Timeline Table: Roman Republican Coin Types and their Dating

This site has two pages. This is the first page with examples and lots of pictures of coins. This page is about Roman Republican silver types, events recorded in history, and how they correspond, and the evidence scholars used to determine their dates. The other page has the theory of the methods for dating types.

You can see how modern opinions of dates have evolved since 1909 in the six columns on the right. The fact that the columns often do not agree proves that dates of Republican coins are not obvious. This page focuses on a limited selection of particular coin types. Some of the discussion about dating them would be clearer if the reader knew about the dating methodology called seriation which is explained on the theory page.

The dates given by Crawford in bold are, by far, the most quoted, and Sear quotes Crawford's dates, so the Sear dates are not repeated here. A few images are not of the very first type. Reference works are listed at the bottom of this page.
 


Description

event

date


                 coin image

 
ID
Crawford #
Sear #
Sydenham #
BMC #
Carson #
RSC ID
Hill
published
1909
(many types
are not listed
by Hill)
BMC
published
1910
Sydenham
published
1952
Crawford
1973 (bold)
Sear uses
Crawford's
dates
(the most-cited dates)
Carson
published
1978
(many types
are not listed by Carson)
other
recent
dates
proposed
Second Punic War
(The war against
Carthage, with
Hannibal)
218-201 BC

a didrachm
aka quadrigatus
c. 215-213 BC
Cr 29Cr 29 Cr 29/3
Sear 32
Syd 64
BMC ii Romano-
Campanian  78-108
Carson 23
RSC
anon 23

 
Hill
290-269
BMC
290-240

 
Syd
c. 222-187
Crawford
215-213 BC
Carson
235 BC
 
Head of Janus/Jupiter driving quadriga right, accompanied by Victory. ROMA below. Anonymous.
Wars put financial stress on states which we can sometimes see in the coinage. Prior to the denarius there were only eight uncommon Roman types of silver over the long span of years from c. 280-212 BC. In total it was a small coinage of didrachms that looked Greek with Greek denominations. We can see dramatic inflation in the coinage during the Second Punic War as the Roman copper denominations plummet in weight. This happened when "Rome lost control of much of Italy and commanders would have to make their own arrangements for coinage and when there was a desperate shortage of metal" [Crawford, p. 30].  This last didrachm type was issued c. 215-213 BC, probably in response to the need for silver coins to conduct the war. But we do not see anything on this type, or any other, that references specific events of the war. This type with Jupiter driving a quadriga accompanied by Victory, has Victory in a generic role.

Scholars have always agreed that this type preceded the denarius denomination. The rightmost columns with early dates show the connection to the Second Punic War was not made (and could not have been made) until the date of the introduction of the denarius was reconsidered to be later [see the next coin].

Only a year or two later the successes in Sicily yielded booty from Syracuse (which was conquered in 212 BC -- famously the occasion when Archimedes was killed) to be converted into Roman coins. Apparently the Romans took this occasion to introduce a new denomination, the denarius.



Introduction of
the denarius

Dioscuri type
c. 212-211 BC


 
44/5  The denarius,

  and the much less-common "quinarius", its half, with V (5):
 VVhalf a denarius,

and the scarce silver "sestertius" with IIS (2 1/2): 
Sestsest a quarter of a denarius,

and the "victoriatus" (Victory crowning a trophy):
 Victoriatusvict
a silver coin that was both less pure and lighter,
equivalent to a Greek drachma [Crawford, p. 7],
appropriate for use in Gaul, but not for Rome.
Cr 44/5*
Sear 36
Syd 140
BMC Italy 1
Carson 44
RSC
anonymous 1
Hill
268 BC
BMC
c. 240 BC
Sydenham
187 BC
Crawford
c. 211 BC
[type
continues
later]
Carson
c. 211 BC
212-211
The first denarius: Head of Roma right, X (for 10 asses = 1 denarius) behind/ Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) riding right, stars above heads, ROMA below.
The earliest denarii have no legend referring to the moneyer (they are "anonymous." After about fifteen years moneyers began to sign their coins with monograms or longer abbreviations of their names).
  Pliny wrote (in the first century AD) that the denarius began five years before the first Punic War (in 268 BC), which seemed decisive for dating. However, attempts at a complete chronology of early Republican coins made that date seem impossible. The breakthrough came when excavations at Morgantina (just south of Mt. Etna in Sicily) found some fresh examples of only the earliest denarius issues in the destruction known to have occurred in 211 BC.  So the earliest denarius was from 211 BC or slightly before. Syracuse fell to the Romans in 212 BC and it may be that the booty prompted the creation of the new denomination. Now we realize that Pliny gave a relevant date, but named the wrong denomination. In his day the denarius was the silver denomination, and had been for over 200 years, so he used that term. Now we think his date was for the first silver Roman coins, but they were not denarii, rather didrachms in Greek style.

First biga reverse

c. 189 BC

The first non-Dioscuri reverses are bigas.
Cr 200200  Cr 140/1*
Sear 65
Syd 339
BMC 585
BMC Italy 394
Carson 77
Pinaria 2
(This image is Cr 200/1
= Sear 77.
Hill
c. 196-173
BMC
c. 191
[p. II.227]
c. 190
[p. I.66]
Sydenham
150-146
Crawford
189-179 BC
[the type
continues
later]
Carson
c. 175
 
Victory driving biga, NAT below. "The moneyer is presumably a Pinarius Natta, not otherwise known" [Crawford, p. 246]
The first "biga" issues have Luna or Diana driving the chariot (The illustrated one has Victory and is not the first). BMC says, of the Italian-mint version of this type, "Hill ... suggested ... the figure is Luna and not Diana and that the type may refer to the reform of the calendar which took place ... in B.C. 191, when the intercalary months were restored. This event corresponds with the probable date of these coins." BMC does not mention this on page I. 66 when discussing the same type from Rome. Scholars no longer think a revision of the calendar would make it onto coins, although 191 is not a highly improbable date. There is not really enough on the coin, and not enough hoard evidence, to pin down the date. Therefore, Crawford gives it a range of dates.

The Third
Punic War

149-146 BC

The destruction of Carthage, 146 BC
There do not seem to be any coin types with a notable reference to the Third Punic War which resulted in the destruction of Carthage.

At about the same time there were also "Spanish Wars" (154-133BC), the "War with Numantia" (143-133 BC), the "Fourth Macedonian War" (149-148 BC) and the "War with the Achaeans" which resulted in the destruction of Corinth (149-146 BC).

 None of these wars are mentioned in any identifiable way on denarii.
             

First quadriga
reverse

c. 144 BC


 
Cr 223223 Cr 221/1*
Sear 97
Syd 409
Carson --
*This image is Cr 223/1
= Sear 99
= BMC 891
Curiatia 1
Hill
216-215
BMC
150-125
before
138
Sydenham
137-134
Crawford
144 BC
[the quadriga
type
continues
later]
Carson
150-125
Mattingly
143 BC
(for the first quadriga. He puts the pictured   type in 142.)
TRIGE behind head/Jupiter driving a quadriga right, C.CVR below. Moneyer: C. Curiatus Trigeminus, 142 BC.
Coins with the Dioscuri riding right, a biga, or a quadriga (like this one) compose all of the early Republican denarii until about 137 BC. Quadriga types have various drivers: Victory, Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Apollo. On this coin Jupiter is the driver. Denarii with quadrigas continue to be issued after 137 BC, but appear less and less frequently. After 82 BC, they still appear, but infrequently.

XVI
denomination
mark
introduced

(16 asses per
denarius
instead of 10)

c. 141 BC

Cr 224Cr 224
 
Cr 224
Sear 100
Syd 443
BMC 899
Hill [p. 49]
Carson 88
Julia 1
Hill
c. 140
BMC
c. 140
Sydenham
133-126
Crawford
141 BC
Carson
150-125
Mattingly
141 BC
 
XVI behind head of Roma right/Dioscuri riding right, as on the earliest denarius issues.
  This type seems to mark a change in value of the denarius from ten (X) asses to sixteen (XVI) asses, the value it certainly had under the empire.
   Governments (and the market) sometimes devalue currencies. This makes debts and obligations easier to pay with new money that is nominally the same but actually worth less. If money is fiduciary, devaluation happens with inflation. A loaf of bread costs more after inflation. The same currency becomes worth less in terms of goods (a unit buys less) and a debt of so-many units can be paid with less of real value. Since its introduction a denarius had been reckoned at ten asses (hence the "X" on most). This new mark, XVI = 16, presumably meant a denarius was now, suddenly, worth 16 asses (which is the value it had later under the empire). The Republic paid soldiers 1200 asses a year [Hill, p. 48]. That would be 120 denarii at 10 asses per denarius, but only 75 denarii at 16 asses per denarius. (Julius Caesar later tripled this to 225 denarii per year, which was also the pay under the early empire.)
  What is the reason for the change? When did it happen?
  Was the revaluation mentioned in history? Usually devaluations are provoked by financial stress when governments have obligations they cannot afford to pay. Can we find a time when the Roman state seemed under particularly onerous financial burdens that might be associated with these "XVI" issues? 
  The Third Punic War was 149-146 BC.  Too early.
  BMC dates the type to "c. BC 140", mentioning that the Ivlius mentioned on the coin might have been the son of the consul of 157 and groups it together with both other coins of similar fabric with X and other coins with XVI. BMC has a long discussion of the switch from X to XVI [p. 118], but now we know it cannot be right. "It has been noticed that when in BC 217 the uncial standard was adopted for the bronze coinage, the current value of the denarius was raised from ten to sixteen asses, but the pay of the soldier continued to be reckoned at ten asses to the denarius" [p. 118]. We now know there was no "denarius" denomination this early so its reckoning could not have been changed then. The rest of the argument becomes doubtful. BMC contnues to say "During the next period (circ. BC 124-103) a further change occurs, and another mark of value for the denarius, X, is introduced [see the third next coin], which has often been considered to be equivalent to XVI, but that interepretation is doubtful." BMC goes on to say it is like a X crossed above as means 10. The later return to "X" is mentioned [p. 119] but not explained.
  Hill thought [p. 49] that early denarii were reduced in weight from 4.55 grams to 3.90 grams  and thereafter "the equivalent of 16 asses of uncial weight." So he thought early denarii were already sixteen asses and the mark "X" was retained anyway as a name, rather than as a number. In that case, this "XVI" type would just be a new admission of an acknowledged fact. [This discussion is continued with the third next coin (of "c. 136").]
  Mattingly notes "The retariffing of the denarius at 16 asses should surely be linked with the change from reckoning in assess to reckoning in sesterii" [p. 160], but does not comment on why "X" is sometimes retained on later coins.
First non-traditional
types

(not Dioscuri,
biga, or quadriga)

c. 137 BC
235235 Cr 235/1
Sear 112
Syd 461
BMC 926
Hill 32
Carson 83
Pompeia 1
Hill
150-125
BMC
third series
of three
within
150-125
Sydenham
133-126
(aboout half way through)
Crawford
137 BC
Carson
c. 150
Mattingly
137 BC
SEX.POM up right, FOSTLVS on left [off the flan on this example] ROMA below, She-wolf suckling twins, behind, fiscus Ruminalis with one bird perching on its trunk and two birds in the upper branches. Moneyer: Sex. Pompeius, possibly the future Praetor of (?)119.
"The reverse type represents the finding by the shepherd Fausutlus of Romulus and Remus being suckled by the she-wolf at the foot of the fiscus Ruminalis [Crawford, p. 267] "The presence of Faustulus suggests the type aims to portray the original scene, not the statue of the wolf and twins.  The bird on the stem of the tree is clearly a woodpecker [Ovid is cited]."
  This is a radical depature from previous types. Explanations are tenuous. "The scene on the denarius is perhaps the most obvious way of symbolizing a belief in the imperial claims of Rome and an appeal to such a belief may perhaps have been held to justify the repudiation of the foedus Numantinum of 137" [Crawford, p. 268. See the next type for more about this]. He notes a possible familial link between the moneyer and a consul known to have urged the repudiation.
  Crawford puts both this type and the next in 137, however with the next one first (for no particular reason, they are given to the same year). Mattingly, in 1998 [p. 161], moved the next type one year later, to 136.
First non-traditional
types

(not Dioscuri,
biga, or quadriga)

c. 137 BC

Cr 234234
Cr 234/1
Sear 111
Syd 527
BMC ii Italy 550
Hill --
Carson 82
Veturia 1
Hill -- BMC
c. 93-92 BC
Sydenham
c. 110-108
Crawford
137 BC
Carson
c. 150
Mattingly
136 BC
TI VET behind head of Mars/An oath scene in which two soldiers hold spears vertically and hold their swords at a pig held by a kneeling man. Moneyer: Titus Vetruvius.
  BMC says the reverse "represents the mode of taking an oath amongst the inhabitants of the Italian states." [p. ii 281]. This type has no reverse legend to give us a reference. It is also a radical departure from previous types. What happened in the 130s BC that could explain the type? Again, explanations are tenuous. Crawford suggests it recalls a time when the Romans honored a previous unfavorable agreement with the Samnites. The fodes Numantinum of 137 BC, an agreement negotiated by Ti. Sempronius Gracchus, was regarded as unfavorable to Rome. This, then, appeals to precedent for the ratification. Mattingly thinks it was debated into the next year so that the coins must from the next year, 136. If I understand the arguments "explaining" this and the above type, the two types take opposite sides. Well, Mattingly wrote it was the subject of a very long debate!
  The notes in BMC mention deeds of various members of the Vetruvius family prior to 200 BC, but no convincing explanation of, or date for, the type emerges.

First
X crossed
(for 16?):
X

c. 136 BC
238Cr 238 Cr 238/1
Sear 115
Syd 451
BMC 976
Hill [p. 49]
Carson 89v
Antestia 9
Hill
c. 125
BMC
c. 124
Sydenham
133-126
Crawford
136 BC
Carson
150-125
Mattingly
135
Head right, GRAG behind, crossed X before neck/quadriga right, L.ATES below. Moneyer: L. Antestius Gragulus.
  If the denarius really did change from 10 to 16 asses and this coin is later, according to seriation (see this page for a discussion of seriation), maybe this new symbol means 16. Hill [p. 49] and BMC [p. 118] thought this was still just X for ten with the crossbar in the middle instead of crossing the top. Hill thinks [p. 49] that denarii of 3.90 grams (even before moneyer's names were on coins) were "the equivalent of 16 asses of uncial weight." He has the mark "X" retained anyway, and says of this crossed X, "That mark, indeed, was probably by this time regarded a denoting the name rather than the value of the coin" and "This does not mean XVI, as some have supposed, but is merely X differentiated as a denominational mark by means of a horizontal stroke." This last observation seems unwarranted to me. If you think a denarius is 16, as he says it is, why interpret a symbol that might mean 16 as 10?
  What is really going on with X, XVI, and then X again is still the subject of controversy. Crawford and others date some "X" pieces after the "XVI" and "X" pieces. Was the revaluation recinded?
  Inspection of the main numismatic sources shows authors prefer to avoid the issue, presumably because they do not have a convincing answer. Hill discusses later coins with "X" without mentioning the X. See the third coin above (of c. 141 BC) with XVI for what BMC wrote, which we now think must be wrong. Also, BMC [p. 125] discusses at length when the moneyer might have coined, but does not mention XVI as a possible change in value associated with financial concerns, nor does it mention a reason for the subsequent reuse of X. Crawford lists the types without any comment on "XVI".
  I presume there must be articles on the changes from X to XVI to X to X, but I will have not yet found them and will add to this when I do.

First
architectural
type
c. 135 BC

CA VG column
ears of grain
Cr 242CR 242 Cr 242/1
S 119
Syd 463
BMC 952
Hill 33
Carson 93
Minucia 3
Hill
150-125
BMC
series III
of three from
150-125
Sydenham
133-126
Crawford
135 BC
Carson
150-125
Mattingly 128
BC
Head right, ROMA behind/C.A VG around the column of Minucia, with grain-ears on either side, topped by a statue and attended by two figures. Moneyer: C. Minucius Augurinus.
A second, very similar design, attributed to his brother and the next year [or 133, according to Mattingly, who puts the other column type first], is clear about the full name of the moneyer, with TI MINVCI AVGVRINI around the column.
  BMC says this is "a representation of the bronze monument, erected outside the Porta Trigemina to L.Minucius Augurinus in commemoration of his successful attempt in B.C. 439, when prefect of the corn market, to reduce the price of corn, as the people were suffering from a grievous famine" [page I.136]. So, this type apparently does not reference a current event, rather an event from long in the past that was still remembered and which brought great honor to the family of the moneyer. Crawford's dating of this type to 135 is not due to any correspondence between the type and our knowledge of events of 135 and it is not due to any ancient literature suggesting the moneyer was moneyer in 135.
133 BC

Tribunate and murder of
Tiberius Gracchus.

The attempts at land-ownership reform by Tiberius Gracchus were defeated by slaughtering him and 300 of his supporters. This sort of event does not show up on coins and he does not seem to have a program which was advertised on coins.
 
             
124-121 BC

Tribunate and murder of Gaius Gracchus in 121. 

 
Among other things, Gaius Gracchus took steps to enact a grain subsidy law (the sort of thing that does show up on coins), build roads (the sort of thing that can show up on coins), authorize the founding of a number of colonies throughout Italy and near Carthage (this can show up on coins), change provincial taxation methods, and propose Roman citizenship for Italian allies. There are many types with ears of grain but none seem to fit this time period. Roads make it onto coins under Trajan (98-117 AD) but don't appear in this century.
  This is evidence that Republican coins did not yet reference current politics.
  Except for one controversial colony in North Africa, those proposed by Gaius Gracchus and his opponents (who undermined Gaius by proposing even more colonies than Gaius, but with no intention of making them happen) did not actually happen after Gaius lost power and then was killed along with 3000 of his supporters.
  [See the type below from 118 BC for the first type associated with founding a colony.]
             

First nearly-current
event cited

c. 119

Gallic trophy
for a victory

 
Cr 281281 Cr 281/1
S 156
Syd 529
BMC ii Italy 555
Furia 18
Hill -- BMC
93-92
Sydenham
110-108
Crawford
119 BC
Carson
125-100
Mattingly
118 BC
Janus head, M.FOVRI/ L.F, Victory crowning a trophy. Moneyer: M. Fourius L.F. Philus
This reverse with a trophy is obviously a victory type, but which victory? The object projecting diagonally upward from the bottom of the cuirass on the trophy appears to be distinctly Gallic--a carnyx. So, it is easy to infer it refers to Gallic victory. The previous coin referred to an event in the distant past and scholars were prepared to find a similar ancestral reference for this type. Carson [p. 36] says "A reference to victories over the Gauls in 223 BC of an earlier Furius Philius." Of course, if evidence is accepted that this coin was minted before the Gallic victories of 121 BC, the Gallic-victory reference could not be to those victories, so Carson thought of a different reference, one more like the typical types of previous moneyers which basically say, "An ancestor of mine did something important." So the problem became one of "pick the ancestor." However, if the coin seems to be issued after those victories of 121, it could reference them and the question becomes "How long after?" That same year? The next year? Ten years later? The first subsequent year when a relative of the victor was a moneyer? If Crawford is right this is the first nearly current event mentioned on denarii.

Gallic warrior
in biga

First serrate type

c. 118 BC
Cr 282282 Cr 282/5
S 158
Syd 520
BMC 1187
Hill --
Carson 104
Porcia 8
(There are
other
moneyers
with this
type)
Hill -- BMC
c. 92
Sydenham
113-109
Crawford
118 BC
Carson
c. 118
Mattingly
115 BC
L.PORCI LICI around head/biga driven by a Gallic warrior with a spear and shield. L.LIC.C.N.DOM in exergue.
The biga is driven by a Gallic warrior, not a Roman soldier. The clothing (or lack of it) and the carnyx behind the shield refer to Gaul.
The historian Tacitus comments on the "native" preference for serrat bigtique. The serrations (notches) were thought to serve as pre-made test cuts to expose counterfeits. Actually, there are serrate fourree counterfeits (see here), but they were thought to be harder to make.
  There are numerous varieties of this type with different names. It "breaks sharply with traditon by omitting the name ROMA" [Mattingly, 1998, p. 157]. The many erratic legends lead Mattingly and Crawford to conclude the issue was not from Rome and in fact from Narbo, a colony founded in Gaul in 118 BC. The legend names "surely the L. Licinius responsible for the colony" [Crawford, p. 298]. "The founding commissioners, Licinius and Domitius are named" [Carson]. BMC only notes the moneyer was probably a descendent of two much-earlier Licinii and does not draw this connection. Sydenham does make the Narbo connection but thinks it is issued significantly later than the founding of the colony. Crawford writes "referring ... the defeat of the Allobroges and Arverni and triumphs of 120." This reminds us that if a coin references an event of year X the coin must be from year X or later, but might not be from year X. Mattingly puts it three years later than Crawford.


Voting scene

c. 113/112 BC
Cr 292/1
S 169
Syd 548
BMC ii Italy 526
Carson 110
Licinia 7
-- BMC
99-94
Sydenham
c. 106
Crawford
113/112 BC
Carson
c. 105
Mattingly
110 BC
Bust of Roma left with spear and shield, crescent above, ROMA behind/voting scene, a view of the interior of the comitium with a voter stooping to receive a ballot on the left and another voter casting his vote into a ballot box after walking across a bridge. P NERVA above. Moneyer: P. Licinius Nerva, Praetor of 103 BC.
   The historical connetion between any "Nerva" and voting is tenuous. BMC is able to find voting reforms in 145 BC and 139 BC, but is unable to connect them to any Nerva. The coins are smaller and thicker than most, resembling in fabric those of M. Cipius M.f., so they are presumably close together in date.
  Nerva is not a common family name this early, so the attested Praetor of 103 BC is likely the same man. Preator is a much higher rank than moneyer in the cursus honorum, so projecting backward in his career, the coin is likely to be on the order of ten years earlier.
  [There is another voting scene discussed below.]


Special issue
"From the
public treasury"

102 BC

 
Cr 322/1bCr 322/1b Cr 322/1b
Sear 200
BMC 1591
Syd 590
Hill 46
Carson --
Fabia 14
Hill
90 BC
BMC
c. 90 BC
 
Sydenham
c. 96-95 BC
Crawford
102 BC
Carson
--
Mattingly
99 BC
Head of Cybele right, turreted and veiled, EX.A.PV behind/Victory driving a biga right, heron or stork before and control letter below. C.FABI.C.F.  Moneyer: C. Fabius C.F. Hadrianus.
  Burnett thinks the size of a regular issue was determined at the beginning of the year and if more coins were needed later, a special issue was authorized by the Senate and the subsequent coins were marked "EX SC" or "SC" or, as in this case, "EX.A.PV".
  This type illustrates the difficulty of interpreting Roman coin types. BMC [p. 222] says the moneyer is known to us only from his coins. The obverse legend is "EX.A.PV" which everyone agrees means "from the public treasury [silver]". Hill wrote in 1910 [p. 83] "these phrases indicate special issues which were made in accordance with special decrees of the Senate or of the people, and not by the tresviri [moneyers] in ordinary course." He continues "The coins ... are dated by external evidence (as of hoards in which they occur) to about 90 BC and there can be no doubt that the special circumstances which occasioned the issue of which they formed part are to be looked for in the Social War." What was "no doubt" in 1910 is considered wrong now. Seriation trumps theory.
  Crawford finds a Praetor of 84 who may have been the moneyer. He agrees with previous scholars who think the type may refer to a victory of an ancestor in the Second Punic War in which a bird alighted on his ship. But the victory is far from current and does not help date the type. Crawford mentions that Cybele and victory may have "a connection with the career of Marius and his hopes of victory" [p. 327].

AD FRV EMV
EX SC
ear of grain
Obverse: head
of Saturn
with harpa
behind

100 BC
330 Cr 330/1
Sear 210
Syd 603
BMC 1125
Carson 121
Calpurnia 5

PISO
CAEPIO
Q
Hill
100
BMC
100 BC
Sydenham
96-94 BC
Crawford
100 BC
Carson
c. 95
Mattingly
100 BC
Head of Saturn right, harpa behind, PISO CAEPIO. Q / two figures seated, grain-ear to left, AD FRV[mentum] EMV[undum] "For buying grain" EX SC.
This is an  unusual case where the reference of the type can be determined precisely. BMC says "L. Saturninus proposed his lex frumentaria de semissibus et trientibus by which the state let the people buy corn at a semis and a triens (i.e 5/6 of an as) for a modius. This occurred during the second tribuneship of Saturninus in BC 100 and we have, therefore, the precise date of the issue of these coins" [p.I. 170]. Sutherland agrees  "They had to produce a special and senatorially authorized coinage in order to implement a new law enabling the people to buy cheap corn" [Roman Coins, p. 70.] There are many references to grain on Republican coins and grain shortages were not uncommon. So, we use additional information to pin down this coin to a particular date. The obverse of Saturn with his attribute the harpa makes the reference to Saturninus. The remaining question is if the type might have been issued somewhat after the event (which the dates above show some scholars thought) rather than the year of the event. The Sutherland quote seems to suggest he thought the state issued coins for buying grain, as opposed to merely using coins to remind the users of the generosity of the state and Saturninus in particular. In that case, they would have been issued in the year of the event, which Crawford selected.

The Social War

(aka The war of the Allies,
aka The war of the
Marsic Confederation)

90-88 BC
Cr 340Cr 340 Cr. 340/1
Sear 235
Syd 650ff
BMC 1859ff
Carson 130v
Hill [p. 91]
Calpurnia 11-12

 
Hill
88 BC
BMC
c. 88 BC
Sydenham
90-89 BC
Crawford
90 BC
Carson
90-89
Mattingly
90 BC
Head of Apollo right/horseman racing right with palm branch. L.PISO FRVGI, control mark CXXXII below. Moneyer: L. Calpurnius Piso L.f. L.n. Frugi.
  No contemporary Roman coins reference the Social War. The Allies, the Italians, minted a dozen rare types of "Italian" denarii, but if all we had was Roman coins we could not see in the coins anything about this major war. All we can see is that the volume of coinage increases dramatically. This type was far larger than previous issues.  CXXXII means it was struck from die number 132 out of maybe 900 dies, making a huge issue which is still very common today. The types have no obvious reference to the war. Neither do the other types attributed to the period of the Social War. 


SULLA

c. 84-83 BC

 
359s2359 Cr 359/2
Sear 276
Syd 761
BMC East 4
Carson 142v
Cornelia 30
 
Hill
87-84
BMC
82-81
Sydenham
82-81
Crawford
84-83 BC
Carson
c. 82
 
L.SVLLA below Venus head right, with small cupid holding up palm branch before/trophy, jug, lituus, and trophy, IMPER above and ITERVM below, from a mint moving with Sulla.
Venus was Sulla's patron deity and the palm branch is a symbol of victory. The reverse explicitly mentions a second (ITERVM) imperatorial (IMPER) acclaimation. Because it was struck in the East and Sulla was not in the East long, BMC has it "struck at the end of and possibly during the second Mithradatic War, c. BC 82-80." Sydenham [p. 122] says, "eastern coinages of Sulla." "... the war against Mithradates (87-74 BC)... Near the end of 82 Sulla was appointed dictator and early in 81 BC he celebrated a triumph on account of this victory over Mitradates. ... Before his dictatorship he assumed the title imperator and imperator iterum."  The ancient author Dio mentions this type [erroneously giving it three trophies instead of two].
  Crawford is not so sure that the two trophies are associated with the two imperial acclamations (even though it seems obvious they should be) because, he says, Sulla had used two trophies earlier on tetradrachms in Greece. He notes the priestly symbols and considers the evidence for when Sulla was Augur and inclines toward 82 BC.
  After this many issues are still signed by obscure moneyers, but more and more are issued by (for) prominent generals. Ancient literature describing their careers gives us far more evidence with which to date these issues than we have for second-century issues.


LIBERTAS

c. 75 BC
392  392 Cr 392/1
Sear 329
Syd 789
BMC 3293
Hill --
Carson 158
Farsuleia 2
Hill -- BMC
c. 75
Syd
c. 73
Crawford
75 BC
Carson
c. 75
Harlan
77 BC
Mesagene
76 BC
 
Bust of Libertas right, identifying cap of Liberty behind, MENSOR before/ chariot and two figures. L.FARSVLEI in exergue. Moneyer: Lucius Farsulus Mensor
  Look at the reverse type. What do you see? [Pause here!]
  It almost looks like a togate figure is being assisted up into a chariot. The obverse has "SC" indicating a special issue. BMC [p. 402] says "Eckhel thinks that the types allude to the Lex Julia which was promulgated during the Social War and by which right of citizenship was granted to all Italians." Crawford thinks the obverse type expresses sympathy for the demand in the 70s of the restoration of the powers of the tribunate in the name of Libertas. He writes, in agreement with BMC, "The reverse type as a whole suggests the notion of peace and reconciliation between soldier [in the chariot] and civilian [being assisted] and perhaps alludes sympathetically to a second objective of some politicians in the 70s, the assimilation of the new citizens enfranchised after the Social War." Both the individual and gens of Lucius Farsulus Mensor are otherwise unknown. So, it can be argued the types are relevant to the 70s, but more precision comes only from seriation.

Sicily

Event of 101 BC.

coin of much later,
c. 71 BC

III VIR


 
Cr 403403 Cr 401/1
Sear 336
Syd 796
BMC 3364
Hill --
Carson 163
Aquillia 2
Hill -- BMC
c. 72
Syd
c. 70
Crawford
71 BC
Carson
c. 70
Harlan
67 BC
Helmeted bust of Virtus right, III VIR behind, VIRTVS before/Soldier raising exhausted female (Sicily, labeled below). MN AQVIL up the right. MN.F.MN.N down the left identifying the moneyer as the grandson of Mn. Aquillius.
   This is the first appearance on coins of the title triumvir (III VIR) for moneyer. BMC says "probably the grandson of the consul of the same name who in B.C. 101 conducted a war against the slaves in Sicily." Crawford says the moneyer is not otherwise known but "His reverse type alludes to the beneficia conferred on Sicily by his grandfather, Mn. Aquillius, Cos 101, responsible for ending the slave war." So, we know the date of the event exactly, but we only have seriation and other types to date the type.


voting scene

c. 63 BC
Cr 413413 Cr 413/1
Sear 364
Syd 935
BMC 3929
Hill 39
Carson --
Cassia 10
Hill
c. 52 BC
[p. 69]
BMC
c. 52
Syd
52-50
Crawford
63 BC
Carson
--
 
Mesagne
60
Harlan
60
 
Head of Vesta, veiled, left/voting scene. LONGIN III V with "III V" for triumvir (one of the three moneyers).
An ancestor of this Longinus had, as Tribune, extended voting rights in 137. He also presided over the retrial of the Vestal Virgins in 113 BC. On superb examples the voting table has a "V" on it for uti rogas ("as you propose") a vote in favor of the proposal [Hill, p. 70, Harlan p. 42]. Harlan [p. 40f] also refers to the family's association with trials and notes the pieces from the Mesagne hoard were in almost mint condition, which favors a date only shortly before 58 BC.

First type referring to
an event involving
the moneyer

58 BC
Cr 422422 Cr 422/1b
Sear 379
Syd 913
BMC 3878
Hill 57
Carson 195
Aemilia 8
Hill
58 BC
BMC
58 BC
Syd
58 BC
Crawford
58 BC
Carson
57 BC
 
Reverse:  REX ARETAS below the king of Arabia kneeling before a camel, submitting to Scaurus, and event known to history from 62 BC. M.SCAVR/AED CVR above.
The office on the reverse, AED CVR, pins down the date. BMC says "As it is recorded that the curule aedileship of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and Publius Plautius Hypaseus took place in B. C. 58, this is one of the few instances at this period when we are able to fix from historical evidence the precise date of the issue of a particular coinage" [p. 483]. Carson says the moneyers were Curule Aediles in 57, not 58, but others place it in 58. Hill says Scaurus celebrated the aedilian games in 58 BC [p. 99]. This type was the closing type in the Mesagne hoard, published in 1984, which required that large issues which were missing to be dated--sometimes redated--to after 58. The next "MVSA" issue was missing, but Harlan thinks it was a small issue missing by chance.


Q. POMPONI
MUSA

c. 56 BC
Cr 410Cr 410 Cr 410/8
Sear 359
Syd 811ff
BMC 3606ff
Hill 57
Carson 174ff
Pomponia
9-22
 
Hill
58 BC
BMC
c. 67 BC
Syd
68-55
(early in that range)
 
Crawford
66 BC
Carson
c. 65 BC

 
Mesagne
Hoard
56 BC

Harlan
65 BC
Laureate head of Apollo right, star behind/Q.POMPONI MVSA around a muse. This one is the muse of Astronomy.
The moneyer Q. Pomponius Musa used punning types which illustrated the muses on his reverses. But when? Until the Mesagne hoard was published in 1984 (after Crawford was published in 1973) there were no useful recorded hoards that closed between 75/74 and 55/54 BC. So, we knew this type was after 74 and before 55, but Musa was not known to history and the type seemed to have no connection to history, so how could it be dated?  In spite of the  hesitation to use "style" to put  types in order, there was no alternative. Doing the best he could with those twenty years of issues, Crawford put this issue in 66 BC. However, it was not included in the Mesagne hoard which was dated to 58 BC (closing with the previous type), forcing some issues, including this one, to be redated. Hersh and Walker date it to 56 BC. Hersh and Walker admitted they had too many issues squeezed between 58 and 51 and Harlan decides some of them are missing from the Mesagne hoard by chance, including this small issue. Others feel the MVSA issue is not that small and would have been included if it were before 58, so it must be later as Hersch and Walker had it.

Jugurtha captured
by Sulla

(event of 105)

56 BC
Cr 426426s1 Cr 426/1
S 383
Syd 879
BMC 3824
Hill 40
Carson 186
Cornelia 59
Hill
c. 62 BC
BMC
62 BC
Syd
c. 63-62
Crawford
56 BC
Carson
c. 60 BC
Harlan
55 BC
Head of Diana, FAVSTVS, lituus behind/surrender scene, FELIX. This issue of Faustus Cornelius Sulla, son of the dictator Sulla, clearly refers to the capture and surrender of Jugurtha (right) to Sulla (middle, identified as FELIX) and the submission of Bocchus of Maurtania (left) in 105 BC, technically under Marius but engineered by Sulla who claimed the credit. The epithet FELIX was assumed by Sulla in 81 BC. This scene was engraved on Sulla's signet ring.
  The career of Faustus Cornelius Sulla is well-known except for when he was moneyer. BMC says he was born in 89, accompanied Pompey to Asia in 63, gave games promised in his father's will in 60, became Augur in 57, and was Quaestor Urbanus in 54.
  Crawford asserts the lituus refers to Faustus's augurship, not his father's, so it has to be from 57 or later. Crawford picked 56 (He has five moneyers in 55, which some would say is too many). The absence of Sulla's types from the Mesagne hoard makes any date before 58 too early. Harlan picks 55 BC because Faustus's father-in-law-to-be Pompey was consul that year, making it more likely that he was moneyer that year. Faustus issued four types, two without SC and two with. Other scholars, including Crawford, put all four in the same year, but in Harlan's view the SC issues, which clearly reference Pompey, should be at least a year later when Faustus was a senator, not just a moneyer, and he says Faustus was not a senator before 54, so he settles on 54 for the SC issues.
Julius Caesar

Portrait of a living Roman

44 BC
Cr 480Cr 480 Cr 480/3
Sear 1407
Syd 1056
BMC 4137
Carson 248
Hill --
Julia 32
 
Hill -- BMC
44 BC
before the death of Casar
 
Syd
c. 44 BC
Crawford
44 BC
Carson
44 BC
 
Near the end of the Republic the ancient written records become far better with more events and well-known people to associate with coin types. Rather than comment on almost every late type, I skip ahead to this coin of Caesar.
Wreathed head of Caesar right, lituus and simpulum behind, CAESAR IMP/Venus Victrix standing left holding Victory, resting left elbow on shield, M METTIVS around right, control mark K.
  Not surprisingly, Julius Caesar's coinage has been very extensively studied. This type is dated, remarkably precisely, to mid-January through early February, 44 BC, no more than two months before he was assassinated on the Ides of March (March 15). The lituus and simpulum are priestly implements and Julius Caesar was High Priest. The Julian gens claimed descent from Venus.
  In great contrast to the earlier Republic, in this "imperatorial" period, types were changed frequently and often can be connected with particular historical events. It is known from history that shortly before he was assassinated the Senate authorized coins with his image. The earliest ones say "CAESAR DICT QVART" (Dictator for the fourth time, from January 44 BC) and are before those mentioning "CAESAR DICT PERPETVO" (Dictator forever, from March). Squeezing five portrait types into two and half months allows for remarkably precise dating.
  The imperatorial period continued with numerous posthumous types of Caesar, numerous types from military mints of Antony, numerous types from military mints of Octavian (later Augustus), and very numerous other types, most of which can be connected to events recorded in history. The great difficulty scholars have dating earlier Republican types comes to an end--along with the Republic.


Go to the other page on Republican dating, the page on methods of dating Republican coins

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References that are still useful:

BMC. Abbreviation for Grueber.

Burnett, Andrew. "The authority to coin in the late Republic and the early empire," NC 1977, pages 37-63.

Crawford, Michael. Roman Republican Coinage. 1973. In two volumes.
   This is the standard work. In spite of many articles making changes since 1973, the general structure stands and it has been cited so regularly that its ID numbers and dates remain the usual way to identify Republican coins. Popular works such as Sear's Roman Coins and their Values give his dates and cite his ID numbers.

Grueber, H. A. Coins of the Roman Republic in the British Museum. [Abbreviated BMC] 1910. Three volumes.  594,  601, and 236 pages with 123 plates in volume III. Only a very few line drawings in volumes I and II.
  This book has, in volume 3, 123 plates of coins. It is an excellent photographic record (with images from casts). Coins minted in Rome (but not those minted elsewhere) are numbered consecutively in chronological order (with an outdated chronology) in volume I with 36 BC to 3 BC in the first part of volume II. Volume II continues with coins from Italy (other than Rome), the Social War, Spain, Gaul, the East, Sicily, Africa, and Cyrenaica, each region beginning anew with number 1. So, BMC 550 is not the same as BMC Italy 550. Most coins are in volume I, but if you have an unusual coin and you don't know where it was minted it can be hard to find unless you use the extensive indicies, including by legend, in volume III. 
  Grueber has very extensive notes on the moneyers. Because moneyer's names are abbreviated and many are not historical figures, Grueber (and every other researcher) often had to guess who they were from their family connections. If Grueber was right, his notes tell fascinating stories. Crawford, on the other hand, does not tell much about the moneyers if Grueber already did. He saw no need to duplicate what was already published. So, Gruber can be a significant supplement to Crawford, not for dates, but for stories.

Harlan, Michael. Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 63 BC - 49 BC. 1995.
   Negatively reviewed by Wilhelm Hollstein in NC 1996, pages 354-356. Hollstein doubts a major assumption of Harlan, that is that "SC" refers to special supplemental issues authorized by the senate and issued by senators and Hollstein disputes most of the new interpretations Harlan offers. Hollstein prefers to see interpretations "in connection with the legends and designs of the coins." Hollstein wrote a book in German on the coins of the period, Die Stadtromische Munzpragung der Jahre 78-50V. Chr., 1993 (Which I have not seen or read. It was reviewed by Wlliams [see below].)

Harlan, Michael. Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BC - 64 BC. 2012.

Hersh, Charles. "Note on the Chronology and Interpretation of the Roman Republican Coinage: Some comments on Crawford's Roman Republican Coinage," NC 1977, pages 17-36.

Hollstein, William. Die stadtromische Munzpragung der Jahre 78-50 v. Chr zwischen politischer Aktualitat und Familienthematik, Kommentar und Bibliographie (1993, 424 pages and 8 plates)
  Clearly relevant, but I have not seen it. See "William, J. C. H." below for a negative review of it which casts doubt on Holstein's assumptions about how politically motivated coins types were in that time period.

Hersh, Charles and Alan Walker. "The Mesagne Hoard." [Abbreviated "Mesagne"] American Numismatic Society Museum Notes, 29, 1984, page 103-134 and plates 16-19.
  This important hoard required some of Crawford's dates of coins in the 60's BC to be revised.

Mattingly, Harold B. "Coinage and the Roman State" NC 1977, pages 199-215.
   A review-article about Crawford with a few quibbles about dating but mostly focused on the sizes of issues and arguing that 15,000 coins per die is more compatible with expenditures we can estimate than Crawford's 30,000 coin per die.

Mattingly, Harold B. "Roman Republican Coinage c. 150-90 BC," in Coins of Macedonia and Rome:  Essays in honour of Charles Hersh, edited by Andrew Burnett, Ute Wartenberg, and Richard Witschonke, 1998, pages 151-164 and plates 22-24.
  Mattingly uses seriation from about a dozen hoards not available to Crawford (who wrote 25 years earlier) to move some dates. This is the "Mattingly" article cited in the rightmost column. By the way, this Mattingly is the son of the Harold Mattingly of RIC and BMC and is distinguished by always including his middle initial "B".

McCabe, Andrew. Review of Roman Rebublican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE to 64 BCE, by Michael Harlan, in NC 2012, page 367-3369.
    McCabe doubts Harlan's dates and some of his methodology, but finds some insight in the discussion of types and history.

Mesagne. Abbreviation for Hersch and Walker.

RSC. Abbreviation for Seaby.

Seaby, H. A. Roman Silver Coins, volume I: Republic to Augustus, third revised edition. 1978. Revised by David Sear and Robert Loosley. [Abbreviated "RSC"]
  The third revised edition of this book is still remarkably useful even though it is arranged completely differently from most. (Earlier editions are not so useful because they were published before Crawford and do not take into account Crawford's work.)  In the old days before so much was known about chronology, Republican coins were organized by grouping moneyers by family. So, a coin might be "Cassia 7" (using Babelon's system) which leaves the chronology a mystery. However, this book, arranged by family and use Babelon numbers, also gives Crawford's ID and dates, which can really help you find the modern ID when a seller identifies his coin with this outdated system. This happens surprisingly often, especially when coins are from old collections or from Europe.

Sear, D.  Roman Coins and their Values: The Millennium Edition. 2000.  Volume 1 of a 5-volume series. Volume 1 covers the Republic and the twelve Caesars.
  If what you want is an ID number, a Crawford number, and dates, this book suffices. It is very nearly complete for Republican silver and gives the Crawford numbers (as well as BMC and Sydenham numbers). It is organized in chronological order using Crawford's dates so it is easy to find the Sear number from a Crawford number or a Crawford date.

Williams, J. C. H.  Review in NC 1994, pages 317-319, of Die stadtromische Munzpragung der Jahre 78-50 v. Chr zwischen politischer Aktualitat und Familienthematik, Kommentar und Bibliographie, by William Hollstein, 1993, 424 pages and 8 plates.
   Williams does "not agree with the approach or result offered in this work, but it nevertheless performs its primary aim, of providing a commentary and bibliography of the denarii of the Late Republic, with thoroughness and diligence."  Williams writes "we see a confusing repertory of images and symbols whose meaning not at all clear," and, contra Hollstein, we should not assume they all have "politically loaded meaning. "



References that are out of date:

Babelon, E. Monnaies de la Republique Romaine, 1885.
  Babelon arranged coins under family names, which has been superseded by chronological arrangement. Sear gives the Babelon numbers if you aready know the chronology or Crawford numbers, and Roman Silver Coins gives the Crawford numbers if you already know the Babelon numbers. There is no reason to have Babelon.

Carson, R. A. G. Principal Coins of the Romans: Volume 1, The Republic. 1978.
   Carson wrote three volumes illustrating, in chronological order, representative coins from the entire Roman series. Each has a life-sized photo with a spare description and at most one or two lines of commentary. Volume I illustrates over 300 Republican coins.

Hill, G. F.  Historical Roman Coins. 1909.
   Hill is not comprehensive, rather a selection of some types he connected to history. Omitted types in the "Hill" column above simply are not mentioned in the book. Only the first half is about Republican coins; the rest is about imperial coins.

Sydenham  The Coinage of the Roman Republic, 1952 (Most copies on the market are a much inferior and inexcusably smaller Durst 1975 reprint. It does not admit the real publication date and has, very unfortunately, reduced-size coin images that are smaller than natural size.)
  The value of this work is minimal to none. I almost got rid of mine. However, it is part of the history of numismatics. I used it here to look up the dates that numismatists used from 1952 to 1973, prior to Crawford.



Go to the other page on Republican dating, the page on methods of dating Republican coins

Go to the overall Table of Contents for other, unrelated, topics on this site.

You may contact me at e.

 



                                                                                                                Originally posted July 8, 2016.