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These things are just clumsy engravings and are excluded from voluntary variants that are to be noted and referenced. Moreover, where there is still a complication, it is that in order to determine these orientations, we must know our subject perfectly and know how to look at each element of the drawing, where the belt is in relation to the rest of the body. Do we see shoulder pads in part or completely? While taking into account the problems of perspective These orientations of busts are often accompanied by letters and figures, like A 1 or O etc These references refer to books, most of the time to the Roman Imperial Coins RIC I will detail these references below in the article through a chapter dedicated to it.

Be careful though, everyone has their own reference books, if you describe an orientation via a letter and a number, remember to note the book you are referring to. Otherwise you risk creating confusion if the reader thinks of another book. Finally, we must also distinguish the clothes, for example a consular dress of a simple drapery. The emperor can be dressed in a toga as we often see on the reverse of a coin. Below, a consular habit found on the obverse with the portrait of Emperor Constantius II and on the reverse as a whole with the emperors Constantius II and Constans, both in consular dress.

I will detail here the main objects held by an emperor, knowing that he can hold several at the same time. Likewise, in addition to objects, we can see a horse, a hand I speak on the side of the coin to the portrait of the emperor obverse. Otherwise, the emperor may appear on the reverse of a coin, usually standing, with the entirety of his visible body, holding, for example, a standard, a spear We can also see him on horseback, in a chariot , seated Here is a list of the main objects held by the emperor that you often meet:.

The scipio is a kind of scepter with an eagle represented at its top. The parazonium is a small sword. We note here that for example, a globe can be surmounted by a statuette. Here are some photos, showing you these objects:. The emperor Constantius II holding a nicephore globe because there is a statuette of victory on the globe with the right hand and a sword with a handle in the shape of an eagle's head in the left hand.

Here are the main objects that we meet. Other elements such as an olive branch can be added. Small precision, the coins of the mint of Lyon lugdunum can show a globe more a big ball than a globe, because the globes are often decorated with lines and points as they represent the world at the base of the portrait. It is not an object, it is something like a fancy.

The legends are in Latin, therefore it is quite difficult to clear some words if you have no knowledge in Latin. However I will give you some keys to successfully read these legends correctly. Note also that these legends are read in the direction of clockwise and sometimes they are retrograde. Retrograde legends are commonly found in the first and second century. All the legends of the obverse give the name of the emperor or empress. A "U" is a "V" in Latin. Now that you know this, look for these letters and then go back to get the name of the emperor.

If you use my image search engine, you have already identified this emperor, so you can delimit the other words around his name. Now you are facing a problem: abbreviations. Here is the abbreviation in bold, the full name and its meaning:. The engraver probably had to take into account the space available and ensure that the legend was provided and went from one end to the other.

The more titles the emperor has, the more legends use short abbreviations. The legends of the reverse also have noted titles. S C is the most common of abbreviations noted on the reverse. We see these two letters generally in the field of the coin and very often on the setertii. Do not confuse S C with Sestertius, it has nothing to do. Pay attention. For the reverse, think of the names of allegories and deities first. The list of allegories and deities is present below in this article with a chapter devoted to them.

Also, I listed the other representations as well as the associated legends. To be complete, it should be noted that some coins are called "anepigraph" because they have no legend to the obverse or the reverse. There may be words inscribed inside a shield or other element of the drawing too. Now let's go to marks.

We are talking here about mint marks. These marks are the subject of a complete article. The mint marks are abbreviations of the name of the mint and mostly present on the reverse side to the exergue, below the ground line. We also see letters or symbols in the field of the coin that designate the issue, exactly, the serial strike phase of this type of coin here is a perfect example of my remarks on the use of the word " type "at the beginning of the article.

The position of the officina letter may vary and be in the field, most often in the case and at the beginning or end of the exergue mark. Sometimes other letters are added: SM for sacra moneta, M for moneta and OB for obryza gold cup with which one verified the title of gold. S M for sacra moneta and ANT for Antioch, following a delta or alpha for example, thus designating the officina. Eastern letters work on the same principle: A , B , , All this serves for issue control.

Who hit what, when and how much. Here is an example of coin with marks in the field on the obverse and on the reverse side as well as a mark in the exergue:. Let's analyze this coin. On the obverse, we have the letter A and in the field on the right. The heavy series has only the letter A and the light weight, A and.

So it's a light weight series. Here these two marks have nothing to do with the mint. The symbols around it are used to identify the issue we know, at the moment, a little about the operation of these symbols. Finally the A in the field is also a mark but is not related to the mint.

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This may depend, on some coins these letters in the field are related to the mint and other letters are linked to a "series" struck to summarize simply. The chapter "The mints and their marks" below, greatly complements the subject and shows you the main marks and especially recurring abbreviations used for each workshop.

At the very beginning, the first coin was the liberal As, it was in bronze and theoretically weighed a Roman libra pound, actually much less grs. It was divided into duodecimal fractions semi, triens, quadrans, sextans, uncia. In Rome, in AD, the silver coin appears. Under the republic the coins were struck with the effigy of divinities, then one made the habit to vary their effigies. Here is the evolution of the Roman monetary system:.

A commission of three members, the tresviri monetales, was in charge of the control of the strike, hence the reason for the presence of the letters S C on the Sestertii. Under the empire, they only had the control of the coins in non-precious metals, gold and silver being under the control of the emperors.

From Augustus the coins are in the effigy of the emperor. The As, which had not been struck in the first century, resurfaced. The Sestertius is now brass. Initially billon silver alloy, bronze it will lose virtually all of its silver capacity in the middle of the third century. From the beginning, until the empire, the weight of metal decreases constantly, the As goes from grs to , 27 grs then 9 grs, to finish at 2. The denarius contained less and less silver. For gold the Aureus goes from 8 grs to 7.

Noble Roman Coins

For the duration of the empire, ordinary coins are the Aureus, the Golden quinarius or half Aureus, the silver denarius and the silver quinarius. There are multiple or large pieces of gold, silver and bronze called medallions or multiple , very few because these coins were given as "honorific" to some people high up to thank them. These are therefore prestige strikes more than coins. The reform of Diocletian in :. The Aureus gold The Argenteus silver 3 grams.

The Follis or Nummus silvery bronze Constantine the Great, then completely reformed the monetary system of the empire and created in gold :. These coins persisted under the Byzantine Empire. The barbarians continued to strike the gold coins created by Constantine. Among the Merovingian Franks there is the "gold sou", the third of penny gold and the half siliqua or silver denarius.

There is also Argenteus, Argenteii in the plural in :. Other types of coins exist, such as the silver Cistophor, the Hemissarion, the Hemidrachm, the Double Sestertius. We are talking about several monetary systems, for a period of one millennium. Making a list of all types, with a conversion table, proves to be very complicated. The Romans adapted according to the region with the coins already in circulation. So there were several parallel monetary systems.


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How to differentiate a denarius and antoninian? This is probably the question you ask yourself, it's simple: the denarius shows a laurel wreath and the antoninian a radiate crown. For women, the bust is placed on a crescent if it is an antoninian. This part lists most attributes of the main allegories, without going into the details provided. These details, you can find them in antoher article.

More an image than an allegory. Right hand raised towards his face. Can hold two objects at a time. Sometimes holding an olive branch or a cup. May also have a wheel at his side. Sometimes with a coat. May also have an altar at his feet. It will designate the coin from a certain period, it is Juno Moneta, from where the temple of Juno. Cornucopia, caduceus also, regular variants. Sometimes in front of an altar of sacrifice. Can be seated. Sometimes sitting on a chair, can be leaning on a column, cross leg. Raising her dress. The palm symbolizes a victory in games.

Generally the emperor. Coated with a cuirass and a parazonium, the parazonium is a short sword attached to a belt. This object is more a distinction for the superiors officers than a weapon, is on the left side. While the soldier's sword was on the right, the gladius. It is clear that most of these allegories, even if they are only the most common, are female figures. Most carry the same objects as the cornucopia and the scepter, which changes are the combinations and the visual positions of the characters.

In the case of worn coin, one must simply identify the emperor and one can know who this allegory is; obviously, only if this emperor used an allegory very little used or knowing the date or following the titles on the obverse, we can know if for example in case of legend indicating a significant victory it is the victory.

She is a seated woman, with a cornucopia and holding a rudder or oar. This is Fortuna. We nevertheless see that there are two characteristic elements of this allegory, which lead us to identify it.

Roman currency

This list is not exhaustive, but rather complete and shows the characteristics that come back regularly. For the deities there are so many different representations that I will not list here but in a future article with more photos. You already find the list very extensive in the search engine, classified by deity.

You will be able to see their attributes, positions A male deity under the Empire could be feminine on a coin of the Republic. As myths often change because of the influence of the people around them, one can see a different representation at a certain period. Of course, during wars or phases of peace, people continue to exchange and it must be understood that all emperors are not from the same region, the empire is immense so we understand that some rites and beliefs evolve according to the regions. To identify these divinities, some simple means, we know that if it is not an allegory, it is a deity, following the attributes and objects holding the character, we already have an indication of his specialty.

To illustrate the problem, Jupiter may appear as a male character holding a lightning, but also be represented by a child on a goat or an eagle. It is therefore necessary to know the mythology and to define the origin of the coin which, according to the region and the date, can provide a means of identifying the character by knowing the local myths of the time.

There may be a link, however. Imagine that after a major victory, the empire takes the local wealth, food and other, we can have a reverse with Abudentia abundance , illustrating the fact that the defeated region brings many important things. It can be food or anything else, abundance is not necessarily synonymous with abundant food. Obviously, it is an image that is given, this is to illustrate a logic of the time and that we must obviously not rely on pictures but names.

The cornucopia is filled with food. Identify a coin and especially a character is for, sometimes experts. They know precisely enough to find the real meaning of a coin, although many topics are open to discussion and they too may be wrong.

As you will see in the illustration below, "dies" were used to strike coins. Imagine a piece of metal, engraved and very resistant. There was a die called "sleeping" or "fixed" which was the one of the reverse and a die called "mobile" which was that of the obverse. The reverse corner was stuck in a block of wood, we put the blank the blank of metal virgin of any inscription that will become the coin after the hit on the reverse die and we presented, at the top, the obverse die then we hit with a hammer.

Therefore, you can imagine that the slightly off-center strikes are quite normal. On the other hand, those called cap strikes and which therefore have a very strong decentering where only half or less of the drawing appears, is less common. I specify here that the strikes with a big decentering are very common in the imitations of time of low quality. Hybrid : A coin with the obverse of one coin and the reverse of another, an obverse and a reverse that have nothing to do together. In this case, we must determine a die all the same details, positions as on another coin to know that it is the die of an original, that has been used with another die of obverse or reverse.

More simply, when we identify for example the reverse of a coin for an emperor with his titles and we find this same reverse with another emperor on the obverse. The titles do not correspond to this emperor, so we see that it is a hybrid coin. Another scenario: imagine that we find a coin with a reverse having GER DAC as legend and that the emperor on the obverse has never fought or known conflict with the germans and dacians during his reign. So we have proof that the coin is a hybrid, a loan from an old reverse die to hit a coin.

Hybrids are very rare. Incuse : An incuse strike is said to be a strike where one side appears in hollow, the die called "sleeping" that of the bottom also said fixed wedge still has the coin struck previously, placed on him. A new blank is placed above the coin already struck. So there is an obverse in relief and on the other side the obverse in hollow. Visualize the top of the coin which is the embossed obverse which comes to print the underside of the second blank consequently hollow.

This is very rare because under the eyes of the "hitter". Even if the hitter has the opportunity to see it, we still encounter this kind of mistake because the strikes were on a steady pace, at the chain and therefore leave little time to see the blank that had not been removed.

Much more common: the reverse incus. Because the mobile die of the obverse held in the hitter's hand, still has the old coin that stuck on him. It is therefore the underside of this coin, so the reverse, which come print in hollow the top of the blank placed on the fixed die. The coins of the Republic are voluntarily incused. We can sometimes see incuse coins, reprinted. Shocked die : When the two dies hit in the void, this mean without blank between them. They mark each other, we find then on the coins they strike, elements of the reverse on the obverse and elements of the obverse on the reverse.

In addition, some reliefs will be crushed, the highest details "those used to identify wear because the most exposed" do not stand out, example: the crown is very soft. Die broken : By dint of striking, the die wears out but can also break, it can go from the hollow line on the die that leaves a line in relief on the coin, to an edge, or piece of die that comes off, leaving so a piece in relief.

Blocked coin : A detail, a letter, an element of the portrait, appears only very little, erased. During successive strikes, a piece of metal may remain stuck in the die and thus plug a letter or part of the drawing.

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Blanks errors : Homogeneity errors with mixture metals : Often meets on the billons, we can see a copper color part and the rest, silver color. Do not be confused with fake ones. Double weights : Much rarer for precious metals, is often found on the antoninians in billon of the third century. I am giving you here, in addition to the information already given in the chapter "Reading and understanding legends and marks", under the heading "Mints Marks", a simple list of the most well-known marks for each mint.

As well as the periods of activity of the mints. I do not list here all the symbols and all possible variants, because this is the subject of a complete article. This chapter is just to familiarize you with the letters written for each workshop. Mints marks : Alexandria Egypt : to then to after J-C. Antioch Antakiah, Turkey : to after J-C. Aquilea Italy : to then to after J-C. SMAQP ,. Arles France : to after J-C. Barcino Barcelona, Spain : to after J-C.

Camuldunum Colchester, England : to after J-C. Carthage Tunisia : to then to after J-C. Constantinople Istanbul, Turkey : to after J-C. Londinium London, England : to then to after J-C. A collection of 36 Byzantine gold coins and a large gold medallion was discovered by archaeologist Dr. The discovery also included six ceramic jugs and one of them was inscribed with, what is believed to be, the earliest example of writing in Jerusalem.

The find was dated to A. This scrolls were found in 11 caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank, between and by a Bedouin shepherd and his cousin. They are a collection of different texts, believed to be dating from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE, and are the third oldest known surviving manuscripts included in the Hebrew Bible canon. The wreck was finally located and discovered in by Barry Clifford, who now owns the over , artifacts — including coins and cannons.

Discovered in Hammerwich in Strafforshire, England, in , this is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. The 3, items include around 11 pounds 5 kg of gold and 2. Also called the Vale of York Hoard, this was the second largest discovery of Viking artifacts in Britain, consisting of silver coins and 65 other items. It was found in by a father-son duo who were metal detecting as a hobby. The ornaments, ingots, cup and precious metals date back to around A. The largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain and the largest collection of gold and silver coins from the 4th and 5th century found in the Roman Empire is credited to a metal detectorist in Hoxne, Suffolk.

The discovery consists of 14, gold, silver, and bronze coins and items of silver and gold tableware and jewelry. A Soviet-Afghan team in found the Bactrian gold hoard in Tillya tepe, an archaeological site in Afghanistan. The collection of 20, gold, silver and ivory ornaments and coins were found in burial mounds and date around the 1st century.

The entire collection was housed in the National Museum of Afghanistan in the s and was thought to have been lost in the impending war. It was finally found in secret vaults in a bank in Kabul in Two amateur divers, in , found part of the cargo of a Roman merchant ship that sank off the coast of Caesarea, Israel, around 27 B. They came across a bronze statue on the seabed and then informed the authorities who found lamps, jars, anchors and coins. The most famous ship of a fleet of Spanish cargo ships, the Atocha sank off the coast of the Florida Keys in When it was finally discovered in by Mel Fisher and his team, the Atocha mother-lode consisted of copper, silver, gold, emeralds and jewels worth many millions.

Using a metal detector, Dave Crisp found a hoard of 52, silver and bronze coins inside a ceramic pot dating back to A. The coins were issued by Carausius, who ruled Britain and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain. They are now housed at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton, England.


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Coins were stamped with the image of the conqueror, helping the authorities to date the finding. Later they found even older artifacts going back to the Chalcolithic period 6, years ago. The collection of pieces of silver jewelry and coins was found in a field by a metal detective roaming around in a field near Silverdale, Lancashire, England in The hoard dates back to the 10th century and includes a coin stamped with the name of a previously unknown Viking ruler, Airdeconut.

There was fierce competition in the room, and on the internet and telephone, before the coin, one of only 24 aurei of Allectus known worldwide, was bought by a private collector over the phone. Allectus was the finance minister for the emperor Carausius who controlled both Britain and Gaul, which is now France and neighbouring countries such as Belgium and Luxembourg. However, archaeologists in argued that there was new evidence to show they had actually arrived at Pegwell Bay on the Kentish coast. The Romans' name for Dover was Dubris and the most distinct reminder of their presence in the town is the Roman Painted House.

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