FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board

Numism => Reading For the Advanced Collector => Topic started by: don-hop on February 24, 2004, 01:37:33 pm

Title: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: don-hop on February 24, 2004, 01:37:33 pm
Today on Channel 4 British television it was announced that a coin of a previously unknown emperor (Domitianus (?) AD 271) has been found in a hoard in Oxfordshire.  It is now at the British Museum.
Has anyone any other news?

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Ecgţeow on February 24, 2004, 01:48:09 pm
I did a little 2 minute research and there has only been one coin found before this one of Domitianus, and it is considered by most a forgery.  He was a rebellious general under Aurelian.  He revolted near the Danube frontier in Gaul, but was soon killed.  He was supposed not to have minted any coins.  It would be fascinating if this one were real! Lucky person who found it!  :D

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: germanicus on February 24, 2004, 02:41:33 pm
He is known to history.

He was proclaimed Emperor, but as mentioned, was defeated.  

source: (

Domitianus was proclaimed emperor at the beginning of Aurelian's reign, but killed soon afterwards [[45]]. His rebellion seems to have been the result of the barbaric invasions at the beginning of Aurelian's reign (see above chapter 1.4.) [[46]]. He perhaps is to be identified with the general Domitianus who is said to have defeated the Macriani about A.D. 261 [[47]]. The only coin minted in the name of Domitianus is probably a forgery [[48]]

This happened during a time of a break away "state" known as the Gallic Empire. (


Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: stickman on February 24, 2004, 02:41:47 pm
Here is the write up on it from The Scotsman:

Tue 24 Feb 2004
5:55pm (UK)
Rare Coin of Mystery Roman Emperor Found in Field

By Stephanie Condron, PA News

A man with a metal detector has unearthed a Roman coin so rare it bears the face of a mystery emperor who “ruled” Britain for a matter of days.

Brian Malin, a father-of-one from Oxfordshire, unearthed the bronze coin in a field in Oxfordshire bearing the face of Emperor Domitianus.

It is only the second coin in existence to bear the image of the self-proclaimed ruler of Britain and France in 271AD.

A similar coin was found in France 100 years ago but until now its uniqueness had meant both Emperor Domitianus and the coin were dismissed as a hoax.

Historians say the British discovery confirms the French find is genuine and Domitianus existed.

They believe he was an upstart from the Roman legion who was ousted for treason for daring to declare himself emperor and have the coins made.

Mr Malin found the coin in a field in April last year, 10 miles south-east of Oxford.

The coin was among a pot of 5,000 all bearing the heads of emperors and stuck together, providing the perfect “timeline” for archaeologists.

He handed his find to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford which passed it to experts at the British Museum who began separating the coins.

The coins dating from 250AD to the mid 270sAD spanned five emperors during a time of great upheaval for the Roman empire.

Richard Abdy, Roman coin curator at the British Museum, said: “As we sifted through the hoard we came through hundreds of coins bearing the face of the same emperor.

“The Roman empire was beginning to fray. Domitianus, it looks, ruled in 271AD, he was the penultimate emperor and there was only one coin with his image.

“There have been references to Domitianus in two ancient texts but they described him as an officer who had been punished for treason.”

Domitianus probably ruled Britain for only days which would explain why only two coins bearing his image exist, said Mr Abdy.

Rulers routinely had coins made to stake their claim as emperor.

Had the field where the pot of coins was found been declared an archaeological site, Mr Malin would not have been allowed to metal detect there.

Likewise, it was not somewhere the experts say they would have looked to make such a rare find.

They have put a five-figure sum on the bronze disc which will be difficult to value because there is no market for Domitianus coins. The other is in a museum in France as part of the French coin collection.

Dr Chris Howgego, curator for Roman coins at the Ashmolean Museum, said: “It’s exciting and valuable and interesting. Brian Malin has been metal detecting since he was 16. He’s now in his 30s.

“He has brought stuff before and found one hoard before. The latest is of great historical interest.

“He deserves a lot of credit because he did not even delve into the jar and brought it into the museum punctually and he is rather sweet.

“He has not once asked about the value – he has asked ‘How important is this and what can we learn?”’

In line with Britain’s treasure trove laws, a coroner’s inquest will be held and an independent panel will decide how much the 5,000-coin hoard is worth.

The panel will then mediate between the Ashmolean, which has said it wants to buy the pot of coins, and Mr Malin.

The Domitianus coin is going on display at the British Museum tomorrow. It has said it would like to buy the coin if the Ashmolean does not.

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: curtislclay on February 24, 2004, 03:35:15 pm
        The original Domitianus antoninianus was defended as unquestionably authentic by Marcus Weder in Swiss Numismatic Review 76, 1997.  I guess he'll be feeling gratified by the emergence of the new specimen proving he was right!

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: simonorch on February 25, 2004, 02:31:20 am
Here's the little beasty. Looking at the obverse i think we might just take a second closer look at those Victorinus and Tetricus coins with an obscured legend. Keep those eyes peeled for 3rd century radiates from the never know! (





Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Robert_Brenchley on February 25, 2004, 03:42:56 am
Its definitely in the distinctive Gallic Empire style, which puts him in context. I wonder why the portrait style is so distinctive; was there a Gaulish style of portraiture or what?

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Robert_Brenchley on February 25, 2004, 07:33:03 am
I never expected to see an ancient coin pic in pole position on the front page of the Times! [BROKEN LINK REMOVED BY ADMIN].

There's no exact dimensions, all it says is 'the size of a 20p piece'; this would be about 21mm, about what you'd expect for Postumus, at least in the early days, but large for Victorinus. Of course, you don't know how accurate the comparison is. It's recognisably in the style of one of Postumus' mints, Lugdunum; not only is the portrait similar to a Lugdunum Postumus, but the inscription has the distinctive enlarged S which is found on at least some of these coins; I haven't seen anything quite like it on other Gallic Empire coins. Many of them do have an enlarged S, but not to this extent. Unfortunately RIC has little to say aobut Gallic Empire mints, and the position still seems pretty confused.

Perhaps we can speculate as to where he fits in. Laelianus rebelled against Postumus and either seizes one of Postumus' mints (if he had more than one), or founds a new one; either way he has skilled celators available. His portraits are very much like Postumus and Domitianus. He lasts long enough to produce a significant number of coins, implying that he controlled a significant area for at least 2-3 months. Postumus then kills him at Mainz, and is in turn killed by rioting soldiers, who then appoint Marius. He lasts a similar time, producing a reasonable number of coins, and gets killed in turn by Victorinus. His coins, again, resemble those of Postumus.

Victorinus mints coins with a distinctive potrait style of his own, and lasts a couple of years before he gets caught with his d*ck hanging out, and is killed by the outraged husband. His mother than ensures the succession of the Tetricii, who last until the deal with Aurelian in 274. Their coinage continued in very much the style of Victorinus.

If Domitianus' attempt on the purple was at the beginning of Aurelain's reign, as the sources suggest, then he would probably fit in somewhere around the death of Victorinus. On the other hand, the style of the coin suggests that it could have been minted a couple of years earlier, in which case he would belong to the chaos following the death of Postumus.

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: germanicus on February 25, 2004, 07:37:04 am
ive just read it in the shop, and checked the other daileys
it was the only headliner.

a nice little article and informative for a change



Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: curtislclay on February 25, 2004, 08:46:48 am
     Marcus Weder, the Swiss numismatist who as I said had already vindicated the original Domitianus coin, believes he has solved the problem of the mints and coin production of the Gallic Empire.  
    When I visited him in Basel in December 2003, he told me that his monograph is finished and he is trying to arrange for its publication.  
    He has promised to send me a copy of the draft but has not yet done so.
    Though I often disagree with the conclusions of his numismatic studies, there is no doubt that he knows the later third cent. Roman coinage better than almost anyone else and that his study will mark a very significant advance.
     Those interested in the coinage of the Gallic Empire would be well advised to polish up their German!
Curtis Clay

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: bruce61813 on February 25, 2004, 10:12:41 am (
Apparrently the UK is the place to find very rare coins. The above link was also from The Times, about a very rare gold Vespasian coin found in the UK.


Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: simonorch on February 25, 2004, 10:50:07 am
I'd take a guess that it's more likely down to responsible detectorists actually handing in the finds under such schemes as the portable antiquities scheme and the treasure trove laws. What chance do you think rare coins would have of making it to local museums in the Balkans or Eastern Europe?

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: canadian_boy on February 25, 2004, 01:36:06 pm
The press is so uninformed. Here is an article that claims that a coin has been found which proves that the emperor 'Domitian' actually existed:

It reads, in part:
"its discovery in a field in Oxfordshire rewrites history. The copper coin confirms the existence of an almost unknown Roman emperor, Domitian or Domitianus, who ruled Britain briefly in AD 271.
The coin proves the existence of Roman emperor Domitian

It was found one evening last spring by an amateur archaeologist with a metal detector. Yesterday its discovery was described by experts at the British Museum as "thrilling", "amazing" and "the most important find in Britain for 10 years".

The coin bears the likeness of Domitian wearing a crown of rays and the inscription Imp(erator) C(aesar) Domitianus P(ius) Felix Aug(ustus)."


Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Ecgţeow on March 04, 2004, 05:39:02 pm
 I just went half way around the world to London for a week for vacation.  (It only rained once!!! ;D)   Of course I saw the British Museum, along with the new coin.  It was among an exhibit of amatuer finds in Britain.  What really annoyed me was that they shoved it off into a corner where most people wouldn't even see it.  The little tour that went around didn't even mention it!!  :o >:(

However, i did manage to see the rest of their coin collection.  I've never seen anything like it! they just have hundreds and hundreds of Aurei and denarii and other copper and bronze (not so much copper and bronze).  Ahhh, if only...   :-\

Title: Re:Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Ecgţeow on March 05, 2004, 05:08:32 pm
Oh! and I forgot to mention what it looked like!  :D It is of a much nicer color than the above picture shows, and it seemed a bit more pronounced, by that I mean that it looked like it was in an even better condition.   It had a beautiful dark brown color.  very rich, kinda like chocolate. ;D ;)

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Mark Fox on June 02, 2007, 06:37:56 am
Dear Ancient Coin Enthusiasts!

Does anyone have access to any papers on Domitianus II?  I am having a hard time trying to
locate some for an article. 

Thank you in advance for any help that can be provided!

Best regards,

Mark Fox


Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Robert_Brenchley on June 02, 2007, 12:48:33 pm
Trouble is, there's almost nothing known about the guy. If you do manage to find anything, it will inevitably be pretty thin and speculative.

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: *Alex on June 06, 2007, 04:07:08 pm
Hi Mark,

I have an article written by Ian Leins, a numismatist with the Coins and Medals department of the British Museum which speculates that this coin was possibly struck in A.D.271. It is four pages long and contains several illustrations so I have scanned it into jpg form and sent it to your e-mail address.
Unfortunately the material is copyright so I cannot reproduce it here.


Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: slokind on June 06, 2007, 04:39:37 pm
I got an announcement yesterday from the ANS, and when I opened the envelope  there was the obverse of Domitianus "from the Chalgrove hoard in Oxfordshire", almost 12cm across.  A lecture given by Roger Bland is on the Treasure Act of 1997 and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, sponsors ANS and Ancient Coin Collectors Guild will be given at the U.S. Capitol Rm HC-6 on June 26 and at the ANS in NYC on June 27.  Pat L.

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Mark Fox on June 07, 2007, 05:47:29 am
June 7, 2007

Dear Ancient Coin Enthusiasts!

Thank you so much for your time and help,  Alex!  The scans are brilliant and the article is just what I was looking for!       

Thanks also to Patricia for the announcement --- although I seriously doubt I will be able to make the trip!

I can't wait to digest the info!  The article I am writing is intended for Rasiel Suarez's book ERIC II and probably a publication like the Celator.     

Very best regards,

Mark Fox

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: mauseus on June 07, 2007, 10:59:47 am

Further to your e-mail I still haven't found a "live" copy of Zonaras online (I did find a dead link to one, but that doesn't help).

With regard to modern papers on Domitianus do you have:

"The Oxfordshire Domitianus" by Richard Abdy from Numismatic Chronicle 2005, pp 176-7


"Forging a usurper in late Roman Aquitania" L Okamura, Hermes 120, 1992, pp.103-9

If not I should get time to scan them this weekend and e-mail them across.



Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Mark Fox on June 08, 2007, 05:58:07 am
Dear Mauseus and Fellow Ancient Coin Enthusiasts!

I have neither, Mauseus, and I am overwhelmed by your kind offer!  Thank you very much for your efforts to locate elusive Zonaras too.   

When doing research on such obscure fellows as Domitianus II, you can't help feeling like a detective!   

Thank you to everyone for the tremendous help!

Best regards,

Mark Fox

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Mark Fox on June 09, 2007, 06:25:21 am
Dear Cibalia and Fellow Ancient Coin Enthusiasts!

You will have to talk to Ras on that one.  My article in connection to ERIC II is mainly to help improve his biography of Domitianus II.

I can remember my first major book to grace my numismatic library.  It was the Complete Encyclopedia of US & Colonial Coins by Walter Breen, given as a gift by my parents to get the ball rolling, as so to speak.  It was and is a very costly book --- more so than ERIC.  That was about twelve years ago and it was worth it.  What's more, famous titles such as the Breen Book don't seem to get cheaper as time goes by: they, just as the coins they describe, become the focus of a collection.  Just look at what has become of the first editions of the Red Book, which are useless to today as pricing guides!

Best regards,

Mark Fox


Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: curtislclay on June 09, 2007, 06:32:05 pm
However, note that Okamura will be largely useless, since he blindly follows Laffranchi in the incorrect condemnation of the first Domitianus antoninianus.


Could you forward that Leins article to me too?  My e-mail is in my profile.

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: gavignano on March 08, 2008, 08:29:14 pm
Any updates on this "emperor'? I did a quick internet search and nothing new in past 2 yrs has come up. The Wikiepdia listing interstingyl speculates Aurelian may have had him executed becasue he minted the coins. This brings up the purely speculative possibility that his coins were recalled.
Also, since he is portrayd alomst exactly as Victorianus, the odds that a worn "Vic" with a badly readable legend, could, in theory, be a third example (another poister has suggested this in the thread). I'm going to pull out all the Tetricii and Vicotriani that i have!!! Who knows?  :laugh:

Title: Re: Previously unknown Roman Emperor?
Post by: Robert_Brenchley on March 09, 2008, 07:59:31 am
There's no evidence as to who had him whacked, but it was most likely his successor in the Gallic Empire. Aurelian was a long way away, and he had endless problems to sort out before he reunited the empire, so he doesn't seem too likely.