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Greek Imperials, Roman Provincials and Roman Colonials


There are Roman Provincials and Roman colonials. The colonials (usually treated as a subcategory to the provincials, if the distinction is made at all) normally have Latin legends and were issued by cities in the Roman provinces which had attained the status of a Roman "Colonia".

In addition to all the cities that struck provincials (around 600), there are also provincials struck for entire provinces, such as under the authority of the Koinon of Macedon, the Koinon of Bithynia, Provincia Dacia etc. All in all, there are over 600 issuing authorities.

Some provincials had restricted circulation (to a specific city) while other issues circulated more widely (those issued by regional councils or certain important cities).

There are provincial coins that follow the Roman Imperial monetary system of Sestertii, as, semis etc., but most follow the "Greek" system and are denominated in Assaria. In many cases, the denominations of provincials is not known or under debate.

There are provincial coins from 30+ (?) cities in Spain issued for Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula. These bear Latin legends and follow the Roman monetary system.

There are provincial bronze coins and there are provincial silver coins. The minting of silver was restricted to a few cities or a few leagues of cities (such as the Syrian "monetary union").

In cities that issued their own coins, Roman Imperial coins would also circulate.

Egypt is a whole other ball park. Avoid entirely or specialize in these specifically. The monetary system was closed until the end of the 4th century, and the coins are clearly different from all other provincials.

Two "classes" of provincials were issued during the period of Roman dominion: 1) Those that have an imperial portrait or name a member of the imperial family, and 2) those that don't. The second category is somewhat carelessly referred to as quasi-autonomous provincials. Usually (but far from always) these make up the smaller denominations in the cities/provinces that issued them.


The output of quasi-automonous or civic coinage varied enormously from city to city. Many cities issued only coins bearing imperial portraits, while other cities issued coins with only civic motives (rare, though). In some areas, like eg Moesia and Thrace, they are fairly uncommon, while in large parts of Asia minor they are very common. Throughout the entire series (consisting of at least 50 000 types), we're talking maybe on average 1 in 10 (or 1/20, but in that region). Maybe 1/10 of my provincials lack an imperial portrait. The good thing about these is that while they are certainly a lot less common than those with imperial portraits, they are usually cheaper because 1) they are smaller, 2) they lack a portrait and thus many collectors aren't interested.


A Roman provincial was issued in a province/city under Roman control. Contemporary coins issued in regions not under Roman dominion are thus not Roman provincials.


Whether the term Greek Imperials or the term Roman Provincials should be used has been discussed for a long time, the latter being more commonly used today. Note that the term Roman Provincial coins allows for the inclusion of more coins than the term Greek Imperials which is implicitly more restrictive, both in geographical and temporal terms. Parts of the "Roman" world were never "Greek", and the exact starting point of the "Empire" can be discussed.

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