Captured Shields and ... ?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    My latest coin is what I would call a low-key iconic Flavian type. I was attracted to the piece because of the portrait and the neat reverse design, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

    D495a.jpg Domitian
    Æ As, 9.67g
    Rome mint, 86 AD
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XII CENS PER P P; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r., with aegis
    Rev: S C in field; Crossed pairs of shields, spears, and trumpets over vexillum
    RIC 495 (C). BMC 392A. BNC -.
    Acquired from eBay, February 2020. Ex Beast Coins.

    In 85 AD Domitian's senatorial bronze mint began striking a series of Germania Capta types with various reverse designs to commemorate his recent victory over the German Chatti. On the middle bronze there appears a type with crossed decorated shields and spears (captured German arms) and trumpets(?) overlaid on a vexillum. Curiously, the 'trumpets' appear to look more like carynxes but are described in most of the literature concerning the type as simply (Roman?) trumpets.

    Roman styled military trumpet.


    A carnyx.


    It would make sense if the trumpets in question were captured German booty along with the spears and shields, perhaps the above coin bears that out.

    Please post your trumpets and carnyxes!
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    AR Denarius Serratus
    OBVERSE: Helmeted head of Roma right, L . COSCO . M . F around, X behind
    REVERSE: naked Celtic warrior (Bituitus), brandishing a spear & holding a shield & carnyx, driving a racing biga right, L LIC CN DOM in ex.
    Struck at Rome, 118 BC
    3.72g, 19.13mm
    Cosconia.1. Cr.282 / 2
    AR Quinarius
    OBVERSE: Laureate head of Apollo; behind, C. EGATVLEI C. F. Q.
    REVERSE: Victory l., inscribing shield attached to trophy; beside trophy, carnyx; between Victory and trophy, Q; in ex
    Struck at Rome, 97 BC
    1.6g, 18mm
    Crawford 333/1, Egnatueleia 1, Syd 588
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    A sweet-looking coin, David. Love the different reverse for him & the patina.
    David Atherton likes this.
  5. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    VERY cool reverse, @David Atherton !

    In my collection, your coin seems a cross between:

    Judaea Claudius w-Britannicus CE 41-54 Æ Prutah 17mm 2.8g Antonius Felix-procurator Dated RY 14 54 CE 2-crossed shields spears - Palm tree BPIT K AI L IΔ date Hendin 1348


    RImp Albinus Bruti AR Den 48 BC Mars Carnyces Cr 450-1a.jpg
    RImp Albinus Bruti AR Den 48 BC Mars Carnyces Cr 450-1a
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Nice coin. Great pick-up.
    David Atherton likes this.
  7. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That's a very interesting coin!

    It's noteworthy that hexagonal shields on Roman coins almost emblematically stand for the Germanic tribes. At one point, I tried to find out whether there is any depiction of a hexagonal shield on Roman coins that is not referring to Rome's Germanic foes, and I couldn't find any. Also, only few Germanic references on Roman coins don't feature this type of shield. I would thus assume that your coin simply didn't need an inscription like "Victoria Germanica" in order to be intelligible – most contemporary Romans probably had the visual literacy to "read" the shields as signifying Germanic people.

    Archeological finds suggest that round, oblong, and hexagonal shields were in parallel use among the Germanic tribes. The sestertius below has all these shield shapes as well as a Roman-style war trumpet and other military equipment.

    Rom – Commodus, sesterz, de germanis.png
    Commodus, Roman Empire, sestertius, 177 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP L AVREL COMMODVS AVG [GERM] SARM; laureate and draped bust of Commodus r. Rev: T[R P] II COS [P]P; pile of Germanic arms (round, hexagonal, and oblong shields, spears, war trumpets, scale armor, bows and standards?); in fields, S-C; in exergue, DE GERMANIS. 31mm, 21.84g. Ref: RIC III Marcus Aurelius 1570. Ex CNG, e-auction 142, lot 134; ex CNG, e-auction 447, lot 471. Smoothed.

    The carnyx apparently had a similar function when it came to referring to Gauls and Gallic victories. Below are two Republican denarii celebrating military successes in Gaul by showing trophies featuring such trumpets:

    Römische Republik – Denar, Furius, Janus:Victoria mit Trophäe und carnyx.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: M. Furius L. f. Philus, AR denarius, 119 BC, Rome mint. Obv: M. FOVRI. L. F; head of Janus. Rev: ROMA; Roma standing l., holding sceptre, crowns trophy with carnyx and two shields; in exergue, PHL I. 19mm, 3.81g. Ref: RRC 281/1. Ex Leu, Webauktion 8, lot 866.

    Römische Republik – Quinar, T. Cloelius, Jupiter, Victoria mit Trophäe, Gefangenem und carnyx.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: T. Cloelius, AR quinarius, 98 BC, Rome mint. Obv: head of Jupiter, laureate, r., control mark .C. before. Rev: T.CLOVLI; Victory standing r. crowns trophy with seated captive and carnyx; in exergue, Q. 16mm, 1.9g. Ref: RRC 332/1c. Ex Artemide, eLive Auktion 81, lot 195.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
  8. Salaethus

    Salaethus Well-Known Member

    Nice thread & coin! My most recent purchase has a bunch of different trumpets: some straight, some curved, as well as possibly a carnyx(?) at 12h.
    my example (Jesus Vico).jpg
    Marcus Aurelius Æ sestertius. Rome, 176-177 AD. M ANTONINVS AVG GER-M SARM TR P XXXI, Laureate bust of Marcus Aurelius right / IMP VIII COS III P P, Pile of arms consisting of Sarmatian scale cuirass, helmet; numerous shields, spears, trumpets, and vexilla; lance at 11h and pole arm at 1h(?), S-C in fields, DE SARMATIS in exergue which is formed by a spear.

    RIC 1190; BMC 1603, pl. 87.6; MIR 18, 373-6/30; Banti 67.

    This die match in the British Museum shows some of the details more clearly. I am not sure if it is a carnyx at 12h or something else.
    BMC example rev die match.jpg
    PeteB, Johndakerftw, eparch and 6 others like this.
  9. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Me neither. It might well be a carnyx, but considering that your (absolutely stellar!) coin is supposed to depict a pile of arms captured from the Sarmatian and Germanic tribes during the Marcomannic Wars, I'm tempted to understand the object at 12h as a draco standard, see here.

    The draco was used by the Dacians and Sarmatians and thus would be a bit more fitting than a Gallic carnyx. What do you think?

    For comparison, here is a later coin showing Dacia carying a draco:
    Rom – Trajan Decius, antoninian, Dacia.png
    Trajan Decius, Roman Empire, AR antoninian, 249–251 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP C Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG; bust of Trajan Decius, draped, cuirassed, and laureate, r. Rev: DACIA: Dacia standing left, holding draco. 22mm, 3.66g. Ref: RIC IV Traian Decius 12. Ex Frascatius Ancients.
  10. Tony1982

    Tony1982 Well-Known Member


    119 BC.

    Obverse: M FOVRI L F, Laureate head of Janus.

    Reverse: Roma standing left, crowning trophy with carnyx and shield on each side,

    star above Roma, ROMA to right, PHILI (PHI in monogram) in ex. 2F191628-CBA6-412C-9BCF-E973B3E76F86.jpeg
  11. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I forgot about this one: Trajan Decius 5.jpg
    AR Antoninianus
    OBVERSE: IMP C M Q TRAIANUS DECIVS AVG, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    REVERSE: DACIA, Dacia standing left, holding draco standard
    Struck at Rome, 249 AD
    4.39g, 22mm
    RIC 12b
    Ex CNG eAuction 328, Lot 761
    Ex. Seaby with handwritten envelope and tag
  12. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    I totally agree! To the average 'Roman on the street' this reverse would scream Germania Capta!
    Orielensis likes this.
  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    An interesting coin @David Atherton - the reverse does remind me of this coin (and the one from @Alegandron), although no trumpets.
    Antonius Felix Judaea Claudius.jpg
    Judaea, Procuratorial, Antonius Felix, Prefect under Claudius, 52-59 BC, AE prutah
    Obv: NEPW KΛAY KAICAP, two oblong shields and spears crossed
    Rev: BPIT, LIΔ KAI, six-branched palm tree bearing two bunches of dates

    and here's a favorite carnyx:
    L Hostilius Sasserna.jpg
    L. Hostilius Saserna, AR Denarius, 48 BC, AR Denarius, Rome
    Obv: A Gallic woman, with carnyx warrior's trumpet behind
    Rev: Artemis facing front, holding a leaping deer by the antlers and, with the other hand, a spear.
    Size: 3.8g 17.3-19.3mm
  14. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Great coin David!
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