Tag Archive: Celtic coins
UD: November 2016
Situated in the Opole district of Upper Silesia in Southern Poland, the Celtic center at Nova Cerekwia is located in a broad depression between the Sudetesland and the Carpathians – the Moravian Gate, which throughout antiquity served as a major communication route linking southern Europe and the Baltic Sea – commonly referred to as the Amber Route. Over the past century the site has attracted the attention of numerous researchers, both amateur and professional.
The site at Nowa Cerekwia
Location of Nowa Cerekwia
In the pre-WW2 era the site was investigated by German archaeologists in the 1925-1938 period, notably by the extreme right-wing B. Von Richtofen (Richthofen 1926, 190–191; Richthofen 1927; Jahn 1931, 66–78, 148–149; Petersen 1935), during which period discoveries included a pottery kiln, 11 houses, six pits and a hearth, although other accounts from the period indicate that as many as 30 Celtic pit-houses may have been excavated at the settlement (Rudnicki 2014). Initial indications are that the settlement thrived between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC.
Celtic pottery kiln excavated at the site in 1925
Excavations at the Nova Cerekwia site in 1936
Bronze fibulae and fragment of amber discovered during recent excavations of the Celtic settlement at Nowa Cerekwia (different scales)
While a number of studies were undertaken at the site by Polish archaeologists in the post-war era (1957–1962, 1971 and 1973; Czerska 1959; 1960; 1976), due to the haphazard nature of research, and the fact that only a small proportion of the material was published, the full extent of the complex at Nova Cerekwia remained unclear. Indeed, until recently it had been believed that all available material pertaining to the Celtic settlement had been uncovered.
This misconception has been clarified over the past decades by the discovery of a wealth of new material by local ‘treasure hunters’, particularly due to the efforts of the local historians Igor Murawski and Anna Brzezinska, a phenomenon which finally prompted archaeologists to renew research at the site resulting in the discovery of new structures as well as extensive numismatic and archaeological material (Rudnicki 2014).
Celtic artifacts discovered by the historians Igor Murawski and Anna Brzezinska at the site
Celtic coinage uncovered at the site
Such recent finds have further confirmed Nova Cerekwia as one of the most significant archaeological sites in this area of Poland, indicating that it was a major settlement and center of inter-regional trade during the Celtic period. It is to be hoped that future systematic excavations at the site will finally establish the full extent of what promises to be the most important Celtic political/economic complex in this part of Europe.
For an overview on the Celts in Poland:
Czerska B. (1959), Osada z okresu późnolateńskiego koło Nowej Cerekwi w powiecie Głubczyce, ArchSl, 3, z. 18, 25–72.
Czerska B. (1960), Z badań wykopaliskowych na późnolateńskiej osadzie kultury celtyckiej w Nowej Cerekwii, pow. Głubczyce w 1960 roku, SSA, III, 7–12.
Czerska B. (1963) Wyniki badań późnolateńskiej osady kultury celtyckiej koło Nowej Cerekwi, pow. Głubczyce w latach 1958–1960, WA, 29/3, 289–311.
Czerska B. (1964) Sprawozdanie z badań osady celtyckiej w Nowej Cerekwi, pow. Głubczyce, w 1962 roku, SprArch, XVI, 124–131.
Czerska B. (1976) Osada celtycka koło wsi Nowa Cerekwia w powiecie Głubczyce w świetle najnowszych badań, StudiaArch, 7, 95–137.
Jahn M. (1933) Die älteste Münze aus Oberschlesien, IN: Matthes, W.–Raschke, G. (Hrsg.), Germanische Urzeit in Oberschlesien, Aus Oberschlesiens Urzeit, 20, Oppeln, 61–62.
Petersen E., Schlesien von der Eiszeit bis ins Mittelalter. Einfьhrung in die Vorund Frьhgeschichte des Landes, Berlin–Leipzig.
Von Richthofen B. (1926) Neue Ergebnisse der Vorgeschichtsforschung in Oberschlesien, Altschlesien, 1, 3–4, 185–198.
Von Richthofen B. (1927) Einfьhrung in die ur- und frьhgeschichtliche Abteilung des Museum Ratibor, Ratibor.
Rudnicki M. (2014) Nowa Cerekwia. A Celtic Centre for Craft and Commerce of Interregional Importance North of the Carpathians. In: Iron Age Crafts and Craftsmen in the Carpathian Basin Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Targu Mureş 10–13 October 2013. Targu Mureş 2014. pp. 33-70
The emergence of the first European (non-classical) coinage has hitherto been explained by a vague and unsupported theory that it appeared ‘somewhere in Central Europe’ after 275 BC, based on Macedonian issues brought back by Celtic mercenaries. However, recent archaeological / numismatic evidence from Eastern Europe has seriously undermined this oft repeated but unsubstantiated theory, and finally provided some scientific clarity on the chronology of this phenomenon, as well as furnishing surprising information regarding the motivation behind the first Celtic coinage…
The most spectacular and enigmatic of Celtic coinage, the gold ‘rolltier’ staters emerge among the Celtic tribes in the area of southern Germany and Bohemia in the late 2nd/ 1st c. BC.
Rolltier stater from Osov, Czech Republic (1st c. BC)
A wide variety of compositions are to be observed on such coins, frequently referred to also as Regenbogenschüsselchen (Rainbow Cup) staters, including variants with a cross, solar symbols, triskeles and birds of prey.
Regenbogenschüsselchen/ Rainbow Cup stater of the Bird of Prey/ Torc type from southern Germany. (late 2nd c. BC)
Rainbow Cup stater with triskele and solar symbols (Hesse and Rhineland). Believed to be from the mint at Dürnsberg Oppidum near Giessen
Stater of the Cross/Rolltier type from Stradonice oppidum, Czech Republic (1 c. BC)
In the present context, most interesting are the rolltier/torc series, the composition on the reverse consisting of a torc encompassing 6 dots. While the significance of the torc, the ultimate symbol of status and power in Celtic society, is clear, more enigmatic is the obverse of the coin, portraying a mysterious hybrid creature. On the better executed examples one can distinguish that the creature is comprised of a coiled fanged serpent with what appears to be a scorpions stinger – the stance of the creature indicating that the component elements are in the process of attacking/poisoning each other.
POWER AND POISON
Viewed separately, the compositions on the obverse and reverse of the Torc/rolltier coins appear to represent two very different themes –power and imminent death. However, in Celtic art elements are rarely unconnected, and taken as a whole it appears probable that the message being conveyed is that the apparently mutually exclusive themes of power and self-destruction portrayed in the compositions are literally ‘two sides of the same coin’.
UD: December 2016
One of the most iconic symbols on Celtic coinage, the oval shield appears either alone or as a central element in the artistic composition on Celtic coins (and other artifacts) across Europe and Asia-Minor in the 3-1 century BC period, as well as being represented on numerous Greek and Roman images depicting Celtic military equipment.
Kings Of Galatia, Deiotaros I (c. 62-40 BC) AE. Obverse: Laureate head of Zeus right. Reverse: Large monogram and Celtic oval shield
Mounted warrior with oval shield on the reverse of a silver issue of Tasciovanus – King of the Catuvellauni tribe in southern England (25-10 BC)
Celtic military equipment, including oval shield and carnyx, represented on the reverse of a Roman gold stater (c. 48 BC)
The fact that oval shields are depicted with such frequency by both the Celts themselves and their enemies, in such a broad spatial and temporal context, logically indicates that they had a political and cultural significance that went beyond their purely military function, i.e. also served as a symbol of political authority and power.
Mounted Goddess with oval shield depicted on the reverse of a Celtic gold stater from the Rennes Region, Brittany (2nd century BC)
Among the Balkan Celts oval shields first appear on coinage of the ‘Tyle’ state in today’s eastern Bulgaria in the mid 3rd century BC, and are to be found on both tetradrachms and bronze issues of the Celtic kings of Thrace during this period.
Bronze issue of the Celtic king Cavaros with oval shield on the reverse – minted at Arkovna (Varna reg.), Bulgaria (2nd half of the 3rd c. BC)
Reverse of a tetradrachm of Kersebaul, one of the Celtic kings of the ‘Tyle’ state in today’s eastern Bulgaria (mid 3rd c. BC)
Also noteworthy in this context are the Celtic shield coins minted by the Greek city of Mesembria (modern Nesebar) on the Black Sea coast during this period. These coins, which feature a helmet on the obverse and a Celtic oval shield on the reverse (viewed from within; Price 1991, Karaytov 2000, Mac Gonagle 2013) illustrate the influence of the Celtic state on the Greek Black Sea colonies during the 3rd c. BC – a phenomenon also testified to by archaeological evidence, and confirmed in ancient sources (Lazarov 2010, Manov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2013).
Bronze Mesembria Celtic Shield Issue (last quarter of the 3rd c. BC)
(After Karaytov 2000)
Also connected to the Tyle state are the Apros Celtic shield coins minted in today’s European Turkey in the second half of the 3rd century BC, which provide further archaeological evidence, again confirmed in ancient sources, that the area of south-eastern Thrace, including the immediate environs of Byzantium, was under Celtic control during this period (Manov 2010, Lazarov 2010, Mac Gonagle 2013). Exactly which tribe minted the Apros coins remains unclear, but one possibility is that that they were produced by the Aegosages tribe prior to their migration into Asia-Minor in the summer of 218 BC.
Bronze Celtic shield coins minted at Apros (After Draganov 2001)
(Apros was located either at present-day Kestridge or further west near present-day Kermian, both in European Turkey above the Thracian Chersones and on the route of the later Via Egnatia)
On the Aegosages tribe see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/death-of-a-dream-the-aegosages-massacre/
Statue of a Celtic chieftain wearing a sagum, and holding an oval shield and torc – from Mondragon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), France
(late 2nd / early 1st c. BC)
Dimitrov K. (2010) Celts, Greeks and Thracians in Thrace During the Third Century BC. Interactions in History and Culture. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 51- 66
Draganov D. (2001) Coins of the Unknown Mint of Apros in Thrace. НСФ 8, 1-2, 25-31.
Kарайтов И. (1996) Месамбрия и келтският цар Кавар. In: More 4, 9-10, 10-14; Kарайтов И. (2000) Месамбрия и владитетелите на крайбрежна Тракия (според нумизматични данни) – INMB 3, 66-81
Карайтов И. (2000) Месамбрия и владетилите на крайбрежна тракия според нумизтични данни. Известия на Народния Музий Бургас. Том 3, 2000. 66- 82
Lazarov L. (2010) The Celtic State In the Time of Cavaros. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 97-113
Mac Gonagle B. (2013) https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT
Manov M. (2010) In Search of Tyle (Tylis). Problems of Localization. In: In Search of Celtic Tylis in Thrace (III c BC). Sofia 2010. P. 89 – 96
Price M. J. (1991) The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arhideus. A British Museum Catalog, vol. 1, Zurich-London.
Topalov S. (2001) Contributions to the Study of the Coinage and History In the Lands of Eastern Thrace from the end of the 4th c. BC to the end of the 3rd c. BC. Sofia 2001
BALKANCELTS IMAGE GALLERY:
The most fascinating and enigmatic of late Iron Age European coinage, the Celtic Puppetrider tetradrachms were produced from the early 3rd c. BC onwards by the Pannonian Celtic tribes. The coinage itself features a male laureate head on the obverse, the subjects eye being represented on a number of issues by an arrowhead.
Obverse of Celtic tetradrachm of the Puppetrider/Triskele type (Hungary, late 3rd c. BC)
The reverse depicts a horseman with left arm raised, of whom only the upper part of the body is represented. Behind the riders head and in front of the horse is a Celtic inscription while below the horse, on the majority of such coins, is a triskelion/triskele, a common symbol on late Iron Age Celtic coins and other artifacts. The triskele variants date from the mid 3rd c. BC onwards, while rarer issues which feature a monogram from the coinage of the Paeonian king Audoleon, from which the Celtic puppetrider types are believed to have evolved, date to a slightly earlier period.
Puppetrider tetradrachm with triskele, and the earlier type with Audoleon monogram
(both from the Zichyújfalu hoard; see below)
As mentioned, the vast majority of puppetrider coins are of the aforementioned triskele type. Based on the recorded finds of such, the epicentre of production and distribution lay in the area of today’s central Hungary where, besides numerous single finds, two major hoards of such have been found in close proximity – those from Zichyújfalu, which included 268 Celtic coins, 262 of the triskele type, and Dunaújváros (also in Fejér county) (Kerényi 1960; Göbl 1972: 51-52) which included a similar, slightly larger, hoard of such coinage (see map 1 below).
Puppetrider/Triskele tetradrachms from the Zichyújfalu hoard
(after Torbágyi 2012)
A second concentration of puppetrider/triskele coinage has been identified around the villages of Sióagárd/Baranyamágócs, slightly to the south. These coins, however, are artistically and technically inferior to the aforementioned issues, and should therefore be seen as contemporary Celtic imitations of the latter.
Puppetrider/Triskele tetradrachms from Sióagárd
(after Torbágyi 2012)
Although Celtic coinage of the Puppetrider/Triskele types circulated chiefly in the aforementioned area of Central Hungary, finds such as those from Diex in southern Austria, Batina in eastern Croatia, Bač in northern Serbia, as well as Bratislava and Görgő in Slovakia, and Ungvár in western Ukraine (loc cit), indicate that this type of coinage circulated widely among the Celtic tribes of Eastern Europe during the period in question.
Distribution of recorded finds of Celtic Puppetrider/Triskele type coinage (3rd/2nd c. BC)
Göbl R. (1972) Neue technische Forschungsmethoden in der keltischen Numismatik. Anzeiger der phil.-hist. Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 109/1972: 49-63.
Kerényi A. (1960) Sztálinvárosi kelta éremlelet. (Trouvaille de médailles celtiques à Sztalinváros /Intercisa/) Numizmatikai Közlöny 58-59/1959-1960: 3-6, 83.
Torbágyi M. (2008) Der „Zichyújfalu” Typ mit Audoleon Monogramm. Festschrift für Günther
Dembski zum 65. Geburtstag. NZ 116-117/2008: 87-93.
Torbágyi M. (2012)Der Münzfund von Zichyújfalu 1873, In: VAMZ, 3. s., XLV (2012) p. 537-552
Celtic Strymon/Trident Coinage:
UD: November 2016
One would imagine that an invasion by hundreds of thousands of barbarians would have a catastrophic effect on the economy of a region. However, this presumption has been challenged in recent years by the archaeological and numismatic data emerging from the territory which fell under the control of the ‘barbarian’ Tyle state in eastern Thrace during the 3rd c. BC.
The traditional description of the Celtic tribes who arrived in this area has been one of ‘thirsty savages’ or ‘gangs of mercenaries’ (latest Emilov 2007, 2010), and we have been repeatedly informed that ‘their aim was not to settle, but money and booty which could be acquired in different ways … by attacking wealthy cities, and by ravaging the countryside’ (Nixon 1977, cited by Mitchell 1993; Emilov 2010). However, repeating a simplistic stereotype does not make it true, particularly when the depiction of a culture entirely contradicts all the available archaeological and historical evidence. In this case the facts tell a rather surprising tale – a barbarian invasion that brought political stability and economic prosperity in its wake…