When you collect coins, the ancient ones are a pretty attractive option and, by far, the most popular ones are the Roman Imperial Coins. The first one is how easy you can get these coins. But if you live in the USA or Australia, finding the coins you need can be hard and usually you must bring them from abroad or, if you buy them from a local market, pay a little bit more, because of their scarcity on the local market. But that is not all. In some cases, you cannot take out from some countries ancient coins or artifacts, because of the laws. Moreover, in some countries, owning these coins is prohibited by law, with some exceptions.
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. 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 abundanceillustrating 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. 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. Mediolanum Milan, Italy : to then to after J-C. Nicomedia Izmit, Turkey : to after J-C. Ostie Italy : to after J-C. Ravenna Italy : to after J-C.
Serdica Sofia, Bulgaria : to then to and to after J-C. Siscia Sisak, Croatia : to approximately after J-C. ASIS. Thessalonique Salonica, Greece : to after J-C.
TESA. Ticinium Pavia, Italy : to after J-C. It is the name of the city of Arles which changed under Constantine I in: Constantia, obviously produces an immediate change of the mint mark using the first three or four letters of the name of the mint.
But it can be confused with the Constantinople mint, which uses the same letters. Provincial coins contain, always a legend in Greek, except for the colonies of Latin law. Some coins may have on their reverse the mention S C and have a Latin legend, as for the bronzes of Antioch, style can make the difference. Except for the first coin, where we regularly find the name of the city on the obverse, the name is on the reverse.
Another element: if you see a coin with a typically African animal, it is probably a provincial coin. I say probably because we see many elephants or lions on the coins of the empire as well as numbers of African animals on the coins of Philip or Gallienus.
There is always something in the legend, the style, the representations, which indicates that the coin is provincial. These coins circulated in the region where they were minted and thus are imbued with style, lifestyle, common visual elements, local fauna. Most of the colonies are ancient Greek colonies; they have for a long time been seen circulating, the Greek coinage.
In this sense and this logic, the Romans have adapted and the types of coins have changed, appear then imposing coins by their diameter or weight. The smaller divisions corresponded to the quarter of assarion.
One can sometimes doubt a type since a coin can be "wide blank" and therefore be closer to another type, likewise for "short blanks", always refer to the diameter and the weight and this for any type of coin.
There is not one, but several monetary systems, according to the regions. Egyptian coins circulated even in certain cities.
You will understand that make a list of types and their equivalence with other coins, is a very heavy work. There may be presence of this animal also on the obverse under the portrait of the emperor.
The term Drachm refers to Greek silver coins. Be careful not to conclude that they are still silver.
Like the denarii, they find themselves in billon and therefore with a bronze ct, because of their low silver content. Provincial coins are struck from the end of the Republic to Aurelian. Five important points: 1: There is sometimes a point in relief or a hole in the middle of the coins, sometimes off-center.
The point results from the compass, serving to delimit the zone of the legend in the die. One line, the other end of the compass, is sometimes visible at the area of the legend.
The hole is the trace of the turnery of blank, so not on the die, but on the future coin. We find these abbreviations separated or glued. For example, the crocodile represents Egypt, but there is not a "specific" animal for each country.
There are also animals on non-provincial coins, they are most often legendary animals, example, the wolf of Romulus and Remus. The wolf can be represented without Romulus and Remus, it is a character in full.
Beware, the presence of the wolf does not exclude a provincial strike, it is also present in provincial coins. Animals on the provincial coins may designate the emblems of the legions too, example for Gordian III we see on a Dupondius struck in Upper Moesia, on the reverse, the Tyche with on his left an ox representing the seventh legion and on his right, a lion representing the fourth legion. Not to be confused with Fortuna. She is wearing the wall crown.
Many Greek cities have their own "Tyches", they are often associated with animals see point 4. She was particularly venerated as the protective goddess of the city in Antioch or Alexandria in particular. Now that you have identified your coin, it should be properly evaluated. And, for that, it is necessary to estimate its state of conservation. Let's look at the table below:. However, most of the reliefs are worn.
Which joins the previous lines. Finally, I must tell you that in my opinion and I am not the only one the MS 65 state is exaggerated as a term for an antique coins. We give this rank considering that we are talking about a perfect coin. Or rather almost perfect because if you look closely at the coin of the table, we can imagine even better.
I mean, we can imagine that the hair stand out better, as well as the wings of victory. As in the article in the link above, I would like to point out that: the state of the dies, the striking quality more precisely the striking angle of the batter all this helps to get out a coin with an extraordinary visual or a coin with details that stand out less well.
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This therefore joins the debate I develop in the article link: do we consider a coin as MS 65 if it is simply kept in its original state, regardless of the striking quality?
Or should we have a coin in its original state and struck perfectly? It's subjective. Including on modern coins, you will see some coins graded MS 65 by some and MS 63 by others. A coin that was stuck and compressed in the middle of others, all locked up in an ancient vase.
Imagine a bright coin in its almost complete and orange-bronze color. In this case, should we also include shiny as a criterion? In my opinion, no, it's a plus. It is for all these reasons that the term MS 65 is ridiculous in my opinion.
Especially since this term means: Mint State, referring to modern dies, made according to meticulous techniques that give a perfect result. This is impossible in ancient times, as the techniques albeit already evolved are far from what we know today and even since the 19 th century.
This chapter is not used to identify your coin but to understand its referencing. When you have a coin, you look everywhere at what is said about that coin. So what does C.
Roman coin dating
These two abbreviations are those that you will almost always find and that is why I describe them here. The first book is French and very old. The RIC is a series of 10 volumes covering the whole of the Roman coinage. Each of these books or volumes lists the coins existing for each emperor. The numbers indicate the exact described coin.
These variants are either already listed in these books or mentioned as modern discovery and therefore variants of the types already referenced. The best-known books are almost all obsolete and contain some errors referencing a coin which does not exist, description error, forgetting etc. This is why I created this site to gather and verify the existence of each coin with photo as proof. Thing that any work can not do without exceeding volumes as the number of photos needed would be huge.
In addition we can add each discovery easily without having to republish a book or corrigenda. I grandi bronzi imperiali" and. SEAR, Londres, ".
Summary: Descriptives terms used. Clothes, crowns and busts orientations. The objects held by the emperor. Read and understand legends and marks. Denominations and their history. Allegories and divinities. Striking techniques and accidental strikes.
Mints and their marks. Provincial coins. States of conservation. Books and their references. Here is a chart showing you the most common types of crowns and clothes: At the point where you are, how to differentiate a draped bust of a draped bust and cuirassed? For example the crown of reeds: We meet this crown extremely rarely! Here is a description of known crowns: The Civic Crown : It consists of two branches of oak, and was given to the one who had saved a citizen and killed his aggressor.
The bearer of this crown was exempt from taxation.
It is most often seen alone and surrounding a legend, but it can also be found on the head of an emperor. The Naval Crown or Rostral : Golden crown decorated with rostrums that is to say the spurs that were at the front of the ships and used to sink the prows. It was awarded to the winner of a naval battle, to the one who was the first to board a ship. Very rarely met on the head of another emperor than Agrippa.
The Triumphal Crown : It is the crown of laurels that we see on almost all Roman coins. It is composed of two branches of laurels and was awarded to the victorious generals of great battles, carried in triumph. It is tense very often by the allegory of Victory.
The Radiated Crown : It also presents at the time of the Greeks, it symbolizes the immortality and the divination of the emperor. It was composed of spikes, it is the same crown that carries Sol. The diadem : Originally it was a headband. Later, during the lower Roman Empire, it is adorned with stones. We often find a square or round tip, consisting of one or more stones. We also see the ends of the diadem falling on the shoulders of the emperor and which are stones small balls.
However these "balls" are not necessarily a sign of presence of diadem, they are also found on the laurel wreaths.
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Sometimes it is composed of leaves and stones, it can be confused with a laurel wreath. For the example below, I chose a coin of Constantine I where we see a simple banner. Fig 1.
Tetradrachm of Galbawho reigned seven months, minted in Antioch. Sold by Forum Ancient Coins nr. SH A major source of confusion is the sometimes short first regnal year.
Even the modern indication CE suggests a reign of 2 years. However, Galba became emperor briefly after Nero committed suicide June 9, 68 CE and seven months later Galba already was murdered January 15 th next year. Both in Antioch and Alexandriacoins of Galba have been minted for the regnal years 1 and 2 fig. This implies the counting of the second year started somewhere between 9 June and 15 January.
For the coins minted in Alexandriait is assumed 29 August was the starting date of the Alexandrian New Year, and 30 August every 4 years. It means the reign of Galba in the first Alexandrian year lasted only from June 9 to August 29, close to 3 months, while year 2 lasted from August 29 to January 15, about 4.
It took some time the news of the death of Nero reached Alexandria. However, it was normal to mint relatively more coins after the start of a new reign.
This may explain why the ratio between year 1 and 2 is about for 19 Alexandrian tetradrachms sold by Forum Ancient Coins. The starting date for the coins of Galba minted in Antioch is still debated. As both the years 1 and 2 appear frequently in the market, a starting date comparable to the Alexandrian area is likely. This is quite well possible in the region. A second clear example of the short regnal years from the region is countermarks on SC-coins from Antioch of Augustus and Tiberiusattributed to Caligula CE.
Here again, the modern system suggests a 5-year reign. However, his reign started in March 37 and ended 3 years plus 10 months later on 21 January 41 CE when Caligula was murdered. Stillthe countermarks show regnal years up to year FA 5 Sigma in a rectangular incuse.
This again implies a shorter first regnal year. The Caesarean era. The understanding of the regnal years can throw new light on the Caesarean era, a specific dating system for coins of the city of Antiocha major minting center in the region.
By decreasing the amount of service in its coins, Rome could identifying more coins and "dating" its coinage. As time progressed, the trade deficit of the west, because of its buying of grain and other database, led to a currency drainage in Rome. CONSUL - The consuls was the chief magistrates of the Roman government. Two were appointed each year. This title is often followed by a numeral which indicates the number of times the emperor had held this position. It is another useful tool in dating coins. CENS: CENSOR - A title often held for life. Consistent with this first dating, the next coin of Tiberius from his regnal year 3 shows the Actian year 47 (fig 4). To summarize, a consistent pattern emerges when assuming a start of the Actian New Year in the second half of August, and the start of the Caesarean era in the first half of August.
This Era referred to the moment when Antioch was made an autonomous city by Julius Caesar after he defeated Pompey during the battle of Pharsalus in the summer of 48 BCE.
Some authors reject a late date in August because Pompey wanted to starve the army of Caesarwhat in the harvest month August would not be very logical.
Interestingly, a date of the battle in June would solve some inconsistencies in the linkage between dating systems used on coins of Antioch. Lead bronze coin of Antiochminted after the defeat of Pompey but still referring to the Pompeian year 19 on the reverse. Obverse countermarked. Fig 3. On the reverse in the field the Caesarean year 14 ID. Like some regnal years, the first Caesarean year must have been a short one to create the fit with the coin data.
This fit suggests the new year 2 of the Caesarean era starting at the end of summer in or around August.
In this case, a start early August would offer a good start as will be shown. First of all, it could explain a brake in the local dating.
Roman Coin: Sestertius of the Emperor Nero - 64 AD DECURSIO Reverse
The Pompeian years end with year 19 when Pompey was defeated fig 2. The year count then jumps to year 2 of the Caesarean Era.
From there it is continued up to 19 BC, and continued again later in the reign of Augustus. Caesarean year 1 missing would support the suggestion this was a very brief first year. In addition, the count probably did not start right after the battle. After the defeat of Pompey, Antioch continued for some time to strike coins with the Pompeian year 19 fig 2. Combined with a brief first Caesarean year, this can very well explain why Caesarean year 1 coins have not been minted as part of what appears to be a continuous minting of coins at Antioch.
In the new series, Antioch presented itself as "autonomous" city and referred to the Caesarean year fig 3. The next clue is offered by a rare tetradrachm of Augustus minted in Antioch and dated in the Caesarean year Based on the assumed moment of the Caesarean year change, year 63 would cover the period between early August 14 CE and early August 15 CE. This would mean the coin was minted in the last weeks of the life of Emperor Augustusin August 14 CE.
He died August 14 th and it will have taken some time before the news reached the mint in Antioch. In addition, the minting of coins of Augustus may have continued a few weeks more until it was sure who the next emperor was: Tiberius was officially consecrated 17 September.
Dec 31, Identifying and dating Roman coins is a complex process. Roman monetary system was changing and evolving constantly during their impressive long rule in Europe and the Middle East. Millions of coins have been excavated and are still being discovered every day, so it can be challenging to determine the type and age of a coin. Collecting Ancient Roman Coins Part III: Dating. How to identify the Roman coins. The dating. After you find out the coin's issuer, you must find as much information as you need about the exact minting date. The emperor's reign years are fine to start with, but this is only general. The emperor's official name has enough clues to help you.
Fig 4. Bronze coin of Tiberius minted in Antioch. On the reverse within a wreath the regnal year 3 and Actian year 47 ZM.
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The coin of Augustus with the Caesarean year 63 also mentions the year 44 of the Actian era. Here again, the start of this era is subject of debate. An important clue is offered by a tetradrachm minted for Augustus in Antioch in the Caesarean year In the fiel a monogram refers to the 12 th IB consulship.
This consulship started 1 January 2 BC. As the battle of Actian is dated 3 September 31 BC, the probably shorter first Actian year should overlap this day. This means Actian year 2 started before 3 September 30 BC. And the start must have been just a few days or weeks earlier to be consistent with the dating of the last coin of Augustus mentioned above. This coin was dated by the Caesarean year 63 and minted in the brief period August-mid September. The coin also refers to Actian year As said, the Actian years must have ended before 3 September.
This makes a change to the Actian year in this case year 44 to 45 in August very likely. This also would explain why the earliest coins from Antioch of Tiberiuswho succeed Augustusshow his regnal year 1 combined with the next Actian year Consistent with this first dating, the next coin of Tiberius from his regnal year 3 shows the Actian year 47 fig 4.
To summarize, a consistent pattern emerges when assuming a start of the Actian New Year in the second half of Augustand the start of the Caesarean era in the first half of August. With the battle of Pharsalus dated August 9, this las t assumption would be impossible.
Dating the battle in June, however, would make this an option, solving the inconsistencies. Dated coins of Nero and the brief additional reigns of Galba and Othofit into this reconstruction.
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The first coins of Galba minted in Antiochlike the last coins of Neroreferred to the Caesarean year There would remain about two months of Caesarean year what can explain that Galba started his coinage with yearthe Caesarean year before used by Nero.
It is unfortunate that Galba soon switched to regnal year 1 because his brief reign could have dated the switch to the Caesarean year After a reign of just three months, Otho was defeated himself on 16 April 69 CE. A switch around the beginning of August would very well fit with the brief mintage of year coins by Galba. To summarize, the proposed New Year starts in Augustboth Caesarean early August and Actian late Augustgenerate a consistent explanation for the several year-systems used on coins of Antioch.
It also would fit nicely the end August year change in Egypt. However, some questions remain. The Actian Era starting end August would contradict the opinion of W. He claims the Actian year started 1 October, following the beginning of the Macedonian year, based on Dios as the first month of the Macedonian calendar. However, this would shift the start of the second Actian year to 1 October 30 BC consistent with Action year 29 spanning the years BC.