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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Question for CONSTANTINE coins with X map of lager at reverse 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Question for CONSTANTINE coins with X map of lager at reverse  (Read 2608 times)
Antiq
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« on: December 05, 2009, 01:46:51 pm »

Hello,
few months ago i saw few coins with "X map of lager" at reverse, i don´t remamber who it was, Constantine, Constantine II, Constantinus,... i really don´t know, but from its time i don´t see more of this type. I checking auctions, but no more of X map coins. Where they are? Please do you know RIC of this type, looking for it with RIC or images will be easier, thank you.
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Nikko
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2009, 01:54:52 pm »

This one i suppose

CONSTAN-TINVS AVG
VIRT EXERC [Valor of the army] Sol stg. in the middle of what may be a raised platform with steps, raising right hand, holding globe in left, chlamys across left shoulder.
In exergue dot TS dot gamma dot    RIC VII Thessalonica 66      r5
RIC describes the reverse as Sol in the middle of a Roman camp

http://www.constantinethegreatcoins.com/asst3/virt.jpeg
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2009, 02:34:53 pm »

Here is my coin:

Constantine II, AD 337-340, son of Constantine I the Great
AE 3, 2.75g, 18.4mm
Thessalonica, 2nd. officina, AD 319 (as Caesar)
obv. CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C,
bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev. VIRT - EXERC
cross shaped pattern, usually described as the plan of a Roman camp, Sol holding globe and raising hand standing above center
in ex. TSB
RIC VII, Thessalonica 71
about VF, rare rev.
From Forum Ancient Coins, thanks!

Most references describe the reverse on this very rare type as the plan of a Roman camp. But experts disagree and there are many theories. One possibility is that the reverse depicts what Constantine saw in his vision; except the god on the coin appears to be Sol, not Christ. Weiss interprets it as a halo of the sun, which Constantine has seen and which was reported by Eusebius. One explanation for this is that he did not come to understand the true meaning his vision until just prior to his battle with Maxentius (when he may have had another vision) (FAC).

Best regards

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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2009, 04:28:03 pm »

As you raised the opportunity, I thought that I would show my Constantine the Great version off.
Not the best photo as there is still lots of silvering which has caused me trouble with the pics, however the coin is VF+ in my view.
Obv : CONSTAN TINVSAVG, Laureate and cuirassed bust right,
Rev : VIRT EXERC, Plan of a Roman Camp with SOL standing in the middle.
Exe : TS Greek_Gamma, RIC VII Thessalonika 66, R5
Size 19mm, weight 3.2g
regards
Mark
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2009, 07:14:10 pm »

I did read that the cross could be a representation of the Roman palisade.

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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2009, 05:20:30 am »

And Sol on top of the palisade???
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2009, 04:31:33 pm »

Anyone who has noticed that the so-called camp plan has a faint similarity to the depiction of Sol in a spread quadriga?

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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2009, 09:59:16 pm »

Anyone who has noticed that the so-called camp plan ihas a faint similarity to the depiction of Sol in a spread quadriga?


The resemblance seems more than a faint one - an adaptation of an earlier but powerful design to a smaller coin and with a different iconography. Perhaps the design is now meant to signify the Chi-Rho and the Returning Sun (Sol) is now the Risen Son (Christ)? Aurelian's feast of Sol did become Christmas. If so Christ would not be depicted this way again until the Renaissance.

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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2009, 12:16:41 am »

This makes a great deal of sense, especially considering that the X device looks nothing at all like the layout of a typical Roman camp and, even if it did (which it doesn't), why put Sol in the camp?
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2009, 10:57:58 am »

This ambiguous equating of pagan and Christian themes would not have sat well with the Christian Church, even if it had its political uses. Perhaps that is why the coin is scarce.
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2009, 11:28:57 am »

Perhaps that is why the coin is scarce.
Scarce is an understatement I think.   Smiley
I just checked online and can only see 1 x Constantine the Great, and 1 x Constantine II showing for sale.  Forvm appear to have had one Constantine II sold ever!
I never realised quite how scarce these were until this thread.
regards
Mark
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2009, 11:47:21 am »

It's really not *that* scarce... I havn't seen many recently, but from past 5 years I've collected pictures of 63 of them that were sold on eBay and elsewhere. I've got pictures of 20 specimens of RIC VII Thess 66 (Constantine I) alone - despite this being an R5 coin in RIC!

Here's mine, for Licinius II (also R5, but I've seen 6 of these in same time period).

Ben
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2009, 12:52:33 pm »

Although issued for both Constantine I and Licinius I as augusti and for Crispus, Constantine II and Licinius II as caesars, this type was issued solely by the Thessalonica mint.
But who controlled the Thessalonica mint at that time - Constantine or Licinius? This might just have some bearing on the question of what the reverse motiff represents.
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2009, 02:12:48 pm »

It's really not *that* scarce... I havn't seen many recently, but from past 5 years I've collected pictures of 63 of them that were sold on eBay and elsewhere. I've got pictures of 20 specimens

Wow Ben, that's certainly more than I would have expected. 

I just tried finding your gallery to have a look at some of the coins you have mentioned but you don't seem to want to share these treasures. Tongue

Any chance of seeing some of them?

regards
Mark
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2009, 02:38:17 pm »

Quote
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Quote from: Congius on Today at 11:47:21 am
It's really not *that* scarce... I havn't seen many recently, but from past 5 years I've collected pictures of 63 of them that were sold on eBay and elsewhere. I've got pictures of 20 specimens

Wow Ben, that's certainly more than I would have expected. 

I just tried finding your gallery to have a look at some of the coins you have mentioned but you don't seem to want to share these treasures.

Any chance of seeing some of them?

regards
Mark

I am interested too. Any chance to get the pictures from you? (by pm I guess)
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2009, 02:45:02 pm »

If either of you PM's me your e-mail address I'll send you a zipped archive of the VIRT EXERC pictures.

As for my own collection, I do intend to create a web site for them one day, but the collection is 900+ coins and I've got a 10mo. old daughter at home, so it's not going to happen too soon!

Ben
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2009, 02:49:56 pm »

That's brilliant!  Thanks Ben, I will send you a PM now.

And I understand how a 10mo. old daughter can take up lot's of your time but as another avid Constantine fan, I would love to see your immense collection one day.

regards

Mark
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2009, 03:07:36 pm »

that's great! I'll sent you a PM
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2009, 03:38:11 pm »

This ambiguous equating of pagan and Christian themes would not have sat well with the Christian Church, even if it had its political uses. Perhaps that is why the coin is scarce.

At the time it was issued the Church was in its infancy and was hardly the powerful force it would become. Constantine (and, indeed, many early Christians) never completely abandoned Paganism. The Church was not born a homogenous nor influential entity. It only began to become one because of Constantine.
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« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2009, 07:53:13 pm »

Ben - of the five, would you say Constantine I was the most common emperor you found, and Crsipus the scarcest (relatively speaking, as they are all quite scarce).
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« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2009, 08:32:26 pm »

Definitely Constantine the most common, but other than that it's hard to say. From that sample I collected Crispus was actually 2nd most common, but really the numbers weren't large enough for that to be meaningful.

There's a strict officina assignment for this issue, with Constantine getting 2 officinas (D, G), Crispus and Constantine II one each (E, B respectively), and the Licinii sharing officina A. It may be that the rarity scale reflects the number of officinas producing for each of them, which would mean the Licinii may be rarest... but it's not obvious from that sample.

Ben
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« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2009, 10:44:35 am »

Quote from: commodus on December 09, 2009, 03:38:11 pm
This ambiguous equating of pagan and Christian themes would not have sat well with the Christian Church, even if it had its political uses. Perhaps that is why the coin is scarce.

At the time it was issued the Church was in its infancy and was hardly the powerful force it would become.

You are right. I expect that my argument would not apply at the time the coins were issued. I do think that that the design is related to the earlier Sol/quadriga motif and inspired by some concept of the chi-rho device that Constantine's troops used at the battle with Maxentius.  Its significance was built up by later Christian writers but the story must have created quite a big splash among all concerned at the time. That would have included Licinius although an argument against an explicitly pro-constantine or Christian interpretation is that the design appears on his coins as well.
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« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2009, 01:44:45 pm »

Quote from: commodus on December 09, 2009, 03:38:11 pm
At the time it was issued the Church was in its infancy and was hardly the powerful force it would become. Constantine (and, indeed, many early Christians) never completely abandoned Paganism. The Church was not born a homogenous nor influential entity. It only began to become one because of Constantine.

In the century after Constantine, Leo the Great complained about people doing devotions to the sun on the steps of St. Peter's, while on their way to Mass. Syncretism of solar worship and Cristianity obviously went on, to a significant extent, and at that time the church was unable to stop it. There was a lot of official syncretism, which was never admitted, and is often ignored today. Christmas is an obvious example; those of us who speak English name Easter after a pagan goddess, and so on. But private syncretism was never approved, at least in 'ordinary' people. I'm convinced Constantine combined sun worship with Christianity, and it was covered up.
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