Author Topic: Gold medal of Constans  (Read 302 times)

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Online Pellinore

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Gold medal of Constans
« on: July 14, 2019, 09:49:11 AM »
My favourite blog, Mainzer Beobachter (in Dutch) by archaeologist Jona Lendering, today presented a great find from Germany.

It is a single large gold coin found in a former moor near some tumuli not far from Fredenbeck (Landkreis Stade, in Lower Saxony not far from Hamburg). So far it is unique, an unknown type, measuring about 27 mm and weighing 9 grams, twice that of a solidus, and consequently much thinner because a solidus only measures about 20 mm. It was minted in Siscia (now Croatia) at the occasion of the festivities of the emperor's second lustrum (342/343).
It is thought to be an imperial gift to a German mercenary chieftain, who sacrificed the trinket as a votive to the gods by throwing it into a sacred moor. Constans had won a resounding victory over the Franks, a large Germanic tribe. This chieftain may have been heading a concurrent tribe (Saxons?) who were hired to help Constans.

Here is an article in German from the website Archeologie Online. The spectacular coin was found in December, 2017 and now is present in an exhibition in the museum of Stade. The photo was made by Christina Kohnen. You may compare the design with that of an ordinary solidus of Constans of Siscia - I found this example on Wildwinds.

-- Paul

Online Figleaf

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Re: Gold medal of Constans
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2019, 11:48:53 AM »
Sometimes you have to be grateful to moors. They create an environment without oxygen down there, that preserves better than many a museum.

The story correctly puts Roman gold coins into perspective. They were normally not used as money, but rather as "human relations" tools. They could be given to meritorious military men, a mark of recognition, but also a reserve at a time when pension funds hadn't been invented yet. They could be used as in diplomacy, to keep a tribe quiet while another one was subjugated or until reinforcements arrived. In both cases, they could be worn, but in this case, the chieftain decided to use the piece as a sacrifice. He might secretly have thought that it was better to sacrifice the gold than his favourite horse, a frequent subject of sacrifices.

The story is also an illustration of the importance of linking "coin" to "money". A sacrifice of money is of a different nature than a sacrifice of a treasured object. In the latter, emotion is involved. Money can be totally replaced. That doesn't degrade the object, but puts in its proper light. You can admire the medal for what it is: an art object and a diplomatic tool with a history. That is a pleasure by itself.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline gpimper

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Re: Gold medal of Constans
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2019, 04:29:16 AM »
That is a cool coin.  I've a billion almost the same.  When I get a chance I'll post a pic.
The Chief...aka Greg