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The distribution of bronze coins within the Ostrogothic kingdom


Vel Saties

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The distribution of bronze coins within the Ostrogothic kingdom

We know that the Ostrogoths, with Theodoric, created a powerful kingdom immediately after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which only the reunification will of Justinian I, who implemented a remarkable economic and military effort, managed to bring down.

Collectors are usually used to seeing coins for sale and at auction and to think about the rarity of the issues, the conservation of the coins, the patina, etc.
The majority of coins on the market come from finds whose exact contexts and relationships with other objects of material culture and with archaeological stratigraphy have been lost.
They are wonderful, fascinating objects that are interesting in themselves but are almost useless to archaeologists in reconstructing historical events. For this reason we have to make do with excavated material.
From an archaeological point of view, who has ever stopped to think about how coinage was distributed and widespread?

Even if it is not a purely collecting topic, I think it could be useful to share with you the maps relating to the distribution of bronze coins within the Ostrogothic kingdom. Where were these coins used?

These maps are taken from a work by Michele Asolati which I leave you in PDF (IN ITALIAN) and can be found on academia.edu.

This is the bibliographic reference: La disponibilità della moneta enea nell’Italia ostrogota. Emissioni inedite, in La Monetazione di Taranto, Le monete degli Ostrogoti e dei Longobardi in Italia, Atti del 4° Congresso Nazionale di Numismatica, Bari, 16-17 novembre 2012, Bari 2013 (EOS, Collana di Studi Numismatici, V), pp. 265-290

La_disponibilita_della_moneta_enea_nell.pdf

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Presence of specimens of 40 image.png.2738d1581c3173987a974bec7ab15642.png and 20 image.png.6d7ef8f3ac7737b0b71f647270078a30.png nummi within the Ostrogothic kingdom (the indicators can indicate one or more specimens; the symbol image.png.74c1f9b96337d4b508373f24c5d4b20b.png indicates the sites that have yielded both nominals).

 

I post some examples of coins only for explanatory purposes.
Obviously I have no ambition to present the entire picture of Ostrogothic bronze monetary production

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We note a more marked diffusion essentially in Italy padana, specifically central-eastern, with offshoots in the Alpine area closest to this and in the Romagna Apennines. Isolated cases are those of Costa Bellene, Luni, Amelia (Terni) and Todi and now also Rome.

 

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Presence of Ostrogothic bronze coins with a value greater than the nummo within the Ostrogothic kingdom (the most isolated finds are indicated with the symbol image.png.6d7ef8f3ac7737b0b71f647270078a30.png

 

 

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Presence of Ostrogothic bronze coins with a value higher than the nummo and of precious metal coins within the Ostrogothic kingdom (the darker gray indicates the areas with the presence of gold and/or silver coins which broaden the defined picture in the previous figure; the symbol image.png.6d7ef8f3ac7737b0b71f647270078a30.png indicates the most isolated finds of AE coins; finally, the symbol image.png.639054cbe1b5c9222054c46a5b68683b.png indicates the most isolated finds of noble metal coins).

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Presence of coins and artefacts of Germanic origin ostrogothic (from BIERBRAUER 1994, p. 171, fig. III.29)

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Presence of bronze coins with countermarks LXXXIII and XLII: image.png.639054cbe1b5c9222054c46a5b68683b.png isolated finds; image.png.adae09c909b80dee1487607762a0c444.pngfinds in hoards; image.png.0cc5ca52af078a0ecf73c39b48620555.pngfinds both isolated and from hoards

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Edited by Vel Saties
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Thanks for posting the article. The two coins below, from the article, are interesting. 

The coin on the left is one of the few INVICTISSIMVS coins. I have just submitted an article on these coins to KOINON.

The coin on the right I have seen before somewhere. I think it is a contemporary imitation, possibly made by the Franks, who imitated these quarter-siliquae also with the name of a Frankish king.

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Edited by Tejas
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Here is an example of a Frankish "imitation" of an Ostrogothic quarter siliqua. Striktly speaking this is not an imitation, because it was struck in the name of theh Frankish king Chlotarius, but it imitates the style and fabric of the Gothic coins.

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As for Ostrogothic bronze coins and there distribution. Bronze coins usually circulated only locally and the concentration around towns like Ravenna, Verona and Pisa makes perfect sense. Interestingly, a group of Ostrogothic bronze coins was found in Aachen in Germany some decades ago, when a square next to the chapel of Charlemagne was refurbished. How they got there is unknown of course, but there are two theories: 1. Charlemagne too a lot of building material from Theoderic's palace in Ravenna to decorate his own chapel and palace in Aachen and the coins may have been brought to Aachen as curiosities by Charlemagne's men (Charlemagne also took the Gothic bible to Germany where it remained for around 1000 years before being taken to Sweden. 2. Alamannic dukes (Butilin and Leuthari) campaigned in Italy in 554, when they were joined by remaining Gothic warriors. When the campaign failed and they left Italy the Goths may have joined them and accidentially took the bronze coins with them.

 

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Here is a very curious and, as far as I know, unrecorded bronze coin of Athalaric. Both coins below are from my collection. The coin on top is a normal and rather common 2.5 nummus. The coin below, however, shows an unusual and unrecorded variant of the monogram with D (inverted) and N. Also the horizontal bar does not extend to the letter T and R and T don't really form a proper V. This monogram is not recorded in Metlich. It can be resolved as: DN AT(H)ALARIC(V)S with H and V missing.

I presume that the coin is a 2.5 nummus, but it was struck on an unusually large flan. My guess is that this was a first attempt at minting small bronzes in his name.

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Edited by Tejas
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To continue the discussion:
According to the reconstruction proposed in the most extensive and documented way by Volker Bierbrauer in 1975 and by Thomas S. Burns in 1980, and not contradicted by subsequent discoveries, the main nuclei of the Ostrogoths in the peninsula were located in the following territories: the western Po Valley and the corresponding Alpine arc; the region between today's Veneto, Trentino and Friuli; the area west of Ravenna and south along the Adriatic coast, between present-day Romagna and Marche; the Piceno and northern Sannio. Ostrogothic presences are also reported in the main cities of central-northern Italy, including Milan, Tortona, Trento, Aquileia and Rome, as well as in the seats of Theoderic's court, namely Ravenna, Pavia and Verona; finally, in some cities of southern Italy, such as Naples, garrisoned by secondary military garrisons. To these settlements others would have been added, over the decades following 489, in the territories bordering Italy, such as Noricum, Dalmatia and Provence, occupied during subsequent military campaigns. This, in summary, is the picture reconstructed and accepted by almost all historians and archaeologists.

I won't mention the endless historical-archaeological bibliography on the subject also because it is almost all in Italian and is a little too technical for a forum of numismatics enthusiasts.

This fragmented dislocation of the Ostrogothic settlement nuclei was explained, lastly by Heather and Claudio Azzara, with both strategic and economic motivations.
Armed Ostrogoths had to defend the areas most threatened by external enemies: first of all the western and eastern Alpine passes, beyond which the Franks and Burgundians to the west, the Gepids and Byzantines to the east were more or less openly hostile to the Amala monarchy; and then the Adriatic coasts and central Italy, targets of possible Byzantine attacks from the sea directed against Ravenna. Furthermore, according to the scholars cited, the warriors and followers that Theoderic had led to Italy expected from their sovereign, after decades of wanderings between Pannonia, Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus, to receive lands in possession, to be cultivated directly if farmers, or from which to derive an income if aristocrats who should have remained permanently in arms, at the disposal of the sovereign; these lands (called Sortes Herulorum by some sources) had been taken from the warriors of Odoacer and were part of the former imperial tax and city communities, or had been expropriated directly from the Italian landowners (minimal part according to the sources, but the expropriations had to however happen, and it is not excluded that they had been extended), and were located above all in the Po Valley and in the Apennines area between Emilia, Umbria and Tuscany; once settled on the lands they received, it is probable that the aristocrats and free Ostrogoths had further subdivided them, assigning more or less large portions to relatives as well as to their own servants, free or slaves. The alternative hypothesis put forward by Walter Goffart and taken up with new arguments by Jean Durliat (and Amory), according to which the reward given by Theoderic to his warriors consisted only in tax revenues, actually contradicts what contemporary sources (for example Ennodius and the Anonymous Valesian) state with great clarity.
According to this interpretative model, the nuclei of immigrant Ostrogoths, composed of aristocratic warriors and free peasant warriors, with families and servants in tow, they would have been able to control the areas assigned to them, having at the same time an economic basis for living, guaranteed by land holdings on which no tax was collected, a hereditary privilege closely linked to the function of defenders of the kingdom.

Source: M. AIMONE Romani e Ostrogoti fra integrazione e separazione. Il contributo dell’archeologia a un dibattito storiografico, 2012

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Posted (edited)
On 4/5/2024 at 1:24 PM, Tejas said:

INBICTA ROMA instead of INVICTA ROMA. The die engraver may have been a Greek

Ciao.
I don't think so, although I don't rule it out "a priori".
I simply think that it is a sort of phonetic transliteration by an engraver who transliterated the sounds of the pronunciation of words:
INVICTA with "N" dental nasal consonant
IMVICTA with "M" labial nasal consonant therefore with more advanced sound pronunciation
IMBICTA with degree of labial sound articulation like "M".
This is quite common in epigraphy when the engraver does not have a high writing grade

Edited by Vel Saties
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On 4/5/2024 at 1:39 PM, Tejas said:

I have just submitted an article on these coins to KOINON.

Tejas, forgive me.
I know DEMO's work; is it possible to read your article only in the magazine or can it be found in a free PDF version?
In the first case I will have the Koinon copysent to me at the library.

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I submitted the article at the end of last year and just got it back from the referee with some suggestions for amendments. I made those changes last week and submitted the final draft. I hope the article will be published this year and once it is out, I will upload it on academia.edu.

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1 minute ago, Tejas said:

I submitted the article at the end of last year and just got it back from the referee with some suggestions for amendments. I made those changes last week and submitted the final draft. I hope the article will be published this year and once it is out, I will upload it on academia.edu.

Great! I can't wait to read it

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I mainly present a new type of INVICTISSIMVS coin, which is hitherto unrecorded in the literature. Otherwise, I relied a lot on Demo's study. Including the new coin, the series now consists of five specimens in four different variants. This suggests that the series may have been quite substantial, but was probably melted down after 552. The legend INVICTISSIMVS AV(C)TOR basically addresses Theoderic the Great, as "the most invincible founder (of the Gothic kingdom)".

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Posted · Supporter

I hoped to map Anastasian gold coins found in Italy. I traced 14 hoards/finds but only have photos of coins from one, the 1938 San Lorenzo di Pusteria Hoard, and even for this one from a group photo of one coin side.

The monster Mare Nostrum Hoard was also found around Italy, but it could be from the waters of neighbouring countries, and the story does not say where. We only know what its coins say. 

Gold coins tell a different story, one of trade and international relationships. I wish we had an Italian equivalent of Demo.

The above is an interesting study, but the story is not complete without showing non-Ostrogothic coins found in the same area (some are mentioned in the text).

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Rand said:

I hoped to map Anastasian gold coins found in Italy. I traced 14 hoards/finds but only have photos of coins from one, the 1938 San Lorenzo di Pusteria Hoard, and even for this one from a group photo of one coin side.

The monster Mare Nostrum Hoard was also found around Italy, but it could be from the waters of neighbouring countries, and the story does not say where. We only know what its coins say. 

Gold coins tell a different story, one of trade and international relationships. I wish we had an Italian equivalent of Demo.

The above is an interesting study, but the story is not complete without showing non-Ostrogothic coins found in the same area (some are mentioned in the text).

Surely.
But This work has a purpose that is not purely numismatic: it serves to understand the Ostrogothic settlements, their distribution and function. Settlements which, having a predominantly productive and defensive nature, did not fall within the logic of gold coinage. I will talk later about some Ostrogothic towns and castles.
The focus of the study is archaeological and actually on the bronze coin in its denominations higher than the nummus.
This is because the bronze and partly silver nummi are the engine of the local economy which is the purpose of this research.
Only by extension are gold coins mentioned which have completely different paths, logics and markets.
But here we are not in the presence of an exhaustive study on the history of monetary circulation in a certain region considered in a synchronic and diachronic way and compared to neighboring areas, but of an archaeological study that aims to bring order and clarity to some archaeological documents of a numismatic nature, not even on everyone. History is formed on small pieces, different studies which then fit into large syntheses.
Here... this was a little piece.
Maybe I was wrong to want to post something too specific in a forum.
As for Italian scholars, Arslan and the old school have certainly left interesting scholars such as prof. Asolati, but also an independent like Gennari who, among other things, collaborate actively with Demo.
PS: Mare Nostrum Hoard is supposed to come from the Near East

Edited by Vel Saties
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...Well, it's like this.  For medievals, my center of gravity is c. 10th -13th centuries.  Starting from there, this entire interval isn't just novel; it's inexhaustibly exotic. 

Given which, what can't fail to make a lasting impression is the erudition of @Vel Saties@Tejas, and (instant edit:) @Rand in explicating and commenting on the already amazing progress that field archaeology has made in compensating for the paucity of primary documentation.  (Thank you, familiar from later contexts, but, if anything, only more marked in this one.)

Edited by JeandAcre
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18 minutes ago, Rand said:

I hoped to map Anastasian gold coins found in Italy. I traced 14 hoards/finds but only have photos of coins from one, the 1938 San Lorenzo di Pusteria Hoard, and even for this one from a group photo of one coin side.

@Rand
If it helps you, an Italian scholar has been carrying out enormous work for years, a work that doesn't make the news but is very valuable for scholars to find and compare information and data: he is Luca Gianazza who draws up the "Repertoire of findings monetary in ITALY" Inventory of coin finds.
It is public and updated as of March 2024. I will upload it for you below.
It helps me a lot. E' in due parti: It is in two parts: Catalog of the finds and catalog of the bibliography of the findsI sincerely hope that it can be useful to you in your research on Anastasio

Inventory:
Inventory_of_coin_finds_Repertorio_dei_r-1.pdf

Bibliography:
Inventory_of_coin_finds_Repertorio_dei_r.pdf

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Posted · Supporter
15 minutes ago, Vel Saties said:

Maybe I was wrong to want to post something too specific in a forum.

It was a good and very interesting study. I hope I did not put you off sharing your knowledge. Apologies if I did. Historical/archaeological context put the coins in a very different 'life story' perspective.

 

19 minutes ago, Vel Saties said:

PS: Mare Nostrum Hoard is supposed to come from the Near East

This is not what I thought based on the coins in the hoard, even assuming some very rare Antiochian solidi were part of the hoard. Is there information about the find location (I do not need details)?

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I'll tell you a little about myself:
I'm not a real collector: I occasionally buy coins that intrigue me, that aren't cataloged or that I need for some studies. Then I keep some but maybe give them to friends or young history enthusiasts.
It was a young friend of mine, the nephew of a great Italian collector who passed away a few years ago and who bequeathed him an enormous fantastic collection, which for some years has given me back the desire to study.
My main point of view is not the currency but the data it represents. and the material history behind it.
Quite a few years ago, it happened to me to participate as an archaeologist in archaeological excavations in early medieval settlements and necropolises. Therefore, for me, from the point of view of passion, a coin left as a meager grave goods in the tomb of a warrior who had many signs of fighting on the skeleton or a small imperial coin used as a pendant in the tomb of a girl who died at 16-18 years of age has more value. at an unspecified time in the 8th century and who was carrying her unborn child in her womb.
Or the hoard of bronze coins hidden under a tile of one of the last Ostrogothic strongholds to fall during the Justinian reconquest

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On 4/5/2024 at 1:39 PM, Tejas said:

The coin on the right I have seen before somewhere. I think it is a contemporary imitation, possibly made by the Franks, who imitated these quarter-siliquae also with the name of a Frankish king.

I think because it appeared and was discussed by Alberto Trivero Rivera on Forum Ancient Coins a few years ago. Discussion which then resulted in an article in the magazine Monete Antiche
Can it be like this?

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5 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

Also, no one really talks about Italy during the 600's and 700's.

Unfortunately I know very little about numismatics of that period.
When I was a researcher, however, I worked on ancient manuscript cartography and fortifications. I'm afraid we're a bit off topic.

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