World of Coins

Adjacent hobbies => Metal detecting and archeology => Topic started by: Figleaf on January 09, 2011, 10:19:33 AM

Title: Another 3rd century treasure - with a different twist
Post by: Figleaf on January 09, 2011, 10:19:33 AM
Archaeological Excavation in the Suburb of Arroux Results in Numismatic Discoveries
January 9, 2011

AUTUN, FRANCE.-The archaeological excavation of the suburb of Arroux, north of Autun, curated by the State (DRAC Bourgogne) in the context of a social housing project, has revealed an Antique quarter composed of craft workshops and fine residences. The archaeologists discovered the workshop of the coroplath (figurine maker) Pistillus: a pottery kiln, molds, complete figurines and failed ones, signed “Pistillus”, confirm the presence of his workshop at Autun.

His works, though popular, are distinguished by carefully made statuettes and varied themes: Patron Goddesses, Goddess of Abundance, Venuses and animals, as well as tender representations of Roman intimacy. During the final weeks of the operation, mostly devoted to the study of a set of artifacts dating to the Augustinian period (early 1st century AD), a large monetary deposit was excavated.

More than 100,000 Roman coins
The monetary deposit was buried in a pit sealed with tiles. It weighs 38 kg and contains more than 100,000 Roman coins from the end of the 3rd century AD. These coins are all small bronze pieces weighing less than 0.4 g. They are unofficial coins, like many that circulated during the very troubled period of the second half of the 3rd century, and perhaps into the 4th century.

Serious crises struck the Empire during this time: unceasing wars between pretenders to the throne, epidemics, the financial and political burdens of the army, pressure at the borders, economic crisis, etc. The Roman State was no longer capable of fully ensuring the long-term control of the monetary system. Small bronze mintings of little value, which we could qualify as “necessity coins”, thus appeared.

Though produced by private citizens, they were more or less tolerated by the State. They were poor imitations of the official productions and the effigies are difficult to identify. The coins discovered at Autun resemble typical 3rd century ones, such as those of Tetricus. Due to the high copper content of the deposit, the wicker basket in which they were stored is partially preserved.

Though this ensemble was somewhat valuable, it does not seem to have been a hidden treasure, but rather a deposit of debased coins destined to be recast. The pit is in fact located within one of the metallurgy workshops revealed at the site. In effect, to reestablish a healthy monetary economy, some emperors launched reforms and attempted to replace the ancient coins that had no value other than that of their metal. The monetary deposit of Autun is perhaps linked to the reforms of Diocletian under the Tetrarchy (late 3rd century-early 4th century).

A second deposit seems to have been situated not far from the first one since around 2,000 coins were recovered in the location of a wall of this same workshop. The dismantling of this wall, during the 4th or 5th century, is likely to be partially responsible for its destruction. These numismatic artifacts will contribute to our understanding of unofficial mints and the phenomena of debasement and recasting of coins during the Empire.

These coins join the around 300 other Roman coins—most in bronze—discovered elsewhere on the site. Whether common or rare, these coins, like the other objects and remains, yield useful information only when they are discovered and studied in their archaeological context.

Source: Art Daily (
Title: Re: Another 3rd century treasure - with a different twist
Post by: Figleaf on January 09, 2011, 10:48:30 AM
There is a excellent video report in French on the excavations here ( However, French sources do not mention the coins. This is all the more frustrating because of the similarity with the Frome hoard discussed here (,6901.0.html).

In Britain, the hoard was found in an area without remnants of construction and deemed to be religious in nature. In France, the hoard was found in a luxury town, near a pottery and deemed to be a reserve of withdrawn or decried coins, ready for re-melting. Yet, the similarities are large: tens of thousands of Roman coins of the third century, found in an underground packaging.

Some co-operation could benefit both parties.

Title: Re: Another 3rd century treasure - with a different twist
Post by: Pellinore on April 02, 2016, 12:15:43 PM
I found this page when searching for barbaric imitations. Five years ago it was published - is there more knowledge now about the coins of Autun-Arroux? In a newspaper I saw there were 117.000. What do they do with such a huge number! Is this one of them? I bought it half a year ago from a large seller. Barbaric imitation of a Tetricus II radiate antoninianus, 16 mm, 3,00 gr. (Better in hand, as they say. I still have no functioning camera, only a scanner.)
-- Paul
Title: Re: Another 3rd century treasure - with a different twist
Post by: Figleaf on April 03, 2016, 10:18:01 PM
I got no hits on Google after 2011, so it's probably gathering dust until someone decides to study the hoard, which may be never. A huge number of similar coins is fun for statisticians, who can tease good information from a load of not too interesting coins. That's another reason why it may never be seen again. Archeologists are in general not too keen on dull statistical work and entering data in a data base. That wouldn't have stopped them from screaming their heads off and being beastly if a non-acheologist would have found them, though.

There are not too many clear pics around either. I attached the best one I found. Source: Futura-Sciences ( Yours looks similar, but better cleaned to me. ;) I like the dancing legs!

Title: Re: Another 3rd century treasure - with a different twist
Post by: bruce61813 on April 04, 2016, 07:37:26 PM
Thee last ones shown are great. All they really need is a simple water wash to get the mud off. A real shame to let them sit on a shelf forever, might as well re-bury them. They should be identified, and as you commented, a bean counted see what is there. At least if their found location is noted, it gives some idea of ancient trade.