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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  History and Archeology (Moderator: David Atherton)  |  Topic: Greek/Roman coins found in odd places 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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David Atherton
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« on: August 23, 2005, 01:49:17 am »

A while back there was a thread on the boards that had a wealth of info about this topic which I think was sadly deleted.

I thought it would be nice to start another topic about classical coins found in strange places with this fascinating link:

http://www.ancientcoinmarket.com/mt/mtarticle6/1.html

Enjoy!
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2005, 10:18:50 am »

Roman traders went far beyond the empire, and even if they didn't reach Iceland themselves, no doubt there would have been trade links with those who did. As the Western Empire collapsed, the small kingdoms to the north relied partly on raiding, which spread the supply of precious metal from the wealthy south across Europe. The coins could have arrived by either trade or robbery, there's no way to be certain.
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2005, 04:17:58 pm »

Yes, I think I participated in that thread.
Really interesting are not the precious metal items - gold and silver often travels! - but the grotty little base metal provincial coins that find themselves far from home. I can contribute: A bronze of Roman Antioch in Syria, fished out of the river Elbe near Hamburg; a provincial coin from Roman Spain, found in the Jordanian desert; and a bronze coin of Sparta, found in Yorkshire.
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2005, 06:26:20 pm »

Before the Euro times when I came back from holidays I not only brought back with me goldcoins Grin but mostly the small coins from the change!

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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2005, 02:18:28 pm »

We still have a pile of Leones that Namissa brought with her from Sierra Leone in 1994.
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2005, 12:13:00 pm »

Quote from: Vespasian70 on August 23, 2005, 01:49:17 am
I thought it would be nice to start another topic about classical coins found in strange places with this fascinating link:
http://www.ancientcoinmarket.com/mt/mtarticle6/1.html
Enjoy!
  I read through his article, but one of the theories is really silly. Monk or whomever would not fless northward into the North Atlantic to escape the vikings.  Even if these monastics had the boats and expertise to man them. That is the region and trade route area used by the vikings to go towards Ireland. Besides, the settlement of Iceland is well documented, and christianity did not reach there for some time, although Iceland became offii\cially "christian" in 1100 by order of the Ting. It was one of those, today we are pagan, but tomorrow we are officially Christian type things, then everyone went about their business as usual.
I suspect that the coins were brought as first summised in the article, as booty, or trade with other areas. Especially out of the Hebrides and Orkney Isles through Scotland, or farther south to Normandy nad Southern England.
 
Bruce
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Pax Orbis
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2005, 05:02:28 pm »

Hello, This is interesting.  The strangest place that I can think of that a Roman coin was found is........
The American west.  What?Huh you say, the american west?Huh  Yes, in the ealry fur trade days oddly enough the traders often used old roman coins as trade stock.  The indians in the northwest used these coins ase jewelry, there are bizarre incongruous necklaces in musuems I have been too.  I am not sure the musuem even knew what they had, the coins were 4th century with big holes right in the emperors face!  Not only that, during the excavation of tipi rings an intact Roman coin was unearthed!  That had to be a strange feeling, tipis and AE centoniniallis in the same stratigraphic position.  I think this has to be the strangest place a Roman coin was ever found, far from home indeed!  Farout! Pax
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2005, 01:12:27 pm »

Quote from: Pax Orbis
Hello, This is interesting.  The strangest place that I can think of that a Roman coin was found is........
The American west.  What? you say, the american west?  Yes, in the ealry fur trade days oddly enough the traders often used old roman coins as trade stock.  The indians in the northwest used these coins ase jewelry, there are bizarre incongruous necklaces in musuems I have been too.  I am not sure the musuem even knew what they had, the coins were 4th century with big holes right in the emperors face!  Not only that, during the excavation of tipi rings an intact Roman coin was unearthed!  That had to be a strange feeling, tipis and AE centoniniallis in the same stratigraphic position.  I think this has to be the strangest place a Roman coin was ever found, far from home indeed!  Farout! Pax


Link?

Perhaps that coin found in the tipi had been in the possession of that particular line of Natives who had somehow procured it thousands of years ago, and kept is as a erlic of sorts.
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basemetal
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2005, 07:54:22 pm »

There have been a couple of roman coins found in Mexico I believe.  I mention these because they were found from what I read in context in excavations. 
Still, it is wise to remember that to a certain extent, only in modern times were coins ever so "dated"
Example:  Take that Constans into a convenience store and try to pay for something with it-unless the clerk is a collector- and you get short shrift.  But through most of history and especially in non-urban centers a coin was a coin. Got one-you can buy something.  They passed from hand to hand from century to century.  The Romans themselves did not "discontinue" coins with the exception of certain circumstances where debased coins were recalled-probably not that sucessfully.
Most people dont destroy coins except when the value of the metal exceeds the value of the coin-and sometimes not even then. Lol...one exception is due to modern technonogy. If trains had existed during the time of the Roman Empire you'd find choice "1st century Train Flattened" examples.
  Coins survive and they travel and travel...and travel.  People do lose them. People sometimes leave or bury them as a kind of "historical prank". I've read threads in this forum where indivduals buried slugs and near slugs to confound future historians.  They also buried Lincolin wheat pennies for the same reason. If you find a Nero in your neighbor's backyard, it doesn't mean that Romans explored the wilds of Ohio in in the first century A.D.  It means someone had a collection, or had a mischevious streak, or the grandkid got into grandpa's coin collection and lost one in the yard.
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KjetilK
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« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2005, 11:49:25 am »

That was an interesting article.

But he have some strange ideas about what is credible or not. First of all, when he say "fourth and least credible conjecture is that Roman trading vessels sailed regularly from Britain to Iceland", it's probably more credible as an explanation than "[t]he most common and believable presumption is that the Vikings, who arrived in Iceland in AD 865, possessed many Roman coins, along with contemporary silver coins taken as booty in Asia and Europe, and lost some of them in their new homeland."

I can't remember reading about any roman antoniniani turning up in viking treasures here in Scandinavia. (Can anybody show me in direction of contemporary hoards with mixed roman and medieval coinage in Europe?) A few late roman gold coins have been found, but they can have been imported prior to the viking age. There may be a few stray finds, but not mixed with contemporary viking age coinage, and to say that the inhabitants in Iceland in the last half of the 9th century possessed many roman coins (most of them had been out of circulation for centuries) is a strange theory.

The vikings were very avare of their coins. More than 145 000 coins from the viking age have been found on the swedish island of Gotland. About half of them arabic dirhems and most of the other is silver coins from England and Germany. The first scandinavian coins was minted in 995 or the first few years after (all short cross Aethelred types in the names of norwegian, swedish and danish kings). The vikings favoured silver - and the favoured arabic or british coins over most others. Just a few hundred coins from the viking age have been found in Iceland. Metal was in shortage and it's beleived that most imported metal were used and reused in the viking age. In light of this shortage maybe even small debased antoniniani could have had some use, but hoard evidence from scandinavia does not support that the vikings had many 3rd century antoninani in their purses.

When the vikings first arrived in Iceland they met a few irish monks - they fled back to the british islands. Considering that the island is just 6 days north of the british islands, it have been within reach of roman traders and hunters. They may have been forced to settle in Iceland for a short time, i.e. during the vinter, and may have lost coins there then. This is certainly more plausible than that the vikings carried with them centuries old coins when they moved to Iceland.

And please. Vikings did not come to possess coins just through pillage and plunder. They was first of all in to trade - not murder.

Kjetil Kvist
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bruce61813
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2005, 12:46:43 pm »

And please. Vikings did not come to possess coins just through pillage and plunder. They was first of all in to trade - not murder.
Kjetil Kvist
Very true, they were also the Byzantine equivalent to the "Swiss Guard" and did a regular trade across Russia via the Volga River. The viking culture did a lot of trading and their ships were very sea worthy. I suspect thay had far less loss of ship due to storms than the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians, the North Atlantic or the equivalent inthe North Pacific at the same latitude, can bet viscious, even in the summer. So why would it ne surprising to find a mix of coins? Many metals were traded by weight not "denomination"/

Bruce Nesset
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Robert_Brenchley
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2005, 01:11:57 pm »

Their ships were built to a very different design to the Mediterranean ones; a stronger and more flexible rig for the storms and the changing winds (the lateen rig is better for the steadier winds further south), and hulls built of long overlapping planks which were light, flexible and very strong. In the Mediterranean they didn't have the tall straight timber available, so they used shorter planks with butt joints. These probably weren't quite so good for Atlantic storms, but they could be built in larger sizes; when Henry VIII built a carrack (massive floating castle; the classic 'Spanish galleon' type) with the traditional clinker hull, it leaked like a sieve as the long hull bent too far over the waves. The stiffer carvel type didn't leak, and it was only when the Portugese combined the Mediterranean hull with the Atlantic rig in the late 15th Century that they built a ship which was really capable of carrying significant cargo across the oceans. The Scandinavian types ('Viking' is an activity not an ethnic group!) were extremely seaworthy but lacked hold space for oceanic trading.
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KjetilK
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2005, 10:24:13 pm »

Kolbjoern Skaare, one of the leading figures in norwegian numismatics, published the contents of many treasure finds in Norway in his book "Coins and Coinage in Viking-age Norway" (1976). He catalogues 184 finds with coins earlier than AD1100.

Some roman silver and gold coins have turned up in Norway. A few denari, solidi and possibly a few aurei. So far as I have learned these coins turns up in graves from ca. AD 400 - 600. That is long before Iceland was populated by scandinavians. I think we safely can say that "[t]he most common and believable presumption is that the Vikings, who arrived in Iceland in AD 865, possessed many Roman coins, along with contemporary silver coins taken as booty in Asia and Europe, and lost some of them in their new homeland" is not correct.

It's true that the vikings used coinage by weight and not by denomination. Arabic dirhems was a favourite and the coins was cut into several pieces. Many arabic coins found in Norway was also used as jewellry. They would not have any use for base metal coinage.

Kjetil
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2005, 02:33:56 am »

There's a very brief account in the 'Graenlendingassaga' of Eirik the Red's original expedition to Greenland. 'It is said by learned men that in the summer in which Eirik the Red set out to colonise Greenland, twenty-five ships sailed from Breidafjord and Borgarfjord, but only fourteen reached there; some were driven back, and some were lost at sea.' Doubtles they ran into extreme weather, but it shows just how vulnerable even the most seaworthy ships were back then.
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Robert Brenchley

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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2006, 09:42:10 pm »

I quote verbatim from Potator (without his permission, but this can only improve or maintain his image)
This Commodus sestertius just below has been found by my grand father at Verdun battle, during WWI, as he was digging a trench. He gave it to me as a present 30 years ago, and it was my very first roman coin.
The reverse shows Commodus as Hercules with his attributes such as lionskin. The legend is HERCVLI ROMANO AVG (RCV #5752, Cohen #203)
Now that is indeed an odd place with meaning!
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basemetal
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2006, 09:50:40 pm »

This is an old thread,  so I doubt many will read it.
The atlantic ocean is very wide and very treacherous.  However, Given the right conditions, one can sail it in approx 3-4 weeks given good weather and its-just more ocean.  One stretch of ocean is just like another if you have provisions.  I personally have no doubt that just as coin collectors say to newbies or the uninformed, the romans minted lots of coins.  They also sent out many boats.  Some statistically, may have through storm or other ended up on the east coast of North or South America. Given the small number of crew, they if marooned or through other circumstance had to stay, they would have made no lasting historical impact on the history of North Americal.  With a modren viewpoint can one really say "No roman ship got as far as north or south america"?  I'm not saying that they made a cultural impact, it is just statistically is almost certain that some did.
It's similar to the guy who wrote "1421" about the chinese circumventing the globe. Perhaps they did...but we do not now speak chinese....nor latin.
15 or 20 or 30 Intrepid roman sailors marooned in South America did not make a cultural impact, tho it's likely some made it there.
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David Atherton
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2006, 07:39:21 am »

I seem to remember reading somewhere that there were Roman Era ship wrecks in Brazil. I cannot recall where I read it.

I do agree with you Basemetal that it is very possible that a few lost or shipwrecked Roman sailors reached the New World and of course made no impact whats so ever and are now totally forgotten.
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2006, 09:06:19 am »

It's similar to the guy who wrote "1421" about the chinese circumventing the globe. Perhaps they did...but we do not now speak chinese....nor latin.


Though at least three words (globe, similiar and per of perhaps) in those two sentences have their roots in Latin, so I think it fair to say we still speak a bit of it Cheesy.
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« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2006, 09:51:44 am »

Quote from: Vespasian70 on January 28, 2006, 07:39:21 am
I do agree with you Basemetal that it is very possible that a few lost or shipwrecked Roman sailors reached the New World

    I see a few problems I see with this. For this scenario you would have to imagine a disabled ship with no oars or sails. A disabled ship is at the mercy of the seas and would probably travel quite slowly. Ships also tend to become waterlogged after extended periods at sea.
    Even if the currents took them to the New World (which seems unlikely), I do not see how there would possibly have been a man alive. Romans sailed close to the coasts, they did not carry supplies for long (2-3 month) voyages. It took Columbus over two months to make his voyage. When the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth from England it took 66 days. You would have to imagine a broken down ship floating aimlessly would take a lot longer to make a farther journey. After such a long trip it seems inconceivable that a man would be alive. There are also many medical problems to consider such as scurvy.
   Finally, there is no real evidence of Romans making it to the New World, besided a few coins here and there (you might find a Roman coin in my back yard in Tennessee!); which are taken out of context by people that want to believe a certain thing.
   
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David Atherton
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« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2006, 06:26:42 pm »

Quote from: Victor on January 28, 2006, 09:51:44 am

Romans sailed close to the coasts, they did not carry supplies for long (2-3 month) voyages. I

Again, this is just speculation on my part, but if the cargo consisted of foodstuffs (dates, figs, wine , olives, wheat, ect...) the crew would have broken into it to stay alive.

I once asked my Archaeology professor about it and he agreed...the scenario is highly unlikely but not impossible.
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basemetal
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« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2006, 10:40:45 pm »

About the Romans reaching North or South America.   Any sailor can tell you that the Atlantic ocean is mostly treacherous, unforgiving, changeable and threatining  . 
However, given the amount of time (as we often like to say about how long roman coins were minted) there were times when with great good luck and a storm at the beginning of the voyage to throw the shop off course, that a roman crew and ship could have reached the western hemisphere.
With good weather, good winds, and a calm sea it takes about 15-20 days sailing-with sails.  Most roman ships were somewhere in route of course destroyed and sunk. 
But a few statistically, would have reached North or South America in the 700 years plus time of the republic/empire.
So finding a roman era coin in the middens or similar of North or South American civilizations is not impossible.  The bottom line is -it didn't make any difference.
Those wanting to prove that the romans were first are probably right-and wrong. Probably even more ancient civilizations made it here via off-course vessels.
They just didn't make any difference. 
Say for supposition you made it...wow...a new world...all.. mmm...28 or fewer of you.
You show the natives how to make ...swords...is there a blacksmith among you? You are off-course sailors remember.
A group of stranded roman sailors would have been, almost without provisions, starving, and needless to say isolated.
Think they are going to do like the missionaries and teach the natives, who are more or less well fed, armed, and possessed of a fine religion of their own about Jupiter and Venus? No better way to piss-off new friends and saviours than to start expounding your religion at the expense of theirs.
The wheeled cart-a fine idea-if you have roads which inland cultures did which-were not on the coasts and the natives did not have  for the most part.
They would have been a curiosity and a wonder-briefly. The strange men who came from the easten sea and had no knowledege of the language of the People. 
Then they would have been killed or assimilated.  As DNA and genetic research progresses, we may find evidence (and may already have) of european ancestry in native North and South Amerindians.
The truth is, like that guy that wrote that the Chinese traveled all over the westen hemisphere in 1421 in huge ships, history shows that it made no impact.
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« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2006, 04:33:31 pm »

There are records of Europeans who were shipwrecked in southern Africa before the white man arrived. They assimilated pretty fast, the women married Africans, some people eventually re-emerged after years of living as Africans among Africans. Romans who were stranded in the Americas, if there were any, doubtless adapted the same way.
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« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2011, 11:58:51 pm »

Recently, I went to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas.  They had some artifacts and coins on display that were found from the San Jacinto Battlefield.  Among the coins on display excavated from the Mexican Army camp site at San Jacinto, was a worn holed silver denarius of an Augusta, possibly one of the Julias (Maesa?).  Could not make a positive id as it was heavily worn and further back in the display case.  Interesting how that coin made it's way to Mexico at some point during the Spanish Colonial times only to be lost in the frenzy of the San Jacinto battle.  Probably was holed to be worn on a necklace by one of the Mexican soldiers or maybe a female camp follower.
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« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2011, 01:15:18 pm »

I remember reading somewhere that in the 1920's travelling evangelists would move around the American midwest, teaching children religious classes for churches.

The teachers would hand out either real or imitation "Bible" coins as prizes, coins such as denarii or shekels.

Children would play with their "coins", and drop some on the ground.

Seventy or eighty years later, a metal detector user would find such a coin, resulting in a newspaper article similar to...

"Ancient coin found proves Romans visited Ohio".

Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2011, 11:02:56 am »

Over 40 years ago I read that an ancient Roman coin was found jammed in a parking meter.  Apparently somebody tried to use it for a dime.

I read an article in American Antiquities magazine last year that a surprisingly large number of Roman coins have been found on the banks of the Ohio River in the vicinity of Louisville, KY.  Three coins were used to illustrate the article; all were bronze of late 3rd to early 4th century.  The strange thing is that they were clipped to remove large parts of the coin, but it appears that it was done carefully to avoid damaging the emperor's portrait.  Were the "Bible Coins" in the above post ever clipped like this?  Does anybody know why this was done?
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