The coinage of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium:
Roman provincial issues
28 November 2020
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The final period of the Greek-Illyrian coin production was during the Roman imperial era, when the region belonged to Macedonia provincia. Bronze coins were produced in Apollonia in the name of several Roman emperors, wives, and sons; in the matching standard of the Roman small change. The obverse displays the emperor's or his relatives' head, bust, or standing figure. The reverse displays various devices: deities, cornucopia, tripod, temple, emperor on horseback, Apollo sitting and playing harp, or (seldom) the three nymphs dancing. The legends are in Greek on both sides. The obverse shows the name and titles of the displayed person; the reverse points at the Illyrian origin of the coin by the ethnic attribute AΠOΛΛΩNIATAN, in this spelling.
Fractions and multiples of the as were minted: quadrans (quarter as), semis (half as), as, dupondius (double as) and sestertius. Most probably, the coins were hand-struck using hinged dies thus keeping the obverse/reverse axis 6 h or 12 h like in the other mints of the empire.
These coins are very rare, usually in bad condition mainly for heavy corrosion caused by the aggressive soil. Ceka's first book (in Albanian)1 describes a lot of different pieces. The richest, developing source is the Roman Provincial Coinage Online2; search under Mint: Macedonia.
This is a chronological list of emperors from whom provincial issues minted in Apollonia are known:
- Septimius Severus
- Julia Domna
Several provincial types are known from Commodus' co-emperorship (177-180 AD) under his father Marcus Aurelius; but one has an unquestionable relationship to Apollonia Illyrici: the re-emergence of the three nymphs dancing - compare to those in chapter The Apollo denar; but fire missing.
Obv. Laurate bust of young Commodus r. [ΚΟΜΜΟΔω ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑΤ]. Rev. Three nymphs dancing hand in hand, r. one holds torch, l. one wreath. A-Π-O-Λ in field between them, in ex., [ΛΩΝΙΑ] retrograde. 33 mm, 21.9 g, die axis 12 h. BMC 85, RPC Online IV/4575. Badly corroded with dark green patina. Photo with permission of the dealer.
3. Literature refernces
- Ceka, H. Probleme të numismatikës ilire. State University, Tirana, 1965.