After more than half a century of complete academic silence, the past few years have witnessed the miraculous (re)discovery of numerous hoards of Celtic coins from the Republic of Bulgaria. This phenomenon is particularly remarkable in the Rousse area, which has hitherto yielded the highest concentration of such numismatic material, leading Bulgarian experts to conclude that, “The line from Rousse to Veliko Tarnovo, mostly along the Jantra and Russenski Lom rivers, is the central axis of this type of Celtic coinage, respectively the Celtic tribal state/organization that produced it” (Paunov 2013).
This conclusion has been supported by extensive linguistic and archaeological evidence, which clearly indicates that the Rousse area was a major Celtic economic and political centre in the late Iron Age (Vagalinski 2002, 2007, 2011, Lazarov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2010, 2013a,b, Paunov 2013).
Hoards of ‘Macedonian type’ Celtic coins from n.e. Bulgaria
(after Paunov 2013; See also Mac Gonagle 2013 a,b)
Celtic pottery kiln from Krivina (Rousse region)
The Krivina site is situated on the confluence of the Danube and the Jantra river, thus connected via the Jantra to Celtic settlements in the interior. The kiln, which is dated roughly to the end of the 1st c.BC/beginning of the 1st c. AD, is especially noteworthy for a number of reasons. Its unusually large size reveals a high capacity of manufacture, i.e. the mass production of Celtic ceramic, which included late La Têne painted ware. This type of ceramic was popular among the Celtic tribes from Normandy to southwest Germany in the west, to the Scordisci in the east, and especially along the Danube, and is usually found in large settlements such as the Celtic oppida. It was produced by professional potters, and used by people of high social status. It is usually found together with late La Têne burnished pottery – exactly the case with the Celtic site at Krivina.
Both handmade and wheel-thrown pottery were found at the site. The handmade pottery included jars and cup-like vessels. It has also emerged that the latter, which have been previously referred to by Bulgarian and Romanian archaeologists as “Thracian-Dacian types of cups”, are actually Celtic lamps (Vagalinski 2011).
The recent publication of 2 further hoards of ‘Late Hellenistic’ coins from the area of Rousse City has provided further valuable information on the production and distribution of Celtic coinage in this area of Ancient Thrace.
The first of these hoards was actually discovered in 1939 during the construction of the city market in Rousse (Gerasimov 1966), where it lay in the vaults of the local museum until its publication in 2013 (Dragoev 2013b). The hoard consists of 15 silver issues of the Celtic Sattelkopfpferd type (Pink 1939:77-78, Kostial 1997:111-117).
The 1939 Hoard from Rousse City Centre (after Dragoev 2013)
The Rousse area has hitherto yielded a remarkably large amount of such coins, either as individual finds or in hoards, and the discovery of a master die for the production of such coins in Rousse confirms that they were produced in this area.
Celtic Sattelkopfpferd type coins found at Pirgovo/Mediolana (Rousse region)
Master Die for the production of Sattelkopfpferd type coins discovered in Rousse
(See Paunov 2013, Mac Gonagle 2013a)
The second hoard of coins from the Rousse area containing Celtic coins is not, strictly speaking, a ‘hoard’, but a collection of coins discovered in the pre-Roman layers at Sexaginta Prista – the ancient Roman fortress in the northwestern part of Rousse City – during archaeological excavations between 2005 and 2012 (Dragoev 2013b). Of the 15 coins discovered in the pre-Roman layers, 3 are issues from Messambria of the type Head of an Amazon/Athena Alkis”, dated to between 275 BC and 220 BC. Roman coinage includes a silver issue of the Illyrian colony Dyrrhachium and a bronze coin of the Thracian puppet-king Rhoemetacles I, minted between 11 BC and 12 AD. Local coinage dating between the mid 3rd c. BC and the Roman period is represented by 7 Celtic coins, including another example of the aforementioned Sattelkopfpferd type, and 4 of the ‘Philip III type’, dating to the late 2nd/ early 1st c. BC.
Celtic ‘Philip III’ type issues from Sexaginta Prista, Rousse – late 2nd / early 1st c. BC
Celtic ‘Philip III’ type issues discovered during archaeological excavations at Bratya Daskalovi, Stara Zagora region (south-central Bulgaria). Circa 50 BC
(after Prokopov et al 2011; on the evolution of this type of coinage see also: https://www.academia.edu/5543801/On_Posthumous_and_Barbarian_Lysimachus_Staters)
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Драгоев Д. (2013a) Нумизматичният материал от ямния комплекс в Русе. In: SEXAGINTA PRISTA. Тракийски ямен комплекс.TOM 1, 2013 г., p. 94-98. Veliko Tarnovo 2013
Драгоев Д. (2013b) Късноелинистическа монетна находка от Русе. In: SEXAGINTA PRISTA. Тракийски ямен комплекс.TOM 1, 2013 г., p. 99-104. Veliko Tarnovo 2013
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