Issuer and mint attribution

As we said in the introduction, in these DiviSeries we are faced with an anonymous emission, where the name of the issuing authority does not appear and we only have the reference to the restored emperor. Due to the typology of the coin (antoninians) and its weight, there was always consensus in placing it towards the middle of the 3rd century AD. Regarding the issuing authority, there have been several attempts at assignment based on historicist criteria of little solidity: Akerman (1) attributed this restitution to Trajan Decius, seeking a parallel with the restitution emissions ordered by Trajan, the emperor from whom Decius adopted his name, trying to recover the prestige of those times; Cohen (2) attributes it to Gallienus without clear justification, accepting that it could begin with Philip I; later Mattingly (RIC vol 4 part 3 pp 117-118) attributes it to Trajan Decius based on technical criteria such as the average weight of the issue, the composition of several treasures and two hybrids from the British Museum. We can even still see in numismatic catalogs that Philip I, who celebrated the millennium of Rome (248 AD), is considered responsible for this restitution. We also have no justification for this attribution, although it may be very attractive.

The mint of origin was also a source of controversy, changing it depending on the emperor considered as the issuing authority and always based on stylistic criteria or a weak historical basis. It was attributed at a certain time to the Milan mint (Cohen and Mattingly), with the Rome mint currently being considered the origin of the issue, based on the article by Elks (3). This hypothesis is supported by the links of dies of some hybrids that link this series typologically with some Volusian antoninians, which even Mattingly (RIC 4 part 3 p 171) considers from the mint of Rome.

Until the application of technical criteria by Mattingly, historicist arguments were used about the recovery of tradition, which by remembering the past tried to recover a greatness already lost, arguments that are perfectly valid for several emperors of this period, especially Philip I and Trajan. In all cases, and as an added difficulty, this was a dark moment in the historiography of Rome, with insufficient contributions from written sources to try to document these attributions.

Among the dating arguments, which we can classify as technical criteria, we have the average weight and the richness of the alloy that we observe in these coins. Both parameters suffered a progressive reduction throughout the 3rd century AD. I am not referring to monetary reforms but to real degradation over the years, clearly related to the progressive economic crisis. This degradation is sufficiently constant for us to be able to place chronologically the antoninians of the DiviSeries (with an average weight around 3.7 g) between those of the reign of Decius (with an antoninian weight of 4.02 g) and those of Trebonian (with 3.51 g) (4).

We have already said that arguments based on stylistic elements are of little consistency, in general. We can look for stylistic similarities between coins from various reigns or mints and those of the series under study. Accepting the relationship between the style of a die and the artist who created the dies, we must also accept that his activity can extend over several reigns, especially at this time due to their brevity. Likewise, the mobility of artists between various mints is possible.

It happens relatively frequently in Roman coinage that, for some reason, exchanges occur between the dies of the series being produced and other dies, not belonging to it and that were in the same workshop at that time. The existence of these hybrid coins, showing us an obverse of a series associated with a reverse that is not related to it, has always been considered a highly relevant fact. These hybrids will be first-class information to date these anonymous emissions, when the intrusive reverses are easily datable as they belong to a specific reign, being able to contrast the hypotheses established on other criteria more susceptible to controversy. In a specific section dedicated to these hybrid pieces we will see that in our case the hybrid coins link the Divi series to the reigns of Trajan Decius and Volusian.

An argument on which the attribution of these emissions to the reign of Decius is based, and which surpasses strictly typological considerations, is the composition of the Plevna treasure (5). We find two pieces from the Divi series and in different proportions pieces from Herennius Etruscus and Hostilian, Caesars with Decius, with a total absence of coins from the last stage of the reign of Trajan Decius and later emperors. The date of the occultation would therefore be at the beginning of 251 AD and the antoninians of Divi could already be minted in the autumn of 250 AD corresponding, as Mattingly(5) proposed, with the association of the sons of Trajan Decius to the throne and the great persecution against Christians that occurred that year.

Regarding the composition of the treasures of this period, what draws attention is the relatively small number of pieces of the Divi in the set of the Plevna treasure, already mentioned, especially in comparison with others closed in the following years, which gives a more complete profile of the monetary currency in circulation in the reigns that we relate to our series.

Let's take several treasures, closed later but close to the dates susceptible to DiviSeries attribution: Dorchester, Clamerey, Smederevo and Gibraltar. In them the proportion between the coins of the Divi and those of the reigns of Trajan Decius and Trebonian Gallus maintain a similarity that contrasts with that same proportion in the Plevna treasury, closed before the end of the reign of Trajan Decius. This circumstance suggests that the production of the Divi was extended, with a significant volume, beyond the hiding of the Plevna treasure and even the reign of Decius. Since to have a standard volume of DiviSeries coins we must have a proportional volume of coins of Trebonian Gallus. Hypothesis that we will see contrasted by the existence of hybrids with reverses that link with antoninians of Volusian, co-emperor with Trebonian.



Trajan Decius Trebonian  Divi Series Rate
Hoard  (a) (b) (c) c/(a+b)
Plevna 1657 0 2 0,12%
Vinay 1895 183 165 1 0,29%
Dvorska 63 63 1 0,79%
Gorsium 354 585 11 1,17%
Noyon  131 193 4 1,23%
Alba Iulia 1963 90 147 3 1,27%
Gibraltar 147 616 11 1,44%
Mihailovo 298 203 8 1,60%
Alba Iulia 1902 36 23 1 1,69%
Eauze 1335 1780 55 1,77%
Jimena de la Frontera 144 617 15 1,97%
Smederevo 2078 1440 70 1,99%
Valhascos 38 50 2 2,27%
Dorchester 2236 1401 85 2,34%
Altafulla 8 31 1 2,56%
Isaccea  106 106 6 2,83%
Clamerey 113 129 7 2,89%
Haydere 49 16 2 3,08%
Srbija 1905A 431 46 61 12,79%
Les Alqueries 3 4 1 14,29%
Ostapkivtsi 4 6 2 20,00%


Presence in different hoards of Divi Series and related emperors coinage.

We observe that the average participation of the Divi coins in the treasures closed after the reign of Decius is around 2-3%. Let us stay with this data for a first estimation of the volume of antoninians coinage from his reign.


1) Akerman, J. Y. A Numismatic Manual, London 1840, p 140.

(2) Cohen, H. Description Historique des Monnaies Frappées sous l'Empire Romain Comunément Appelées Médailles Impériales, Vol IV, p 457.Paris 1860.

(3) Elks, K.J.J. Reattribution of the Milan Coins of Trajan Decius to the Rome Mint, Num.Chron. 1972, p. 111-115.

(4) The data on the average weights of the antoninians have been obtained from: RIC Vol 4 part 3 p xxii, Walker 1978 and Harl 1996. The average weight of the DiviSeries has been obtained from the database of this work on a sample of more than 2000 coins. Regarding the alloy, there are no studies on the DiviSeries to compare with other well-dated issues.

(5) Mattingly, H. and Salisbury, F.S. A Find of Roman Coins from Plevna, Num. Chron., 1924, pp 210-238.

References for the hoards:

Plevna: Mattingly, H. The Great Dorchester Hoard, Num. Chron., 1939, pp 21–61.

Smederevo: Petrovic, T. The Smederevo hoard, Starinar, 1931, pp 32  ss.

Gibraltar: Gallwey, H.D. A hoard of Third-Century Antoniniani from Southern Spain, Num. Chron., 1962, pp 335-406.

Gorsium: Fitz, Jenő. Der Geldumlauf der römischen Provinzen im Donaugebiet Mitte des 3.Jahrhunderts, Budapest-Bonn 1978.

Clamerey: Giard, J.-B. Le trésor de Clamerey, Trésors monétaires, T. 2, 1980, pp 9-29, lám. I-XV.

Altafulla: Mateu i Llopis, Felipe. El hallazgo de denarios romanos de Altafulla. Butlletí Arqueològic. Reial Societat Arqueològica Tarraconense, 1950, Núm. 30, p. 53-58,

Dvorska: Boric-Breskovic, B. & Vojvoda, M. Hoard of roman silver coins and jewellery from the village of Dvorska near Krupanj (Western Serbia). Numizmatičar 2020.

Ripollés, P.P. & Gozalbes, M. The Alqueries Hoard of Antoniniani. Num. Chron. 158, 1998, pp. 63-77.

Ostapkivtsi: Мyzgin, K, & Perederey, A. A hoard of third-century coins (denarii and antoniniani) from Ostapkivtsi (Ukraine). Coin hoards in southeastern Europe (1st - 6th century AD). Rousse Regional Museum of History 2021.

Eauze: AAVV. Le Trèsor d’Eauze (Toulouse 1992). ISBN 2 905564 20 2.

Web: Coins Hoards of the Roman Empire.