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  • Coinage of the Ostrogoths in the British Museum

    1

    Coinage of the Ostrogoths in the British Museum Elena Baldi

    A guide to types/all coins britishmuseum.org/ostrogoths

  • Coinage of the Ostrogoths in the British Museum

    2

    Coinage of Julius Nepos, Zeno, Odovacar

    and Theoderic I

    Mint of Rome

    Gold

    Solidus

    The solidi minted in this period are characterized by the obverse image of the

    emperor, with the helmeted, diademed and cuirassed bust of Zeno facing in a

    three-quarters position, with a spear and shield as well as the inscription with his

    name, always with legend break: P-ERP. On the reverse a personification of

    Victory is standing to the left, holding a long cross, with the inscription VICTORIA

    AVCCC and the mint mark COMOB or also COMOB. The various combinations

    of obverse inscription and mint marks on the reverse of the coins denote the

    variants recorded by Kent.

    1. RIC X, 3205

    BM ID: 1863,0711.13

    This type is characterized by the division of the inscription on the obverse in P-

    ERP and on the reverse the legend has a colon placed at the end of it. According

    to Kent, this is a characteristic of the emissions of Julius Nepos. The style of the

    coin is also quite similar to the Roman emissions of Zeno-Odovacar catalogued as

    RIC X 3651 that also have a colon-like mark : at the end of the reverse legend.

    2. RIC X, 3651

    BM ID: 1849,1121.685

    Like the emission registered in the name of Julius Nepos (3205), this type is

    characterized by the obverse divided legend, P -ERP and the colon placed at the

    end of the reverse legend. The style of this coin is however rather crude and the

    star in the right field of the reverse has several points and almost looks double -

    struck; the lettering and image are not as competently engraved as emission RIC X

    3205. There is also a clear separation in the word VICTOR-I-A, broken by the arm

    of the cross.

    3. RIC X, 3653

    BM ID: R.357

    Maintaining the P-ERP subdivision in the obverse legend, this type is characterized

    by the mint initial R following the reverse legend. In this case there is an additional

    separation in the reverse legend between R and I that is caused by the arm of the

    cross held by the Victory.

    4. RIC X, 3656

    BM ID: 1983,0703.3

    This type is characterized by the combination of the mint mark at the end of the

    reverse legend and COMOB in the exergue. Another feature in this coin, visible in

    the reverse legend, is the separation of the letters R and I in VICTORIA, caused by

    the insertion of the arm of the cross, which, according to Kent, appears to become

    more decisively visible with this particular issue (although recorded previously).

  • Coinage of the Ostrogoths in the British Museum

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    Tremissis

    The tremisses are characterized by a profile portrait of the draped Emperor Zeno

    with cuirass and paludamentum as well as the legend of Zeno with break: P-ERP,

    as on the solidi. The emissions of Julius Nepos often bear the obverse legend D N

    ZENO PERP AVC both unbroken and broken into P-ERP and the COMOB

    exergue mark. In contrast, the issues of Zeno-Odovacar have the title inscription

    that is always divided into P-ERP and the exergue mark is either COMOB or

    COMOB. The wreath on the reverse has two ties at the lower end, which are only

    found on coins from the mint of Rome.

    5. RIC X, 3210

    BM ID: 1863,0711.72; R.360; B.12659

    Three coins are included amongst the emissions of Julius Nepos that bear a

    broken legend on the obverse, P-ERP, whilst on the reverse there is a cross

    located within a wreath; the exergue legend is COMOB. The wreath is tied at the

    bottom by a rope, which looks like a wide and horizontally elongated letter X. This

    type differs from the contemporary Zeno emissions that show a personification of

    Victory advancing, holding a wreath and globus cruciger.1

    Coins 1863,0711.72 and R360 share the same die on both sides; it is likely,

    however, that the latter coin is either more worn that the former or was struck at a

    later time since the letters are less sharp and some details, such as the hair, the

    diadem and the wreath, are not as well defined as with the previous specimen.

    6. RIC X, 3662

    BM ID: R.358; R.359

    These two coins have an obverse legend that is broken into P-ERP, as well as the

    reverse COMOB. On the obverse these two specimens show a more elongated

    bust when compared to the emissions of Julius Nepos. In these instances, t he

    wreath is also tied at the bottom by a feature in the form of a wide and horizontally

    elongated letter X.

    Silver

    Half siliqua

    7. RIC X, 3664

    BM ID: 1984,0525.1

    This is the only silver coin that Metlich accepts as minted under the authority of

    Odovacar. Kent records that this type had been wrongly attributed to the mint of

    Milan and ascribes it to Rome because of the divided P-ERP legend on the

    obverse. The Christogram on the reverse within a wreath is also believed to be the

    continuation of the Chi -Rho monogram. The exergue bears the mint mark CM,

    unusual for Rome, but the dots at either side could link the production to this mint,

    even though a similar feature appears on silver of Milan minted in the name of

    Anastasius (RIC X, 217). In addition, Metlich found a die link between the half

    siliqua and a tremissis of the Turin collection that would support a Roman

    production.

    1 A cross topped orb (Latin: globus), a symbol of authority.

  • Coinage of the Ostrogoths in the British Museum

    4

    This mint mark was given a few interpretations: Caput Mundi (Grierson and Mays

    1992, 186), an abbreviation for COMOB for specific use on silver coinage (RIC X,

    217); or a mark of value (240 nummi c=sigma=200; M=mu=40) (RIC X, 218), but

    no full agreement on his meaning has been reached as of yet.

    Copper alloy

    40 nummi

    The general features of the 40 nummi emissions minted in the name of Zeno show

    a laureate head of the emperor on the obverse with two different inscriptions,

    which are IM(N)P ZENO FELICISSIMO SEN AVG and IMP ZENO SEMPER AVC,

    with or without IIII beneath the truncation of the bust (we do not know whether this

    is a mint mark or not). On the reverse there is a personification of Victory

    advancing whilst standing on prow, holding a trophy and wreath between the two

    letters S C, as well as the mark of value XL placed in the exergue. The reverse

    bears two different inscriptions: GLORIA ROMANORO or IMVICTA ROMA.

    8. RIC X, 3665

    BM ID: 1969,0517.1

    This type is characterized, on the obverse, by the combination of the inscription

    IM(N)P ZENO FELICISSIMO SEN AVG, running outwards counterclockwise, and

    IIII below the bust. The reverse bears the legend GLORIA ROMANORO, with S C

    on either side of the central Victory and in the exergue XL.

    9. RIC X, 3666 var.

    BM ID: B.11454; B.11494; 1860,0326.164; 1860,0326.163

    This type shows on the obverse the legend, running outwards counterclockwise

    with additional title FILICISSIMO and IIII below the bust. On the reverse the

    inscription changes to IMVICTA ROMA with S C on either sides of Victory that no

    longer stands on the prow; in the exergue there is the legend XL.

    10. RIC X, 3667

    BM ID: B.11495; 1951,1115.2830

    This type shows a change in the obverse inscription, which becomes IMP ZENO

    SEMPER AVC, and the absence of the IIII below the bust; there is also a change

    in style, seen especially in the now broader head. On the reverse the inscription

    IMVICTA ROMA with S C on either side of Victory and XL in the exergue. This

    type is considered rare by Grierson; however, the British Museum owns two coins

    of this kind, purchased in 1951 and 1969.

    Mint of Milan Gold

    Solidus

    According to Kent, the solidi were produced in Milan only for Zeno-Odovacar or

    there is no clear evidence that allows us to discern between Julius Nepos and

    Zeno. The obverse of the coins maintains the frontal image of Zeno, helmeted,

    diademed and cuirassed with spear and shield, with the inscription of his name

    generally not separated. On the reverse, Victory is standing to the left, holding a

    long cross with the inscription VICTORIA AVCCC, the mint mark M D (for

    Mediolanum) that identifies the mint of Milan and COMOB in the exergue.

  • Coinage of the Ostrogoths in the British Museum

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    11. RIC X, 3601

    BM ID: 1860,0329.242

    This type is characterized by the M D mint mark as well as a star located below the

    letter M on the left field, a feature that differs from the emissions of Rome, which

    have the star on the right. In addition, the legend on the reverse is separated only

    in the VICTORI-A, in the same way as the early emissions of Rome.

    12. RIC X, 3602

    BM ID: 1860,0329.241

    This type also bears the mint mark M D of the mint of Milan, as well as a star

    located under M in the left field, a letter A that was inserted between the long arm

    of the cross and the lower part of Victorys dress and a D in the right field.

    Tremissis

    The tremisses bear on the obverse the profile bust of Zeno, diademed, draped and

    cuirassed. The titles used