams, averaging 3.74 grams, but the BM has no information as to provenance. These coins, examples of some of which have also appeared in trade, may form an independent group, of unknown origin.
Class D, Anomalous. Certain imitations seem distinct from any of the preceding classes. They are either very heavy or very light. Although of good silver, they visually stand out from the rest, and are difficult to plausibly place into any of the main sequences. Chitescu obliquely confirms this distinction, opting to simply disregard weights of less than 3.0 grams or more than 4.5 grams as artifacts of wear or faulty recording. This can't be the entire explanation, as I have in my collection coins, accurately weighed, past either extreme. I've labeled these "anomalous" as a stopgap description, until new evidence or new insights allow them to be more properly placed. Perhaps some of these may prove to be among the elusive Class C coins. (Note that Class D is not defined entirely by weight. A few pieces, slightly to either side of the arbitrary range 3.00-4.50 grams, but otherwise of typical Dacian fabric and style, have been placed, with some hesitation, in Class A.)
Group 1a, Light. The single coin described below is a very thin serrated piece, possibly of debased silver, although clearly not plated. It weighs only 2.62 grams.
Group 1b, Heavy. The single coin described below is of distinctive style, struck in high relief on a large, thick flan. It weighs 4.82g.
Class E, Ancient Forgeries. Plated denarii are sometimes described as "Celtic imitations." There's no real justification for this, but neither is the matter of fourrées as simple as I initially believed. I've had to completely rethink the subject, as some inconvenient facts popped up to muddy a perfectly good theory.
Group Ia, Roman Style. These are straightforward ancient forgeries, of purely official style. (The notion, still sometimes encountered, that some plated coins are official products of the Rome mint, is obsolete and can be disregarded. I think it is possible that some plated Imperatorial denarii, struck in silver-strapped traveling mints, are "official" within the context of those mints.) They are often hybrids, but the obverse and reverse generally date to within a few years of each other. Whether they are struck from new dies transferred from actual coins, or are the "after hours" products of mintworkers using official dies, or both, is a matter of some controversy, but in either case, they are generally assumed to have been produced by Romans. The situation is in fact somewhat more complex. Chitescu describes a small hoard found in Bozieni, Romania, in 1965, in a Geto-Dacian settlement. Much of this hoard consists of plated Republican or legionary denarii, some of them broken, of impeccable Roman style. The hoard is relatively late, ending in a single coin of Vespasian, also plated. She describes it as a forger's stock, and assumes it was produced locally. This must be the case, as two fragments of coins of M. Volteius in the hoard were struck from identical dies. At least one other small hoard consists solely of plated coins. But the largest and most typical of the Romanian hoards of Republican denarii contain very few plated specimens, or none, while fourrées are frequently encountered among Dacian imitations of Imperial denarii. The imitation of Republican types in Dacia continued sporadically long after the production of the prototypes, and most or all of the plated "Republican" coins produced there may well be the products of Imperial times, as enterprising Dacians acquired an unfortunate sort of sophistication. Despite occasional ambiguity, the bulk of Republican plated coins encountered today are no doubt the products of forgers working within the Empire.
Group Ib, Near-Roman Style. There is an interesting series of plated coins, which mimic "official" style closely, without however quite duplicating it. The differences are difficult to quantify, but are clear enough to anyone familiar with the originals. The obverse and reverse of these coins are generally correctly matched the legends are never badly blundered, but are sometimes abbreviated or imprecise. The coins of this group are often described as "Celtic" or "barbarous," but I believe they are simply ancient forgeries, struck from new dies produced by inexpert engravers. There is no evidence to suggest that they were struck by non-Romans, or outside the borders of the Empire, but the caveats pertaining to Group Ia apply here also.
Group II, Non-Roman Style. Plated coins exist, in some quantity, of an unmistakably non-Roman style. These can be as fanciful and bizarre as the most outlandish good silver imitations. To my mind, these coins are completely mysterious. As far as I know, they have never been systematically examined. It is impossible to believe that they were produced by Romans. If one accepts the assumption that all plated coins were intended to deceive the recipient, for the profit of the producer, these "barbarous" plated pieces can only have been the product of non-Roman counterfeiters. Die links between these coins and good silver imitations would explain a lot, but I'm unaware of any such links, and I doubt if any exist. To my eye, these coins, though certainly "barbarous," are very different in fabric and style from any of the known good silver imitations.
All coins are in the author's collection, and all photography is by Aaron Berk. The photos are arranged according to the preceding classification. Not all categories are represented by illustrations. Although I've suggested a possible prototype or prototypes for each coin, some of these are speculative.
Class A Group Ib, Geto-Dacian Monetary Copies.
1. Types of Q. Antonius Balbus, after 82 BC cf. Lanz 106, 10 (same dies, serrate), cf. Cr-364/1d 4.33g. Faithful copy, but not serrate. Reverse horses have six legs in front, eight in back. I know of no parallel to this case of serrate and plain edge coins struck from the same dies. The obverse die of the present coin shows evidence of reengraving or repair. Perhaps an old pair of dies was found and reused, with no serrate prototype at hand?
2. Types of C. Mamilius Limetanus, after 82 BC cf. Cr-362/1 3.29g. Obverse double struck V under Mercury's chin, no letter behind otherwise, slightly stylized but faithful copy poorly engraved but accurate reverse legend.
3. Types of C. Naevius Balbus, after 79 BC cf. Cr-382/1b 3.80g, serrate. Head of Venus left, otherwise very faithful copy.
4. Same types 3.68g, serrate. Head of Venus right, faithful copy, somewhat stylized.
5. Types of P. Satriena, after 77 BC cf. Cr-388/1b 3.45g. Close copy, Mars' hair and helmet slightly stylized, reverse legend P. PATRI. Obverse not a match for known control XVI die.
Class A Group II, Geto-Dacian Monetary Imitations.
6. Types of L. Antestius Gragulus, after 136 BC cf. Cr-238/1 3.63g. Types correct but quite stylized, legend badly garbled and apparently meaningless.
7. Types of P. Laeca?, after 104 BC? cf. Cr-301/1 3.54g. Barbarous Roma head, X both behind and before remarkably barbarous and opaque reverse scene, with no legend other than X and large retrograde C. The identification of the prototype as Cr-301 is barely more than a guess.
8. Obverse type of Publius Calpurnius or L. Minucius, reverse type of C. Vibius Pansa, after 90 BC cf. Cr-247/1 or Cr-248/1, obverse cf. Cr-342, reverse 3.75g. Barbarous Roma head, seemingly mounted on a stick, with hair like three snakes reverse slightly stylized but faithful copy, with accurate legends.
9. Types of C. Vibius Pansa, after 90 BC cf. Cr-342/4 3.51g. Stylized head of Apollo, remnants of inappropriate SC behind reverse sketchy and double struck, with meaningless legends.
10. Types of L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, after 90 BC cf. Cr-340/1 3.64g. Very barbarous head of Apollo, barbarous horseman, garbled and apparently meaningless legends. Possibly debased silver.
11. Obverse type of C. Vibius Pansa?, reverse type of C. Norbanus, after 83 BC Chitescu 112 (same dies), cf. Chitescu 204 (same obverse die), cf. Cr-342, obverse, cf. Cr-357/1, reverse 3.45g, Barbarous head of Apollo, meaningless legend before sketchy but accurate reverse.
12. Obverse type of Pub. Crepusius, reverse type of various moneyers, after 82 BC cf. Cr-361/1, obverse, cf. Cr-282, reverse 4.62g, serrate. Somewhat stylized head of Apollo somewhat stylized warrior in biga, remnants of legend below.
13. Obverse type of C. Annius with L. Fabius Hispaniensis, reverse type of Q. Titius, after 81 BC cf. Cr-366/1c, obverse, cf. Cr-341, reverse 3.70g. Stylized bust of Anna Perenna, scales under chin misinterpreted as XXI long, apparently meaningless legend behind slightly stylized Pegasus on reverse. The reverse shows clear signs of being overstruck, possibly on an earlier imitation. This coin is placed in this group with little confidence. Its style and fabric do not seem Dacian. It was found in a Balkan hoard of Flavian date. The preservation of this coin is more consistent with denarii of Augustus and Tiberius in that hoard than it is with Republican pieces in the same hoard, most of which were quite worn. The date suggested here for this coin may well be 100 years too early.
14. Types of C. Naevius Balbus, after 79 BC cf. Cr-382/1 3.51g, serrate. Both sides very sketchy remnants of SC behind Venus' head, no other legend.
15. Obverse type of C. Naevius Balbus, reverse type of P. Furius Crasipes, after 79 BC cf. Cr-382/1, obverse, cf. Cr-356/1, reverse 3.62g. Stylized head of Venus, remnants of SC behind stylized chair, blundered but recognizable legend below.
16. Types of L. Rutilius Flaccus, after 77 BC cf. Cr-387/1 4.18g. Stylized Roma head stylized Victory in "biga" with added third horse (not truly a "triga") rear legs of horses' total five remnants of correct legend below.
Class A Group III, Geto-Dacian Hybrids.
17. Obverse type of L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, reverse type of L. Papius, after 79 BC cf. Cr-340/1, obverse, cf. Cr-384/1, reverse 3.53g, serrate. Obverse mechanically transferred from known control XXXVI die (cf. Banti 44/21 for an example) while "exact", it illustrates the softness expected from a casting process. Reverse depicts a stylized Pegasus, possibly double-struck, apparently a misunderstood griffin copied from an original of L. Papius legend is blundered, but recognizable as that of L. Papius (not however as that of Q. Titius.) I know of no parallel to this combination of obverse and reverse dies manufactured via different processes, probably at different times.
Class B Group I, Pannonian, Uninscribed Series.
18. Types of C. Coelius Caldus, after 104 BC BM-258 (same dies), DLT-1072, cf. Cr-318/1 4.07g. Very stylized Roma head stylized horses with "flying" driver, meaningless legend below.
Class B Group II, Pannonian, Eraviscan.
19. Types of C. Postumius, after 74 BC Freeman 17/P (same dies), Chitescu 173 (same dies), cf. Cr-394/1 2.87g. Both sides somewhat stylized, remnants of correct legend on reverse. Unusual surface with droplets and depressions implying casting, but a "wrapped" edge seam more consistent with a plated piece. The author knows two other examples of these dies, averaging 3.31g and with normal surfaces. Another piece, also of the same dies, but weighing 3.56g, is illustrated in Chitescu, pl. X, 173. It has a similar surface to the present coin. The first two are apparently Eraviscan imitations the latter two are possibly contemporary forgeries of that Eraviscan prototype, but even the prototype differs from other Eraviscan coins in many ways.
Class D Group Ia, Anomalous. Light.
20. Types of C. Poblicius, after 80 BC cf. Cr-380/1 2.62g, serrate. Barbarous bust of Roma left, blundered legend before, traces behind very barbarous Hercules and lion, blundered legend behind.
Class D Group Ib, Anomalous, Heavy.
21. Types of Gar, Ogvl, Ver, after 86 BC cf. Cr-350A 4.82g. Somewhat stylized head of Apollo somewhat stylized quadriga, front legs of horses total four, rear legs seven meaningless legend below.
Class E Group 1b, Plated Forgeries, Near-Roman Style.
22. Types of C. Piso L. Frugi, after 67 BC cf. Cr-480/1b, cf. Hersh 339 2.83g. Apollo head in near-official style, degraded symbol behind horseman in slightly sketchy style, degraded symbol above, slightly degraded legend below.
Class E Group II, Plated Forgeries, Non-Roman Style.
23. Types of M. Tullius, after 120 BC cf. Cr-280/1 3.54g. Somewhat sketchy, stylized head of Roma, blundered legend behind sketchy, stylized quadriga left, retrograde but otherwise correct legend below.
24. Obverse type of L. Cassius Caecianus, reverse type of Q. Antonius Balbus, after 82 BC cf. Cr-321/1, obverse, cf. Cr-364/1, reverse 1.53g. Barbarous bust of Ceres, blundered legend behind accurate reverse of slightly sketchy style, with correct legend. The resemblance of the obverse of this coin to the Hungarian "uninscribed" pieces is probably coincidental.
Allen, D., Catalogue of Celtic Coins in the British Museum I, London, 1987.
Chitescu, M., "Copii si imitatii de denari romani republicani in Dacia", Memoria Antiquitatis III, 1971.
Chitescu, M., Numismatic Aspects of the History of the Dacian State, Oxford, 1981.
Chitescu, M., "The Poroschia Hoard (District of Teleorman) and Some Problems Relative to the Geto-Dacian Coins of Roman Republican Type", Studii si Cercetari de Numismatica VII, 1980 (translation and notes by H. Bartlett Wells.)
Crawford, M., Coinage & Money under the Roman Republic, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1985.
Crawford, M., "Imitation of Roman Republican denarii in Dacia", Studii si Cercetari de Numismatica VII, 1980.
Crawford, M., "Republican denarii in Romania: the suppression of piracy and the slave trade", Journal of Roman Studies LXVII, 1977.
Crawford, M., Roman Republican Coinage, Cambridge, 1974
Crisan, I. H., Burebista and his Time, Bucharest, 1978.
De la Tour, H., Atlas de Monnaies Gauloises, Paris, 1898 (Reprinted).
Dembski, G., Munzen der Kelten, Vienna, 1998.
Depeyrot, G. & Moisil, D., Les tresors de deniers anterieurs a Trajan en Roumanie, Wetteren, 2003.
Forrer, R., Keltische Numismatik, Strasbourg, 1908 (Reprinted).
Freeman, R., "A Group of Eraviscan Denarii", Coins of Macedonia and Rome: Essays in Honor of Charles Hersh, London, 1998.
Kostial, M., Kelten im Osten, Sammlung Lanz, Munich, 1997.
Lockyear, K., "Coins, Copies and Kernels - a Note on the Potential of Kernel Density Estimates", CAA 97, Birmingham, 1997.
Lockyear, K., "Dmax based cluster analysis and the supply of coinage to Iron Age Dacia", Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia 28, Leiden, 1996.
Lockyear, K., "The supply of Roman Republican denarii to Romania", Studii si Cercetari de Numismatica XI, 1995.
Mihailescu-Birliba, V, La Monnaie Romaine Chez Les Daces Orientaux, Bucharest, 1980.
Paunov, E. & Prokopov, I., An Inventory of Roman Republican Coin Hoards and Coins from Bulgaria, Milan, 2002.
Popoviac, P., "Hoard of Imitations of Roman Republican Denarii from the Belgrade National Museum", Numizmatikai Kozlony, 1974.
Preda, C., Monedele geto-dacilor, Bucharest, 1973.
Wells, H., "Roman Republican Denarii in Dacia - A Review", SAN Journal XI, 3, 1980.
Winkler, J., "Tezaurul de Monede Romane Republicane de la Satu-Nou (Reg. Oradea)", Studii si Cercetari de Numismatica I, 1957.
The coin corresponds to the description at number 1 in the Moushmov catalog.
About the coins of province Dacia
The issue of local coins began in Dacia in 246/247. At that time emperor Philip the Arab granted the right to strike coins in Dacia. The last provincial coins were struck in 255/257, with AN XI in exergue.
The coins PROVINCIA DACIA were also found in Pannonia and Moesia Superior, Roman provinces neighbouring Dacia. Most probably these coins were struck at Sarmisegetusa, but there are opinions that the coins were struck at Apulum or even at Viminacium. (The provincial coins struck at Viminacium in Moesia Superior have very similar design with the Dacian ones.) Many Provincia Dacia coins are heavily worn, a sign that they circulated for a long time.
It is commonly accepted that in Dacia were struck sesterces, dupondii and asses. Asses and dupondii were struck only in the first three years of the mint existence and they are scarce.
About the dating of the coin and about the local era
The inscription AN V in exergue shows that the coin was struck in 246-247.
The system of numbering the years from an important event was very spread in the Roman provinces. A local era was used also in Dacia. The Dacian local era seems to have begun in July-September 246 (these months are certain, because emperor Aemilianus, who ruled the Roman Empire for three months in 253, appeared on Provincia Dacia coins, with years 7 and 8 (AN VII and AN VIII).
Most probably the beginning of the new era is connected with the invasion of Dacia by the Carpian tribes. The attack of the Free Dacians began in 245 and was repelled in the next year, after the coming of emperor Philippus Arabs to the Danube. Philippus granted some privileges to the province of Dacia, and the grateful citizens counted the years from the beginning of the new era of liberty.
About the Dacian armies (exercitus Daciae)
The Roman Dacia was defended by a lot of soldiers, both legions and auxiliary troops (alae - cavalry units, cohorts - infantry units, numeri - ethnic militia). The Roman armies in Dacia counted about 50.000 troops.
Legio XIII Gemina remained in Dacia for the entire period of the Roman rule, having its castrum at Apulum, nowadays Alba Iulia. Before the conquest of Dacia this legion had the camp in Pannonia Superior. After the Roman retreat from Dacia the Thirteen moved to Ratiaria, in Dacia Ripensis. The surname of a legion was used in the imperial period to differentiate the units, because there were more than one with the same number. The name Gemina means twin, because there were more than one legion bearing the same name, but having different numbers.
Legio V Macedonica came in Dacia Porolissensis, at Potaissa (nowadays Turda, in the county of Cluj), in year 168. After the Roman retreat from Dacia the Fifth moved to Oescus. The name of the legion refers to the region where the unit was set up - the Fifth was enlisted close in time to the battle of Philippi, in Macedonia.
The presence of the eagle and the lion on local coins, symbols of the Dacian legions, is a homage to the Roman armies garrisoned in the province. The propagandistic message is clear enough: the liberty in the province (Dacia wears the Phrygian cap or pileus, sign of freedom) was obtained after the victories of the Roman armies stationed in Dacia.
About Philip the Arab
The real name of Philip the Arab was Marcus Iulius Philippus. The surname "the Arab" refer to the emperor ethnical origin. His wife was Marcia Otacilia Severa.
In 244 Philip the Arab became emperor of Rome, after the death of Gordian III.
In 248 AD Philip patronaged the feasts of the millennium of Rome's founding. Historia Augusta (Gordian, XXXIII) shows that at the celebrations organized in April 248 a lot of wild and tamed beasts, as elephants, tigers, lions, leopards, hyenas, giraffes, hippopotami, and even a rhinoceros were employed. Several of these animals are represented on the coins issued for the millennium celebration.
In the spring of 249 AD the Danubian legions proclaimed Traianus Decius as emperor. The rebellion succeeded and in the battle of Verona in Italy Philip the Arab lost his life.
Rubbing it in: Those poor Dacians
Based on early estimates, and valuations of similar copper troves, suggest a price in the region of £15,000. The coins are currently being examined by the British Museum and will be valued by a group of independent experts
'The Rauceby hoard is giving us further evidence for so-called 'ritual' hoarding in Roman Britain.'
It is thought to have been buried around 307AD following the death of emperor Constantius in York.
Mr Daubney, also the finds officer at Lincolnshire county council, said: 'It looks like a hoard that went into the ground on purpose as perhaps some kind of ceremonial ritual.
'The pot was discovered in a pit full of rough, quarried limestone and there's no way you could bury a pot that size in secret.'
The coins are currently being examined by the British Museum and will be valued by a group of independent experts and is regarded as being of international importance.
WHO WAS THE EMPEROR CONSTANTIUS OF YORK?
Constantius Chlorus (250AD – 306AD) who made his name in Britain defeating rebellious generals and fighting Picts north of Hadrian's Wall.
While campaigning in Britain he was based in York (Eboracum), where he died and his son Constantine The Great succeeded him.
He rose from relative obscurity to become the Emperor of the western Roman empire.
He was a soldier who had worked his way up through the ranks but his real political break came when in 289 he married Theodora, the stepdaughter of the emperor Maximian.
While campaigning in Britain he was based in York (Eboracum), where he died and his son Constantine The Great , pictured here, succeeded him.
By this time Constantius had already fathered a son called Constantine by another woman, Helena. Both Constantine and Helena went on to earn great renown in their own right.
In 293, the Roman Empire became a 'tetrarchy', meaning it was ruled by four different people. Constantius Chlorus was chosen by Maximian to be one of them – he became Caesar (junior emperor) of the northwest.
This was a tricky assignment because much of the territory was in the hands of a break-away empire led by naval commander Carausius and his allies the Franks.
That summer Constantius led a military campaign and regained control of Gaul, northern France. In 296 he did the same in Britain.
There followed nine years of relative peace which only came to an end in 305 when the Picts attacked the northern reaches of the empire in Britain.
As so often in its history, York became an important strategic centre in a battle for the north of England.
Constantius was by now Augustus, the senior emperor of the west.
He called for his son Constantine to join him in Gaul and together they headed to York. They enjoyed a series of victories over the Picts but then, on 25 July 306, Constantius became the second emperor to die in York.
Constantius's first wife Helena became a saint after being credited with finding the relics of the true cross.
By Duncan Macpherson
Updated: 15:08 BST, 29 September 2011
The largest collection of Roman coins unearthed in a single container goes on display to the public for the first time today.
The Frome Hoard, a collection of 52,503 silver and copper alloy coins unearthed by hospital chef Dave Crisp in April last year near the Somerset town that gives the hoard its name, is to go on show at the Museum of Somerset, in Taunton.
Stephen Minnitt, Somerset County Council's head of museums, said it was a coup for the museum to obtain the 'highly important find'.
The Frome Hoard, found in a single round clay pot, weighs 353lb. Archaeologists remain uncertain about the reason for its burial
Some of the Roman coins, laid out on a table for sorting, date from AD253 to AD293
'It's a very good news story in that Mr Crisp reported his discovery,' said Mr Minnitt. 'It was properly excavated and as a consequence we know far more about it than would otherwise have been the case.
'The reason it was buried remains something of a mystery. Usually you tend to think of coin hoards being buried for safety in the times before there were banks, and those that are found today are the ones that were not recovered, presumably because the person that owned them had some sort of misfortune and didn't pick them up.
'In this case, though, the volume of coins in this very rounded pot - they weigh 160kg (353lb) - has led to the suggestion that they may well represent a votive offering of some sort. Precisely what, we don't know.'
The Frome Hoard of 52,503 Roman coins from the 3rd century AD is slowly and carefully unearthed
Dave Crisp at the excavation site near Frome, Somerset, and, right, examining one of the 52,503 Roman coins he unearthed using a metal detector
Some of the coins have been completely cleaned to show what they may have looked like at the time they were buried. Others have been left in a condition closer to the way they looked when excavated.
All but five are made from a copper alloy which gives them a greenish tinge.
These five, which form their own display, are silver denarii of the emperor Carausius, an upstart from what is now the Netherlands who led a revolt against Rome in the last decade of the 3rd century AD and declared himself emperor of Britain and northern Gaul (France).
Dave Crisp, centre, observes excavation of the find, which has been valued at £320,250
Some of the coins, dating from the reign of Emperor Carausius, left, have been cleaned but most have been left in the condition in which they were found
They are among 760 coins from his reign of seven years.
'He was a usurper who took control of Britain and Gaul in AD296 and issued this very fine series of silver coins, which are exceedingly rare,' said Mr Minnitt.
'The five examples in the Frome collection are in mint condition. They are some of the finest examples of Carausius denarii ever seen.'
The collection, valued at £320,250, was bought by the museum in March thanks to a grant of almost £300,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Diagram of the Frome Hoard's location and, right, the layer arrangement in which the coins were found
An intensive fundraising campaign for the hoard, which contains 52,503 coins dating between AD253 and AD293, also benefited from a grant of more than £50,000 from the Art Fund, donations from various organisations and money raised by the public.
At the time, Mr Crisp, from Wiltshire, said it was 'very important' that the coins stayed in the county.
'I've said all along my whole aim was to help the people here, to help the museum, to help Somerset to get these coins, that was the most important thing,' he said.
'These coins were put there by the Romans and these Romans had been there for five, six, seven generations, over 200 years, so they were more Somerset people than they were Romans really.
'They put them in there for the gods and I think the gods will be pleased now that they are staying here.'
Location of the Frome Hoard
The museum, partly based in Taunton Castle, has undergone huge renovation work which has taken three years.
It will contain exhibits dating from the time of the dinosaurs and the Stone Age to items associated with the Monmouth rebellion, brutally repressed locally in 1685 with Judge Jeffreys' Bloody Assizes.
One of the main attractions on display when it opens its doors today is the Low Ham Mosaic, the earliest large-scale example of narrative art found in England.
It was voted by viewers of Channel 4's Time Team to be the third most important Roman treasure in any British museum.
The museum will also be showing the Shapwick Hoard of 9,238 silver coins - the largest hoard of Roman silver coins found in Britain - the bronze age South Cadbury Shield and the 10th century wheel cross from nearby Glastonbury Tor.
A New Monograms Function in Hellenistic Royal Coinages
One of the more enigmatic aspects of ancient Greek coinage, and Hellenistic coinage in particular, are the many symbols and monograms that appear on them. Already in the early fifth century BC, some coin producers, such as the exiled Samians in Zancle in Sicily, began to put letters and symbols on their coins that served functions beyond just identifying the political authority, like the abbreviated ethnic, ΑΘΕ, that appeared on early Athenian coinage identifying the Athenians as the producers of the new owl coinage.
In the case of the Samians at Zancle, the sequence of letters on different issues, Α, Β, Γ, etc., clearly were not ethnics, but probably meant to distinguish the individual issues.
The most convincing arguments to date suggest that these letters represent the sequential years of production, e.g., Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, etc.
Over time Greek coins became increasingly “chatty” with more letters and symbols appearing on them, usually on the reverse alongside the ethnic or name of a king or magistrate.
While many of these letters are clearly era dates, some of them, especially the combined letters we call monograms, are not. Their function along with the multitude of additional symbols—everything from representations of animals to cups to weapons to plants, and so on—are far more perplexing. Some symbols we believe are “mint marks” serving much the same function as ethnics, identifying the authority or place of production, such as a rose on some posthumous Alexander types indicating that they were produced on the island of Rhodes under the authority of the Rhodians.
Some of the symbols that we cannot so easily link to a specific political authority or place of production may have served other functions, identifying, for example, a lower-level authority responsible for the production of the that specific batch of coinage, or the source of the metal, for example. Similar arguments are made for many of the monograms.
In order to truly understand the function of these symbols and monograms, we need a comprehensive electronic database of all of them, something which would include the estimated 10,000 separate monograms and thousands of additional symbols that appear on Greek coinage from early 5 th century down to the end of the Hellenistic period. Such a comprehensive database would allow us to observe with greater accuracy where and for how long specific monograms and symbols were used, which in turn might offer some insight into their specific function. A number of researchers independently have been toiling away on monograms and symbol databases for specific subsets of coinage. For example, our colleagues in Berlin, led by Ulrike Peter, working the Coprus Nummorum have been building an important database of monograms and symbols appears on coins produced in ancient Moesia Inferior, Thrace, Mysia, and Troas. Dr. Peter along with other members of the Greek steering committee of Nomisma.org, who have been working on other databases, have been holding discussions on how to combine all efforts into a larger universal database.
At the ANS, our efforts towards this larger goal have, for the moment, focused on the coins covered by our Hellenistic Royal Coinages project: the coinages (in the name) of Philip II of Macedonia the coinages (in the name) of Alexander III the Great Ptolemaic coinages and Seleucid coinages. With the help of Mark Pyzyk, Lauren Tomanelli, and Oliver Hoover, we have been systematically digitizing all of the monograms appearing on these coins—nearly 5,000 individual monograms—creating scalable and printable svg files for each one. Individual nomisma.org IDs are then created for each monogram, which is then linked to the type record in HRC for the coin type on which the monogram appears, whether in PELLA, Seleucid Coins Online, or Ptolemaic Coins Online. In the meantime, I have been identifying the Greek letters that to my eye at least appear in these monograms trying to be as inclusive as possible. All of our work now has added a new dimension of functionality to HRC.
When users select the “Symbols” tab at the top of the PELLA landing page, for example, they are presented with images of the first 24 of the 1,207 monograms appearing on the coinages (in the name) of Alexander. Users can continue to search visually for the monograms that interests them, or can parse by selecting constituent letters. Once the desired monogram has been located, clicking on the image of the monogram takes them to a separate page that includes metadata information, a map of where coins produced with that monogram were struck, and links to examples of coins in PELLA with that monogram. For the symbols that appear on the coins, such as a rose, users can employ the symbol search function locating on the left-hand side of the browse screen, specifying where on the coin the symbol appears.
Currently, the monogram functionality is limited to just PELLA and PCO, but soon it will be added to SCO as well. Our ultimate goal remains to combine these three separate monogram and symbol tools into one that is much larger including not just our work on the monograms and symbols appearing on Hellenistic Royal coinages, but the work of others on different groups of Greek coinage as well.
For more information on this new monogram functionality please see the blog of our Director of Data Science, Ethan Gruber.
The Monetary Crisis of the
The economic crisis of the Second Punic War (218-201 AD) was responsible for a complete restructuring of the Roman monetary system towards the close of the 3rd century BC. The Hannibalic invasion (217-216 BC) created a virtual siege mentality throughout Italy and this is clearly reflected in the coinage record of the time.
The cast bronze Aes Grave coinage underwent a very rapid series of drastic weight reductions during this period falling from 140 grms to as far as 41 grms. For the first time, we also see three very large new denominations emerge – decussis (10 As 1106-652 grms), Tressis (3 As 313-208 grms) and the Dupondius (2 As 221-134 grms). All three of these denominations also experienced severe declining weight standards. The scarcity of these later issues among surviving specimens reflects the reality of Gresham’s Law. The drastic weight reductions prompted massive hoarding of earlier issues thus working in reverse for collectors in modern times as larger quantities of heavier weights have survived than of the later crisis issues of lessor weight.
Eventually, the collapse of the bronze monetary system became evident as the old cast Aes Grave series was completely replaced by a bronze coinage of a significantly lessor weight struck from dies rather than cast from molds by circa 211 BC. This monetary reform of the Second Punic War, which took place between 213-211 BC, is known as the “sextanal” standard. It was during this period that the weight of the Roman As fell to about 48 gms – down from 400 gms at the beginning of the century.
The silver quadrigatus had also reflected the severe monetary crisis of the period. Here we find that the silver coinage had undergone its own debasement. The quadrigatus fell significantly in silver content, quality and even design style. The inflationary pressures had been reflected in the silver coinage to such an extent that it too had to be abandoned in circa 211 BC.
Therefore, what emerged from the Second Punic War was a completely new monetary standard. The abandonment of the silver quadrigatus thus took place and the birth of a new, lighter coin, the denarius, emerged – tariffed at 10 asses. The weight of the Roman denarius was henceforth established at 4 gms of silver approximately 98% pure. This denomination was clearly marked with the numeral “X” clearly displaying its value being equal to 10 Roman Ases. A half denomination was also issued known as the “quinarius” displaying a value of “V” – 5 Roman Ases. Despite the collapse in the bronze monetary system, it is important to note that the denarius and its fractions were still being valued in terms of the underlying bronze coinage. A third denomination in silver was also eventually added, but remained very unpopular. This was the tiny silver sesterius equal to 3 Ases.
This monetary reform, which gave birth to the silver denarius, thus created a unit of monetary value that would stand for centuries. Its silver content became exceptionally stable and indeed, the 98% purity remained in effect for the most part even into the reign of Augustus (27BC-14AD). As Rome prospered, it would be the denarius that would eventually become the unit of value on an international scale. And its name, would live well into modern times becoming denier, denaro and penny in the English language.
The monetary reform of the Second Punic War also led to the introduction of a new issue of gold coinage utilizing once again the portrait of Mars helmeted. Here too, there were marks of value in Roman numerals and again the marks still referred to the number of bronze Roman As either 60, 40 or 20 as its equivalent. Therefore, the sextanal standard may have broadened the denominations within the monetary system of Rome but it continued to reflect a basic unit of value as the Roman As despite its significant reduction in weight during that century.
Despite the fact that Rome abandoned the Greek silver didrachm standard in favor of its own lighter weight denarius, the dominance of Rome internationally had not yet been achieved. Rome thus quickly learned the lesson of foreign exchange. Therefore, another denomination also appeared in silver along with the denarius during this monetary reform. This new denomination was known as the “victoriatus” with a weight of about 3 grms. This denomination did not fit within the Roman monetary system itself by any weight standard. The significance of this denomination lies not within domestic Roman society, but within Rome’s international contact with the outside Greek world. The victoriatus was equivalent to a Greek drachm. This meant that the denarius was at a substandard from an international perspective of foreign commerce which had largely been conducted in didrachms. In order to facilitate trade, Rome needed a monetary unit that would provide an acceptable currency for foreign exchange purposes. Based upon hoard evidence, the vast majority of the victoroatii have been found in the regions north of the Po – namely Cisalpine Gaul.
One important economic trend that becomes clear here is what one might call the Law of Value. In other words, the further one travels from the main economic activity level, the greater the purchasing power of the standard unit of account. Thus, the didrachm’s value tended to increase in purchasing power the further one traveled from Greece so that by the time you reached Cisalpine Gaul, the purchasing power equivalent of the didrachm became its half-denomination, the drachm. This Law of Value holds true in modern times as well. The most expensive cost of living tends to be in the dominant regions of commerce. Thus, a home outside of London or New York costs less than one located in the city. The further one travels from the city the greater the purchasing power of the standard unit of account becomes. Therefore, the cost to feed one child in New York becomes the cost of feeding 20 children in South America or Africa. The same Law of Value thus held true in ancient times as it does today in modern times.
The appearance of the victoriatus at this point in the Roman monetary system also illustrates an age-old problem of domestic versus international trade which still remains a key economic issue today. This denomination thus created a two-tier monetary system whereby the denarius was acceptable domestically and the victoriatus was used in international trade where the monetary standards had been greatly influenced by the Greek world. Such two-tier monetary systems have appeared throughout history including the trade dollars issued by the United States and Great Britain during the 19th century.
Massive Roman Denarii Hoard From the ‘Vandals’ Last Stand’ Found - History
Vortrag im Rahmen der "Imperialism and identities at the edges of the Roman World 4 (IIERW 4)" Co. more Vortrag im Rahmen der "Imperialism and identities at the edges of the Roman World 4 (IIERW 4)" Conference 2018, am 21.09.2018 in Petnica (Serbien):
Roman coins were exported from the Empire to the north European barbaricum in large numbers, where they entered a new sphere of economic and social interactions. There they were also imitated in significant numbers. Until the mid-3rd century primarily silver denarii were copied, which remained in a primarily economic sphere of economic transactions. Later, gold coins were also imitated and were to a large extent removed from the monetary sphere, for example becoming objects of attire: they were frequently pierced so that they could be worn displaying the head of the emperor on the obverse.
Such imitations of Roman coins, which were produced by the developing elites right across the barbaricum north of the Roman frontier and used by them to demonstrate their status provide an unparalleled microcosm of this cultural meeting, a unique synthesis of Roman and indigenous societies.
This contribution will assess the role of such coins as an expression of the identity of the peoples who inhabited the northern barbaricum, and what this tells us about the relationship between Rome and her northern neighbours.