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The Sertorian wars (or, last stand against Sulla)


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The Sertorian War (80-72 BC) was the last stand of the Marian faction after their defeat in Italy during Sulla’s second civil war, and saw Quintus Sertorius hold out in Spain for over a decade before finally being defeated by Pompey and Metellus Pius.
Sadly no good complete narrative of the war has survived. The longest accounts come from Plutarch’s lives of Sertorius and of Pompey.
Sertorius was one of the more able leaders on the Marian side during Sulla’s civil wars. He had served under Marius during the  Cimbric Wars where he made quite a name for himself, starting as one of the few Romans to escape from the disaster atArausio. During the wars the wandering tribes had invaded Spain, and large parts of the country probably slipped out of Roman control. Sertorius served in Spain in 97-93 BC, where he further enhanced his reputation fighting against the Celtiberians. He was elected as Quaestor in 90 BC, the lowest ranked of the Roman magistrates. He fought with bravery and skill during the Social War and in 88 BC was so popular in Rome that he was greeted with a standing ovation during his first visit to the theatre after returning from the field. He attempted to stand for election as tribune, but he was blocked by Sulla, possibly because of his connection to Marius or possibly because of his relatively low social standing.
Things didn’t get better for Sertorius, and towards the end of 83 BC he decided to leave Italy and take up his post as Governor of Nearer Spain, already allocated to him by the Marian establishment in Rome.
Sertorius began to build up his excellent army. He recruited Lusitanians, and later Celiberians, as well as the Roman colonists of the area. He treated his Iberian troops very well, and for many years was able to rely on their loyalty. He created a flexible army that was able to more than hold it’s own in conventional battles (allowing Sertorius to remain undefeated between 79 and 72 BC), and was also very able in guerrilla warfare.
Recent (2016) archaeological studies of the River Ebro area, near modern day Tarrogana, and of a Sertorian military settlement found scattered finds of 14 lead sling bullets, 4 of them inscribed. Two bear the inscription Q.SERTORI / PROCOS on one side and the fasces symbol on the other, one the inscriptions Q.SERTO / PROCOS and VERITAS, and the last Q.SERTORI / PROCOS and the gubernaculum symbol.

Other finds included bi-metal and local arrowheads, hobnails and buttons, and coins of which 21 can be dated to the Sertorian conflict. Of the rest three are Roman, specifically a denarius of M. Papirius Carbo dated 121 BCE (RRC 276/1), a quinarius of T. Cloulius from 98 BCE (RRC 332/1c), and a denarius of Caius Annius Luscus and Lucius Fabius Hispaniensis from 82–81 BCE (RRC 366/1) However, the majority of the coins are indigenous asses: five from Kese, five from Iltirta, two from Bolskan, two from Kelse, one from Saltuie, and two that have yet to be determined.  There is also a Greek bronze coin from Leucas (Akarnania) dated after 167 BCE.

Source: Extracted from historyofwar.org
Sorry for the lengthy preamble, but living in Spain it has a resonance with me. Anyway, onto my new coin.

Dealer's photos

Obverse: Bearded male head right. Iberian sign BON behindReverse: Helmeted rider with lance in right hand, galloping to the right. Below on line, Iberian inscription BOLSKAN.AR, 3.44g. 22mm. (VG +). Jenkis Palenzuela type. ACIP. 1423.

The "Palenzuela" type coins correspond to the Sertorian wars of the years 80-72 BC.

Thank you for reading a little historical background on a special coin for me from that time period. Please feel free to comment or add coins of your own, Iberian, celti-iberian, Carthaginian occupation of Iberia (2nd Punic wars) or whatever takes your fancy.


Edited by expat
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Another example:

Iberia. Bolskan (Osca). Circa 150-100 BC. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.86g, x12). "Palenzuela" type. Obv: Male head right; Iberian 'BoN' behind. Rev: Horseman holding spear right, Iberian 'BoLSCan' below. Ref: SNG Cop 324; FAB 1911; SNG BM Spain 695-733; ACIP 1423. image.jpeg.813b9c329df4d2f50480f47b78f2977c.jpeg

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