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Coin Typology of

The Coin Typology of the Roman Client Kings

Topography and History

In the year 13 BC, Thrace became a Roman client state, which was ruled as a formally independent kingdom by Rhoemetalces I.1 Rhoemetalces I’s loyalty to Rome is also evident in his coinage, as he had his own portrait and the portrait of Augustus and the double portraits of Augustus and Livia minted on his coins. Rhoemetalces II and Rhoemetalces III proceeded likewise and included portraits of Tiberius and Caligula, respectively, on their coins. The coinage of the Thracian dynasties ended in AD 45 with the establishment of the Roman province of Thracia under Claudius.

  1. Peykov 2011, 107. ↑

State of Research

The Rhoimetalkes coinage found its way into the type summaries of J. Jurukova2 and A. Peykov.3 Furthermore, they were processed as part of the Roman Provincial Coinage Project.

  1. Jurukova 1976. ↑

  2. Peykov 2011. ↑

Coin Production und Metrology

The Roman client kings––Rhoemetalces I, Rhoemetalces II, and Rhoemetalces III––minted almost exclusively in bronze. Only Rhoemetalces I emitted some drachmas and didrachms, which, according to our understanding, are to be assigned to the urban coinage of Byzantium. As far as bronze coins are concerned, however, the coins of the client kings Rhoemetalces I and Rhoemetalces III can each be distinguished into three nominal levels; however, under Rhoimetalkes II only a single nominal was minted.

The Coin Types of Rhoemetalces I

The large nominal shows a staggered double portrait of Rhoemetalces I and his wife, Pythodoris, on the obverse and either the portrait of Augustus or a double portrait of Augustus and Livia on the reverse.4 On the obverse sides of the middle nominal level, the portrait of Rhoemetalces is depicted, while on the reverse sides the portrait of Augustus (possibly with different mintmarks) can be found.5 A clear distinction must be made between the coins of the small denomination, on the front of which a sella curulis is depicted and on the reverse of which either only the fasces or the fasces next to the Capricorn of Augustus are depicted.6 In addition to the extensive bronze coinage, Rhoemetalces I also emitted some drachmas with his portrait on the obverse and a portrait of Augustus on the reverse.7

The Coin Types of Cotys V und Rhaiskouporis II

Cotys V and Rhaiskouporis II, respectively the son and brother of Rhoemetalces I, ruled jointly after Rhoemetalces I’s death and issued a few coins together.8 The only known coin type of the Cotys V and Rhaiskouporis II shows a double portrait of the two rulers staggered one behind the other on the obverse and a rider on the reverse.9

The Coin Types of Rhoemetalces II

In a clear analogy to the coins of Rhoemetalces I, Rhoemetalces II also minted a double portrait of himself and his wife on the obverse of the coins and the head of Tiberius on the reverse, staggered one behind the other.10

The Coin Types of Rhoemetalces III

The last Thracian king, Rhoemetalces III, issued bronze coins with his own portrait on the obverse and the portrait of Caligula on the reverse.11 The coins associated with the small nominal also show a Caligula head on the obverse and either a Nike12 or an eagle with a laurel wreath in its beak13 on the reverse. The coin types of the large nominal are particularly expressive, the obverse of which again depicts a portrait of Caligula and the reverse of which depicts the institution of Rhoemetalces III by the Roman emperor in a scenic representation.14

Our type catalogue represents the state of research from August 2019 and does not take into consideration any coin types that have become known later. Further information, especially about new types, is always welcome.

Bibliography

  • Jurukova 1976 = J. Jurukova, Coins of the Ancient Thraciens, BAR Supp. Series 4 (Oxford 1976).
  • Peykov 2011 = A. Peykov, Catalogue of the Coins from Thrace. Part I: Tribal and Rulers' Coinages of Thracians, Paeonians, Celts and Scythians 5th c. B.C.–1st c. A.D (Centrex 2011).

Map with Mints of typology