Coin Relief – Issue Fifteen

Welcome to the next edition of Coin Relief. In this issue, Dr. Andrew Brown takes a look at a turbulent period of Roman history when a succession of usurpers destabilised the empire…and of course minted some coinage!

Usurpers c.AD 258-272

“It was the public destiny that in the time of Gallienus whosoever could, sprang up to
seize the imperial power”

Historia Augusta Lives of the Thirty Pretenders 10

The passage above from the often-inaccurate Historia Augusta, which cast Gallienus in a rather unfavourable light, emphasises the problems faced by the empire in the middle of the 3rd century. As we have seen previously, during the reigns of Valerian I and Gallienus things began to unravel. Pressures external and internal to the empire resulted in insurrection on a number of occasions, perhaps most evident in the emergence of the breakaway Gallic Empire by Postumus in AD 260. Valerian’s capture in the east was undoubtedly a factor in this, the vacuum it created spurring rebellion east and west that Gallienus (often unsuccessfully!) attempted to deal with.

Between the period of Valerian and Gallienus’ rise to power in AD 253 and Aurelian finally providing some stability, uniting the empire again before his death in AD 275, Roman authority was usurped on a number of occasions at both ends of the Roman
world. Indeed, in more than once instance this resulted in the emergence breakaway states and the creation (or attempted creation) of new dynasties. A by product of this was the appearance of coinage in the name of numerous individuals who did not hold power in Rome or who were not officially recognised as emperors by Rome. There were not quite the ‘Thirty Pretenders’ suggested by the Historia Augusta, but there were enough for it to be a major destabilising problem for the empire in the 3rd century.

What is curious about all of these episodes of usurpation is their emergence on the frontiers of the empire. It was in these regions where individuals with certain standing and support (notably of the military) could wrest authority from Rome and were perhaps
far enough removed from the Emperor and his legions to do so. It may be, though, that this was as much an effort to stabilise conditions close to home as it was any real attempt to take on the might of Rome proper. We have looked previously at one of these breakaway states, the Gallic Empire,  and it is notable that Postumus in particular stopped short of pushing to take Rome when the opportunity might have been there, seemingly content to consolidate the regions under his control. We might see something similar at the opposite end of the empire in the east too – at least for a time!

During this period, then, we are dealing with a central authority in Rome, with five emperors (and their families) in power:

We have already looked at the Gallic Empire, focused on the western provinces and with seven usurpers who issued coinage:

However, these were not the only individuals to usurp Roman authority during this period. On the Danube frontier and in the eastern provinces, faced with similar destabilising effects of incursion and Valerian’s defeat by the Persians, similar grabs for
power were made, often with the support of the local populace and the legions. Their coinages are much more limited due to their comparatively restricted periods of autonomy and, from a PAS perspective, much rarer given that they are far removed from the province of Britannia, which was under the control of the Gallic Empire until AD 269. On the Danube, there was revolt in AD 258 or 260 against Gallienus by Regalianus and his wife Sulpicia Dryantilla. Meanwhile, in Syria Valerian’s capture resulted in Macrianus Major and his sons Macrianus Minor and Quietus assuming power, before being ousted themselves by Septimius Odaenathus in AD 261. He established a new Palmyrene dynasty in the east that was turned into an empire by his wife Zenobia who succeeded him as regent with their young son Vabalathus in c.AD 267.

The Roman empire (red), with the Gallic (green) and Palmyrene (yellow) empires (Image: Andrew Brown).

he numbers of coins present in a British context for any of these usurpers is understandably small given where they usurped power and their short periods of rule. Nevertheless, some
examples do turn up, so it is perhaps worth having a quick look at who produced coinage other than the Gallic usurpers in this period that might crop up either in hoarded assemblages or as single finds.

Regalianus and Sulpicia Dryantilla, AD 260

The instability created by external threat and then Valerian’s capture in AD 260 was felt in particular on the frontiers. We have previously seen that while Valerian campaigned in the east, Gallienus was engaged with incursion along the Danube and Rhine frontiers in the mid to late AD 250s. In AD 258 he installed his eldest son, Valerian II, who was himself still only a teenager, at Sirmium (Serbia) in an attempt to stabilise the situation there while Gallienus focused on the Rhine. As a young caesar, Valerian II may well have been in the charge of one Ingenuus, apparently the governor of Pannonia and Moesia, or at least in command of the military here. The death of Valerian II in AD 258 put Ingenuus in a potentially perilous position but he was soon declared
emperor by the Moesian legions. His usurpation was swiftly dealt with, though, and Gallienus’ general Aureolus defeated Ingenuus at the Battle of Mursa – precisely when this occurred is a matter for debate, possibly as early as AD 258 or following Valerian I’s capture in AD 260.

Ingenuus issued no coinage, suggesting his rule was brief. He was by no means the first to usurp power in the Danube region though – a decade earlier Pacatianus (AD 248) had done just that against Philip II – and he was quickly followed by another,
Regalianus. Regalianus may have been a Dacian promoted to the position of dux Illyrici by Valerian I, before being declared emperor by the remnants of Ingenuus’ forces to continue the revolt – the Historia Augusta jokingly suggests his authority to rule as ‘king’ derived from his name: “Rex, regis, regi, Regalianus” (Historia Augustus 10)! It seems as though Regalianus had a successful campaign against the Sarmatians in AD 260, before
being killed by a coalition of his own troops and the Roxolani (a Sarmatian people).

Regalianus elevated his wife Sulpicia Dryantilla to augusta and coinage was issued for both. There are very few of these extremely rare coins known and the number of types represented to date are limited to a handful of examples (see RIC V.2, pp. 586-
588). These are very often overstruck on earlier coin types, for example Severan denarii, and appear quite crude and varied in terms of their manufacture. This is likely indicative of a rushed and ultimately short-lived output of coinage, perhaps more of an emergency coinage than anything else. Their general distribution close to Regalianus’ seat of power in Carnuntum (Austria) points to his control not extending much if at all outside Pannonia. As we might expect for such a rare coinage there are so far no PAS examples. Of course, there is always the possibility one might turn up in the future!

Radiates of Regalianus (left, BM:1920,0425.1) and Sulpicia Dryantilla (right, BM:1928,0205.1), c.AD 260 (Copyright: The British Museum).

Macrianus and Quietus, c.AD 260-261

Valerian’s defeat at the Battle of Edessa and subsequent capture by the Sassanid Persians led by Shapur I in AD 260 proved the tipping point in Syria too. In the face of an invading Persian army, two of Valerian’s officials who held sway with the purse strings
and the military assumed control: Callistus, or Ballista, who had been Valerian’s praetorian prefect; and Fulvius Macrianus or Macrianus major, who controlled the Imperial treasury as rationibus. They conspired to elevate Macrianus’ two sons, Titus
Fulvius Iunius Macrianus or Macrianus minor and Titus Fulvius Junius Quietus, to power. Macrianus and Quietus were duly proclaimed as co-rulers by the legions in AD 260.

An initial push by Macrianus major and Ballista prevented further incursion into Syria by Shapur’s Persian forces, who had already captured several Syrian towns and notably sacked Antioch. Valerian’s failed campaign had left something of a military vacuum in the region, which Macrianus and his sons were able to inherit and gain an element of control over. The final expulsion of the Persians, however, came with the
Palmyrene king Odaenathus (more on him further below). By the end of AD 260, the Macriani controlled a large portion of the eastern empire, with their influence extending from their base in Syria as far south as Egypt with her grain supplies that were so
important for Rome – indeed, Roman provincial coins were struck at Alexandria for both sons.

It is at this point that they divided their forces. Macrianus major and Macrianus minor marched west to confront Gallienus, who was at this time engaged with incursion in northern Italy by the Juthungi. They met his armies commanded by the general
Aureolus in Pannonia in AD 261 where they were heavily defeated, the two men either killed in battle or afterwards at the hands of their own forces. Quietus, however, remained in Syria with Ballista, presumably with the intent to keep control of the eastern territories. News of his father and brother’s deaths, though, resulted in power slipping from his grasp. Quietus sought refuge in Emesa, but was besieged by Odaenathus – who remained loyal to Gallienus – and was finally killed by the inhabitants of Emesa as Odaenathus approached the city.

Although both Macrianus minor and Quietus were short-lived rulers, they did strike coinage, perhaps in two eastern mints (in addition to the provincial issues noted above). Only ten radiate types are listed in RIC V.2 (pp. 580-583) for Macrianus and 11 for Quietus, so their small issues should be identifiable if they appear for recording through the PAS. At present, I can find no examples of single coins recorded through the PAS for either Macrianus or Quietus. This might at first glance seem unsurprising, however, both brothers are represented (admittedly in very small quantity!) in hoarded groups of later-3rd century date in Britain. Ten coins are present in the Cunetio hoard (8 of Macrinus and 2 of Quietus; Cunetio nos. 1917-1924) and single examples do
occasionally appear in larger assemblages (e.g. Normanby, in contrast to Cunetio, has just one coin of Quietus – Normanby no. 582)4. Given that they do appear in a small number in hoards, it is quite plausible that the odd example might turn up in wider
circulation amongst the thousands of radiates recorded in England and Wales.

Radiate of Quietus, Eastern mint. Record ID is WILT-D0A939 (Copyright: The British Museum, License: CC-BY).

Odaenathus, Zenobia and Vabalathus, C.AD 260-272

While the Macriani had attempted to use Valerian’s defeat as a means of establishing their own rule in the eastern (and perhaps wider) empire, Odaenathus remained loyal to Gallienus as client king in Palmyra. Palmyra, an oasis town whose prominence and wealth had been built on its position as a key trading centre, lay within Roman Syria but retained a degree of autonomy from Rome. Odaenathus was from a prominent Palmyrene family and by c.AD 251 attained senatorial rank along with his elder son, Septimius Hairanes (or Hairan), perhaps later granted further powers in Syria by Valerian.

The Persian victory over Valerian, and the latter’s death, in c.AD 260, afforded new opportunity for Odaenathus, who appears to have manipulated the position to his benefit while maintaining fealty to Rome. Initially, as noted above, he was able to pull together an army of Palmyrenes and, if we are to believe the literary sources, Syrian peasants, who faced the Persian army fresh from defeating Valerian and sacking Antioch. Although Macrianus and his sons had been able to hold off any further Persian advance, the Palmyrene army pushed the Persians out of Syria and Mesopotamia, driving them back as far as the Persian
capital of Ctseiphon and securing once again the eastern territories for the empire. Odaenathus followed this up by returning to Emesa where he ousted Quietus and Ballista
after Macrianus’ death.

These two events, purportedly conducted under the auspices of the empire and for the good of Rome, earned him position and great honours from Gallienus. Not only was the Palmyrene triumph celebrated with a Victory in Rome in AD 263, but Odaenathus was given several titles, apparently including corrector totius orientis (‘corrector/restorer of the whole
east’) and dux Romanorum (‘Commander of the Romans’) – Gallienus appears to have accepted his position and loyalty in the east, even if Odaenathus remained a client king subservient to the emperor. Odaenathus extended his control to cover large portions of the eastern empire, including Syria, Arabia, and parts of Anatolia. He was seemingly declared ‘King of Kings’ in the east and retained military and political sway within the region while remaining a vassal to Rome. While on campaign in Anatolia in c.AD 267, Odaenathus was assassinated along with his eldest son, Hairan, although precisely where, why, or by whom remains unclear! What he had managed to achieve, though, was some stability in the east through the reclamation of Roman territories lost to Persia and the maintained security of the eastern frontier, as well as the foundations for a new Palmyrene empire.

This latter empire was short-lived but emerged in AD 267 upon Odaenathus’ death with his wife Zenobia7. As the de facto ruler of the Palmyrene Kingdoms she became (for a brief period of time!) one of the most powerful leaders in the ancient world and is
remembered in classical (and more recent) sources as a formidable and charismatic figure compared to the likes of Cleopatra. She acted as regent for her 10-year-old son Lucius Julius Aurelius Septimius Vabalathus, who inherited his father’s regnal titles – he too was ‘King of Kings’ – although Zenobia’s usage of Roman official titles caused some friction with Rome
since they were not hereditary in the same way. It was Zenobia, though, who for the next few years consolidated control in Syria from her base in Palmyra and probably also at Emesa and Antioch. Where Odaenathus had managed to create an environment for a Palmyrene dynasty to succeed him, it was  Zenobia who as able to expand this to a full-blown empire. In the west, Gallienus had been killed in AD 268 and his successor, Claudius II was engaged in conflict with the Goths on the Danube frontier, giving Zenobia freedom to expand her control in the east. In Palmyra, she initially sought to develop the city into a centre of learning and culture, something approaching Alexandria or Antioch. Claudius’ death in AD 270 was followed by the brief reign of Quintillus (AD 270), before Aurelian came to power and sought in the first instance to deal with the problems on the northern frontiers, before turning to look east.

It appears as though initially Aurelian may have been accepting of Zenobia’s position and that Zenobia herself maintained Palmyra’s role, at least outwardly, as a client kingdom of the Roman empire. As we shall see below, this is perhaps reflected on the coinage of this period. But this began to change in AD 270. Zenobia expanded her territory within Syria and then into Arabia, before amassing a Palmyrene army of c.70,000 to invade Egypt, where she was declared ‘Queen of Egypt’. The following year, Zenobia’s empire expanded further to encompass Galatia and Ankara in Antolia, reaching its fullest extent by AD 271.
It was at this point that the relationship with Rome collapsed. Zenobia and Vabalathus took the titles of augusta and augustus respectively, in clear usurpation of Roman authority. By the spring of AD 272, Aurelian’s forces had reached Anatolia and pursued the retreating Palmyrenes back to Antioch, Emesa, and finally Palmyra itself. Aurelian laid siege to the city and Zenobia attempted to flee in order to seek aid from Persia, but was captured along with her son Vabalathus and the city ceded to the emperor. It seems as though both were spared, to be paraded in Rome at Aurelian’s triumph alongside the Tetrici and she may well have lived out her remaining days in the city or its environs. Palmyra herself suffered a similar demise. A further insurrection by the population in AD 273 led Aurelian to raze the city and
effectively remove its control over the eastern empire. What was once the capital of a fledgling eastern empire separate from and sandwiched in between Rome and Persia had come to a relatively swift end from which it never fully recovered.

Coins were struck for both Zenobia and Vabalathus at an eastern mint, probably Antioch, as well as from provincial mints (e.g. Alexandria). There are few types issued for either ruler, with just two radiate types for Zenobia and eight for Vabalathus (RIC V.2, pp. 584-585). There are no examples yet of Zenobia on the PAS, which is not surprising given the small volume of coinage reaching the province from eastern mints, particularly for short-lived issues, although there is an example in the British Museum collection.

Radiate of Zenobia, c.Ad 272 (BM:1974,1001.3, copyright The British Museum).

The Zenobia coin above clearly depicts her as empress (augusta), the Juno Regina reverse type characteristic of issues seen for imperial women. In this respect it represents a clear depiction of intent and usurpation of power from Rome. Contrastingly, the situation is slightly different for Vabalathus. Upon Aurelian’s accession to power in AD 270, the number of officinae at the Antioch mint (now under Palmyrene control of course) striking coinage increases from eight to nine. The mint at this time produces coins that depict Vabalathus on one face (probably the reverse) and Aurelian on the other (probably the obverse). Aurelian appears as the augustus and while Vabalathus is the Palmyrene prince (or king?) he is clearly a junior party in the relationship – the coinage in this issue does not give him official title as emperor. What this appears to be is an acknowledgement of Aurelian’s authority and so Vabalathus’ position, much like his father, as vassal to Rome. A situation that clearly changed with Zenobia’s coinage (see above) and the later issues of
Vaballathus where he appears as augustus.

Radiate of Vabalathus with Aurelian, c.AD 270. Record ID is DENO-42ED11 (copright: Derby Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

There are no examples of Vabalathus’ later coinage on the PAS. However, perhaps surprisingly, there are three coins from his issue with the Aurelian obverse type. These are listed as part of the Imperial series in RIC V.1 (p. 308) with the coinage of
Aurelian rather than Zenobia and Vabalathus (RIC V.2, pp. 584-585). The unusual titles at the end of Vabalathus’ legend – VCRIMDR – have been interpreted as reading Vir Clarissimus Rex IMperator Dux Romanorum (Most illustrious, king, leader of
the army, leader/commander of the Romans) and perhaps demonstrate at this stage (c.AD 270) Vabalathus and Zenobia’s continued acknowledgement of Aurelian’s authority.

Aurelian and reunification

Aurelian’s defeat of the Palmyrene empire in AD 272 was the beginning of stability and a reunification of the Roman world. The eastern provinces had returned and by AD 274 the
breakaway Gallic empire in the west was also brought under control. In the brief period of time from the reigns of Valerian and Gallienus through to Aurelian – less than two decades –
the Roman empire had suffered external threat, internal instability, fracture, usurpation, and had witnessed the appearance of numerous individuals as rival claimants to power. Where Gallienus, Claudius II, and Quintillus had struggled to keep the empire intact, Aurelian was able to unify the provinces and introduce a number of other reforms to aid in the restoration of the empire after the difficulties of the 3rd century (although it was perhaps only later, at the turn of the 4th century, that order was more fully restored). We will look at Aurelian in a future edition.

One thing to keep in mind with the multiple individuals, whether Gallic usurpers, emperors in Rome, or kings in the east, is that their coinages are often quite limited in volume given their
short periods of rule and in provinces far removed from Britain – particularly so for the individuals looked at in this edition. However, it is worth keeping an eye out for them, particularly when recording coins through the PAS, since they could well be hidden amongst the large numbers of radiates or hoard groups that appear within the province. While Macrianus and Quietus might be most likely, a double headed radiate could well be
Vabalathus, and we can still hope for a first Regalianus or Zenobia…!

References and further reading:

E. Besly and R. Bland, The Cunetio Treasure (British Museum, 1983) – recently republished in a combined volume with the Normanby Hoard by Spink: R. Bland, E. Besley, and A. Burnett, The Cunetio and Normanby Hoards (Spink, 2018).

See also a more detailed analysis (in German) of the coinages during Gallienus’ reign: R. Göbl Die Münzprägung der Kaiser Valerianus I./Gallienus/Saloninus (253/268), Regalianus (260) und
Macrianus/Quietus (260/262). (MIR Bd. 36. Vienna, 2000).

For Vabalathus and Zenobia see also:
http://www.ric.mom.fr/en/home

A good read on Syria generally is T. Bryce Ancient Syria: A Three Thousand Year History (OUP, 2014);

See also, for example, K. Butcher Roman Syria and the Near East (2003).

Zenobia and her life has stimulated huge interest in the arts and prompted a large volume of written output that I can’t go in to here, ranging from classical sources through well-known passages by the likes of Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – “Zenobia, the celebrated queen of Palmyra and the East”), to more modern histories. 

Coin Relief – Issue Thirteen

In this issue, Dr. Andrew Brown takes a break from emperors to celebrate the recent PAS milestone by looking at where it all began with coin recording… 

New beginnings and records!

As many of you will be aware, the PAS hit a milestone recently with the announcement of the 1.5 millionth object recorded through the Scheme! Sadly, this wasn’t a coin(!), but nevertheless an interesting Papal bulla of Innocent IV (AD 1243-1254) that can be seen on the database here. In light of this achievement and the collaborative effort it represents between finds, volunteers, interns, museums, FLOs and the PAS, I was curious to see where it all began for the Roman coinage and some of the “records” that have emerged over the last two decades of the Scheme’s existence. 

Where it all began…

The very first Roman coin on the PAS was a silver miliarensis of Constantius II (AD 323-361) recorded from Kent on the 12th May 1998 by Richard Hobbs (now the Weston Curator of Roman Britain at the British Museum). Although the record lacks an image (it was created prior to the Scheme having a centralised database), it is identified as being of the same dies as an example in the British Museum collection and so we have a good idea of what the coin is. See the original record here.

Miliarensis of Constantius II c.AD 350-355, of the same type as the first Roman coin recorded on the PAS database (British Museum collections BM: B3939, copyright: The British Museum).

The first Roman coin recorded with an image is from a few days later, the 27th May 1998. This time, a horribly worn probable sestertius from Wakefield (Yorkshire) with a large piercing evident on the line drawing that accompanies the record! Remarkably typical for a large proportion of Roman coins we see every year reported through the Scheme, especially the early bronze coinage, which very regularly is poorly preserved to the point where identifying features are now lost. One of the few PAS examples with a drawing though, I suspect! See the full record here.

Sestertius(?) of unclear type, c.AD 41-260. Obverse and reverse types are illegible but it is possibly mint of Rome. Record ID is NLM108 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

From the north west though, we see the first Roman coin record with a photograph – a denarius of Julia Soaemias, the mother of Elagabalus, recorded on the 10th June 1998. It seems to belong to a small group of Severan denarii reported to the PAS from the area of Kendall, Cumbria, which includes a much rarer coin of Julia Aquilia Severa, the second wife of the emperor Elagabalus – there appear to be only three other examples of her coinage on the database to date. See the full record here.

Denarius of Julia Soaemias, c.AD 218-222. Record ID is LVPL50 (copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY). 

Oldest to newest

It is quite surprising that a search of the database reveals over 25 coins that were issued prior to 300 BC! Bearing in mind that Iron Age coinage does not really appear in Britain prior to the 2nd century BC, these are something of an anomaly. The majority of these early coins are Mediterranean types associated with the various Greek and North African city-states that emerged by the mid-1st millennium BC, but how and why they appear in Britain is a subject for discussion. Many of the genuine coins recorded are likely to be more recent losses from antiquarian or military activity, particularly since the 18th century, rather than genuine ancient losses that were circulating around the time they were struck. Others are clearly more modern copies and souvenirs of travels to the Mediterranean region. Distinguishing what is a genuine ancient loss in this regard is highly problematic, despite the range of types seen from around the Mediterranean region.

Origins of Greek and Roman Provincial coins recorded through the PAS (copyright: Andrew Brown).

For some of these coin types there is increasing evidence that they could have reached Britain in antiquity, albeit some time after they were struck. The Siculo-Punic coinages of Sicily and North Africa for example, of which here are almost 30 PAS examples, have a quite similar pattern of distribution in Britain to the earliest cast bronze potins of the British Iron Age, which may suggest they could have been associated with various mechanisms of trade etc. over a long period of time that brought them to Britain.

Distribution and heat map of British potins (left) and Siculo-Punic bronze coinage (right) recorded through the PAS (as of 2019). Note the concentration in both examples in the south east and especially Kent (copyright: Andrew Brown).

There are examples that do appear to be genuine losses in Britain though and in recent years these have included coins from the Greek city-state of Massalia (Marseilles) (below left, full record here) and a wonderful drachm of Alexander III (“The Great”) found in Berkshire in 2019 wrapped in a lead sheet (below centre, full record here). Could it have a votive element or perhaps it circulated to Britain amongst other later silver coinage? There is extensive British coinage at the end of the Iron Age, which I will not go in to detail about here as this deserves proper treatment in its own right. Somewhat surprisingly however, the earliest Roman coin is a Republican bronze semuncia from Kent reported in 2019 that was issued earlier than many of the more than 46,000 Iron Age coins on the PAS (below right, full record here). Its findspot and preservation suggest it could well be a genuine ancient loss from a time when Britain was not integrated with the Roman world and from a period when we would not expect to see Roman silver in any volume let alone bronze coinage.

In contrast to the earliest ancient coins, the latest ones are harder to classify or quantify. We have seen in previous blogs that Roman coinage appears in Britain until at least the 5th century AD, but there are also some examples issued in the Mediterranean that reach British shores at a much later date. Gold continues into the post-Roman period, amongst the latest examples of official gold on the PAS being a semisses of Justin II from Gloucestershire (below left, full record here). Unofficial coinages like the example of Julius Nepos from the Isle of Wight also begin to appear more regularly (below right, full record here).

Increasing examples of Byzantine bronze coins have also been recorded through the PAS. Although these have in the past been interpreted as modern losses, their recovery on sites with known contemporary archaeology and their distribution within Britain is instead pointing to some of these coins being genuine ancient losses. Sam Moorhead has done much work on these coins and is currently updating their number and distribution nationally.

Follis of Heraclius, c.AD 629-631. Record ID is BERK-A366F7 (copyright: Oxfordshire County Council, License: CC-BY).

Some records!

Out of curiosity I wondered what “records” were contained within our database records. By that, I mean those coins that hold the record on the PAS database for being, for example, the biggest or smallest seen! This is by no means comprehensive but it does give all of you reading this a challenge to have a search and see what else you can find (or indeed other examples that might knock the ones listed below off their perches!).

The smallest Roman coins on the PAS measure as little as c.5mm in diameter and are mostly contemporary copies of late-3rd and 4th century date, or chopped up nummi of Magnentius and Decentius. Examples that can be identified to proper types include the coin below from County Durham which measures just 6mm in diameter!

Copper alloy Barbarous radiate c.AD 275-285. Record ID is DUR-0CE268 (copyright: Durham County Council, License: CC-BY).

In contrast, some of the early bronze Roman coins can get as big as almost 40mm in diameter. The largest I can find that can be securely identified to type and scale being this double sestertius of Trajan Decius – a whopping 37.96mm in diameter compared to the tiny radiate above.

Double sestertius of Trajan Decius c.AD 249-251. Record ID is SUR-A56AE5 (copyright: Surrey County Council, Licence: CC-BY).

Although this may seem a slightly unhelpful comparison, it really does demonstrate the range of material that is found and recorded by FLOs, their interns, volunteer and finders on a regular basis. The material is by no means uniform or even in some cases remotely comparable, which makes the job of identifying what you have often all the more difficult. To give an idea of the scale we are talking about in the two coins above, the figure below illustrates the two coins at the same scale and the difference is quite incredible!

While the smallest coins recorded on the PAS can weigh fractions of a gram (the radiate above weighs just 0.4g), the largest early bronze coins can be over 30g. The largest I can find with an image on the database so far is sestertius of Antoninus Pius from West Sussex which at 32.87g is 82 times heavier than the little radiate! Of course, these both circulated at slightly different points during the Roman period, but the difference is huge.

The heaviest Roman coin on the PAS database – a sestertius of Antoninus Pius. Record ID is SUSS-7DFC31 (copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, Licence: CC-BY).

One of the most travelled coins on the database is perhaps the silver drachm of one of the “western satraps”, the Kshaharata King Nahapana dating to c.AD 119-124. It’s origin in the Saurashtra Peninsula of Western India means that it has travelled several thousand miles to reach Britain. Silver coinage from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan is also recorded through the PAS, and there are currently at least 22 identified Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian, Indo-Parthian, Western Satrap, Kushan, and Kushanshah coins on the database. It is still unclear whether any (or which) of these coins are ancient losses or the result of modern colonial activity.

Drachm of Nahapana c.AD 119-124. Record ID is DENO-1080E2 (copyright: Derby Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

The commonest emperor represented within the PAS data is Constantine I (AD 306-337) with over 18,500 records attributed to him (example below left). However, given coinage was issued in his name for over 30 years, this is perhaps a little misleading. In fact, the most prolific emperor within the PAS data is probably Claudius II (AD 268-270), for which there are over 6100 records for the coinage issued during the two years of his reign (example below centre). In contrast, one of the rarest is Nigrinian (AD 283-285), for whom there is just one PAS coin (below right).

Some statistics

In a previous blog post we looked at the current state of play in terms of the database and the Roman coinage, but it might be worth a quick recap here just to tie together the milestone of 1.5 million objects recorded through the PAS. Of this number, there are currently 324,329 Roman coins within 293,196 database records. Nummi are the most commonly seen denomination, with over 165,000 examples, of which 44,039 alone belong to Reece Period 17 (AD 330-348), which remains the most prolific period of coin use and loss in Britain. The mint of Trier is most common for nummi – with over 23,800 examples – the London mint currently has almost 7,000 coins attributed to it. After nummi, radiates are the next most common (almost 70,000 coins) followed by denarii (almost 16,000 examples). Statistically, you are more likely to see Roman coins in the east of England (Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire), the south west (Wiltshire and Hampshire), and Yorkshire, than you are the Midlands, the far south west (Cornwall and Devon) and the north west.

Map of Roman coinage in England (excluding Welsh IARCW data) by parish with more than 20 coins. The heatmap beneath demonstrates the concentrations of recorded material. Note that these are also the areas where it is easier to recover within the modern landscape so there may be biases in this regard (copyright: Andrew Brown).

Thank you!

The work we are able to do on ancient coinage in Britain has been affected hugely by the material recorded through the PAS. Coinage accounts for a third of all PAS records, and Roman coinage forms two thirds of that total. Without the ongoing support of finders willing to report their coins and the continued hard work of FLOs, their volunteers and interns to record them, we would not be able to do everything we currently do. The PAS data is dramatically changing how we view the numismatic landscape and it is only through the continued recording of material that we can continue to develop new understanding of all periods of coin use within Britain. We are fortunate to have a dataset unparalleled anywhere worldwide – and a substantial component of the 1.5 million finds currently recorded on the
PAS database. Thank you and keep doing what you do!

Coin Relief – Issue Twelve

Here is the next edition of our regular blog series on ancient coins from the PAS database. In this edition, Dr. Andrew Brown looks at the coinage of the breakaway Gallic empire.

Postumus (AD 260-268)

Aureus of Postumus c.AD 260-269 from the British Museum collection (BM: 1864,1128.141, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

The capture of Valerian while campaigning in the eastern provinces opened up the Roman empire to potential conflict on a
number of fronts, as well as a period of crisis. Gallienus’ attempts to control the Rhine and Danube regions were less than straightforward and in AD 258 his eldest son, Valerian II, was killed along the frontier. Saloninus was sent to Colonia Agrippina (Cologne) to control Lower Germany where Marcus Cassianus
Latinius Postumus served as governor. Postumus was possibly from Batavia, although this is unclear (but may explain the preference for types depicting Hercules on his coinage, see below) and very little is known of his early life. Saloninus’ control, however, did not last. The military along the Rhine frontier, unhappy at being told to hand over loot they had seized from an invading group of ‘barbarians’ turned on the young caesar and instead declared Postumus emperor. His army proceeded to follow Saloninus to Colonia Agrippina, where they laid siege to the city before the inhabitants gave Saloninus up to be murdered by Postumus’ soldiers. Postumus entered the city victorious and assumed control.

Postumus’ revolt against Gallienus probably occurred in AD 260 (or AD 259). According to Eutropius, Postumus “a man of very obscure birth, assumed the purple in Gaul, and held the government with such ability for ten years” (Eutropius IX.9) and coinage was struck in his name until c.AD 269. In so doing, he established a breakaway Gallic empire centred on the western provinces of Britain, Gaul, Germany, and Spain, that survived for 14 years until the provinces were retaken by the emperor Aurelian. Once emperor, with his capital in Trier, Postumus established all of the basic elements of administration and defence required for the new state. It seems he had little intention to take Rome and so initially the west was left alone by Gallienus, who was otherwise occupied on the Danube. He held
consulships (COS) five times (c.AD 260, 261, 262, 268, 269) and each year after his elevation renewed his Tribunician powers – a total of ten times covering his entire reign from AD 260 to AD 269.

The first few years of the Gallic Empire were relatively stable, but by AD 265 Gallienus made renewed attempts to retake the western provinces (unsuccessfully), along with his cavalry commander Aureolus. Gallienus’ efforts, although achieving limited early successes were largely unsuccessful and Postumus remained in control in the western provinces. Things changed, though, following Aureolus’ revolt against Gallienus in AD 268.
Aureolus had taken Milan and withstood siege by Gallienus. Despite his apparent calls to Postumus to side with him these appear to have been ignored and, subsequently, Gallienus was murdered at the siege. The following year, Postumus himself was subject to insurrection by one of his own governors, Laelian, at Mogontiacum (Mainz), perhaps a result of frustrations by the army that Postumus had not taken advantage of Aureolus’ activities the previous year. Although Postumus was able to quickly put down the usurpation, he refused to let the armies into Mainz to sack the city. This appears to have been his undoing and resulted in his soldiers turning on him and killing him.

Coinage of Postumus

The PAS records 2,297 coins to date that are attributed to Postumus (including 965 coins from the IARCW Welsh data).
During this period the standard coin type seen through the PAS is the radiate that had been introduced initially by Caracalla in AD 215. The early issues of Postumus are generally quite silvery in appearance, much more so than contemporary coinage of Gallienus, with up to c.15-20% silver content. However, the radiates from his last issues of coinage in c.AD 268-269 experience a debasement to c.6-8% silver.

Postumus and his large beard, on a radiate c. AD 260-269. Record ID is BH-8C320A (Copyright: St. Albans District Council, Licence: CC-BY).

He is distinctive on his coinage, with large beard that is characteristic of the Gallic emperors, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust. Subtle changes to the portrait as his coinage develops see the emergence of hair curls on his temples and forehead from the middle of his reign (during the second half of his third issue, c.AD 263-265) – the clearest analysis of this is in the Cunetio volume (pp. 46-47, Plates A and B), which illustrates the development of the bust types. 

Postumus is the last emperor to produce any significant quantity of the large bronze coin types of the Augustan monetary system – the sestertii, dupondii, and asses of the 1st to 3rd centuries AD. He issued bronze coinage early in his reign, with coins that vary in size and weight up to c.25-30g or more, of which there are c.80 PAS examples to date. 

The location of Postumus’ mints has been a subject of relatively extensive debate. One late Postumus issue, from c.AD 268 (see below), references a mint at Cologne, while in 2005 excavations at Trier produced archaeological evidence for the mint here. However, identifying which mint produced his principal issue of coinage (and when), or if just one mint or two were in operation,3 has proven less straightforward.  The analysis of the Cunetio and Normanby hoard material by R. Bland, E. Besley, and A. Burnett, which is followed here, suggests the possibility that Postumus’ coinage may have been arranged as follows:

Principal mint – Probably located at Trier. Seven series or issues of coinage, with debasement from the sixth series onward, struck in two workshops.
Mint of Cologne – Two series from one workshop, including dated types and coins referencing Colonia Agrippina, c.AD 268-269
Mint of Milan – Issues struck in the name of Postumus by Aureolus during his revolt at Milan against Gallienus in AD 268. Five issues have been identified.

Top to bottom: Radiate from the Principal (Trier) Mint, YORYM-B2A242 (Copyright: York Museums Trust, Licence: CC-BY), GLO-C5C477 (Copyright: Bristol City Council, Licence: CC-BY); Radiate from the Cologne Mint; Radiate from the Milan mint, HAMP-169920 (Copyright: Winchester Museum Service, Licence: CC-BY).

Laelian (AD 269) and Marius (AD 269)

Left: Aureus of Laelian (BM: B.10309, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum). Right: Aureus of Marius (BM: 1860,0329.12, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

The year AD 269 was one filled with rebellion and conflict that saw four men, including Postumus, usurp power and vie for control over the breakaway Gallic empire. An initial rebellion against Postumus occurred early in the year at Moguntiacum (Mainz) that, although quickly quashed, was the cause of Postumus’ eventual downfall and led to his death. The rebellion
had been led by Laelian (AD 269) (or Laelianus) who, in his brief period in power, struck a short issue of coinage, examples of which are rarely seen on the PAS. After Postumus’ death, a third man, Marius (AD 269), came to the fore and took control of the Gallic empire for a very brief period of time in the summer of AD 269. This was again short-lived but he did issue coinage from both Gallic mints that had been in operation under Postumus. These too are scarce finds on the PAS. By the end of the year, Marius had been murdered by one of his soldiers and power
had shifted to a fourth individual, Victorinus.

We will look at the coinage of Laelian – struck at one mint in AD 269 – and Marius – struck at both Gallic mints in AD 269. I follow here the basic outline used by E. Besley and R. Bland in their analysis of the Cunetio hoard, the Cunetio and Normanby hoard volumes should be the standard reference when identifying or recording coins of either ruler. The more recent work by J. Mairat should also be noted though, since this has refined the interpretation of this period, particularly for Marius.

Laelian (AD 269)

Postumus’ failure to capitalise on Aureolus’ revolt at Milan in AD 268 may well have contributed to growing unrest amongst his supporters within the Gallic empire. The governor of Germania Superior under Postumus was Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus who, with two legions at his disposal, rebelled against Postumus in early AD 269 at Moguntiacum (Mainz). The revolt was short-lived and Postumus, who had been at Trier when news of the revolt
reached him, quickly re-took the city. This was ultimately the downfall of both men, Laelian clearly suppressed and Postumus subsequently killed by his own troops for not allowing them
to sack the city! It is unclear precisely how long Laelian’s usurpation lasted, but it was clearly brief and we know little more about the man at all. A short issue of coinage was issued from the second Gallic Mint that had been in operation under Postumus, probably at Cologne. His coins are rare, there were just 39 coins in Cunetio and 12 coins from the Normanby hoard, and just 20 examples on the PAS database attributed to him (including the IARCW records). In the analysis for the Cunetio hoard it is noted that Laelian’s coinage can be divided into three but that this likely represents a single issue (with various die varieties) (see Cunetio, p. 61).

Radiate of Laelian c.AD 269 from the Cunetio hoard (BM: 1980,0710.1, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

Although extremely rare gold coins were struck for Laelian, we are essentially dealing with one radiate type that combines two obverse legends and bust types. The standard reverse type for Laelian is: VICTORIA AVG, Victory advancing right holding wreath and palm (Cunetio nos. 2499- 2501). The obverse type is usually: IMP C LAELIANVS P F AVG, Radiate and cuirassed or radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right. A rare type has an obverse legend that includes all of Laelian’s names and is probably early in his coinage: IP C VLP COR LAELIANVS, Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right. There is only one example of this longer obverse legend in Cunetio – Cunetio no. 2499 – and so-far there appear to be no PAS pieces.

Marius (AD 269)

Following Postumus’ death at the hands of his army, one of their own, Marcus Aurelius Marius, was elevated to emperor. Little is known of Marius, although later sources suggest he was originally a blacksmith by trade before rising through the ranks of the military (e.g. Historia Augusta, Lives of the Thirty Pretenders, 8). His reign was brief, probably lasting no more than a few weeks or months in the summer of AD 269. Marius was killed not long after he came to power, supposedly by another scorned soldier who “is said to have added the words, “This is a sword which you yourself have forged.”” (Historia Augusta, Lives of the Thirty Pretenders, 8.7).

Given his short reign, Marius’ coinage is short-lived just like that of his predecessor Laelian. There were 165 coins of Marius in the Cunetio hoard and 91 in Normanby. These were issued from both Gallic mints (Mint I and II) that had been in operation under Postumus, the latter continuing from the latest issues of Laelian with the same right facing Victory type. In the earliest issues there are rare examples of gold aurei, although none are recorded through the PAS and the bulk of Marius’ coinage comprises relatively debased radiates. His bust type is distinctive and can often be separated from the other Gallic emperors.

The PAS database contains 53 records currently attributed to coins of Marius, including 26 IARCW records. This number has not increased over the last couple of years and I suspect there may be other worn or corroded examples recorded amongst the Gallic coinages on the database (perhaps for Postumus or Victorinus) that are not easily identifiable. Marius’ coins do turn up in hoards, although not in huge number, so there is no reason why single finds should not appear in circulation also.

Top row: Radiates of Marius from the principal Gallic mint (Mint I), issues 1 and 2 (BM: 1983,0101,2502.1, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum; BUC-8E60A4, copyright: Buckinghamshire County Museum, Licence: CC-BY).
Bottom row: Radiates of Marius from the Cologne mint (Mint II), issues 1, 2 and 3 (ASHM-67D7B4, copyright: Ashmolean Museum, Licence: CC-BY; BM: 1964,0701.138, BM: R.1114, both copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

The principal Gallic mint (Mint I) issuing coinage for Marius was the same as that striking under Postumus and probably located at Trier. It operated from two officinae and produced two issues of coinage. The first issue from Mint I has a slightly longer obverse legend with Marius’ names in full – IMP C M AVR MARIVS P F AVG – and with radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust types. There are two reverse types: CONCORD MILIT with clasped hands, and SAEC FELICITAS with Felicitas standing left holding caduceus and cornucopiae.  The second issue from Trier has the shortened obverse legend IMP C MARIVS P F AVG but with the same reverse types.  There is also a rare issue from Trier with a VICTORIA AVG reverse type that is not represented in Cunetio or in the PAS data. 

The second mint striking coinage for Marius initially demonstrates a continuation of the types seen for Laelian and is probably located at Cologne. Coins were produced from one officina with IMP C M AVR MARIVS AVG obverse legend. In Cunetio three issues are identified. Issue  1 comprises coins with Victory reverse types and draped and cuirassed busts.  Coins from the second issue continue the Victory types but with cuirassed busts only. Coins of the third issue in Cunetio are solely for the VIRTVS AVG reverse types, again just with radiate and cuirassed busts. There appears to only be one verified PAS example (and
one IARCW record without image).

Coins of both Laelian and Marius are rare as single finds on the PAS and are relatively infrequently seen in hoards too, but the types used are generally limited and as a result often identifiable even on worn examples. It is important that any coins of these emperors are photographed for addition to the PAS database though!

Victorinus (AD 269-271)

Aureus of Victorinus c.AD 269-271, from the British Museum collections (BM: 1864,1128.144, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

The last of the four emperors to usurp power in the Gallic empire in AD 269 was Marcus Piavonius Victorinus. Victorinus was from Gaul and an experienced soldier who rose to prominence under
Postumus, sharing the consulship in Gaul with him in AD 268. He may well have played a role in Marius’ death and in the autumn of AD 269 was proclaimed emperor by the legions at Trier. His empire was slightly smaller than that of his predecessors. Although Britannia and Gaul had declared their support for him, Hispania had not and instead returned to the empire in Rome with Claudius II. Even then, Victorinus’ empire was not without
unrest. Claudius II seized control of Gallic territory east of the Rhone prompting revolt against Victorinus that was finally supressed late in AD 270 following a 7- month long siege at Autun.

Victorinus’ reign was not to last and in early AD 271 he was killed by one of his soldiers in Cologne, apparently after having seduced his wife (see below). The Historia Augusta (Lives of the Thirty Pretenders 7) suggests Victorinus had a son, also Victorinus, named caesar and heir before being killed alongside his father, but there is little evidence for this. Although Victorinus’ reign was brief, he did issue quite a large volume of coinage, with examples seen regularly in Britain as both site finds and hoard coins. For Victorinus, the standard references should be the hoard catalogues of Cunetio or Normanby, which provide the basic structure of his coinage and are more up to date than RIC V.2. In this post I follow Normanby, which is more comprehensive than
Cunetio as it runs later chronologically and so the coinages of Victorinus, Tetricus I and II are more complete.

Coinage of Victorinus

By the mid-3rd century, the overwhelming majority of coinage seen in Britain comprises radiates that are now debased to little more than perhaps 2% silver content. This does not mean that other denominations didn’t circulate – there are examples of mid-3rd century aurei and debased denarii (identified by their laureate bust types) – but these are very rare and generally not present on the PAS database other than in hoard groups (well, the denarii at least!). The AD 270s are when we see a spike in the numbers of single coins recorded as site finds through the PAS (Reece periods 13 (AD 260-275) and 14 (AD 275-296)) as well as a
peak in coin hoarding in Britain with appearance of the largest hoards known from the Roman period, most notably the Cunetio, Normanby, and more recently, Frome, hoards.

Radiate of Victorinus, AD 269-271, Mint I/Trier, Issue III. SUR-B89041 (Copyright: Surrey County Council, Licence: CC-BY).

Radiates from this period are ubiquitous and, although proportionally more common on urban Roman sites than rural ones, they experienced widespread loss (and therefore recovery)
around the British landscape. The PAS currently records over 58,000 coins from the period spanning AD 260-296 (33,733 coins for Reece Period 13; 24,345 for Reece Period 14), only slightly more than the 54,951 coins in the Cunetio hoard and accounting for c.18% of the PAS total (c.323,000 as of June 2020).4 Of this number, there are currently 5,481 coins of Victorinus recorded on the PAS database. Analysis of hoard groups from Beachy Head, Cunetio, and Normanby since the late-1970s has established and confirmed the organisation of Victorinus’ coinage. Upon taking
control of the Gallic empire, Victorinus, like Marius and Postumus before him, struck at two Gallic mints that can be separated in his coin issues based on their reverse and bust types:


• Mint I – probably located at Trier struck coins in two officinae working concurrently. Coins from this mint have draped and cuirassed bust types (D1 bust types in the standard catalogues).
• Mint II – probably located at Cologne and striking coins in just one officina. Coins from this mint have cuirassed bust types (B1 bust types in the standard catalogues).

Radiate of Victorinus, AD 269-271, Mint II/Cologne, Issue II. WILT-D0295A (Copyright: Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, Licence: CC-BY).

On very worn or corroded coins, as many coins recorded through the PAS as site finds from this period tend to be(!), it can sometimes be difficult to identify Victorinus when compared to other Gallic emperors, especially his successor Tetricus I (AD 271-274). However, he has a distinctive pointed beard and nose (although see below for his earliest issues where the bust type of Marius is re-used) and several reverse types that are prolific and regularly seen within both hoarded assemblages and as single site finds. Also remember that this is the period when we get huge numbers of contemporary copies – Barbarous radiates – so it is not uncommon to find irregular examples of Victorinus’ coin types or indeed muled types between him and other contemporary rulers like Tetricus I.

DIVO VICTORINO PIO (AD 271)

In early AD 271, Victorinus was assassinated at Cologne by one of his officers, Attitianus. According to literary sources, this was allegedly in revenge for Victorinus seducing Attitianus’ wife (e.g. Eutropius IX.9; Aurelius Victor 33.12; Historia Augusta Lives of the Thirty Pretenders 6), but there may have been other reasons behind it. Following his death, these sources suggest an important role played by his mother, Victoria (or Vitruvia) in the succession of power. It seems as though she may have contrived, perhaps with a healthy sum of money, to gain the support of the legions and install Tetricus I as the next emperor with his son Tetricus II as caesar. Victorinus was deified and a small posthumous issue of coinage was produced, probably at Cologne and most likely as the first issue from this mint for Tetricus I. It has been suggested that this coinage could even have been struck by Victoria rather than Tetricus himself in the interim between Victorinus’ death and Tetricus’ assumption of power, perhaps as a means to placate or gain the support of the military to Tetricus’ cause.

Two basic types were struck, one with Providentia reverse type, the other with an eagle reverse type, although there are multiple minor varieties. These are all very rare as PAS finds – I can find only one very worn example as a single find that can be
closely identified to one of these types. There are a handful of other database records that suggest Divo Victorino types, but some are without images and others are not closely identifiable. Small numbers of these types do appear in hoards. If you are recording on the PAS and think you have one of these posthumous issues please do photograph it, they are rare coins and warrant an image.

Tetricus I (AD 271-274) and Tetricus II (AD 272-274)

Aureii of Tetricus I (left) and Tetricus II (right), both from the British Museum collections (BM: 1841,0726.1130 and BM: 1864,1128.150, copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

On the death of Victorinus in AD 271, and seemingly after some negotiation by Victorinus’ mother, Victoria, a large portion of the Roman military in Gaul declared their support for the governor of Gallia Aquitania as their new emperor – Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus. As we have already seen, he was by no means the sole option presented that year, but after taking power in Trier (perhaps with certain financial backing by Victoria!), any opposition at Cologne from Domitianus was soon removed.
Relatively little is known of Tetricus prior to his elevation as emperor, although he was clearly governor by this stage and likely originally from Gaul. His reign was affected by the constant threat of Germanic invasion and, after Aurelian had restored order in the eastern empire, the might of Rome looking to reclaim
the breakaway western provinces. Tetricus I held consulships and tribunician powers throughout his reign, his gold coinage often referencing these titles, and, perhaps in the face of growing unrest, at some point early in the reign elevated his son, Caius Pius Esuvius Tetricus to caesar and possibly also consul.

The date of Tetricus II’s elevation to power is somewhat complicated. Traditionally, it has been placed at AD 273 based on the numismatic evidence for both Tetricus I and II. However, an inscription from Béziers (France) places Tetricus II as caesar during the second tribunician power of Tetricus I in AD 272. This has been suggested either as an error or alternatively that the inscription was prior to Tetricus receiving his full powers the following year.1 Yet, more recent work by J. Mairat, drawing together the numismatic evidence, indicates the date of Tetricus II’s promotion to caesar in AD 272 is likely the most plausible explanation based on the development of the coinage of both emperors.

This has some implications for the interpretation of the coinage of the Tetrici. The matter is complicated due to the apparent merging of the two mints striking coins in this period: Mint I at Trier and Mint I at Cologne. For R. Bland and A. Burnett writing in
19883, this merging of mints is placed in AD 273. However, new archaeological evidence from Trier, combined with the numismatic evidence, has led Mairat to suggest this happened slightly earlier and prior to Tetricus II becoming caesar, thus in AD 272. In this blog post I have tried to follow where possible elements of the newer outline given by Mairat, since it may well offer a more up to date and clearer picture of the two mints during this period. However, at the end I have also provided a breakdown of the divisions given in Normanby so as to aid recording on the PAS. The Normanby volume remains the standard reference text that should be used when recording coins of these two usurpers through the PAS and it is fine to follow the chronology and development of the mints published there! I think it is useful, though, to be aware that the picture has evolved slightly since the hoard was published (and, indeed, could change
again in the future!).

In AD 274, Tetricus I and his young caesar Tetricus II were faced with the armies of the central Empire and their emperor Aurelian (AD 270-275). They met in the spring of that year at the Battle of Châlons (Châlons-en-Champagne, France). Tetricus’ armies were no match for those of Aurelian and during the course of the bloody battle Tetricus was captured and his armies collapsed. His surrender to Aurelian had perhaps an unusual outcome for the Roman period. There is some suggestion, for example in the, often
unreliable, Historia Augusta (Lives of the Thirty Pretenders 24) that Tetricus had already made a deal with Aurelian for peace prior to the battle, or even invited Aurelian to take back control, but this is unclear. Whatever the case, Tetricus I and II, after being paraded through Rome during Aurelian’s triumph, received no further punishment. Indeed, Aurelian pardoned them! Tetricus I was made governor in southern Italy (possibly Lucania) where he lived out the rest of his life, while Tetricus II and many of the other officials of the Gallic empire maintained their positions and careers. A quite unusual end for a usurper emperor and his son! Of course, what this did bring was an end to the breakaway Gallic state, which had lasted for some 14 years after its creation by Postumus in AD 260. Although this did not bring immediate security and stability to the western provinces, Aurelian’s reign did much to stabilise some of the problems the Roman empire experienced in the 3rd century, not least reunifying what had been lost under Valerian and Gallienus. We will look at Aurelian in a later edition.

Coinage of Tetricus I and II

Radiate of Tetricus I, AD 271-274, Mint I/Trier. DENO-B09040 (Copyright: Derby Museums Trust, Licence: CC-BY).

The coinage of Tetricus I and II in many respects continues what had begun under Victorinus and we are again dealing almost exclusively with debased radiates (although rare aurei and denarii are known). Two mints were in operation – Mint I/Trier and Mint II/Cologne – probably with two officinae in the principal
Mint I and a single officina in Mint II. Like Victorinus, the feature that separates out the two officinae in Mint I for Tetricus I is the bust type (see below), while obverse legends and reverse types typically allow us to separate coins from the two mints. Tetricus II’s coins can be separated from those of Tetricus I not just by different obverse legends, but more clearly by his bust type, which notably depicts him as a young caesar with no beard.
There is a distinct change in production during this period however. It appears that part way through Tetricus I’s issues, and probably coinciding with Tetricus II’s elevation to caesar in AD 272, the two mints combined so that by the end of his reign only one principal mint, probably at Trier, was striking. One side effect of this merging of coin production (and, in fact one of the ways to demonstrate it occurred) is the appearance of hybrid types that
combine various types and issues, and indeed coins of both Tetricus I and II. These do appear as single finds, although it should be noted that there are also a large number of contemporary copies struck in the AD 270s-280s, which means some care has to be taken when identifying what might seem to be a hybrid type as it could well be a barbarous copy! In their analysis of the Normanby hoard, R. Bland and A. Burnett place this merging of the mints contemporary with the 5th issue of Mint I coinage (see below). However, as J. Mairat has identified, the
archaeological and numismatic evidence since their publication (notably from Trier) instead points to the two mints merging slightly earlier with Issue IV in AD 272 when Tetricus II became caesar and Cologne was subsumed as a third officina at the principal mint in Trier. 

Radiate of Tetricus II, AD 272-274, Mint I/Trier. DOR-8C9944 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, Licence: CC-BY).

There are a substantial number of coins of both emperors recorded through the PAS, including a large number of contemporary copies and hybrid types. The Normanby hoard
contained 16,192 coins of Tetricus I and 7,030 coins of Tetricus II, while the PAS has slightly fewer with 7,789 coins of Tetricus I (including 3,207 IARCW records) and 3,254 coins of Tetricus II (including 1,279 IARCW records). I suspect this number will change considerably – there are a lot of PAS records that need attention from this period, not to mention many coins of the Gallic emperors that are not closely identified and others where
the attribution to Tetricus I or II has been confused.


References and further reading:  

R. Bland, E. Besley, A.Burnett The Cunetio and Normanby Hoards (Spink 2018), originally published in single volumes: E. Besley and R. Bland The Cunetio Treasure (1983) and R. Bland and A. Burnett The Normanby Hoard and other Roman Coin Hoards (CHRB VIII, 1988).

J. Mairat The coinage of the Gallic Empire (Oxford University DPhil Thesis, 2014)

Work is ongoing to catalogue and publish the Frome hoard. A preliminary analysis can be found in S. Moorhead, A. Booth, and R. Bland The Frome Hoard (British Museum Press, 2010).

R. Bland Coin Hoards and Hoarding in Roman Britain AD 43-c.498 (Spink, 2018)

R. Bland, A. Chadwick, E. Ghey, C. Hazelgrove, and D. Mattingly Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards in Britain
(Oxbow, 2020).

For the development of Roman coinage in the British landscape see in particular P. Walton and S. Moorhead ‘Coinage and the Economy’ Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain (2016)

R. Bland, ‘The 1973 Beachy Head Treasure Trove of third-century antoniniani’ NC 19, 1979: 61-107

E. Besley and R. Bland, The Cunetio Treasure (1983)

R. Bland and A. Burnett The Normanby Hoard and other Roman Coin Hoards (CHRB VIII, 1988)

J. F. Drinkwater The Gallic Empire. Separatism and Continuity in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire A.D. 260-274 (Stuttgart, 1987)

The coinage of the Gallic Empire (Oxford University DPhil Thesis, 2014): 19-20

Coin Relief – Issue Nine

Here is the next edition in a series of blog posts written by Dr. Sam Moorhead and Dr. Andrew Brown, the PAS Finds Advisers for Roman and Iron Age coins.

Other 4th century silver denominations

As we saw in the last edition of Coin Relief, during the second half of the 4th century the silver siliqua became the standard silver denomination in circulation and recorded through the PAS. However, this was by no means the only silver coin struck during the 4th century. Indeed, even the nummus contained a percentage of silver (perhaps initially a notional c.5%) within its alloy. In this edition we will look at three other coin types struck in good silver during this period that although appearing in much smaller quantity on the PAS also constitute important components of 4th century Roman coinage.

Argenteus

Argenteus of Diocletian c.AD 300. British Museum coin B.1474 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum).

Diocletian’s currency reforms in c.AD 294 introduced a new silver denomination, the argenteus (literally ‘silvery’ or ‘of silver’). On the incomplete Aphrodisias currency inscription of c.AD 301 the value of the denarius argenteus (‘silver denarius’) is fixed at 100
denarii communes (‘common denarii’; now more a unit of account that is perhaps represented by small billon coins with laureate busts) – four times the value of the newly introduced
nummus. This high value silver denomination contained a substantial percentage of silver and was struck at 96 to the Roman pound until c.AD 313. On some argentei (such as the one above) this value of 1/96 of the pound is explicitly represented by the reverse legend XCVI. The argenteus was a relatively short-lived phenomenon and it is no-longer struck after c.AD 310-313 once inflation increased the bullion value of silver. The argenteus is a rare coin generally, but especially so in Britain and within the material recorded through the PAS (see this search). Indeed, from the early period of the Tetrarchy, there are just two examples on the PAS (ESS-C83012 and WILT-CA45F1) but both are contemporary copies of the same type for Diocletian. The PAS data also includes several examples from a small group of base silver coins struck at Trier at the end of the period argentei were issued, c.AD 310-313. These contain perhaps as much as c.25% silver and are regarded as either highly silvered (or silver washed) nummi or base/pseudo argentei. They are struck for Constantine I, Licinius I, and Maximinus Daia, each with a distinctive reverse type.

Miliarensis

Alongside the appearance of the siliqua in the AD 320s was a larger silver denomination struck at about 4.5g or 72 to the Roman pound and called a miliarensis. This was in circulation contemporary with the siliqua although is much less common as a single find or indeed in hoards – Hoxne had just 60 examples. The term scrinium a miliarensibus appears in later Roman documents and has plausibly been linked to these larger silver coins we call miliarenses, so-called due to their value at 1/1000 of a pound of gold. A heavier silver coin struck at about 60 to the Roman pound or c.5.4g is also known and termed a ‘heavy
miliarensis’. This is a much rarer coin – there are none in Hoxne but there is one PAS example (HAMP-2197A7). The majority seen as single finds, though, are of the lighter weight variety. In total, the PAS records 20 single examples of miliarenses, covering the entire period of their production and usage with examples in Reece Periods 16-21 (see this search). The majority cluster around Reece Periods 18 (4 coins) and 19 (10 coins) and it is interesting to note that of those, one is of uncertain Reece period, two lack images with mints identified, coins from the eastern mint of Thessalonica are the most frequently found (albeit only with 5 examples!).

Half siliqua

Half siliqua of Arcadius dating to AD 395-402. Record ID is HAMP-03C5B0 (Copyright: WInchester Museums Service, License: CC-BY).

While the majority of siliquae recorded through the PAS are full weight coins, fractional half siliquae were also struck in the late-4th century at the western mints of Trier, Milan, Rome, and Aquileia. These circulated alongside the siliqua and miliarensis but are rare in both hoards (Hoxne has just 5 examples) and as single finds. They can be separated from the siliquae due to their size and weight (up to c.1.5g), but also the types represented and the mintmarks on the coins themselves. Whether they functioned as currency in the same way as the other silver denominations of this period is unclear and it is possible they had a more donative or ceremonial function (see R. Bland, 2010: p. 206). The first example of a very rare anonymous issue from the House of Constantine (BERK-4AF264) recorded in Britain appeared on the PAS database in 2014. To date, this is exceptional within the PAS data and the remaining examples all belong in the period from c.AD 367-402. A good starting point for these fractional siliquae is the articles by S. Bendall and R. Bland but there is also brief discussion of the type in P. Guest’s Hoxne volume (Guest, 2005: pp.
44-45).

Only one coin has been identified on the PAS as a half siliqua with full legends on obverse and reverse attributed to a specific ruler (HAMP-03C5B0), although there are examples from hoards. It carries a Victory reverse type with the legend VICTORIA AVGG – the Victory type is the most typical for the smaller denominations, although there are other known examples too. Note that on this coin the mintmark is shortened to just MD for Milan rather than MDPS. In his analysis of Hoxne, Guest (2005: pp. 44-45) noted how it was originally assumed that the lack of PS in the mintmark would mean these types were not struck from the refined silver of the siliquae. However, examination of the metallurgy suggested this was not the case and they are struck from good silver. The remaining three coins belong to a group of anonymous half siliquae that distinctively do not display the name of the ruler, simply a vota reverse legend and mintmark. Roger Bland’s
(2010) analysis of anonymous half siliquae notes that the vota reverse may be significant in terms of dating these issues, potentially linking it to the 10th anniversary of Theodosius I (c.
AD 388-389) or the 10th anniversary of Arcadius (and 15th of Theodosius, c. AD 392-393). He suggests the second of these is perhaps most likely, but their precise date of issue or reason for issue is still not entirely certain. This type is issued from the two mints of Trier and Aquileia. At Trier the obverse has a helmeted bust of Roma left, while the reverse contains either an X or XV within a wreath. In contrast, coins from Aquileia have the bust facing right and with the vota XV. One coin of this type, from Trier, was identified in Hoxne (Hoxne no. 759) and a nice example appeared in a hoard from Somerset in 2010 (SOM-6E89B0), but these are still not common coins (see this search for all examples on the PAS database).

Coin Relief – Issue Eight

Here is the next edition in a series of blog posts written by Dr. Sam Moorhead and Dr. Andrew Brown, the PAS Finds Advisers for Roman and Iron Age coins.

The Siliqua

In c.AD 323-325 Constantine I reintroduced silver coinage that experienced widespread usage throughout the 4th and into the 5th centuries AD. The smaller of two silver coin types, initially struck at about 3.1g. is commonly known as a siliqua. This is a modern numismatic term that relates to the ancient unit of weight in gold of the carat – c.0.19g. The name is adopted from the seed of the carob tree (Siliqua Graeca) to relate to the smallest weight in the Roman system. In reality, the original name for this denomination is unclear and siliqua is used as convention rather than based on any historical truth.

As we have already seen with the coinage of Julian, the weight of the siliqua was reduced in c.AD 357 to a coin of about 2g. In RIC the lighter coins from after this reform are termed reduced siliquae, although this is again a modern numismatic
convention. Throughout this piece I will use the term siliqua in reference to these small silver coins – the majority are later 4th century in date and the few recorded pre-AD 357 coins on the PAS are in any case hugely rare in Britain! A second reform to the siliqua occurred during the Valentinian period, c.AD 366, that refined the purity of the silver content, after which the letters PS (pusulatum) appear in mintmarks to indicate the reformed silver
denomination.

There are 2,311 siliqua recorded to date on the PAS, covering the period from the c.AD 330s until the early-5th century AD. A study of these coins up until 2010 by R. Bland, S. Moorhead, and P. Walton is a key contribution to understanding siliquae recorded as single finds in Britain. The current piece covers the coins currently on the PAS from Reece Periods 17-22, c.AD 330-445, with an additional decade of recorded material. This is by no means a
comprehensive re-working of Bland, Moorhead, and Walton – there are many database records that require further work and refinement – but I have attempted to provide an overview of the volume of material for each period by emperor, mint, and distribution, as well as some of the key reverse types that might appear during recording.

Siliquae are not uncommon finds, appearing notably in the rural British landscape in the late 4th century. They experience increased copying (both plated and of good quality silver) in the
last few decades of the century and by the 5th century experience extensive clipping of the flan (see below). They are also hoarded, sometimes in large number, perhaps most notably in the Hoxne hoard – discovered in a Suffolk field in 1992 and containing 14,565 siliquae, both regular and irregular.

Reece Period 17: AD 330-348

Siliqua of Constantine II, c. AD337-340. Record ID: FASAM-B403E1 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

Siliquae from prior to the weight reduction of c.AD 357 are rare as single finds in Britain and indeed there was only a single example of Constantius II within the Hoxne hoard (Hoxne no.
81). A total of 13 coins have so far been identified within the PAS material that belong in Reece Period 17 running up to AD 348. All are of the sons of Constantine, with Constantius II (AD 323-361) the most prolific (seven coins) amongst a very small total. These early fullweight coins appear to have been removed from circulation relatively quickly and they only appear in very small quantity in hoarded assemblages. As might be expected, the Gallic mints are best represented with seven coins in total (5 from the mint of Trier and 2 from Arles), with just single examples from Rome, Siscia, and Constantinople. None of the coins from this period on the PAS appear clipped and all that have been imaged appear to be regular issues of the official mints. This is currently the earliest siliqua on the PAS, struck not long after the introduction of the denomination in the AD 320s. 

This is currently the earliest siliqua on the PAS, struck not long after the introduction of the denomination in the AD 320s. Odd single examples of types from the AD 340s are recorded for Constantine II and Constantius II, however the most frequently seen reverse type for this period is VICTORIA DD NN AVGG depicting Victory advancing left holding wreath and palm – there are 9 examples currently identified on the PAS, such as CAM-4FAB91 and BERK-A6C946.

Reece Period 18: AD 348-364

Siliqua of Constantius II dating to c.AD 353-355. Record ID is SUR-8F6F7A (Copyright: Surrey County Council, License: CC-BY).

In contrast to the preceding period, Reece Period 18 sees a sudden increase in the volume of siliquae seen and recorded through the PAS. Almost without exception these post-date the reduction in weight of the siliqua between c.AD 355-357, the majority of coins issued by Constantius II (212 coins) and Julian (as both caesar and augustus – 550 coins), with smaller totals for Jovian (28 coins). A single siliqua is so far known for Magnentius, which pre-dates the weight reduction (BERK-3722F9). This is perhaps not unexpected, since the siliqua was produced in far greater quantity after c.AD 355 and in fact it is in Reece Period 18 that we see the largest totals of any period in Britain. The Gallic mints of Trier, Lyon, and Arles make up all but 12 of the so-far identified examples on the PAS, Arles alone comprising 43% of the total. Of this number, at least 90 coins are probably contemporary copies (the majority plated) and of those records with images (575 coins) at least 130 (c.22%) show some evidence of clipping.

There are only a handful of Reece Period 18 siliquae that are of the heavier pre-AD 357 weight standard, including the sole example of Magnentius on the PAS. At Lyon the Victory type of Reece Period 17 continues on the reduced weight standard, with almost 50 PAS examples (IOW-B45BF0), but the majority of siliquae from this period have reverses with vota legends within wreaths celebrating the anniversaries of Constantius, Julian, and Jovian (BERK-DDABD3 and GLO-9E8F6A).

Reece Period 19 – AD 364-378

Siliqua of Valentinian I dating to AD 364-375. Record ID is SUR-1025E2 (Copyright: Surrey County Council, License: CC-BY).

The Valentinian period (Reece Period 19) sees a continuation of quite large numbers of siliquae in use, albeit reduced from the initial burst of activity at the end of the Constantinian period. Valens followed by Valentinian I appear most frequently and it is the two VRBS ROMA issues with reverse depicting Roma seated left on a throne or cuirass from the mint of Trier that is by far the most common type, comprising more than 200 examples (see below). Trier is the dominant mint in this period – a feature also noted in the Hoxne coins and after c.AD 366 we see the addition of the letters PS (pusulatum) on mintmarks to indicate the
official improvement of the silver content (e.g. TRPS at Trier or MDPS at Milan). Within the PAS data the western mints are again prolific, although it is worth noting that eastern mint coins do still appear, notably for Valentinian I, albeit in smaller quantity. Copies are more limited in number (c.40 coins) but now approximately 40% of the regular coins demonstrate some evidence for clipping.

Lyon and Arles struck short issues with the RESTITVTOR REIP (‘Restorer of the State’) reverse type for Valentinian and Valens between AD 364-367 (at least 110 PAS examples). There are also small numbers of coins with vota legends, notably from Rome (WILT-7B8A43) as well as a Victory type for Valentinian II following his father’s death in AD 375. A large proportion of the coins from this period relate to the two VRBS ROMA issues from Trier. Trier was by this time the principal mint in Gaul striking silver, exclusively so by the end of the period (silver disappears at Arles and Lyon between AD 375-378). The first VRBS ROMA issue, struck between AD 367-375, depicts Roma seated left on a throne. A second VRBS ROMA issue was struck following Valentinian’s death in AD 375 but this time Roma is seated on a cuirass. The diagnostic details are explored in RIC and Hoxne and these should be your reference when recording coins of this period.

Reece Period 20: AD 378-388

Siliqua of Theodosius I dating to AD 379-83. Record ID is HAMP-8F4137 (Copyright: Winchester Museums Service, License: CC-BY).

Following Valens’ death in AD 378, Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II ruled as augusti. Magnus Maximus’ usurpation against the augustus in the west, Gratian, in AD 383 led to the former assuming power with his son Flavius Victor and issuing siliquae from Trier, Aquileia, and (after AD 387) Milan in his and the names of the other two augusti between AD 383-388. Gratian was killed during Maximus’ rise to power in AD 383 and so his
coinages disappear at this time; a 6-year-old Arcadius had been elevated to augustus by his father, Theodosius I, at the start of that year. 

Trier is the dominant mint again, particularly during the period of Maximus’ usurpation, followed by the Italian mints of Milan and Aquileia. The output from the mints of
Lyon and Rome was smaller at this time and this is reflected in the very few PAS examples from each. Although there are even fewer copies during this period, clipping increases again
to almost 50% of the total.

Until Maximus’ usurpation, a CONCORDIA AVGGG reverse type was struck for Theodosius I (HAMP-8F4137), a VICTORIA AVGGG type for Valentinian II (YORYM-754EAF), and a VIRTVS ROMANORVM type for Gratian (SUSS-D0CCA4) as specific reverses for each emperor. At Lyon and Rome the VRBS ROMA types seen in Reece Period 19 continue – with cuirass at Lyon and with throne at Rome, the former only running until AD 383, not striking silver under Maximus.  The VIRTVS ROMANORVM type, specific to Gratian to begin with, extends to all of the emperors and the mints of Trier, Lyon, Aquileia, and Milan from the period of usurpation onward (DEV-A02090). This type accounts for over 170 of the PAS examples from this period (c.65%). There are many minor variants within and between the mints – the Hoxne catalogue is by far the best source for this issue.

Reece Period 21: AD 388-402

Siliqua of Arcadius dating to AD 388-402. Record ID is WILT-7B0682 (Copyright: WILT-7B0682, License: CC-BY).

After Maximus’ usurpation was ended, Valentinian II was restored as ruler in the west with Thoeodius and Arcadius in the east. Valentinian’s suicide in AD 392 resulted in a second period of usurpation, by Eugenius (between AD 392-394) and Theodosius’ elevation of his second son, Honorius, to augustus in AD 393. Theodosius’ death in AD 395 ultimately left the empire ruled by Arcadius in the east and Honorius in the west.

By AD 388 the mint at Aquileia had disappeared and although Trier and Lyon struck silver in some quantity – the latter particularly during Eugenius’ usurpation – both ceased operation
by AD 395. Milan became the main source for siliquae after this period until it too closed in AD 402. The majority of siliquae recorded on the PAS from this period are from Milan (c.62%) and many demonstrate extensive clipping – at least 70% of examples have some evidence of clipping (see below). Copies are again prevalent (c.50 coins) and many of these are also clipped.

Trier and Lyon strike VRBS ROMA issues similar to Reece Period 20 with Roma seated on a cuirass (WILT-7B0682), at Lyon this is also struck for Eugenius, while at Milan there are vota issues for the augusti (GLO-1E37D9). The most prevalent reverse type in this period, however, is VIRTVS ROMANORVM (PUBLIC-EC8194 and WILT-10C298) with a similar type to the VRBS ROMA issue, depicting Roma seated left on a cuirass, struck at Trier and then (after c.AD 397) Milan. This accounts for well over 80% of the recorded siliquae on the PAS from Reece Period 21 (in Hoxne, Guest (2005, p. 74) notes that the second Milan VIRTVS ROMANORVM issue makes up just under a third of the entire hoard, more than 4,600 coins). Coins from both mints are very similar, but there are stylistic differences to both obverse and reverse type that allow for identification even on very clipped coins – Hoxne is again the best source for this.

Reece Period 22: AD 402-445

Siliqua of Constantine III dating to c.AD 407-408. Record ID is SF-DAC220 (Copyright: Suffolk County Council, License: CC-BY).

The closing of the mint at Milan in AD 402 effectively stopped the supply of siliquae to the western provinces and particularly Britannia. Silver was now issued in small quantity by the
imperial court, but it did not extend far – there are only 8 coins of this period in the Hoxne hoard (whose terminal coins date to c. AD 407/408).

By AD 402 the British garrisons had been stripped and withdrawal of Roman interest in the province was in full swing. With renewed threat from Gaul, a new usurper was elected in
Britain, Constantine III (AD 407-411), who proceeded to face the challenge head on and took what remained of the British armies across the channel. In Rome, the Visigothic invasion had pushed Honorius to Ravenna and in AD 410 Rome was sacked by Alaric. If we are to believe Zosimus, the Roman administration in Britain had already been expelled by this time, perhaps in AD 409. Although Constantine was tolerated for a time by Honorius (who had his own problems to deal with!), this didn’t last long and he was executed in AD 411 after defeat at Arles.

For a brief period of time Constantine struck siliquae at Lyon but in relatively small quantity. Only two examples are recorded in Hoxne and there is just one, incomplete, coin on the PAS
(SF-DAC220). These very rare siliquae have a reverse type reading VICTORIA AAAVGGGG, references four augusti (Honorius, Arcadius, Theodosius II, and Constantine III) and date the issue to before Arcadius’ death in AD 408 (se Guest, 2005: p. 76).

Clipping

The phenomenon of clipping silver siliquae is a characteristic, and specifically British, phenomenon at the end of the 4th century and into the 5th century AD. Small quantities of the
edge of the coin flan are removed while respecting the imperial portrait, thereby seemingly enabling the original coin to remain in circulation. In his study of the Hoxne hoard, P. Guest (2005: chapter 7) explored the phenomenon at length and highlighted the various ‘clipping factors’ evident on the coins within the hoard in order to analyse the development of the phenomenon through time. In the image below examples of several PAS coins (regular and irregular!) demonstrate these various levels of clipping.

“Clipping factor” of Roman siliquae, after Guest, 2005: p.111, fig. 7.

When clipping occurred has been a subject of discussion8
. It appears to have been a 5th century phenomenon related to the cessation of supply to Britain after AD 402 and many hoards of this and slightly later date, like Hoxne, have extensive quantities of clipped siliquae. Siliquae hoards from Terling (c.AD 404) and Stanchester (c.AD 406) are unclipped and suggest that clipping began after this date and plausibly after Constantine III’s rise to power. Interestingly, a hoard of clipped siliquae found in the Pyrenees is perhaps evidence of Constantine’s army in Gaul after AD 407. The silver from clipping may well have been used
either as bullion or to top up the currency in circulation after the regular supply ceases in AD 402 (see Abdy, 2013; Guest, 2005). This may have continued for some time after AD 402 with clipped regular coins and copies circulating together, some copies even subject to clipping themselves (IOW-E24202).

Copies of siliquae appear as early as Reece Period 18 when the majority are plated. After the Valentinian reform to the silver, copies tend to be good quality silver and later also the subject of clipping. By the 5th century it may be that clipping was semi- if not an official process in Britain due to the lack of coin supply.10 Whichever may have been the case, it is apparent that towards the end of the 4th century and into the 5th clipping increases. Analysis of the PAS data by R. Bland, S. Moorhead, and P. Walton in 2013 demonstrated that the quantity of clipping increased from c.25% in Reece Period 19 to 40% (Reece Period 19), 55% (Reece Period 20), and finally 77% (Reece Period 21). A brief analysis of current PAS records in the figure below shows that this general trend has been maintained, with clipping becoming increasingly common on coins produced later in the 4th century.

Overview of clipping on coins recorded through the PAS.

This, I hope, provides a brief introduction to this commonest of 4
th century silver types. There is much detail for the wide variety of individual types produced during the 4th century that cannot be looked at in detail here. The Hoxne volume is vital in this regard, although RIC remains important too. When recording these coins through the PAS it is important to note whether the coin is clipped or not, the more this data is recorded the more we can add to the hoard evidence and understand the use and circulation of these coins in the 4th and 5th centuries AD.

Coin Relief – Issue Seven

Welcome to the seventh edition in our series of blog posts written by our Finds Advisers for ancient coins, Dr. Sam Moorhead and Dr. Andrew Brown. In this series they are exploring some of the many (many) ancient coins from the PAS database. In this special edition, Andrew reflects on what all of the numismatic information on the database can tell us about Roman coinage in Britain.

What does it all mean?

Our Daily Coin Relief blogs until now have focussed specifically on the numismatic details of the coins themselves and their position against the backdrop of Roman history. The mass of information that has been gleaned from individual coins recorded through the PAS in the last two decades is remarkable. New coin types and variants of known types have emerged on an almost yearly basis and the PAS database now represents the largest dataset of its kind anywhere in the world. The question that springs to mind, though, is what does this all mean? It’s all very well having hundreds of thousands of objects, but what is this telling us about Roman coinage in Britain?

I thought it might be useful to take stock slightly in this edition and have a brief look at what the data contained within the PAS material is beginning to tell us. This will be an introductory, high level look at the Roman data to give a flavour of what the database contains and what we can do with it. There is much work to do on the minutiae of the individual coins, but we can begin to interpret what is already present on the PAS database. This is in large part thanks to both the willingness of finders to record and the hard work of Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs), volunteers, interns, and public recorders in physically recording the material through the PAS.

Figure 1: All Roman coins on the PAS database up to May 2020.

Some high-level statistics

By the end of 2005, there were just over 34,000 Roman coins recorded through the PAS (Fig.2). Since then, extensive reporting and recording has resulted in a huge increase in the volume of material seen within England and Wales so that by 2020 there are over 320,000 Roman coins on the PAS database covering almost every part of the country (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Roman coins recorded through the PAS: Left – up to the end of 2005 (blue dots); Right – up to the end of 2019 (red dots, with the material up to 2005 in blue superimposed)

As of today (May 12th 2020), the database holds details of 323,741 Roman coins contained within 291,991 database records – the largest group from the more than 500,000 coins on the PAS and the largest single category of object nationally. Every year between 10-20,000 new records are created and, thanks in no small measure to the work put in by Sam to encourage all Roman coins to be recorded, this means that it is not just the really spectacular that is recorded but more often than not the corroded, worn, and bashed around ‘grots’ that form the majority! This dataset also includes over 52,000 coins imported from the Welsh IARCW (Iron Age and Roman Coin finds from Wales)[1] project in 2010 – an excellent resource but complicated somewhat on the PAS database due to its mix of single finds, excavated site finds, and hoard coins. Indeed, you will have noticed that Sam and I sometimes exclude the IARCW data from searches because of this complicating factor, particularly so for more statistical surveys like this where the Welsh data tends to skew the results.

To the single finds we can also add hoard groups, recently subject to comprehensive examination by a joint AHRC funded British Museum and University of Leicester project exploring patterns of hoarding, deposition and the landscape setting of hoarded material within Britain.[2] The known hoard assemblages have been integrated with the PAS database, under the prefix IARCH, with nearly 3,000 Roman examples recorded to date.

This is a lot of data to break down in a sensible way! However, even at a very basic level, a glance at the individual coins as dots on a map (Fig. 1) reveals some distinct features. For example, there are very obvious absences of Roman coins in some parts of the country – notably the urban landscapes of the Midlands, the north west, and London, affected by the modern landscape which prevents the recovery of archaeological material. Equally, the national parks (e.g. Exmoor, Peak District, Lake District, North York Moors, etc.) are blank spots due to restrictions on metal detecting in these areas. In contrast, there are also some features that appear to be genuine reflections of the ancient landscape. Notable is the seeming paucity of coins running between Kent and Sussex – this is in fact the location of an ancient woodland, the Andredes Weald. However, perhaps even starker is the very clear dividing line between the north east and north west of England running along the Pennines (Fig. 3).

IFigureeeeFigure 3: Roman coinage in the north of England represented on the PAS.

Analysis of the coin assemblages from these regions indicates that the relatively small quantity of coinage in the north west (PAS coins from Cumbria, Cheshire, and Lancashire total 2,272 database records) contains comparatively more early Roman coins by percentage and therefore likely related to early Roman military activity. In contrast, the much large number of Roman coins recorded in the north east (PAS totals from Yorkshire number 16,817 database records), particularly those of late Roman date, points to this region experiencing extensive rural activity in the late Roman period (we’ll come back to this in passing below). Already at this very high level of analysis the extensive data contained within the PAS is demonstrating features of the Roman landscape that are only visible through our ability to fully record and map the material.

We can perhaps break this down a little further and consider the Roman coinage by modern parish and look at the volume of finds for each parish in England as of end of 2018 (I’m excluding the Welsh data here as the IARCW material introduces huge biases) (Table 1).

Table 1: PAS Roman coins by parish (up to end 2018).

Although this table needs updating to take into account the material from 2019-2020, what it shows at a glance is the huge impact recording has on our knowledge of the Roman landscape. Most striking are the parishes with greater than 500 or 1,000 coins, the latter almost three times the number recorded in 2011. Many of these sites, particularly those with smaller numbers at present, would have been otherwise unknown.

If this data is in turn plotted visually (Fig. 4), we can begin to see where the concentrations of material are to be found nationally. Traditional interpretations of the Roman landscape often highlight early military and urban activity, notably in the west and north. However, what we can clearly see simply by plotting those parishes where more than 20 Roman coins have been reported is that there is extensive activity in the rural areas of England. This is especially so in the south west, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire – a distribution pattern that until relatively recently would have been unheard of. The band of material running south west to east appears to reflect intensive late Roman activity, likely in relation to the rural landscape and economy (see Fig. 15 below). One important point to note, too, is that in his study of 140 Roman sites (see below), Roman numismatist Richard Reece suggested that coin use was extremely limited in the east of England (Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire). What the PAS data demonstrates immediately is that this was far from the case!

Figure 4: Map of England with parishes recording more than 20 PAS coins plotted. Darker blue parishes are 20 coins, moving to bright green with more than 1,000. The heat map beneath demonstrates at a schematic level the concentrations of coins generally (as of end of 2018).

Of course, one thing this map does not take into account is the internal breakdown of the coinage by type or period. Equally, the high concentrations of finds from places like Wiltshire and East Anglia also reflect the accessibility to the modern arable landscape by metal detectorists (and the resultant larger numbers of finds). We’ll come back to this a little below.

Applied numismatics

Although the growth of the PAS database provides a huge volume of material, this also means that at times finding an individual coin, particularly one that is of a relatively standard type or is poorly preserved, becomes more of a challenge. When explored in its entirety, though, this data can give us a different insight into coin use and loss within the province of Britannia and begin to resolve some of the issues noted above with regard to biases in the dataset and the refinement of distributions (e.g. by period, coin type, etc.). This is an important point to note – we are dealing with coin loss around the province, which will be affected by a number of factors both ancient and modern. By recording the full range of material that is being found (not just the nice silver and gold!) we can begin to see a bigger picture and start to interpret what this might mean locally, regionally, or nationally, on top of the vital numismatic detail provided by the individual coins.

The last few decades witnessed extensive work on Roman coinage in Britain and the various potential methods to interpret it, notably by the likes of numismatists John Casey[3], Richard Reece[4], and more recently by Sam Moorhead[5] and Philippa Walton[6]. The application of approaches that are more archaeological and interpretive in nature to large coin datasets – ‘applied numismatics’ – rather than purely numismatic has meant we can begin to look at large assemblages of coins on individual sites (or indeed larger areas) and elucidate key pieces of information about site usage, character, and longevity.

Reece’s work has been particularly significant in this regard. He divided Roman Britain into 21 distinct chronological periods (Fig. 5) – Reece Periods – based on the development of Roman coinage. By doing this he was able to drop individual coins into their correct period and therefore compare individual sites to one another based on the frequency of coins from one or other period. This approach was exemplified in his 1991 study looking at 140 sites from Roman Britain, the results of which suggest, for example, that sites with peaks of early Roman coinage are likely related to Roman military activity, sites with more radiate coinage from Reece Periods 13 and 14 (c.AD 260-296) may reflect more urban activity, and sites with extensive 4th century nummus coinage likely demonstrate rural activity within the landscape.

Figure 5: Reece periods as defined by Richard Reece.

The PAS database allows us to attach a Reece Period to an individual coin so that, even when worn beyond being able to identify an individual ruler or coin type, we can very often place it within its correct Reece Period. This in turn enables comparison with other Roman material both at a local level and nationally. By looking at the PAS dataset as a whole we can create a PAS ‘mean’, an average of the coins on the database with an associated Reece Period that demonstrates the peaks and troughs of coin loss within the Province (Fig. 6). It should be noted that this analysis uses per mill (per 1,000) rather than percent to help avoid discrepancies when comparing sites with potentially widely varied numbers of coins.

Figure 6: The PAS ‘Mean’ based on Roman coins recorded through the PAS with associated Reece Period data up to May 2020. The PAS ‘Mean’ based on Roman coins recorded through the PAS with associated Reece Period data up to May 2020. 

What this graph demonstrates is that the PAS assemblage has very distinct peaks in the late Roman periods, notably Reece Periods 13 and 14, then again in Reece Periods 17 and 19, whereas the early material is comparatively poorly represented. The coins from Reece Periods 17 and 19 in particular demonstrates the very ‘rural’ nature of the PAS dataset, in part reflecting what we have seen in Fig. 4 and the distribution of coin finds nationally.

Once we have this national PAS mean, we can then use it to compare individual sites or regions to see where they deviate and therefore what this might tell us about that specific site or landscape. As noted above, peaks in Reece Periods 13 and 14 tend to be associated with urban activity, whereas the later peaks in Reece Periods 17 and 19 are typically linked to the development of the Roman rural landscape. If a site, therefore has a peak in one or other (or indeed an early peak linked to Roman military activity) this helps characterise its nature.

Some preliminary examples

At a very basic level, applying Reece Period to analysis to PAS coin assemblages is a quick and relatively straightforward way to characterise our dataset. If nothing else, thinking about how an assemblage is formed helps to understand an individual site and its position within the landscape. It can also aid in highlighting oddities and/or discrepancies in the data! At a national level we can also look at the spread of, for example, early Roman coinage to demonstrate those areas most affected by early Roman activity and what this might in turn tell us about the province.

Beginning with this national perspective some interesting results can be gained simply by grouping the coins by broad periods. Taken as a whole, if we plot all PAS coins to date by modern administrative district (county, unitary authority, etc.) the result we get in Fig. 7 demonstrates what at first glance seems like a huge area of Roman activity particularly in Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as Hampshire, Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, and Yorkshire.

Figure 7: PAS coins by modern administrative district excluding the IARCW data (c.271,000 coins). Greater density is demonstrated by darker reds.

This is reflected in a similar way if we look at the volume of Roman coins recorded by individual FLO region (Fig. 8). Again, the concentrations are in south west, East Anglia, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire. What this initially seems to suggest is that, while you are certainly more likely to find and record a Roman coin in these regions, that Roman activity was most intensive here. However, we can begin to get slightly different perspectives if we interpret the coin data in different ways.

Figure 8: Roman coins recorded through the PAS by FLO region as percentages of the total number of PAS Roman coins.

The distribution changes dramatically if we consider the number of Roman coins as a percentage of the total number of Roman objects (coins and everything else!) recorded by each FLO region (Fig. 9).

Figure 9: Roman coins by FLO region as a percentage of the total number of Roman objects recorded.

Now we see the concentrations shift, most notably moving away from East Anglia to regions like Devon, which exhibit a higher percentage of coins amongst the Roman material reported. If you are recording finds in these regions, this means you’re more likely to see Roman coins – surely a win for everyone?!

This is all well and good, but what we are really seeing here is a reflection of the processes of recovery and recording. The large volumes of material from the east of England, for example, mean that there are always going to be larger numbers of Roman coins in these areas. Thinking about some of the approaches noted above using Reece Period analysis to refine this dataset slightly, is it possible to reveal a little more detail that is more pertinent to the ancient Roman landscape?

If I take the three broad groupings noted above – ‘Early Roman’ coinage (Reece Periods 1-11), Radiate coinages (Reece Periods 12-14), and nummi (Reece Periods 15-21) – to roughly correspond to early military(?) activity, urban activity with the radiates, and rural activity with the nummi, we get some interesting results.  Plotted as simple quantities (by modern administrative district) the image is almost identical for each and this reflects where we see the most material found and reported nationally (Figs 10-12). Not essentially that helpful in interpreting the Roman landscape other than to highlight where we might expect the largest number of finds.

Figure 10: ‘Early’ Roman coinage on the PAS, Reece Periods 1-11.
Radiate coinages (left; Reece Periods 12-14) and nummi (right; Reece Periods 15-21) recorded through the PAS.

However, if we look at this data proportionally as percentages of the total within each administrative district a very different picture emerges (Figs. 13-15).  For the early period, the shift is remarkable. The areas with the highest percentages of early coin types are in the far south west – Cornwall and Devon – the west of England, Wales, and up into the north west. East Anglia is comparatively poorly represented. It is notable, too, that the regions with the highest percentages in this instance are also those that are affected in particular by early (and in some cases extended) Roman military and urban activity. It might therefore be expected to some extent for these regions to exhibit higher volumes of early material.

Figure 13: ‘Early’ coinage on the PAS (Reece Periods 1-11) by percentage.

In the radiate period of the 3rd century, the picture again shifts. The south and south east are proportionally better represented by this stage, but there are still noticeable concentrations in the south and west, albeit on a more restricted scale than in the previous period.

Figure 14: Radiates (Reece Periods 12-14) on the PAS by percentage.

In the Late Roman period of the 4th century we can clearly see a band of material running from Wiltshire east and north to East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. This reflects similar conclusions reached by Philippa Walton (2012) in her study of the numismatic data for Roman Britain and correlates with the sudden growth of the rural landscape during the 4th century AD. What we are seeing by separating the material in this way, even with three very rough, broad periods, is not only the shift in coin distribution but also in patterns of Roman coin loss and by extension potentially the changing use (or at least focus) of the landscape during the Roman period.

Figure 15: Nummi (Reece Periods 15-21) recorded through the PAS by percentage.

Although this is a very cursory glance at three quite broad periods, the same principles can be applied to individual sites, landscapes, and the national picture, to produce some very interesting and emerging data. Recent work completed by Sam and I on the Roman coinage of Devon[7] as part of a collaborative project with the University of Exeter, for example, has allowed us to apply these same methods to a wider region. Here, we have been able to compare, for example, the coins from Devon to those of Cornwall by Reece Period (Fig. 16), highlighting that the two are quite different in their coin use and loss during the Roman period – Cornwall is much better represented in the early Roman period and Devon in the late. Similarly, we have been able to compare the data from individual sites and areas within the county to demonstrate the development of the Roman landscape here as demonstrated by its coinage. More to follow on this in due course!

Figure 16: The Roman coinages of Cornwall and Devon on the PAS by Reece Period (per mill).

You will have no doubt also seen the maps that Sam and I have used at various times to demonstrate the distribution of different coin types or periods represented within the PAS data. This is the next stage of analysis that I am working on slowly at the moment, looking at how the coinage relates to the landscape as much as modern administrative districts. Hopefully, by looking at the breakdown of material by Reece Period or coin type we can begin to refine some of the broad patterns noted above.

Of course, all of this is entirely dependent on the fantastic work being carried out in reporting and recording the coins on the PAS database! It really is important that in doing so Reece Periods are attached to the coin records where possible. As I mentioned above, with more than 320,000 coins it can be very difficult to work the data into a meaningful output (at least, in a short space of time!), but by attaching this all important data we can relatively quickly interpret the material – sometimes even with maps like the above!

This has been only a very small foray into a vast topic. In a later edition I hope to come back to it again and perhaps look at one or two examples in greater detail of how we can use the PAS data to explore individual sites within their landscapes. In the meantime, keep doing what you are doing in terms of recording the material – and don’t forget the Reece Period!

References and further reading:

[1] P. Guest and N. Wells, Iron Age and Roman Coins from Wales, (Moneta 66), 2007

[2] R. Bland, A. Chadwick, E. Ghey, C. Haselgrove, D. Mattingly, Iron Age and Roman Coin Hoards in Britain Oxbow, 2020.

[3] See for example Casey, Understanding Ancient Coins: An introduction for Archaeologists and Historians, London, 1986; J. Casey ‘The interpretation of Romano-British site finds’ in J. Casey and R. Reece Coins and the Archaeologist, 1974.

[4] Multiple contributions, notably R. Reece, Coinage in Roman Britain, 1987; R. Reece Roman Coins from 140 Sites in Britain (Cotswold Studies vol. IV), 1991; R. Reece, The Coinage of Roman Britain, 2002; R. Reece, Roman Coins and Archaeology: Collected Papers (Moneta 32), 2003.

[5] See for example S. Moorhead ‘Roman coin finds from Wiltshire’ in P. Ellis ed. Roman Wiltshire and After, 2011; S. Moorhead, A History of Roman Coinage in Britain, 2013; with P. Walton: S. Moorhead and P. Walton ‘Roman Coins recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme: A Summary’ Britannia 42, 2013; S. Moorhead and P. Walton, ‘Coinage at the end of Roman Britain’ in F.K.Haarer et. al AD 410: The History and Archaeology of Late and Post-Roman Britain, 2016; S. Moorhead and P. Walton ‘Coinage and the Economy’ in TheOxford Handbook of Roman Britain, 2016; S. Moorhead and P. Walton ‘Coinage and Collapse? The contribution of numismatic data to understanding the end of Roman Britain’ Internet Archaeology 41: http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue41/index.html

[6] See notably P. Walton Rethinking Roman Britain: Coinage and Archaeology, (Moneta 137), 2012; See also above contributions with Sam Moorhead.

[7] A. Brown and S. Moorhead ‘The Roman Coins from Exeter and its Hinterland’ in S. Rippon ed. Exeter: A Place in Time (Forthcoming, 2020)

Coin Relief – Issue Six

Welcome to the sixth edition in our series of blog posts written by our Finds Advisers for ancient coins, Dr. Sam Moorhead and Dr. Andrew Brown. In this series they are exploring some of the many (many) ancient coins from the PAS database.

Magnentius and Decentius, c. AD 350-353

The western Roman empire by AD 348 had been placed under the control of Constans, his brother Constantius II controlling the east. Constans’ rule, however, was met with increasing discontent and on the 18th January AD 350 his commander of the Jovian and Herculian legions (what had been the Praetorian Guards), Flavius Magnus Magnentius, appeared at a celebration dressed in imperial robes and was declared emperor. Constans fled to the foothills of the Pyrenees, but was chased to Helenae (Elne), captured, and then murdered with Magnentius seizing power. Magnentius is said to have been born at or near Ambianum (Amiens) and possibly of a British father and Frankish mother. He
was an experienced soldier and upon usurping Constans sought to establish his own rule in the western half of the empire, quickly gaining the support of many provinces including Britannia. Brief resistance was met by Vetranio in Illyria and Nepotian in Rome (see below), but although Magnentius attempted to create an alliance of sorts, or at least recognition of his position, with Constantius, the bigger threat to Magnentius (and his eventual downfall) was ultimately with the emperor in the east.

In AD 351 Constantius elevated Gallus to caesar (15th March 351) and Magnentius in turn promoted his brother, Magnus Decentius, to caesar in the west. On the 28th of September AD 351 the armies of Constantius and Magnentius met on the battlefield at Mursa (Croatia) in a bloody episode that saw more than 50,000 dead and forced Magnentius to retreat to the western provinces and take stock. Magnentius maintained control over Gaul, but he was soon
forced to withdraw from the parts of northern Italy he had previously gained (notably mints at Rome and Aquileia). Decentius for his part was positioned probably in Trier. This was not to last, though. In the summer of AD 353, Constantius pushed back and in the decisive Battle of Mons Seleucus (France) Magnentius was defeated, retreating to Lyon where he was besieged by Constantius’ forces before committing suicide on the 11th of August. News of his suicide reached Decentius who, possibly now ejected from Trier (see below), followed suit a few
days later. The brief period of usurpation was over by August AD 353.

The coinage of Magnentius and Decentius on the PAS is relatively common, with over 3,500 recorded examples. The standard references for recording these types should be RIC VIII or LRBC, although the study by P. Bastien of Magnentius coinage is significant.

Gold coinage

After the introduction of the solidus by Constantine I in c.AD 309-310 gold coinage reappears amongst Roman coin finds in Britain. By the AD 350s, when Magnentius and Decentius usurp power, solidi are still rare, only really being found in any volume later in the 4th century (and notably in hoarded assemblages, such as Hoxne). R. Bland and X. Loriot identified just eight British finds of Magnentian solidi, to which we can add two PAS examples, one struck at Trier from the Isle of Wight and the other an issue of the
Aquileia mint from Suffolk (see images above, both copyright Portable Antiquities Scheme, License CC-BY). These remain extremely rare coins.

Silver coinage

Silver siliqua of Magnentius dating to AD 350. Record ID is BERK-3722F9 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum, License: CC-BY).

Although both silver denominations, the miliarensis and siliqua, were struck for Magnentius and Decentius these are extremely rare as single finds. There is just one PAS example for Magnentius  and none for Decentius – fewer coins than for the gold issues!

Bronze coinage

Bronze nummus of Magnentius dating to c.AD 352-353, with Christian symbolism on the reverse. Record ID is BUC-D15D97 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

The bronze coinages of Magnentius and Decentius are interesting in a number of ways, not least their introduction of some completely new types and the first extensive use of overt
Christian symbolism on some reverse types. Coins were struck at the western mints of Amiens – possibly Magnentius’ birthplace and opened by him by c.AD 350 – Trier, Lyon, and Arles and until Magnentius lost Italy in September AD 352 also in Rome and Aquileia.

The coinage of Julian the Apostate, c.ad 355-363

Portrait of Julian on a silver siliqua, YORYM-1BE09C (Copyright: York Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

The death of Constantine I in AD 337 prompted turmoil and, at the hands of Constantius II, the massacre of many of Constantine’s extended family while Constantius and his
brothers secured their position within the empire. Born in 
c.AD 332, Flavius Claudius Julianus along with his brother, Gallus, survived the purge (perhaps with some help from the Empress Eusebia) due to their young age. As we will see below, he was removed from public life, but given an extensive education in Asia Minor and Greece that allowed him to learn about philosophy, particularly Neoplatonism, and eventually shun the Church in an attempt to revive paganism within the empire. He also grew a beard! This earned him the name ‘Apostate’. But he was more than just a pagan. He was a philosopher, a writer, a
military commander, and in his brief reign sought to bring
change to the empire. His pagan revival was ultimately not
successful, but it is curious to note that upon his death in June AD 363 the Constantinian dynasty, so rooted in its Christian ideals, also came to an end.

Coinage of Julian is relatively common on the PAS, with c.625 database records. The majority of this is silver coinage (c.550 examples), his nummi far rarer as single site finds in Britain. The standard reference for Julian’s coinage is RIC VIII, although for the siliquae P. Guest’s study of the Hoxne hoard is vital. J.P.C. Kent’s overview of Julian’s coinage (‘An Introduction to the Coinage of Julian the Apostate (A.D. 360-3)’ Numismatic Chronicle,
1959) remains a useful introduction, if superseded somewhat by the contents of RIC and LRBC (Late Roman Bronze Coinage).

Gold and large silver denominations

Gold solidi were struck for Julian as caesar and augustus at numerous mints in both the eastern and western empire. However, these are generally quite rare as British finds there are no examples of single gold coins of Julian recorded through the PAS. Similarly, the larger silver miliarensis although struck for Julian is so far absent from the PAS data. Again, this is perhaps not hugely surprising as the earlier large silver denomination
is far rarer than the smaller siliqua on the PAS, indeed there are only about 20 examples in total as single finds nationally – the Hoxne hoard had just three miliarenses of the period AD 330-348 amongst the 60 examples contained within the hoard.

Julian as caesar under Constantius II, c.AD 355-360

Julian’s recall to Milan by his cousin Constantius II in AD 355 came after a period of study and enlightenment in Athens. He had been spared along with his half-brother Gallus by Constantius during the massacres of AD 337, the two brothers initially placed under the tutelage of Eusebius of Nicomedia, the priest and later Bishop of Nicomedia who had baptised Constantine the Great. Following Eusebius’ death (c.AD 341), they were moved to
Macellum (Cappadocia, Turkey) where they were baptised, received minor orders in the Christian church, and for Julian at least continued with an education that would take him on a
different route. Gallus was made caesar in the east by Constantius in AD 351 and this provided Julian with greater freedoms, particularly after he came of age. In Asia Minor he was exposed to vibrant intellectualism, rhetoric, and philosophy. His study of Neoplatonism under numerous tutors and philosophers, notably Eusebius of Myndus and Maximus of Ephesus, resulted in his gradual shunning of the Christian church and conversion to
paganism.

Gallus was executed by Constantius in AD 354 with Julian summoned to Milan on similar treasonable charges. The empress Eusebia, Constantius’ second wife, intervened and Julian was allowed to travel to Athens where he continued his studies and was initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries. His return to Milan from Athens the following year resulted, perhaps again with the support of Eusebia, with his elevation to caesar on 6th November.
Constantius was quick to send the new caesar west to deal with Alamanni incursion into Roman territory, where he remained until AD 361. In the face of conflict with various tribes in Germany and Gaul, Julian’s campaigns were successful in restoring order, notably in a significant victory over the Alamanni at the Battle of Strasbourg (AD 357) and in securing
peace with the Chamavi. His rebuilding of Gaul was vital to the western economy and notably to Britain. The restoration of granaries (Amm. 18,2,3) and re-establishment of grain routes between the fertile rural landscapes of Britain and the Rhine (e.g. Julian, Letter to the Athenians; Zosimus 3.5.2; Eunapius fr.12; Libanius, Oratio 18) were central to this, and the course of his rule in the west won him both popular support and from the army.

Julian’s coinage after his elevation to caesar continued many of the Constantinian types from prior to (and subsequently restored after) the Magnentian usurpation. In RIC VIII (p. 45) J.P.C. Kent remarks that the coinage of Julian “down to the death of Constantius presents little of interest”! That said, there are some clear divisions and at least one interesting type that warrants further illustration (see below). For the period up to his declaration as augustus in AD 360 (see below), both silver siliquae and copper-alloy nummi are recorded through the PAS.

Siliquae

Siliqua of Julian dating to AD 355-60. Record ID is IOW-5FDAB0 (Copyright: Portable Antiquites Scheme, License: CC-BY).

Siliquae were struck for Julian as caesar at the western mint of Arles as well as several of the eastern mints from Sirmium to Antioch. There are no silver issues for his period as caesar from Trier or Lyon. The siliqua underwent a weight reduction in c.AD 357 from 3.1g to 2g and in RIC the siliquae issued after this date are termed reduced siliquae. All of the siliquae of Julian on the PAS post-date this reduction, but there is a small issue from Arles (RIC p.223, nos. 255-256) and some of the eastern mints that are of the heavier type – these have a reverse type depicting a star within a wreath (see also Fig. 5). The distinctive feature on his
coins of this period is that he is depicted bare headed and beardless, only gaining both diadem and beard after he becomes augustus. Siliquae of this period struck at Arles after the reduction of c.357 all carry a vota reverse type for Julian and were issued from the third officina (RIC VIII, pp. 223-224, nos. 260, 263-265). Siliquae from the eastern mints are very rare on the PAS for Julian, but there is a single example from the mint of Antioch during his period as caesar.

Nummi

Nummus of Julian caesar c.AD 355-360. Record ID is PUBLIC-A279D5 (Copyright: Lindsey Bedford, License: CC-BY-NC-SA).

The bronze coinage of Julian is generally rare on the PAS – there are just 79 database records for nummi covering his entire range of issues as caesar and augustus. Two major types were issued between AD 355-360 for Julian caesar, one a continuation of the FEL TEMP REPARATIO fallen horseman type of the House of Constantine, the other SPES REI PVBLICE, which continues into his period as augustus. It is notable that many of PAS examples of the fallen horseman types are from eastern mints, especially Siscia and Sirmium. A total of 27 coins are recorded on the database, of which at least 5 are contemporary copies, but at least 8 have been identified as eastern mint coins (Cyzicus = 1; Sirmium = 3; Siscia = 4). The SPES REI PVBLICE type is less common, with just 14 examples, again four of these have been identified as eastern mint coins (Siscia = 1; Thessalonica = 1; Sirmium = 2).

Julian as augustus and co-ruler with Constantius, c.February AD 360-November AD 361

Julian’s growing popularity led to increased tension with Constantius. The emperor himself was facing renewed threat from Shapur II in the east and ordered a substantial portion of
Julian’s troops to march east and assist. Not only did the army refuse to march, but in Paris in February AD 360 they proclaimed Julian as augustus (for the second time!). He accepted and
although made attempts to reconcile (including issuing coinage in Constantius’ name in the western mints) effectively usurped power and placed himself in direct conflict with the emperor. Julian travelled to Vienne later that year, openly celebrating his quinquennalia (5th anniversary) in November AD 360 with games and his adoption of the diadem as augustus for the first time, as well as presiding over the celebration of Epiphany in January AD 361 – Kent notes this that this may have been his last public appearance in a Christian church (RIC VIII, p. 16). Much of AD 360-361 was spent with the two men posturing. Julian still
acknowledged Constantius as the senior partner, but this was not reciprocated – Constantius stirred insurrection in Gaul, while supporters loyal to him also took Aquileia. Just as it seemed that the empire was once again heading towards civil war, Constantius died (3rd November AD 361) while campaigning in Cilicia against Shapur, not before naming Julian his heir and therefore sole ruler of the empire (Amm. 21.15.3). Julian in turn marched triumphally into Constantinople on the 11th December AD 361 to assume his position as emperor.

Siliqua of Julian dating to AD 360-3, mint of Lyon. Record ID is LEIC-2048D5 (Copyright: Leicestershire County Council, License: CC-BY).

The coinage of Julian’s joint rule with Constantius and running in to his sole reign as augustus recorded through the PAS is essentially formed of silver siliquae that usually carry vota reverse types. These were struck at several mints, but for the period that he is augustus (c.AD 360-363) the examples recorded on the PAS database are almost exclusively from the mints of Trier, Lyon, and Arles. The two primary references for these silver issues should be RIC VIII and P. Guest The Late Roman Gold and Silver Coins from the Hoxne Hoard (2005). Julian still appears looking young, beardless, and in a change from his period as caesar now wears a diadem that marks his position as augustus, as in the example above.

Julian as augustus, December AD 361-June AD 363

By AD 362 Julian had travelled east to Antioch, his first laws issued there by the 28th of July, and he became consul for the 4th time at the city on the 1st of January AD 363 (Amm. 23.1.1).
Shapur II remained a threat and Julian’s focus of attention was on securing his eastern frontier, indeed he left Antioch on the 5th March AD 363 for the last time to campaign in Persia. However, the city was one of very mixed fortune for Julian. His policies empire wide attempted to revive and encourage worship of the traditional pagan gods of the Roman world and limit (although tolerate) the role of Christianity, fuelled in no small measure by his education and Neoplatonist thinking. In a largely Christian Antioch this met with resistance and even public criticism. He had grown his beard, a sign of his pagan and philosophical beliefs, and this begins to be depicted on his coinage as well as becoming a source for scorn by the Antiochenes. Indeed, in reaction to this, Julian himself writes his satirical Misopogon (‘Beard-hater’), his own take on (and shove back at) the Antiochenes dislike of him for his beard and philosophies!
Leaving the city in March AD 363, he led the Roman legions to face Persia. In battle at Samarra on the 26th of June, Julian received what was to be a fatal blow from a spear (there is some suggestion this may not have been a Persian spear…!). After his death he was buried at Tarsus and then at some stage later his remains were removed to Constantinople. The pagan revival was over!

Siliqua of Julian dating to AD 361-363, showing Julian with his pagan beard. Record ID is GLO-9E8F6A (Copyright: Bristol City Council, License: CC-BY).

The coinage from this last phase of Julian’s reign brings in several distinct changes. Again, the bulk of material on the PAS is silver, although there is an important, but rare, group of nummi. Most clear in his latest coinage is the gradual presence of an increasingly large beard in his portraiture, and this is a useful diagnostic tool not just for very worn coins of Julian (other contemporary rulers are depicted clean shaven) but also in placing them late in Julian’s reign as augustus.

Contemporary copies

Copies of Julian’s siliquae are common finds on the PAS. Silver coinage from prior to the weight reduction in c.AD 357 is relatively rare in Britain, but the reduced weight coins of
Constantius and Julian are amongst the most commonly recorded as single finds. It is from this period that we see the most copies of siliquae reported, in particular plated copies, gradually petering out into the later 4th century. One of the reasons for this is that in AD 366 an edict by Valentinian resulted in the tightening up of silver purity in the coinages with mintmarks now including the letters PS (pusulatum) to indicate their purity. After this date,
copies appear to be of good quality silver rather than plated – a phenomenon extremely well demonstrated by the West Bagborough hoard (Somerset) dating to c.AD 368-369. This had
58 good quality silver copies amongst the 681 coins and only one plated copy.4 This switch from plated copies to silver copies means that if you are recording a plated siliqua it is far more likely to be from the period of Constantius and Julian prior to the Valentinian edict in AD 366. There are more than 70 coins of Julian recorded as copies amongst the c.550 PAS examples.

Contemporary plated copies of siliquae of Julian from the PAS database.

The coinage of Jovian, c.AD 363-364

Portrait of Jovian on a silver siliqua dating to AD 363-4, SUSS-F74487 (Copyright: Sussex Archaeological Society, License: CC-BY).

Julian’s death while on campaign against the Sasanian King
Shapur II in June AD 363 left the Roman army in a precarious position. After his departure from Antioch, Julian crossed the Euphrates, dividing his forces so that part of his army (led by Procopius, who was to usurp Valens in c.AD 365-366) joined up with Armenian troops at Media, the remainder heading down the Euphrates to DuraEuropas. The ultimate aim was the Persian capital of Ctesiphon, which the two elements of his army reached in May AD 363. Although Julian’s army forced those at Ctesiphon back into the heavily fortified city, he was unable to take the city and despite having perhaps the largest Roman army ever assembled on Persian soil (some 65,000-80,000 or 90,000 soldiers) found himself stuck between a large Persian army led by Shapur and the Tigris. A hasty retreat involved conflict at Samarra, where Julian received the wound that would lead to his death.

The army had to make a quick decision over who was to take the role of their commander and emperor. They chose Flavius Jovianus, who had travelled on the Mesopotamian campaign as
part of the Imperial bodyguard and was son of Varronianus who had been Constantius II’s comes domesticorum (commander of the Imperial bodyguard). Jovian was born in Singidunum (Belgrade, Serbia) in AD 331 and had two sons, one named Varronianus, by his wife Charito. His first act as newly appointed emperor was to try and affect the withdrawal of the Roman army – now tiring and short of supplies – from deep within Mesopotamia. What resulted was a largely humiliating truce that, while ensuring safe passage for his army, also ceded large areas of the eastern provinces to Shapur, as well as all interests in Armenia. Jovian reached an enraged Antioch by October AD 363 before heading back towards Constantinople. In Ancyra (Ankara) in December AD 363 he and his infant son, Varronianus, assumed the consulship for AD 364, but shortly afterwards disaster struck. On the 17th February at Dadastana he was found dead, apparently suffocated by the fumes of his brazier in his tent.

Jovian ruled for just eight months, but two important elements arose from his brief reign that had longer lasting effects on the empire. The first was a reversal of the religious policies instigated by Julian’s pagan revival. This saw the re-establishment of Christianity as the Roman state religion and the support of the Nicene Creed, the end of Christian persecution, as well as a restoration of the anti-pagan laws from prior to Julian’s reign. The
second change came with his death when the eastern and western armies were unable to find unity in terms of a single leader to rule as emperor. Instead, the elevation of Valentinian I
(AD 364-375) and subsequently his brother Valens (AD 364-378) brought about a new form of imperial co-rule not dissimilar to that seen in the early 4th century with the Tetrarchy, one
brother as augustus in the east (Valens), the other in the west (Valentinian). It also brought about the start of a new dynasty, which we will look at in a later blog post.

Jovian’s coinage

For such a short reign, Jovian’s coinage is understandably limited both in volume and range of coin types. A lot of his coinage is from the eastern mints (Alexandria, Antioch, Cyzicus,
Nicomedia, Constantinople, Heraclea, Thessalonica), but word of the new emperor reached the western mints relatively quickly and so there are also coins from Sirmium, Siscia, Aquileia, Rome, Lyon, and Arles. There are just 41 coins of Jovian recorded through the PAS, 28 of these are siliquae, the remainder nummi. 

Like Julian before him, Jovian’s gold coinage is very rare in Britain. Solidi were probably struck at the eastern mints relatively soon after he became emperor, with Antioch amongst the earliest, and often continue types struck by Julian. There are no single examples of Jovian’s gold coinage recorded through the PAS and they are rare as hoard coins too. However, an example did recently appear in a hoard from Norfolk.

Solidus of Jovian, c.AD 363-364, from hoard NMS-102704 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

The larger silver miliarensis was also struck under Jovian. Miliarenses are generally rare as British finds anyway and there are no examples of Jovian on the PAS. One type struck at Arles (Fig. 4), with RESTITVTOR REI P reverse, became a standard reverse type empirewide (in silver and bronze) under Valentinian and Valens (RIC VIII, p. 49).

The majority of Jovian’s coins on the PAS are silver siliquae, numbering 28 in total (including three plated copies). A total of 14 of the regular coins show signs of clipping to the edges of the flan. Although siliquae were struck at numerous mints for Jovian, eastern mint coins are rare as PAS finds and the majority of his silver is from Arles.

Two obverse legends are used and appear to follow a sequence beginning with D N IOVIANVS P F AVG and then changing to D N IOVIAN-VS P F AVG. Kent (RIC VIII, p. 202; see also LRBC p. 42) notes this sequence is demonstrated by the vota reverses that are the exclusive type used for Jovian’s reign. In the earliest examples the standard type for Julian – VOT/V/MVLT/X (or on some coins from Constantinople VOT/V/MVL/X) – appears alongside a type from Arles with VOT/X/MVLT/XX (Fig. 10). This seems to represent reuse of a reverse proper to Julian (possibly either mules with Julian’s types or even from the same dies? Or perhaps even irregular copies. See RIC VIII, p. 54, 202) and so presumably
appears early in his reign once word reached the mint of him becoming emperor. The relative scarcity of Jovian’s siliquae is perhaps attested Hoxne, which has just 41 examples amongst the 14,565 coins within the hoard. Most of these (32 coins) were from the mint at Arles and, indeed, both RIC and Hoxne suggest that no siliquae were struck for Jovian at Trier or Lyon. As we shall see below, the PAS data has perhaps changed that view.

Distribution of Jovian’s coinage

The distribution of Jovian’s coinage (Fig. 20) recorded through the PAS is interesting. A small spread of siliquae is emerging around the Wash, although this is still relatively limited in quantity. In contrast, the bulk of both siliquae and nummi are found in the south west, notably Wiltshire. This in many respects mirrors the distribution of coinage seen for Julian and it may be that Jovian’s examples reflect a similar focus and exploitation of the rural
landscape of the south west following Julian’s restoration of the grain trade to the Rhine. Of course, we still have a relatively small number of coins of Jovian so this distribution may well change as more examples come to light.

References and further reading

P. Bastien Le Monnayage de Magnence (350-353), 1983

P. Guest, The Late Roman Gold and Silver coins from the Hoxne Treasure, 2005

R. Bland and X. Loriot, Roman and Early Byzantine Gold Coins found in Britain and Ireland, 2010

S. Caza, ‘Redating Nepotian’s Usurpation and the Coinage of Magnentius’ KOINON I, 2018: pp. 64-80

S. Moorhead and D. Stuttard, The Romans who Shaped Britain, 2012, p. 203

Coin Relief – Issue Five

Welcome to the fifth edition in our series of blog posts written by our Finds Advisers for ancient coins, Dr. Sam Moorhead and Dr. Andrew Brown. In this series they are exploring some of the many (many) ancient coins from the PAS database.

The Roman Provinces – Part 1

The reverses of Roman coins, particularly in the first few centuries AD, depict a vast range of types and themes that often reveal really quite significant detail with respect to the Roman
world. This could be anything from simple celebratory, votive legends proclaiming an emperor’s anniversary to depictions of the physical or divine elements of the Roman world, the celebration of a significant victory, or more complex and nuanced representations of Roman politics and society. In all cases, there is generally a motivation or a reason behind the choice of reverse type. After all, coinage by its very nature could potentially travel vast distances and cross the hands of many individuals, so the messages contained on the coins were equally important.

Sestertius of Hadrian (AD 117-138) with Britannia reverse type, BM 1872,0709.568 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum).

A good example of this is in the depiction and personification of the provinces that made up the Roman world. The presence of imagery relating to one or other province on Roman coinage was a clever tool (and piece of propaganda!) used by the emperor to demonstrate his connection to the wider empire and highlight, for example, his base of power or support.

Individual provinces (or geographical areas of Roman administrative control, for example Gallia as a combined entity rather than its individual administrative components) are depicted in female form in contrast to, for example, rivers or seas that are male. When personified, they often carry or are surrounded by attributes that identify them and are specific to their landscape or origins (see below). While many Roman coins that depict the provinces have reverse legends that name them (e.g. Britannia as shown above), even on very worn coins the
presence of a female figure with attributes that are identifiable to a specific province allow us to reach a closer identification.

The most significant series of coins that relate specifically to the provinces were issued in Rome by Hadrian (AD 117-138) and Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161). Hadrian’s ‘province’ series towards the end of his reign (RIC II pp. 374-378, 445-467)1 provides a good starting point that demonstrates four ways the provinces were depicted on Roman coinage:

Coins of Antoninus Pius have similar province types, but include a ‘crown’ series in AD 139 with the province usually carrying a wreath or crown (Fig. 2). This is in reference to Antoninus’ halving of the aurum coronarium (‘crown-gold’), a gold tax levied against the provinces on the emperor’s accession to power. 

What the province types demonstrate are imperial policy and perhaps propaganda, essentially the links between the emperor and his provinces, his visits to the provinces, and his restoration of them within the empire, all often linked to specific historic events. Sometimes this would have been to demonstrate or acknowledge support from a particular province – we have seen this already to some extent with the coinage of Galba that reference Hispania – but in the case of Hadrian, for example, it also relates to his travels around the empire!

t has to be remembered that these personifications appear on the coin issues of other emperors too, not solely those of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. Female figures with attributes for their specific province are present from the Republican period onward and, while largely focussed on the imperial coinages of the 1st-2nd centuries AD, there are some later examples into the 4th century.
We often see seated or captive figures that speak to Rome’s subjugation or defeat of a region, often with the word CAPTA (‘captured’), and sometimes these again represent the personification of the captured province. 

I was curious to see how often coins with depictions of the Roman provinces appeared through the PAS. Of course, it is likely that those closer to home will be far more prevalent – notably coins depicting Britannia – and for some emperors, like Hadrian, there are more extensive coinages that depict the provinces in various forms.

Provinces on the PAS Database up to Cappadocia (rough estimates only!)

Britannia, as  we might expect, is clearly out in front. It is interesting though how many coins depicting Africa, Arabia and Armenia find their way to Britain, with notable peaks in the Trajanic and Hadrianic periods. The challenge now is to see if we can refine the data on the PAS database to identify these more thoroughly.

The Roman Provinces – Part 2

In this section we are continuing the we are looking at the provinces of Dacia through to Italia and the various attributes or adjuncts that identify the province personified.

Dacia

One thing that has become clear when looking at the material on the PAS is that there are more types than I first thought there might be, but also that there are some surprising peaks for some regions and corresponding lack of types that depict provinces relatively close to Britannia. This may well be due to a combination of factors, for example large numbers struck for one or other emperor or to commemorate specific events (e.g. Trajan’s Dacian series or the Judaea coinage of the Flavian period, see below for both of these). There are also a large number of bronze issues that are extremely difficult to identify given their  preservation. These clearly fall into the province types, but it is not entirely clear which province they represent! More work is clearly needed to resolve some of these on the database, but hopefully these might be more easily identified in the future with the main types outlined here.

Trajan’s campaigns in the early 2nd century resulted in Dacia
becoming a Roman province by AD 106 and with Trajan taking
the title Dacicus. She is depicted first on coins of Trajan as a
standing female figure usually holding a standard or vexillum
and a curved sword, a ‘falx’. The standard she holds on coins of
Trajan Decius has an animal head, as below .

BM coin: R.83 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum)

This is described as an ass’s head in RIC (e.g. RIC IV.3, p. 114), although Mattingly calls it as a dragon-standard (BMCRE IV, p. lxxix) – a draco with wolflike head perhaps adopted by Roman cavalry from the Dacians or Sarmatians after Trajan’s conquest of Dacia (the Dacian cavalry are depicted carrying dracos on Trajan’s column) – and certainly at least for the Antonine coinages, if not also those of Decius, this appears more likely.

Coins depicting Dacia are extensive for Trajan, very often depicting her in mourning, such as the example below. There is some difficulty separating Trajan’s examples on the PAS as many types depict a Dacian rather than Dacia herself as a captive. This needs more work to go through all of his examples (of which there are many!). At present, I have been able to identify 39 examples with Dacia – 10 denarii, 13 sestertii, 11 dupondii, and 5 asses.

Denarius of Trajan dating to AD 103-111 (Reece Period 5), depicting Dacia in mourning. Record ID is NARC-9B8BDC (Copyright: Northamptonshire County Council, License: CC-BY).

The clearest depiction of Dacia as a province with Trajan is towards the end of his reign where bronze coins are issued that depict her seated on a rock with two children, one holding
corn the other grapes. There are at least seven coins of this type included in the figures for Trajan above, comprising a mix of sestertii, dupondii, and asses, the majority of which are typically quite poorly preserved. There is an excellent piece in the British Museum collection (pictured below) that gives a good idea of the type though.

BM coin: R.12029 (Copyright: Trustees of The British Museum)

There is one possible sestertius and one dupondius of Hadrian, with two possible sestertii of Antoninus Pius on the PAS, but these are very poorly preserved and remain uncertain. The second largest group depicting Dacia are for Trajan Decius, who adopted the name Trajan upon becoming emperor in honour of Trajan himself. There are 13 radiates of Decius on the PAS depicting Dacia standing holding a standard, as well as two radiates of Aurelian with similar type.

Gallia/Gaul

Gaul became a Roman province after Caesar’s Gallic wars in 51 BC. The province was divided into various administrative districts – we saw the three Galliae on the coinage of Galba  – but with Hadrian’s province coinage it is treated as the single entity
of Gallia who also appears on ADVENTVS and RESTITVTOR types  as a robed, kneeling figure. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly given Britain’s proximity to Gaul, there are only 8 PAS examples, two sestertii and six denarii, such as the example below.

Denarius of Hadrian dating to c.AD 134-138 depicting the kneeling figure of Gaul. Record ID is SF-1CFA61 (Copyright: Suffolk County Council, License: CC-BY).

Gallia appears on 3rd century bronze coinage, notably radiates and sestertii of Postumus (AD 260-269) following his establishment of the breakaway Gallic Empire, however these are rare on the PAS. There are seemingly no examples of Postumus that I have found to date, although there is at least one of Gallienus that alludes to his victories in Gaul over the Germanic tribes after AD 256 (see the example below).

Silver Radiate of Gallienus, joint reign with Valerian, dating to c.AD 253-260. Record ID is LANCUM-5D7342 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

Germania

Germania (comprised of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior) was a landscape of regular conflict and campaigning during the Roman period. Partially conquered by Caesar during his campaigns in Gaul, it was not until Augustus that provincial status was afforded. Even then, there were some serious setbacks,
most notably in 9 AD when three Roman legions were annihilated in the Teutoburg forest. Over the following centuries the Romans established a frontier, the limes, along the Rhine and Danube rivers but with regular conflict with the Germanic populations. This war-like aspect is depicted in Germania herself who usually appears on Roman coinage bearing a spear and shield. She appears on coinage from at least the reign of Domitian, typically in defeat or as a captive (Fig. 14) following his advance into the region in AD 83 and stabilisation of the frontier. I have been able to find just one very worn possible PAS denarius and one sestertius of Domitian, the latter showing GERMANIA CAPTA, but no coins of Trajan. The type appears most commonly for Hadrian, with at least 6 denarii recorded through the PAS, like the example below.

Denarius of Hadrian, GERMANIA, AD 134-8, Mint of Rome. Record ID is DENO-F24A33 (Copyright: Derby Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

Hispania

The province of Hispania appears early on Roman coinage, with Republican denarii (serratus) of A. Postumius Albinus in 81 BC
(Fig. 18) that depict a veiled head of Hispania on the obverse, like the example below.

Denarius Serratus struck by Aulus Postumius Albinus dating to 81BC (Reece Period 1). Record ID is YORYM-356D9D (Copyright: York Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

There are at least eight PAS coins of this type. When personified, she is depicted carrying an olive branch and accompanied by a rabbit. This is most clearly demonstrated on the coin types of Hadrian’s province series, as well as his adventus and restitutor types.

Denarius of Hadrian dating to AD 133-139, with RESTITVTORI HISPANIAE reverse. Record ID is BH-9FDA42 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

In a previous blog, we saw how Galba recognised his origins and support in Hispania after he was declared emperor. Four denarii of Galba are recorded through the PAS depicting Hispania with round shield, spear, corn ears and poppy. 

Bronze coinage is often quite problematic in general when very worn and there are several PAS coins that could have Hispania reverse types, but they are too worn to be confident one way or the other. We lack a clear restitutor coin like this example from the British Museum, but there is a good example of a very worn province sestertius (see the example below) from Kent where the start of the legend is just visible, as is the rabbit! We have no example of Hispania later than Hadrian so far on the PAS database, but she does appear for Antoninus Pius and in a wonderful aureus of Laelian.

An extremely worn copper alloy coin of Hadrian – can you see the rabbit?! Record ID is HAMP-8A4246 (Copyright: Winchester Museums Service, License: CC-BY).

Italia

Italia appears on Roman coinage as a very distinct entity separate from Rome herself. A Republican issue of Q. Fufius Calenus and P. Mucius Scaevola of 70 BC depicts Rome and Italia clasping hands with a cornucopiae between them, perhaps alluding to increased harmony between the two entities (see the example below).

Republican denarius serratus issued by Q. Fufius Calenus and P. Mucius Scaevola, 70BC. Record ID is LEIC-E6DBC1 (License: CC-BY). 

There are at least four denarii of this type on the PAS to date. The cornucopia becomes one of the attributes associated with Italia
in her depictions during the imperial period, along with a sceptre. There are six denarii of Hadrian and one possible sestertius that depict Italia standing holding sceptre and cornucopiae recorded through the PAS.

With Antoninus Pius, Italia is usually depicted seated on a globe holding sceptre and cornucopiae (Fig. 28: BM coin R.13620), the type continuing through the Antonine period and into the Severan period. Sestertii of this type appear relatively frequently on the PAS, although I am sure there are likely to be others that I have not yet found. For Antoninus there are at least 4 sestertii and 3 denarii, for Marcus Aurelius 3 sestertii and for Commodus 4 sestertii and one as. Denarii struck by Caracalla also depict Italia seated, but there appear to be no PAS examples, nor for that matter for earlier coins of Trajan.

Judaea

Judaea did not come under Roman control until the Augustan period, but depictions of the province personified only appear in the Flavian period. Tensions between Rome and the Jewish populations in Jerusalem in particular prompted rebellion in the city (not helped by the Roman plundering of the Second Temple) and the first of three major conflicts between Rome and the Jewish populations – the First Jewish-Roman War (AD 66-73). In AD 70 Roman forces broke through the defences of Jerusalem,
destroying the Temple, the spoils used to fund the construction of the colosseum.

Coins of the Flavian period depict Judaea captured (CAPTA) or defeated (DEVICTA) and they are numerous on the PAS – approximately 50 denarii are recorded as well as one aureus
of Vespasian (below) and c.15 bronze denominations. She is often depicted with a palm tree. There are no Hadrianic types that I can find on the PAS database.

Aureus of Vespasian  dating to AD 69-70, depicting Judaea seated beneath a palm tree. Record ID is CAM-9D9B6D (Copyright: Cambridgeshire County Council, License: CC-BY).

In the previous section, we saw how the various attributes associated with a province can help to identify coins recorded through the PAS. Carrying on that theme, it is clear that these small pieces of evidence on reverse types in particular can prove essential in differentiating one coin type from another – perhaps the clearest example of that in this edition is the rabbit on the Hispania coin (it is there, I promise you!). As with the last batch of provinces, it is also apparent that some are better represented than others, probably largely a result of the volumes of material issued by some rulers or the number of types struck representing specific events. But I was surprised by how few PAS coins depict Gallia and Germania, provinces that are comparatively close to home, even if the coins would have to travel some distance from Rome to get here. This is perhaps best represented by combining the material from this and the last edition in Table 1, where
Britannia remains well out in front, but there are notable contributions from elsewhere too.

Provinces recorded through the PAS on Roman coin types. Aegyptos to Judaea (rough estimates only!)

The peaks for provinces like Arabia, Dacia, and Judaea I’m sure to some degree reflect the volume of material originally produced
commemorating key historical events like Trajan’s Dacian campaigns, for which there are many different types. In contrast, there are far fewer types in general for provinces like Germania, for example, and so we might as a result expect fewer coins.

The Roman Provinces – Part 3

It is worth remembering that the ‘province’ depicted isn’t always in the strictest sense the administrative area under Roman control. As will become apparent in one or two examples in this edition, sometimes it is more a notional sense of a region, people, or landscape – a good example of this is Scythia, which essentially covers the Greek settlements of the northern Black Sea coastline. We have already seen this to some degree in the last two editions in province coins that effectively combine more than one administrative district, such as Gallia. What the coins of these series do demonstrate though, in the Hadrianic and
Antonine period in particular, is a growing sense of empire, it’s extent, diversity, and connectivity. In the Antonine crown series this perhaps also brings stronger indications of loyalty and tribute to the central power in Rome (see BMCRE IV, pp. lxxix-lxxx). Although there are references to the provinces in later issues into the 3rd and even 4th centuries, as we have already seen with, for example, Africa, overt depictions like those on the 2nd century coinages are much less common and indeed rare on the PAS.

Two key points come from looking at the material recorded through the PAS for coin types that depict the provinces. Firstly, there really are quite a range of types and regions represented. I have been able so far to identify over 600 examples, although I suspect that this number may change (and potentially  considerably) as there are likely to be others not fully identified amongst the PAS material. Secondly, there is much work still to do in refining the PAS dataset to fully categorise all of these types! The types of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius in particular are relatively neatly contained in short issues within their respective reigns and the attributes or adjuncts that identify the provinces are often quite clearly defined. This should allow us to present a clearer picture of what is contained within the PAS material but requires a further, more detailed examination of the dataset, particularly at the large numbers of very worn early Roman bronze issues.

Nilus

Amongst the province types listed for Hadrian are coins that depict Nilus, the personification of the River Nile (see RIC II, nos. 308-311, 861-870). This issue is slightly different to the majority of province types in that, as a river, Nilus is depicted in male form and representing the landscape of the Nile might perhaps fit better for the purposes of our Coin Relief editions alongside other personifications of rivers and seas (for example the Danube or Tiber). It is worth illustrating this type briefly here though as the principle of how the river is depicted is the same as for the provinces. In this case we see a reclining male figure surrounded by the attributes that define him – a hippopotamus, crocodile, and sphinx, holding a cornucopiae and reed. If the personification on the coin you are recording therefore appears to be male rather than female, it is worth checking that it isn’t one of the rivers! Nilus does appear on the PAS database – there are at least 10 examples that I have found so far, such as the example below.

Denarius of Hadrian dating to AD 134-138 with NILVS reverse type. Record ID is YORYM-B7BE6C (Copyright: York Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

Macedonia

The territory of Macedonia was incorporated as a Roman province following a series of conflicts that culminated in Roman victory during the Third (171-168 BC) and Fourth Macedonian Wars (150-148 BC). On the adventus and restitutor types of Hadrian, she appears wearing a traditional Macedonian kausia (flat hat), short tunic, and carries a whip. There are currently no examples of these types that I can find on the PAS.

Sestertius of Hadrian c.AD 134-138 depicting Macedonia wearing a kausia. British Museum coin BM: R.9203 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum).

Mauretania

As a client kingdom of the Roman empire, Mauretania, covering parts of Morocco and Algeria, became a province under Claudius
I in AD 44. In Hadrian’s coinage, the province is depicted wearing a short tunic, sometimes with an elephant headdress, carrying a vexillum, corn ears, or javelins, and, most importantly, in the province series is depicting leading a horse either left or right. There are two very worn sestertii of this type on the PAS. Although coins depicting Mauretania were also struck in Antoninus Pius’ crown series, depicting the province holding a crown, there appear to be no PAS examples.

Sestertius of Hadrian c.AD 134-138 depicting Mauretania in elephant headdress. British Museum coin BM: R.9206 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum).

Moesia

Moesia, located in the Balkans between Serbia and the Ukraine, became a Roman province by the reign of Augustus. She holds a bow and quiver, appearing only in the adventus series for Hadrian. There are no PAS coins that I can find of this rare type.

Moesia depicted on the adventus series of Hadrian. British Museum coin BM: 1952,0405.8 (Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum).

Noricum

Noricum, incorporated first as a client kingdom under Augustus then as a province with Claudius I, was a frontier province covering modern Austria. Coins depicting the province are hugely rare, appearing as an adventus type for Hadrian as a helmeted female figure holding a standard. There are no PAS examples of this type yet and in fact there appear to be no coins in the British Museum collection either.

Pannonia

It is with Lucius Aelius as proconsul to Pannonia under Hadrian that the first depictions of the province of Pannonia appear. On Aelius’ bronze coinage she is depicted standing left holding a vexillum and gathering up her drapery with her left hand. Three examples of this type are recorded through the PAS, such as the example below.

Sestertius of Aelius dating to c.AD 137 with Pannonia on the reverse. Record ID is SUR-95C196 (Copyright: Surrey County Council, License: CC-BY).

Under Trajan Decius radiates were struck with Pannonia as a single, standing figure, veiled and holding a standard, but also as two female figures, the two Pannoniae. The province had been divided into two regions, Pannonia Superior and Pannonia Inferior by Trajan during his Dacian campaigns and in the coinage of Decius both components appear to be depicted. There are nine radiates of Decius with reverse type of the two Pannoniae on the PAS, including the example below.

Silver radiate of Trajan Decius depicting the two Pannoniae. Record ID is SF-769AFE (Copyright: Suffolk County Council, License: CC-BY).

Parthia

After several centuries of political posturing and rivalry, Trajan’s eastern campaigns from AD 114 that resulted in the incorporation of Armenia and Mesopotamia into the Roman empire also led to
the capture of the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon. Rather than annex Parthia he instead installed Parthamaspates as a client
king in AD 116. Trajan’s coinage reflects this capture of Parthia – notably in an aureus recorded through the PAS and several sestertii (seven PAS examples) that depict Parthamaspates as a supplicant to Trajan being crowned by the emperor.

Aureus of Trajan dating to AD 114-117 depicting Parthian captives. Record ID is BH-80B838 (Copyright: St. Albans District Council, License: CC-BY).

It was not until Antoninus Pius that the coinage depicts Parthia herself, although by this time Rome had withdrawn from the east with client kings established in provinces like Armenia – she was not so much a province proper as a friendly client kingdom. On Pius’ bronze coinage Parthia is depicted holding a crown as well as a bow and quiver (which is also visible next to the seated Parthian’s on the aureus above). There is just one possible example of this type (CORN-02F005) that I have found so far on the PAS.

Following Antoninus Pius’ death, Lucius Verus campaigned in the Roman-Parthian War (AD 161-166) and Ctesiphon was again subject to Roman capture in AD 165. It is from this period that several PAS coins originate (at least 6 possible sestertii, one possible dupondius, and 5 denarii) depicting Parthia (or at least a captive Parthian) seated, often beneath a trophy but notably with the bow and quiver that are attributes of Parthia herself.

Denarius of Lucius Verus dating to AD 165, depicting Parthia as captive. Record ID is YORYM-8FC205 (Copyright: York Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

Phoenicia

Not officially a Roman province until AD 198, Phoenicia as a region on the coastline of Syria appears in Antoninus Pius’ crown
series of AD 139. She is depicted holding a crown and with both a palm tree behind her and a ship’s prow reflecting her seafaring
origins. There appear to be no examples of this type yet on the PAS.

Coin of Antoninus Pius depicting Phoenicia. British Museum coin BM: 1872,0709.627 (Copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

Phrygia

Phrygia became a Roman province in 133 BC and remained a single entity before being divided into two provinces by Diocletian. There are no examples of Phrygia personified on
the PAS, but she is represented on the adventus and restitutor types of Hadrian as a draped figure wearing a Phrygian cap and holding a pedum (a shepherd’s crook).

Coin of Hadrian depicting Phrygia kneeling before Hadrian (note the Phrygian cap). British Museum coin BM: R.3654 (Copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

Scythia

In Antoninus’ crown series the Greek cities of the northern Black Sea coastline are represented broadly as ‘Scythia’. This is a good example of both Hadrian and Antoninus’ coinages not strictly reflecting a specific province, region, or people, but rather a broad and perhaps slightly notional sense of that part of the Roman empire. She is depicted wearing a short tunic and mural crown, holding a crown and parazonium. There are no clear examples of this type on the PAS.

Coin of Antoninus Pius depicting Scythia in a short tunic and mural crown, holding a second crown and parazonium. British Museum coin BM: 1872,0709.629 (Copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

Sicilia

Sicily was Rome’s first province outside Italy, annexed following her victory in the First Punic War (264-241 BC) with Carthage. She is distinctive in that on her head she has a triskeles, the three-legged symbol of Sicily (and also the Isle of Man!), and carries corn ears or a poppy(?). Examples are known for both Hadrian
 and Antoninus Pius, but to date there are no PAS examples. Look out for her and also for Hadrian’s medusa head type for Sicily (or perhaps don’t look too closely!).

Coin of Hadrian depicting Sicilia (note the triskeles on her head). British Museum coin BM: R.9209 (Copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

Syria

Syria was a Roman province from 64 BC, annexed during the Third Mithridatic War. It served as a strategic location from which the Roman legions could engage with the east. The army in Syria is highlighted in Hadrian’s exercitus coinage but with Antoninus Pius Syria appears holding a crown and cornucopiae, with the personification of a swimming River Orontes (who appears alongside the Tyche of Antioch in Roman art and coinage) at her feet (Fig. 27: BM coin R.13412). There appear to be no PAS examples yet depicting this type.

Coin of Antoninus Pius depicting Syria on the reverse with the River Orontes at her feet. British Museum coin BM: R.13412 (Copyright: Trustees of The British Museum).

Some more missing types…!

There are some provinces that appear very rarely in both Hadrian and Antoninus Pius’ coinages, some of which do not appear as personifications but are apparent in, for example,
Hadrian’s exercitus types. It is worth collating some of these here in case they appear during recording on the database – the best references for all of these types are RIC II (for Hadrian) and RIC III (for Antoninus Pius). These provinces are: Achaeae, Nicomedia, Raetia and Thracia. None of these rare types are present in the PAS dataset as far as I can tell at present, although there could be some hiding, particularly amongst the early bronze coinages.

The province types on Roman coinage provide an interesting glimpse at ideas of empire, identity, diversity, and sometimes politics, propaganda, and tribute! Their appearance in several instances reflect specific events in Roman history, commemorating conquest or victory for example in the case of Trajan’s Dacian issues. They are also surprisingly numerous on the PAS database. The table below highlights the rough numbers that I have been able to identify to date, some 603 coins.

Although Britannia issues are by far the largest group, which is perhaps to be expected given the batches of coins that seem to have been shipped directly to Britain from the mint in Rome, it is surprising how many of the other provinces are also represented. For some, like Dacia, long periods of interaction and conflict meant that she is depicted on numerous issues of more than one
emperor and so we might expect a larger volume of material. In contrast, others are very rare or missing – notably provinces like Germania and Gallia are quite underrepresented in the PAS data.
It is possible these figure may be refined by a more complete audit of the records already on the database and I’m sure more will appear in the future!

Coin Relief – Issue Four

Welcome to the fourth edition in our series of blog posts written by our Finds Advisers for ancient coins, Dr. Sam Moorhead and Dr. Andrew Brown. In this series they are exploring some of the many (many) ancient coins from the PAS database. 

Dynastic nummi c.AD 326

Constantine I (AD 306-337) celebrated his vicennalia – the twentieth anniversary of his rise to power – in the year between the 26th July 325 and 25th July 326. He had been elevated to emperor in York upon the death of his father Constantius I in 306, and two decades later, along with the Imperial family, made his way back to Rome from Nicomedia (Turkey) for his vicennial celebrations. Nicomedia had become his temporary capital following victory over co-Emperor Licinius I at the Battle of Chrysopolis (18th September 324) and it was from here that he began to establish a new, and Christian, Constantinian dynasty as sole ruler of the Roman world. During the course of this celebratory year, Constantine struck coins and medallions in gold, silver and bronze, that celebrate the imperial family – Constantine, his wife Fausta, mother Helena, and threes sons Crispus (AD 317-326), Constantine II (AD 317-340) and Constantius II (AD 323-361).

Copper-alloy nummus of Constantine I dated AD 326. Record ID is IOW-538EA5 (Copyright: Isle of Wight Council, License: CC-BY).

The bronze coinage associated with Constantine’s vicennalia appears in the period leading up to the inauguration of Constantinople on 11th May AD 330, which saw the reorganisation of the Roman world with a new eastern capital. The mint at Constantinople was already striking coinage by c.326 though and we see the first overtly Christian reverse type in this period.

Dynastic or “Anepigraphic” coinage

Our focus in this post is on the “dynastic” or “anepigraphic” bronze nummi that resulted from Constantine’s vicennial celebrations. These are distinctive in that they lack obverse legends (hence “anepigraphic”), whilst the reverse types simply name the emperor or on of the imperial family (hence “dynastic”).

Dynastic nummi and their precious metal counterparts were struck at mints moving from east to west. It has been suggested that the issues specifically related to the vicennalia were struck as a result of a treasury travelling with Constantine. Although gold and silver coins were struck at many of these mints, they are extremely rare. However, there are a number of the bronze examples recorded on the PAS database.

Anepigraphic nummi were struck at a number of mints across the empire. There are 53 examples of these types recorded by Constantine I and his sons Crispus, Constantine II and Constantius II. So far, we do not have any pieces of Fausta or Helena, but these were only struck in Antioch and therefore far less likely to reach Britain.

The Gold and Silver Coinage of Nero, AD 54-68

Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, more commonly known by his imperial name Nero (AD 54-68), was the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors. He was born in Antium (Italy) on the 15th December AD 37 to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger. By the age of 13 he was heir presumptive to the imperial throne through his adoption by Claudius and, in AD 54, at the age of just 16 became emperor. Agripinna’s involvement in ensuring her son inherited the throne from Claudius (and hastening his departure!) was questioned by ancient sources, such as Tacitus and Suetonius, and this element of manipulation and illegality was something that followed Nero throughout his life, and indeed afterwards.

Bronze Julio-Claudian head, possibly of Nero rather than Claudius I, from the British Museum collections (BM: 1965,1201.1, Copyright: The Trustees of The British Museum).

Upon becoming emperor, power rested initially with Agripinna and Nero’s advisers Burrus and Seneca. In AD 59 Nero conspired to murder his mother, if we are to believe Tacitus and others, due to his affair with Poppaea Sabina, having already poisoned his step-brother Britannicus in AD 55. His spiral into megalomania is well documented by the likes of Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio, who depict him almost as a caricature of tyranny, corruption, extravagance and with a desire for celebrity and acknowledgement of his prestige in the arts.

Although this is perhaps not the full story, Nero certainly entertained public extravagance. He was known to perform in public, singing and playing the cithara (lyre). In AD 67 he even competed in the Olympic games, winning every event he entered! In AD 60, he inaugurated his own Neronian games. Early in his reign (prior to Agripinna’s death) the empire was relatively stable and he seems to have found some support and even devotion amongst the populace. However, contemporary sources are far from unbiased or flattering toward Nero and this has dramatically affected the modern perspective of the emperor.

It is after Agripinna’s death and the gradual removal of Burrus and Seneca that things begin to unravel. Rivals were executed and he divorced and then exiled his wife Claudia Octavia on grounds of infidelity, despite much public outcry. In a public ceremony in AD 64, Nero married the freedman Pythagoras, taking the role of bride. Disaster struck Rome on the 18th July AD 64 when fire broke out on the Aventine Hill near the Circus Maximus, spreading to burn for six days and destroying much of the city. Many ancient sources blame Nero for starting the fire, supposedly to clear space for the construction of his vast Domus Aurea – Suetonius goes as far as to say that Nero watched the fire, performing in costume the Sack of Ilium from beginning to end (Suetonis, Nero: 38). He is further reported to have accused Christians of involvement, leading to their persecution. 

The tyranny was to catch up with him, however. In March AD 68 the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gaius Julius Vindex, revolted. Although this was suppressed and Vindex defeated in battle, growing support (and rebellion) for the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, Servius Sulpicius Galba, increased.  Nero fled Rome and on the 9th June AD 68 he committed suicide. Nero was an archetypal bad emperor and following his death was the first to have his memory officially condemned by the state – damnatio memoriae. His image and name were removed from many monuments and documents, some seeing his death as a liberation from his tyranny.

Coinage of Nero

Coinage of Nero on the PAS database is quite extensive, although by no means as prolific as the later Flavian period. There are currently about 170 examples of single gold and silver coins of Nero recorded on the database.

Pre-reform denarius of Nero dating to c.AD 60-61 (Reece Period 3). Record ID is SUR-881F62 (Copyright: Surrey County Council, License: CC-BY).

Nero’s reign is significant for the for the development of Roman coinage, most notably through his reform of the gold and silver coinage between AD 63-65, that saw their debasement and revaluation. This reform is generally placed c.AD 64 following the great fire of Rome, which not only destroyed large parts of the city but also put a great strain on the Roman Treasury to cover both the rebuilding of the city and Nero’s own personal extravagances. However, it has also been demonstrated that the impetus for Nero’s reforms may have been to stabilise the denarius empire-wide and perhaps also to align it with the silver coinages of the east. Indeed, the reform in AD 64 appears to have resulted in the emergence of aureus and denarius standards that, far from signalling the beginning of the decline of Roman coinage, replaced the preceding Augustan standards and remained in use and relatively stable for the remainder of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.  

Post-reform denarius of Nero dating to AD 65-66. Record ID is YORYM-4BB3D5 (Copyright: York Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

Kevin Butcher and Matthew Ponting have demonstrated in a series of studies of Nero’s silver coinage that there were possibly four different weight standards used during his reign. Where these coins were struck has also been a subject for discussion. In RIC I, Rome is taken as the mint for all gold and silver coinage, although it has also been suggested that the silver was initially minted at Lyon before being transferred to Rome during Nero’s reform. 

Early Roman gold coinage is generally quite rare in Britain and there are very few hoards that pre-date the Flavian period which contain aurei. However, there is a notable increase in losses of post-reform aurei of Nero, which represent the highest number of aurei recorded for any emperor on the PAS database. In total there are 9 Neronian aurei and one possible further example. Of the ten PAS examples, six are of the same reverse type: IVPPITER CVSTOS (Jupiter the Guardian), such as the example below.

Aureus of Nero dating to c.AD 66-67 (Reece Period 3). Record ID is SF-64AA54 (Copyright: Suffolk County Council, License: CC-BY).

It is worth noting that copies of Nero’s coinage do exist and appear quite frequently on the PAS. There are several examples that show muled irregular types between Nero and particularly later Flavian rulers.

Galba, AD 68-69

The revolt of Vindex followed by Nero’s suicide in July AD 68 signalled a period of disturbance and civil war within the Roman empire. Nero’s reign had been a difficult one in many respects and for Roman coinage had resulted in reform. Vindex’s revolt was suppressed while Nero was still emperor and so the first to seize control after his death was Servius Sulpicius Galba (AD 68-69), the 70 year-old governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. He became the first to rule in the Year of the Four Emperors

Denarius of Galba, AD 68-69 (Reece Period 3). Record ID is FASAM-B1F926 (Copyright: all rights reserved, License: CC-BY).

Galba was from an aristocratic Roman background, born on the 24th December 3 BC in Tarracina, Italy. He held various offices including praetor and consul as well as governor of Aquitania, Africa and Hispania. He benefitted from a close relationship (possibly even a familial link) with Livia Augusta, who left him half a million gold pieces in her will – although Tiberius “reduced it to a mere 5,000; and Galba never handled even that modest sum” (Suetonius, Galba, 5). Galba married Aemilia Lepida with whom he had two sons, but all three died during the AD 40s and he remained unmarried for the rest of his life.

Descriptions of Galba are far from flattering! He was seen as ambitious and wealthy, but also as a disciplinarian prone to cruelty and avarice, old and sometimes feeble. Suetonius describes him as of

“average height, very bald, with blue eyes and a hooked nose. His hands and feet were so distorted by gout that he could not endure a shoe for long, unroll a book or even hold one. The flesh on his right side too had grown out and hung down to such an extent that it could with difficulty be held in place by a bandage.”

Suetonius, Galba, 21

Coinage from the Civil Wars is generally rare on PAS, largely due to the very short-lived period of rule experienced by those elevated to high office. Galba is a good example of this with just 78 denarii and possibly thirteen bronze coins recorded. Despite the short period of time that Galba was emperor, his coinage is quite extensive. Although attribution to individual mints is complicated and in part conjectural, coinage in Galba’s name appears to have been issued from at least four different locations: 

  • Spanish mint (April to end of AD 68)
  • Gallic mint(s) (April to late Autumn AD 68) – Vienna(?), Narbo(?) and Lugdunum
  • Rome (July AD 68-15h January AD 69)
  • African mint, possibly Carthage (October AD68-January AD 69)

The PAS has records of coins from all of the above with the exception of the African mint, which might be expected given both the small volume of coinage produced and the unlikelihood of coins from this mint reaching Britain.

Early Denarius of Galba c.AD 68, Spanish mint. Record ID is LIN-898441 (Copyright: Lincolnshire County Council, License: CC-BY).

The earliest series of Galba’s coinage appear after he is declared imperator by his troops but importantly prior to him being officially recognised as emperor by the senate. Coins from this early phase are rare on the PAS database, with just four recorded examples, such as the one above. Coins from the Gallic mints are also rare on the database. The most common are those from the mint of Rome, with 39 examples recorded. They can often be distinguished from coins of the Spanish and Gallic mints through the adoption of the praenom imperatoris (IMP) at the beginning of the obverse legend. Two reverse types are most commonly seen: DIVA AVGVSTA depicting Livia standing left holding patera and cornucopiae (below left); and S P Q R/OB/C S depicting the legend within a wreath (below right).

DIVA AVGVSTA reverse type (left), record ID LEIC-719243 (Copyright: Leicestershire County Council, License: CC-BY). SPQR/OB/CS reverse type (right), record ID SUSS-087335 (Copyright: Sussex Archaeological Society, License: CC-BY).

Extensive bronze coinages were struck for Galba, notably in the Spanish and Rome mints. These are extremely rare on the PAS database and often difficult to identify closely due to their poor preservation. Just seven coins have been identified to date – a mix of sestertii and smaller denominations, many of which cannot be closely attributed to type or mint.

Galba’s death and succession

Galba reached Rome towards the end of AD 68, probably in the September or October. His coinage reflects both his attempts to maintain support from the provinces but also in Rome itself. However, it seems this didn’t have the desired effect! Upon reaching the Eternal City, Galba was immediately faced with problems. He was attacked on his way into the city by a legion loyal to Nero, and there was the threat of potential rebellion by Sabinus and Clodius Macer in Africa. But perhaps his greatest problems came with his desire to restore some kind of order to Nero’s extravagances by annulling awards, gifts and pay. He also surrounded himself with advisors who were seen as hugely corrupt and whose presence undermined his standing with both the senate and the army.

On the 1st January Ad 69, the day Galba took office alongside Titus Vinius as consul, the legions of Upper and Lower Germany rebelled and put their support behind Aulus Vitellius. With no surviving children, Galba adopted Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus on the 10th as his heir but upon presenting him to the praetorian guard, he refused to pay them the bounty they would normally have received on such occasions. The increasing lack of support politically and from the military brought about his eventual downfall and enabled his rival Marcus Salvius Otho to take control. On the 15th January Ad 69 the praetorian guard declared in favour of Otho prompting Galba to head to the Forum to try and make sense of events. He was killed on arrival by soldiers loyal to Otho. His decapitated head , along with those of Piso and Vinius, were paraded on poles before eventually finding their way to more sympathetic parties – Vinius’s head was sold to his daughter, Piso’s was given to his wife, and Galba’s to his steward Argivus who buried it in his garden. Galba lived 72 years and 23 days, out of which he ruled nine months and thirteen days, with a violent end. Tacitus remarks of Galba that: 

“omnium consensu capax imperii nisi imperasset” (everyone would have agreed that he was worthy of imperial office if he had never held it)

Tacitus Histories I.49

Otho, AD 69

Denarius of Otho dating to AD 69 (Reece Period 3). Record ID is BH-242471 (Copyright: St. Albans District Council, License: CC-BY).

While travelling from Narbo to Rome, Galba was joined by the governor of Lusitania, who had allied himself to Galba’s cause, Marcus Salvius Otho (AD 69). Otho had a reputation for extravagance and had become a favourite and a confidant of Nero, a factor that caused suspicion amongst the senate on his elevation to emperor – he “found favour in Nero’s eyes by imitating his extravagance; therefore Nero had left with him, privy as he was to his debaucheries, Poppaea Sabina, the imperial mistress, until he could get rid of his wife Octavia” (Tacitus, Histories I.13). The two seem to have fallen out over Otho’s closeness with Poppaea though and Nero annulled their marriage, banishing Otho to Lusitania where he remained governor for a decade.

When the opportunity arose, Otho quickly sided with Galba to seek some revenge over his treatment by Nero. He was then quick to act when Galba elevated Piso over him as the imperial heir. Support from the military in Rome, notably the praetorians, prompted his coup and the murder of Galba. When Otho was declared emperor, he restored statues of Nero, reinstated those dismissed by Galba, and invested funds to continue Nero’s Domus Aurea – some in the increasingly supportive crowd (military and otherwise) even going so far as to give him the name Nero (Suetonius, Otho, 7)!

Otho was

“of medium height, bow-legged, and with splay feet; but almost as fastidious about appearances as a woman. His entire body had been depilated, and a toupee covered his practically bald head, so well made and fitted that no-one suspected its existence. He shaved every day, and since boyhood had always used a poultice of moist bread to prevent the growth of his beard”. 

Suetonius, Otho, 12

But he was an able, energetic, and fair leader – his compensation of the military certainly helping his cause! The major difficulty Otho faced was revolution in the provinces. Although many provinces initially came out in support of Otho, when the German legions had refused to recognise Galba they instead put their support behind one of their own, Aulus Vitellius. Otho sought to
share power with Vitellius in order to avoid Civil War, but by March Vitellius’ forces were on the move and he turned instead to the defence of Italy where his power base lay (Tacitus,
Histories, 74-78). On the 14th of March, Otho and his forces left Rome for Brixellum (Brescello, Italy) with Vitellius’ legions taking up positions outside Cremona. On the 14th of April the two armies met near Bedriacum and, hugely outnumbered, Otho’s legions suffered a heavy defeat. When the news reached Otho, rather than plunge the empire into greater bloodshed and Civil war he instead stabbed himself to death (on April 16th). Martial recounts 

“And wanton Otho still could win the day; But cursing war with all its price of blood. He pierced his heart and perished as he stood” (Epigrams VI.32).

Martial, Epigrams VI.32

Despite his bloody rise to power, his suicide was viewed as heroic and caused something of a sensation in Rome, as well as an outpouring of public support and grief (e.g. Suetonius, Otho, 12). At his death, he was “thirty-seven; and he died in the ninety-fifth day of his reign” (Suetonius, Otho, 11).

Coinage

Denarius of Otho showing the TR P legend, dating to AD 69 (Reece Period 3). Record ID is LIN-D3B67D (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

Otho’s coinage is, in comparison to his predecessor Galba, relatively limited. It is unusual in that only aurei and denarii were struck, all at the mint of Rome, and with no bronze coinage
at all – perhaps due to the shortness of his reign or there being no real need for issuing bronze coinage, which had been produced in relative abundance by Nero and Galba. The issues from the mint of Rome run from presumably shortly after his elevation as emperor on 15th January AD 69 and last until news of his death reached the city in the middle of April. All of his coinage carries legends referring to his tribunician powers (TR P), such as the example above, which were conferred on 28th February, suggesting his coinage might not have appeared until after this date. His title of Pontifex Maximus from 9th March provides a useful chronological marker.

There are 55 coins of Otho on the PAS (including 10 coins from the Welsh IARCW data). To view them all click here. To date all the reported coins are denarii with the majority of Otho’s types represented.

Vitellius, AD 69

Portrait of Vitellius from a silver denarius of the Lyon Mint, AD 69. Record ID is WMID-589FB2 (Copyright: Birmingham Museums Trust, License: CC-BY).

When the legions of Upper and Lower Germany refused to renew their allegiance to Galba at the beginning of January AD 69, they instead proclaimed Aulus Vitellius (AD 69) as their emperor. Vitellius had very little military experience and his appointment by Galba as commander of the armies in Germany Inferior was an odd one, but he was in the right place at the right time. From a family that perhaps had distinguished origins (or alternatively reformed from lowly origins depending on who you believe! See Suetonius, Vitellius, 1-2), Vitellius 1 spent his youth in Capri where he
became a fixture alongside the likes of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero and was “notorious for every sort of vice” (Suetonius, Vitellius, 4). He married first Petronia and then Galeria Fundana, held the office of consul (AD 48), and the governorship of Africa prior to his appointment in Germany by Galba.

Soon after the legions declared for Vitellius, they received support from the armies of Gaul, Britannia, and Raetia, before beginning their march to Rome where Galba had by now been unceremoniously removed by Otho. His generals, Caecina and Fabius Valens, led half of the legions south to engage with the Othonian forces at Bedriacum with Vitellius himself
remaining in Gaul until word of Otho’s suicide reached him – he was acknowledged as emperor on the 19th April AD 69. His march to Rome was one of indiscipline and excess, Vitellius himself even remarking at the battlefield of Bedriacum that “Only one thing smells sweeter to me than a dead enemy, and that is a dead fellow-citizen” (Suetonius, Vitellius, 10).
This was no better demonstrated than his arrival at Rome, where he was greeted with fanfare but went on to model his leadership on the excesses of Nero “because he was a slave and chattel of luxury and gluttony” (Tacitus, Histories, II.71; see also Cassius Dio 65). The praetorians and urban cohorts were disbanded to make way for the German legions, while Vitellius assumed the title of Pontifex Maximus (18th July AD 69), adopted the cognomen Germanicus (also perhaps referencing his origins as emperor in Germany), banished astrologers from Rome (1st October AD 69), but also paid for military furlough and opened up Imperial office to a wider sector of Roman society (Tacitus, Histories I.58). We even hear of one banquet of 2,000 fish and 7,000 game birds!

However, things were to change. By the middle of July the armies in the eastern provinces had put their support behind a rival emperor, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (AD 69-79), very soon pushing south towards Rome itself. A second battle at Bedriacum occurred on the 24th October AD 69 and ended in Flavian victory and then rapid advance towards the capital.
Vitellius attempted to agree a truce and abdicate but was persuaded otherwise by his supporters in Rome before driving Vespasian’s brother, Flavius Sabinus, and his relatives into the Capitol where he killed them, reportedly setting fire to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. As the Flavian army reached Rome on the 20th December, Vitellius disguised
himself and hid while the city was ransacked. He was soon found though and unceremoniously dragged through the streets into the forum. Suetonius described Vitellius as “unusually tall, with an alcoholic flush at most times, a huge paunch and a somewhat crippled thigh from being run into by a four-horse chariot” (Suetonius, Vitellius, 17). Vespasian’s soldiers tortured Vitellius before finally killing him (or possibly beheading him according to Cassius Dio, 21) and throwing his body in the Tiber. A reign of just 8 months.

Coinage of Vitellius

Coinage began to be struck in Vitellius’ name relatively soon after his legions declared for him in January AD 69. After all, he will have needed to pay his troops to keep their support! Three mints appear to have operated, one in Spain, one in Gaul, and, after his formal acceptance as emperor in April, one in Rome. The chronology of production at these mints isn’t precise, but then Vitellius was only emperor for a short period of time.

The Spanish mint, plausibly at Tarraco, probably began striking coinage fairly soon after the region declared it’s support for Vitellius in early January AD 69 (see Tacitus, Histories, I.76). Vitellius needed to pay his troops in Gaul and so the Spanish mint likely produced quite a volume of coinage (see RIC I (2nd ed.), p. 263) with gold, silver and bronze issues all known. However, coins of Vitellius’ Spanish mint are quite rare on the PAS, with just five possible examples identified to date, such as the example below.

denarius of Vitellius from the Spanish mint, dating to AD 69. Record ID is CAM-5B48E3 (Copyright: Cambridgeshire County Council, License: CC-BY).

A group of aurei, denarii, and asses have been identified as likely products of a mint in Gaul, probably Lyon (Lugdunum). Similarities with some of the Civil Wars coinage from this part of Gaul and the early support from the Germanic legions in Gaul likely means the mint here started striking coinage relatively early. Fifteen coins from this mint have been recorded through the PAS, all of them denarii, like the example below.

denarius of Vitellius from the mint in Gaul, AD 69. Record ID is NMS-312977 (Copyright: Norfolk County Council, License: CC-BY).

The vast majority of PAS examples of Vitellius are from the mint of Rome, with 88 recorded pieces, including the example below. Coins from Rome were struck in relatively large volume and with a range of types in gold, silver, and bronze. These were likely produced soon after Vitellius was recognised as emperor on the 19th April until his death on 20th December AD 69.

denarius of Vitellius from the mint of Rome, AD 69. Record ID is IOW-5F7D27 (Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY).

References and further reading

Thorough treatment of bronze dynastic nummi can be found in L. Ramskold ‘Constantine’s Vicennalia and the
death of Crispus’ (2012; https://tinyurl.com/y9b6e3e4 );

R. Harlick ‘Anepigraphic Bronze Coins of
Constantine and Family’ The Celator 21, 2007, No 7, 6-20.

For damnatio see the excellent book by Dario Calomino Defacing the Past (2016)

Butcher and M. Ponting The reforms of Trajan and the end of the pre-Neronian denarius (2015); The denarius in the first century (2011); The Roman Denarius Under the Julio-Claudian Emperors: Mints, Metallurgy and Technology (OJA, 2005)

R. Bland Coin Hoards and Hoarding in Roman Britain AD 43-498 (Spink, 2018)

Juvenal, Satire II; Tacitus, Histories

“Founder” Coins and Rome’s Ritual Boundary

In this post Maria Kneafsey, Finds Liaison Officer for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, celebrates the anniversary of the foundation of Rome (21st April 753 BC) by examining a coin from the PAS database. 

A silver denarius linked to the foundation of Rome, WILT-E5BA8D (Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, License: CC-BY).

WILT-E5BA8D (RIC I, Augustus, 272) is one of the rarer coin types on the PAS database at present, with only two examples recorded. It is a silver denarius issued between c.29-27 BC by Augustus, perhaps even while he was still known as Octavian. On the obverse we see the laureate bust of Apollo, Octavian’s adopted patron deity, whose temple he constructed next to his home on the Palatine Hill in 28 BC (Wiseman, 2019: 101). The reverse shows Octavian veiled in priestly garb, ploughing a furrow with a yoke of oxen. It is this latter image that I’d like to focus on here; this motif is a prototype of Augustan visual language, weaving together tradition and ambition to cast the man who would become Rome’s first emperor not only as the true leader of the city and the empire, but as a second Romulus, a second founder.

The ploughing ritual depicted here is the creation of a boundary known as the sulcus primigenius, the first furrow, which in turn marked out the line of the pomerium, The pomerium was a city’s ritual boundary, which separated the sacred space of the city from the profane world outside. The creation of this line was the first step in the foundation of a new city and its most famous iteration was the legendary ritual that took place on the 21st April 753 BC on the banks of the River Tiber.

Rome’s Servian Wall (red) and pomerium (original in green, extended in yellow). (Image: Heinrich Kiepert, Wikimedia Commons).

The story of Rome’s pomerium and its ritual creation by the legendary figure Romulus is a crucial component of the city’s foundation myth, which was recorded by a number of ancient authors: Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ant. Rom. 1. 88), Plutarch (Rom. 11. 1-4), Tacitus (Ann. 12. 23-24), Aulus Gellius (NA 13. 14), and Festus (Lexicon 295L s.v. Posimerium), amongst others. The stories recorded by these authors were all very minor variations on the following sequence of events: the pomerium of Rome was believed to have been ploughed originally by Romulus around the Palatine Hill according to the instructions of a priest, breaking the furrow at the points of entry and exit from the city. This line was the first furrow (the sulcus primigenius), and it set out the line for not only the first pomerium, but also the first city wall. The ritual took place on an auspicious day, and was celebrated each year thereafter with the Parilia festival in the fields, and after the time of Hadrian, the Romaea festival in the streets of Rome. To this day, the natale di Roma is celebrated in the city, and thousands of people turn out to walk the ancient via Sacra and congregate in the Circus Maximus

So where did this ritual come from? In antiquity it was commonly accepted that the ploughing ritual was based on an Etruscan rite that was adopted for the creation of the city, as recorded by Varro in the first century BC:

Many founded towns in Latium by the Etruscan ritual; that is, with a team of cattle, a bull and a cow on the inside, they ran a furrow around with a plough (for reasons of religion they did this on an auspicious day), that they might be fortified by a ditch and a wall (Ling. 5. 143).

It was further echoed by his contemporary, Livy:

This word [pomerium] is interpreted by those who look only at its etymology as meaning “the tract behind the wall,” but it signifies rather “the tract on both sides of the wall,” the space which the Etruscans used formerly to consecrate with augural ceremonies when they proposed to erect their wall (1. 44).

The only surviving source that mentioned the foundation ritual prior to the first century BC is Cato’s Origines, written in the early second century BC and which survives only in fragments. The Origines was the first history written in Latin prose, and the first of its seven books was concerned with the origo populi Romani (Cornell, 1995: 6). His account of the creation of a pomerium included the first written record of the ritual, suggesting a Latin origin, not a specifically Etruscan one:

Founders of a city used to yoke a bull on the right, and a cow on the inside [the left]; then, clad in the Gabine manner – that is, with part of the toga covering the head and the rest tucked up – they would hold the plough-handle bent in so that all the clods fell inwards, and ploughing a furrow in this manner they would describe the course of the walls, lifting the plough over the gateways (1. 18a = fr 18 P).It is perhaps true to say that in antiquity it was largely irrelevant whether or not the connection between the pomerium and the foundation of Rome by Romulus was based on fact; by the late republic and early imperial periods the link was firmly established in visual and literary culture, as the yoked bull and cow ploughing the pomerial furrow had become symbols of colony foundation. This can be seen in the first century AD relief from Aquileia, possibly the only complete, surviving sculptural representation of the pomerium ritual, associated with the founding of the Italian colony (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Aquileia: inv. 1171). Similarly, a cast statuette in the British Museum found in County Durham depicts the same pomerial ritual (1879,0710.1).

DUR-EFD631 – a denarius of Vespasian showing the yoked oxen on the reverse (RIC II 2nd edition, Vespasian, 944). Copyright: Durham County Council, License: CC-BY).

Many emperors employed this image in the material culture produced during their reign, demonstrated by the existence of “the founder” coin type seen above (figs. 1 & 3), with examples surviving from the coinage of Augustus, Vespasian (RIC II 2nd edn., Vespasian 943-5; 951-2), Trajan (RIC II, Trajan 567-8), Hadrian (Mershorer 2; Hendin 810) and Commodus (RIC III, Commodus, 247; 560; 570), amongst many others, minted in numerous provinces across the Empire. Though the most famous version of this ancient ritual took place at Rome, there is evidence to suggest that many other Roman towns had a pomerium that was created in this way, notably Capua, Pompeii, and Herculaneum in Italy (Senatore, 1999: 100-2), Aelia Capitolina at Jerusalem (Ben-Eliyahu, 2016), Iulia Genetiva in southern Spain (CIL 2.5.439), and Colchester, Lincoln, and Gloucester in England (Wacher, 1997; Pearce, 2011). The coin illustrated in figure 1 has been linked to the foundation of Nicopolis by Octavian in c. 29 BC after his victory over Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC (RIC I: 60-1, fn. 272; BMCRE I, cxxiv; Calomino, 2012: 103-4). This brings additional meaning: the reverse of this coin not only references the ritual foundation of Rome and hints at the emerging political prominence of Octavian, but it also commemorates the foundation of a new city inextricably connected to his greatest military victory to date, hidden behind the imagery of tradition and piety that would become hallmarks of the Augustan visual programme. Coins such as WILT-E5BA8D help us to understand the mechanisms by which these powerful and simple images were transmitted across the empire. Though this coin was almost certainly minted in Italy, its arrival in Britain demonstrates the vast distances these images could travel and the populations they could reach. The inhabitants of Nicopolis may never have seen Augustus, but they could hold his coinage, see the image of Apollo and the founder of their home, and learn a little about the man who ruled the Eternal City.

Further reading:

Beard, M., North, J., and Price, S. 1998. Religions of Rome, (2 vols). Cambridge.

Galinsky, K. 2012. Augustus: introduction to the life of an emperor. Cambridge.

Zanker, P. 1988. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. Ann Arbor.

Stevens, S. 2017. City Boundaries and Urban Development in Roman Italy. Leuven.

References

Ben-Eliyahu, E. 2016. ‘“Cities surrounded by a wall from the time of Joshua Son of Nun” as a Rabbinic Response to the Roman Pomerium,’ The Jewish Quarterly Review 106: 1-20.

Calomino, D. 2012. ‘Actia Nicopolis. Coinage, Currency and Civic Identity (27 BC-AD 268),’ in F. L. Sanchez (ed.) The City and the Coin in the Ancient and Early Medieval Worlds. BAR International Series 2402. Oxford. 103-115.

Cornell, T. J. 1995. The beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC). London.

Pearce, J. 2011. ‘Making the dead: tombs and topography in the Roman provinces,’ in M. Carroll & J. Rempel (eds.) Living with the dead: burial and commemoration in the classical world. Oxford. 134-159.

Senatore, F. 1999. ‘Necropoli e società nell’antica Pompei: considerazioni su un sepolcreto di poveri,’ in F. Senatore (ed.) Pompei, Il Vesuvio, e La Penisola Sorrentina. Rome. 91-112.

Wacher, J. 1997. The Towns of Roman Britain. London.

Wiseman, T. P. 2019. The House of Augustus: A Historical Detective Story. Princeton.

All translations of ancient texts are from the Loeb editions, unless otherwise stated:

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Romanae Antiquitates (Roman Antiquities)

Plutarch, Βίοι Παράλληλοι (Parallel Lives)

Tacitus, Annales (The Annals)

Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights)  

Festus, De Verborum Significatu (or, The Lexicon, trans. by the Festus Lexicon Project, University College London)

Varro, De Lingua Latina (On the Latin Language)

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita (or, The History of Rome)Cato, Origines (Origins)

Post written by Maria Kneafsey, Finds Liaison Officer for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.