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Session no. 7, 2010: Visigothic  Coinage, by Tom  Eisenstadt
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Session no. 7, 2010: Visigothic Coinage, by Tom Eisenstadt


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  • I think there is considerable dispute about whether the bronze nummi found near Emerita are Visigothic issues. Crusafont does attribute these to the Visigoths, but the authors of Corpus Nummorum Visigothum (Madrid 2006), do not include them as Visigothic coinage. Instead, the authors state (in an awkward English translation at pp. 115-116) that Crusafont recognizes the uncertain attribution and that 'it can be a matter of coins of a marginal nature, that is, issues of mining, larges faces [sic], local or ecclesiastic coinage. We must add to all of this that they could also be coins issued by the noble oligarchies of the Guadalquivir valley or simple Byzantine coins struck in Hispania, which is what seems to be the most likely explanation. We are not specialists in Byzantine, Vandalic, or late-Roman coins, and so we cannot determine with absolute certainty the identity of these coins but we can say that we personally feel they are not of Visigoth origin.'

    Fascinating coins, whatever they are, however.
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  • 1. Visigothic Coinage
    And other late antique coinage relevant to Menorca.
    Session 7, 2010: Tom Eisenstadt
  • 2. The Post-roman coinage system
    The 5th century Germanic conquerors of the Western Mediterranean issued their own gold and silver coins, usually in the style of the Eastern Roman Empire or late Western issues, and these, as well as surviving Roman examples, served as the main units of currency transaction used by the Germanic kingdoms.
    Only the Vandal kingdom in North Africa and the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy produced copper coins as standard. While insignificant in comparison to the number of 4th century Roman issues that stayed in circulation, these nevertheless were produced in large numbers, and served as the inspiration for a major reform of Eastern copper coinage in later years.
    The regular issuing of copper coins had elsewhere already ceased in the West during the 5th century. The only exceptions known at present are two local copper coinages, both likely from the 6th century AD, one in the Frankish port of Massilia (Marseille) and the other one minted in the area around Seville in Visigothic Spain.
    These, however, disappeared by the 7th century AD, and the only new copper coins found in the West were those minted in areas held by the Eastern Roman Empire.
  • 3. Late Roman and Pseudo-Imperial coinage values.
    The Visigoth and Vandal kingdoms maintained the coinage system inherited from the late Roman Empire, and gold and silver coins, when rarely issued, were issued in the same denomination as contemporary Eastern Roman or surviving West Roman coins.
    Copper denominations were rarely issued in the western Mediterranean after the 5th Century AD, and these followed the traditional Roman values more loosely.
  • 4. Visigothic Coins
    The most common coins minted by the Visigoths were the solidus and the tremissis (worth a third of a solidus), which were both originally minted in gold, and were effectively the same as their Roman counterparts, with the exception of the tremissis being found in silver.
    An equivalent of the copper nummus was also produced around Seville and in some areas Western Roman examples remained in circulation or new coins came from the east.
    The first Visigothic coins were minted in Southern Gaul, were the Visigoths settled at the beginning of 5th century AD, but minting was transferred to Hispania in the 6th century AD as the Visigoths were pushed south by the Franks.
    The first coins, usually called pseudo-imperial, imitated those circulating in the western part of the Roman Empire and, later, those issued in the eastern part, reproducing the names of Roman emperors.
    However, from the year 580 AD onwards, the Visigoths began to strike entirely independent coins, in the name of their own kings. The issue of coins ended in the second decade of the 8th century AD with the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and the destruction of the Visigothic kingdom.
  • 5. Visigothic gold solidus In the name of Libius Severus (Western Roman emperor), 461-466 AD. Most likely produced in southern Gaul between 461-507 AD.Weight: 4.23 g. Obverse (left): DNIIBIVSSEVE – RVS P F AVG Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust. Reverse (right): VICTORI – A AVGGG Emperor standing facing, spurning serpent with l. foot, holding long jewelled cross and Victory on globe; in field.
  • 6. A silver tremissis of Chindasuinth (reigned 642-653 AD).Weight: 1.56 g.Minted at Hispalis (Seville).Obverse (left): +CN•SVINLVS PX, facing bust.Reverse (right): +ISPLLIS PIVS, facing bust.
  • 7. Visigothic bronze nummus, produced around 650 AD.Size: 9 mm. Minted at Emerita, Lusitania. Obverse (left): diademed and draped bust right. Reverse (right): monogram.
  • 8. Comparative Vandal nummus of King Hilderic (reigned 523-530 AD)Minted at Carthage, Size: 8mm.Obverse (left): diademed head right, [HILD]IRIX. Reverse (right): cross in wreath.