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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Estiot on the usurper Domitianus 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Estiot on the usurper Domitianus  (Read 2985 times)
curtislclay
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« on: May 12, 2005, 03:27:52 pm »

      The occasion of Sylviane Estiot's article in Revue Numismatique 2004, pp. 210-18, was the rediscovery in 2003 of the then unique coin of this usurper in the collection of a museum in Nantes.
      The coin had been dug up in a French hoard on 28 Nov. 1900 and published in Rev. Num. 1901, illustrated by a line drawing.  In 1929 the whole hoard was donated to the Nantes museum by the adopted son of the hoard's excavator and original owner.
      A plaster cast of the Domitianus was made and is illustrated in RIC V.2, 1933, pl. XX.12.
      Until this point the coin had been accepted as authentic, but the balance tipped the other way when Elmer failed to include the coin (or even mention it) in his Münzprägung der gallischen Kaiser of 1942, and when Laffranchi condemned it as a remade Tetricus I in Rivista ital. di num. 1942.  It didn't help that since the 1930s the coin itself could no longer be found at the Nantes museum!
      In the Swiss Num. Review 1997, working from the image in RIC, Marcus Weder rehabilitated the coin, arguing that it was unquestionably authentic, and seemed to combine an obv. in the style of the Gallic Empire's Mint 2 with a rev. in the style of Mint 1.  Weder suggested that the dies had been recut for Domitianus in antiquity, originally having shown Victorinus with rev. Salus.
      On the basis of the rediscovered coin, which has now passed into the French national collection in Paris, Estiot confirms Weder's rehabilitation of the coin, showing that it is unquestionably ancient and unaltered, not remade as Laffranchi asserted.  She confirms Weder's dating of the piece to between Victorinus and Tetricus I, but refutes his suggestion that the dies were recut from Victorinus; rather they seem to have been freshly created for the usurper himself.  On a rare early coin of his reign, Tetricus I copied the Concordia rev. type of the usurper, changing the legend however from CONCORDIA MILITVM to CONCORDIA AVG.
       As to the historical circumstances, Domitianus was apparently a rival of Tetricus I for the position of Gallic emperor after the assassination of VictorinusEstiot points out that Tetricus, as a Roman senator and governor of Aquitania, was not the army commander that one would have expected to succeed to the throne.  Tetricus' early coins honoring Divus Victorinus seem to reveal weakness, the need to claim legitimacy from attachment to his predecessor, just as both Quintillus and Aurelian had struck coins for Divus Claudius II a couple of years earlier.
      Zosimus says that Aurelian's difficulties c. 271 AD provoked the apparition of three usurpers, including a Domitianus who is probably identical with the man on the coin.  He might also be the same Domitianus who is mentioned in the Historia Augusta as a commander under Gallienus' general Aureolus.
      The appearance of a second specimen of Domitianus' antoninianus, from the same die pair, in a hoard found near Oxford in April 2003, has confirmed Weder's and Estiot's vindication of the original coin.  This second specimen is presented in a note by Richard Abdy of the BM following Estiot's article.
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2005, 01:48:08 am »

Hi,

Thanks Curtis for the synopsis of the papers. There is one paper on the Domitianus coin that you did not mention and that is L Okamura's paper 'Forging a usurper in late Roman antiquity' from the journal Hermes, v 120 (1992) which, as the title suggests, is very negative towards the coin. One of the main arguments was the "reluctance" to expose the coin to modern scrutiny, now redressed.

As to one of your other points I have one of the rare early Tetricus CONCORDIA AVG coins from issues 1 to 3 from Mint 1 (differentiated by progressive shortening of the obverse legend from the full ESVVIVS to ESV to omiting it all together).



There seem to be two distinct reverse types, uncommented on in the numismatic literature in that on some specimens Concordia holds a caduceus as on the above example whilst on others she is depicted holding a patera.

For completeness, my example of the scarce Consecration issue of Victorinus:



Regards,

Mauseus
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curtislclay
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2005, 07:35:15 am »

Mauseus,
     Thanks for the images of your two rare coins.  It's Tetricus' Concordia type with patera not caduceus which is the direct copy of Domitianus' type.
      Okamura's article is of course cited and summarized by Estiot, but since he merely follows Laffranchi in condemning the coin, he was unimportant for my brief "summary of the question".
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2005, 12:24:47 pm »

      It's funny how the identification of the second specimen of this coin IN A HOARD made the front page of the London Times and media reports around the world in 2004, a reaction which was NOT accorded to Weder's discovery in 1997 that Domitianus was a real usurper of the Gallic Empire throne in 271, and that surely would NOT have been accorded to Estiot's recent publication and vindication of the rediscovered original specimen, even if a second specimen had not turned up in the meantime!
     The discovery of an important new coin IN A HOARD is news that the masses like to read about, but not the equally momentous vindication of an already known coin by scholarly acumen!
      It would be interesting to know whether the discovery and publication of the original Domitianus coin in 1900-01 made national and international headlines in the newspapers and in other non-numismatic periodicals of the day.
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2006, 12:54:11 pm »

Not to dig up past discussions - but rather than post a new one I'll append this article to this one - which even though is old news to some - was very interesting to someone new to the hobby like myself Smiley

http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/coin/index.html
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David Atherton
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2006, 07:32:33 am »

One of the most fascinating stories in Roman numismatics. I love reading about this kind of thing.

Thanks for the information Curtis, and for posting the link silentruin.
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Jeff Clark
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2006, 09:49:41 am »

I wasn't going to bring this up, but since it has hit the top of list again, I will.  It didn't take too long for the forgers to get out there and make their own copies of Domitianus and there is one currently for sale on ebay!
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2006, 01:17:31 pm »

Yeah, I saw this. Do you think it's an ancient "barbarian" imitation or a modern fake?

Rupert
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2006, 07:17:35 am »

I think you could safely call this a modern fake!
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Jeff Clark
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2006, 07:41:24 am »

The letters D and O look fairly sharp compared to the rest of the obverse legend. Could it be a genuine coin that has been retooled?
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2006, 08:13:27 am »

Tooling of another ancient coin is certainly a possibility, but it is a complete job on the legend and would still make the coin pretty much modern anyway....at least in my mind.
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Jeff Clark
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