Attribution

Attempts to identify the mint that produced these coins have been a source of controversy, where claims have been based on stylistic and historical criteria.  Early authors attributed these coins to Milan  but experts are now quite certain that the coins originated from the Rome mint , and this view has been strengthened by die-links of some hybrid coins that tie this restitution coinage with other coins unquestionably attributed to Rome.

Regarding the emitting authority, various early authors  had attributed these coins anywhere from the reign of Philip – who celebrated the Millennium of Rome – all the way until Gallienus, during whose reign saw a change in the alloy of antoninians and marks the latest date (post quem) of possible attribution.

The historically based argument that these coins were part of an attempt to recover the tradition and glory of the past, are perfectly valid for many emperors of this period, particularly Philip and Trajan Decius.  Invariably the contribution of the written sources from this period are insufficient to provide an attribution.

Other arguments for dating are based on physical criteria such as the coin’s weight and alloy.  Both parameters undergo a progressive reduction throughout the Third Century and have been used to give an imprecise chronology that would place this coinage in the middle of the Third Century, a time in which short-lived emperors followed one after another in close succession.

Dating based on weight and alloy, must be used with caution because of the demonstrated  process of overstriking coins of earlier reigns that were of different weight and silver content than currently in use.  The average weight of the Divi series antoniniani, obtained from a sample of more than 600 coins, would place the series between the reigns of Philip and Trajan Decius.

The stylistic based arguments are generally of little consistency.  Attempts have been made to find similarities between the coins of a wide range of emperors and those of the series in study .  Accepting the relation between the style of a die and the artist, we must accept that these features can extend through multiple reigns, particularly during this period of rapid succession.

During this period of history, it was not uncommon for mint workers, perhaps accidentally, to interchange the dies of one series with those of another unrelated series. The existence of these hybrid coins has always been considered a highly significant source of information. In particular, when the reverse of one of these hybrids are typologically exclusive to a specific reign, the coin provides first order data to date this issue, able to support hypotheses established on less reliable criteria. In a specific section of this article, we shall see hybrid coins tie Divi series coinage to the reigns of Trajan Decius and Trebonianus Gallus.

The Plevna hoard provides an even stronger argument than simply typology for dating these coins to the reign of Trajan . This hoard contained two coins of the Divi series and in different proportion coins of Herenius Etruscus and Hostilianus as caesars , with a total absence of coinage from the last stage of Decius’ reign. The date of the burying must be early 251 A.D.  with minting of the Divi antoniniani beginning in the autumn of 250 A.D., as Mattingly proposed, contemporary with the elevation of Decius’ two sons as Caesars and the great persecution against the Christians that took place the same year.  The scarcity of these coins in the Plevna hoard, especially in comparison with  hoards that closed in the closely following years, gives us a more complete picture of how Divi coins circulated during the reigns related to our series.

Let’s observe four other hoards which were buried shortly after the possible date of attribution: Dorchester , Clamerey , Smederevo  and Gibraltar .  In these hoards, the ratio between Divi series coins, and the coins of Trajan Decius and Trebonianus Gallus is fairly constant, but contrasts sharply with the distribution within Plevna hoard, which had been lost before end of Decius’ reign. This indicates that the production of the Divi coinage continued, and produced a significant volume, beyond the burial of the Plevna hoard and even beyond the end of Trajan Decius’ reign, as corroborated by hybrids.
 

 

                        Emperor

 

Hoard

Traianus Decius

 

 (a)

Trebonianus

 

(b)

Divi Series

 

(c)

Rate

 

(a+b)/c

Clamerey

115

129

7

2,86%

Dorchester

2236

1401

85

2,33%

Gibraltar

147

616

11

1,44%

Smederevo

2078

1440

70

1,99%

Gorsium

354

585

11

1,17%

Plevna

>1657

0

2

<0,12%

 

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

 

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