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Coin Relief 42 – Bronze coinage of the Roman Republic
The earliest Roman coin types seen through the PAS, of the Roman Republic, are relatively abundant, at least in terms of the precious metal coinage, with over 2,000 denarii recorded to date. One of the problems with Republican silver coinage is that it all pre-dates the Claudian invasion in AD 43 so it remains unclear precisely when any or all of it made its way to Britain. That some did cross the channel prior to AD 43 is suggested both on archaeological grounds and through the re-use of silver from denarii in British Iron Age coin manufacture. Much, however, likely remained in circulation for an extended period of time post-AD 43 to be lost within the new province of Britannia. This makes sense, since the silver was intrinsically valuable and would still have a function in the payment of, for example, soldiers’ wages.
Base metal, bronze, coinage is a slightly different matter. Lacking the same intrinsic value of the silver, the appearance of bronze Republican coinage in Britain might not be expected in any volume, if at all. After all, Britain was already producing its own coinage by the 2nd century BC in gold, silver, and also bronze. Furthermore, after the Claudian invasion there is quite extensive production from the main imperial and auxiliary mints within the empire that brought contemporary bronze coinage to the new province. It would seem unlikely that the earlier, Republican, bronze types would either be needed or used prior to AD 43 in Britain, or still be circulating alongside the new imperial issues afterwards.It is interesting, therefore, that there are now 11 examples of Republican bronze coins
recorded through the PAS, with an additional 7 unverified examples contained within the IARCW dataset. The first securely identified example on the database was an as from Essex (ESS-05C304) recorded in 2006, since when various examples of asses and other fractional denominations have been recorded and include the earliest Roman coin recorded to date within the PAS dataset (KENT-618FA2).
Arguably, some of these coins may be more recent or antiquarian losses, for example the sextans from Berkshire (BERK-7EF5E1) whose findspot, circumstances of discovery, and appearance suggest it was probably not lost in antiquity. However, it is only through recording all of these examples that we can begin to look at their distributions and relationships to one another (and indeed distributions of other early bronze coinage within Britain see below) to identify those that are likely to be genuine ancient losses and comment on their movement within the province. That said, we still currently have a very limited dataset to work with!
With the establishment of the principate under Augustus, the issuing of coins was divided between the Emperor and the Senate. The emperor was the authority behind striking gold and silver coinage and the Senate oversaw bronze coinage marked by the legend SC (Senatus Consulto). The Senate, however, had little real authority and the SC legend could be replaced with other markings at the whim or 'suggestion' of the emperor. Also, within the principate, the moneyers took on a less significant role. Coin legends indicate that the tresviri monetales were still in use as late as the third century AD, but their names had already disappeared completely from coinage around 4 BC. The mints of the Emperor switched to the control of a mint administrator the Procuratir Monetae. Both Imperial and Provincial mints were controlled by provincial procurators and fell under the watchful eye of the Rationibus, or the emperor's financial administrator. Each metal and coin type was also under the responsibility of an Optio et exactor auri argenti et aeris (Reviewer and supervisor of the gold, silver and bronze). Within this system, the mints were also organized into departmental Officinae. Each mint had up to six at a time, and each was responsible for the production level of its own coin types.
Bronze As coin from the Roman Republic - History
Below are some pictures of fake Bulgarian "uncleaned Roman" coins which were found end of 2003, early 2004 in batches of uncleaned coins sold by dealers all over the world.
Since then the fakers in Eastern Europe, notably Bulgaria are making extremely good fakes using a striking process and shifting them to western Europe using friends and family as mules, travelling unsearched and protected by the ridiculous, over-liberal, "we are all well-meaning brothers and sisters" EU laws, which means that when they arrive in e.g. Germany, France or England, their luggage is not searched - hence the increase of fakes now being sold from addresses in these countries - often with the seller knowing full well that they are fakes but enjoying huge profits from the sales. (One fake seller in Germany was raking in over 12,000 Euros a month selling fakes, until the police caught up with him).
Note that the images below are only a few samples of the old 2003-2004 fakes. Just about every type of common-ish bronze coin is now in circulation as a fake. Most fakes are those of Constantine I and II, Licinius I and II, Constans, Constantius I and II, Valens, Jovian, Septimius Severus.
If you are new to the wonderful world of Roman coin collecting, and are thinking of buying coins on ebay, please use common sense. Visit other websites such as the ones mentioned on the main page to compare the coins you are thinking of buying, with genuine ones.
A Companion to the Archaeology of the Roman Republic
A Companion to the Archaeology of the Roman Republic offers a diversity of perspectives to explore how differing approaches and methodologies can contribute to a greater understanding of the formation of the Roman Republic.
- Brings together the experiences and ideas of archaeologists from around the world, with multiple backgrounds and areas of interest
- Offers a vibrant exploration of the ways in which archaeological methods can be used to explore different elements of the Roman Republican period
- Demonstrates that the Republic was not formed in a vacuum, but was influenced by non-Latin-speaking cultures from throughout the Mediterranean region
- Enables archaeological thinking in this area to be made accessible both to a more general audience and as a valuable addition to existing discourse
- Investigates the archaeology of the Roman Republican period with reference to material culture, landscape, technology, identity and empire
“As a collection, the volume’s essays demonstrate the rich variety of archaeological approaches to this period and indicate their future directions. It rightfully deserves to remain a standard work for some time to come.” (American Journal of Archaeology, July 2015, 119.3)
“However, this does not detract from the overall achievement of the Companion, the scholarly content and impressive scope of which ensures that it will be of use to those studying a range of disciplines.” (History & Archaeology, 1 October 2014)
Recipient of a PROSE Awards 2013 Honorable Mention
“This collection punches well above the weight of most of similar editorial enterprises. D. E. has impressively succeeded in gathering a body of work that does justice both to the complexity of the material and the diversity of the scholarly debate . . . Readers will encounter, as a rule, reliable and often insightful overviews of complex problems, with plenty of engagement with the ancient evidence and invaluable bibliographical information.” (Journal of Classics Teaching, 1 June 2013)
Jane DeRose Evans is Professor of Art History at Temple University, where she is also affiliated with the Classics Department. She is the author of The Art of Persuasion: Political Propaganda from Aeneas to Brutus (1992) and The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima: Excavation Reports v.6, The Coins and the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Economy of Palestine (2006).
Bronze As coin from the Roman Republic - History
1st Century BC
1st Century AD
2nd Century AD
3rd Century AD - Severan Dynasty
3rd Century AD - Military Emperors
4th Century AD
5th Century AD
Imperial Portrait types were controlled by the imperial administration, aligned to and combined with propaganda messages such as military victories, or strength of the dynasty. Portraits were distributed to the people across the empire using different and parallel news media. Main news media were sculpture, paintings, medals, and coins. Roman coins of even the most shortlived emperors survived till today, as millions and millions of coins were issued, and people in ancient times proactively tried to hide them away due to their intrinsic metal value. Thus coins are a major source of information for Roman imperial portraits. Except the most esotheric usurpators, all Roman Emperors and many of their family members had coins with their portraits issued.
For a recent example showing the value of Roman coins for portrait research see for an article on Geta and Caracalla by clicking on this link.
In this section we present high quality portrait coins for every Emperor or family member known to have been shown on Roman coins, with portraits from the late Roman Republic after the middle of the 1st century BC to Justinian 1st in the early 6th century AD. Coins were selected for highest quality representation of each portrait type and best state of conservation.
Bronze As coin from the Roman Republic - History
Ancient Rome in America
Eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Americans were fascinated by ancient Rome and emulated classical style and philosophy in many facets of their lives. During this pivotal period of United States history, homes were adorned with classical architectural elements, students learned Latin in school, and the founding fathers aspired to the ideals of the ancient Roman republic.
Through the course of her research, Caroline Winterer, an associate professor of history at Stanford, has focused on the idea that the Roman influence in America was more than an intriguing cultural phase it played an integral role in the development of the nation. Winterer, who specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of early America, describes the pervasive classical Roman influence during that period as being like the “wallpaper of the world.”
Winterer’s research has also led her to consider how the ancient Roman influence continues to be relevant today, an especially pertinent subject at a time when many wonder whether the United States, like Rome, will fall after a period of rapid expansion and success. Curators with The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia called upon professor Winterer’s unique expertise as they began to develop an exhibit that would investigate how America’s emulation of so many components of ancient Rome shaped the trajectory of American history. Professor Winterer became a curatorial consultant on the exhibit that has since been titled “Ancient Rome in America.”
Winterer helped museum curators organize and present a vast array of over 300 artifacts that span a 2,000-year time period some objects date to ancient Rome, and others are drawn from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America. Presented in five themed galleries, the objects, including bronze and marble sculptures, ceramics, coins, and jewelry help visitors to gain an understanding of how the ancient Roman republic turned into an empire, and how this transformation shaped the politics and culture of Americans from the era of the America Revolution to the present day.
“Ancient Rome in America” will be exhibited at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia from February 19th through August 1st, 2010.
There is usually some roughness and sometimes abnormality on the shape of the hole, sometimes by the warp of the metal around it. There may be an indication of a slight flaw of workmanship. Bronze coins were drilled the most because of their cheaper value but gold and silver ones were also drilled by more wealthy individuals.
Most of the ancient coins have been restored by plugging the hole. The plug is typically the same metal as the coin. Fixes are most common in the most precious coins such as gold coins with plugged holes.
This Silver Siliqua Coin of Constantius II has been plugged with the use of silver- appearing metal, and the outcome of the repair is reasonably coarse. It may have been both repaired and holed at same time. This is a thin coin from the 4th century and weighed only 0.3 grams and known as “Papal-Byzantine” from the byzantine empire which was after the Roman imperial times.
Bronze As coin from the Roman Republic - History
Christianity would never have attained its status as the dominant religion of western civilization had it not been for the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337 AD). He was truly one of the most extraordinary figures of history. Constantine made bold decisions that set the course of history and catastrophic decisions that imperiled his own family. He gave birth to a new Roman Empire of the East by founding Constantinople. Here he sowed the seeds of the Byzantine Empire. He essentially adopted Christianity as the state religion after Rome has persecuted Christians for 300 years.
In the period of the 300's AD, the Roman Empire was run under the system known as the Tetrarchy. The Empire was divided into east and west for administration purposes. Therefore, there were two Emperors, each with their own heir apparent with the title of Caesar. However, one Emperor was senior to all others. Diocletian (284-305 AD) was the senior Emperor until 305 AD. He inflicted a savage persecution against the Christians as he viewed them as disloyal to Rome for not sacrificing to the Roman gods. Diocletian was succeeded by Galerius (305-311 AD), the real instigator of the Christian persecutions under Diocletian.
In 305 AD, Constantine's father, Constantinius, was promoted from Caesar of the West to Emperor of the West (title - Augustus). Constantinius became ill and died in 306 AD. Constantine then accepted the title of Caesar of the West (306-309 AD) after his father's death. Constantine controlled Britain, Gaul and Spain. By 312 AD, he was compelled to take arms against his new rival in the west, Maxentinus. According to the ancient religious historians, Eusebius and Lactantius, Constantine had a religious vision before the decisive battle at the Milvian bridge. Constantine was told to have his soldiers paint the Greek letters Chi and Rho on their shields. These letters represented "Chr" of the Greek word "Christos" for Jesus Christ. Constantine was victorious. In 313 AD, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which announced religious toleration throughout the Empire. This freed Christians from persecution. Constantine became deeply involved in the administration of the early Christian Church even on disputed theological subjects. Tragically, in 326 AD, Constantine had his eldest and esteemed son, Crispus executed. This was shortly followed by the killing of his second wife Faustina (step-mother of Crispus). The factual reason for these murders is unknown, but it speculated that Constantine found out that Faustina had made false accusations against Crispus causing his execution. Constantine was to later lament the killing of Crispus. Constantine died in 337 AD, but mistakenly he thought his three remaining sons, Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans, would share power. As Shakespeare's King Lear would discover, this division of power was a recipe for later disaster.
The coins of Constantine were minted in roughly 19 different locations throughout the Roman Empire. As Constantine had a position of power for nearly 30 years, his coinage was large, varied, and covered a multitude of denominations. Many of the coins that survive today are bronze coins, although some technically were silver coins. The silver coinage of Rome had been debased from almost 90 % at the time of Augustus (27 BC -14 AD) to between 1 and 5 % by the era of Constantine. The outside of the bronze coins were sealed with a silver coating. Once the coating rubbed off, only the bronze remained.
The coin to the left (Fig.1) still has some surface traces of silver coating remaining but one can mostly see that it is made of bronze. It is about 19mm wide and weighs around 3 grams. The obverse has a portrait of Constantine with the inscription CONSTAN - STINVUS [Constantine] AVG [Augustus = title of the Emperor]. The reverse has a fort = campgate. The reverse inscription is PROVIDENTIAE AVGG [In honor of the divine guidance of the Emperors]. Under the image of the campgate was usually an abbreviation for the city where the coin was minted.
Of course, gold coins of Constantine are highly prized today. The gold coin (Fig.2) issued in 335 AD was a solidus. It weighed about 4.4 grams and was about 21mm wide. This particular type of portrait of Constantine, eyes uplifted, was issued late in his reign. Some Christian writers like Eusebius saw this as praying to God. However this type of portrait did exist on Greek coins six hundred years earlier. The reverse of the coin has the inscription, VICTORIA CONSTANTINI AVG [Victory of Emperor Constantine]. The letters SMNM are an abbreviation the city of Nicomedia (northern Turkey today) where the coin was minted. The figure with wings is Victory sitting on a cuirass holding an inscribed shield, VOT XXX, (30 reign) with the small figure of Genius.
In 44 BC, on the 15th day of March, a day is known in the Roman calendar as the Ides of March, Brutus and his co-conspirators struck. Using daggers they had hidden beneath their tunics, they flew at Caesar in a hail of knife blows, stabbing him at least 30 times. When Caesar realized his good friend Brutus was among his attackers, he asked, "Et tu, Brute?" ("You, too, Brutus?"). As Caesar lay dead on the steps of the portico, Brutus jubilantly shouted, "People of Rome, we are once again free!"
Unfortunately for Brutus, the general populace was very fond of Julius Caesar. Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) took advantage of the breach in leadership and loudly condemned Brutus' actions. Brutus was forced to flee Rome with his soldiers. After several military encounters, Brutus's forces fell to Mark Antony and Octavian (who later became Caesar Augustus) in 42 BC. Brutus committed suicide before he could be taken prisoner.
Bronze As coin from the Roman Republic - History
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