Is Ephesus Roman Imperial or Provincial?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by savitale, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    I do not see the mint at Ephesus listed among the cities with Roman Imperial mints, such as here and here.

    I have found it listed among the Roman Provincial mints, for example here.

    However, I frequently see coins from Ephesus listed in the Roman Imperial section of auctions, along with RIC numbers, such as here and here.

    So which is it, Imperial or Provincial? Or did it change over time?
     
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    There was an Imperial mint at Ephesis under Vespasian but most coins from there are Provincials. Most people pay more attention to the Late Roman mint system when there were mint marks but tend to forgrt Ephesis and Vespasian's other Eastern mints probably because they are earlier and less common. They did have a mintmark that is hard to deny EPE as on this Domitian as Caesar.
    rb1410bb0975.jpg
     
  4. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Is this the same mint (building, people, whatever ...) that changed ownership briefly under Vespasian or a completely different institution? I'm still having trouble understanding the difference between an Imperial and a Provincial mint.

    I also see lots of coins of Augustus from Ephesus listed in the Roman Imperial section, which adds to my confusion.
     
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  5. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    The mint of Vespasian at Ephesus seems to have been established by Vespasian during the Civil War, along with mints at Byzantium and Philippi, and continued for a short time afterward. RIC (vol. II, 1st ed., p. 3) refers to these collectively as the "Asia Minor Group".

    I find it best to think of mints as organizations. Vespasian's imperial mint and the later provincial mint in Ephesus may or may not have any association beyond being located at Ephesus. A Greek mint existed in the city as early as the late 7th century BC.

    Regarding Augustus, RIC vol. I notes (p.6), "Ephesus (Provincia Asia), producing cistophoric tetradrachms (= 3 denarii) of imperatorial nature in 28 BC and c.25-20 BC in large numbers, the latter probably with aes on the Roman weight-system, and of wide circulation."
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Through die links and style all these issues are now attributed to Ephesus. The city struck imperial coins from 69 to 74, perhaps up until 76 if one is to believe the 'o' mint denarii are Ephesian.
     
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  7. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Whether a city is or is not an imperial mint depends on how that term, Imperial Mint, is defined. It might be a good idea to define exactly what an imperial mint is and, while at it, define what a provincial mint is, and then see if any individual coin fits into that that definition. It is possible that a coin may fit into both definitions depending, again, on how the terms are defined.
     
  8. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Imperial provincials is a term I use for such coins.
     
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I consider it a matter of denomination. If a mint struck denarii, it was Imperial. It is possible one mint struck both and almost certain that the Caesarea mint under Pescennius Niger did since there are mules with Latin obverse and Greek reverses. Provincials tend to have Greek legends but full Colony status cities used Latin. Every case must be considered separately. The existence of coins inscribed for a city does not mean there was a mint there since one mint could strike for neighboring cities on contract. There is always room for new interpretations of old data and occasionally we get lucky and find some new evidence but even that will not erase all the question marks. Ancient history is not a good endeavor for those who must know the truth and the whole truth in every detail. There are periods where the only evidence we have are the coins or a few letters of some inscription. There are Greek cities we know from records but are not sure exactly where they were located. There are no mint records that answer any of our questions so we 'reverse engineer' to the best of our ability.
     
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  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    As long as we're talking about mints, I have seen a number of Roman Imperial coins ascribed to the Cologne mint in more recent sources. But Cologne doesn't seem to appear on the lists of Roman Imperial mints that I've seen. Can anyone please explain? Is this a recent attribution?

    Regarding the other question, I have no particular expertise, but assume as a rule of thumb that coins with Greek rather than Latin inscriptions are always Provincial, and that coins with Latin inscriptions are always Imperial, regardless of where they were minted, unless the place of minting had the status of a Colonia -- in which case they're usually classified as Provincial, although some, like the COL NEM dupondius of Augustus and Agrippa, have been classified under both categories.
     
  11. Dwarf

    Dwarf Active Member

    Living just a 30-minutes-drive away from Cologne I can assure you that the knowedge of Cologne being an Imperial mint is not a recent discovery.
    It was Postumus' main mint, there even exist Antoniniani marked "C-A" = Colonia Agrippinensis = Cologne.
    Zschucke published a whole book on Cologne as a Roman mint
    https://tinyurl.com/yj7nxndw

    Regards from Germany
     
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  12. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Sometimes it may be impossible to assign with certainty where a coin belongs. Take the early silver of the mint of Caesarea. Tiberius appears on silver coins (like RIC 1 Tiberius 84 or BMC, Tiberius 172) where he appears on a silver coin that looks remarkably like the silver denarius. Most reference books call it a drachma but the legends on both sides are entirely in Latin and the weights of these coins are in the same range as the denarii of Western mints. I wonder what the average Roman might have called such coins and if coins like this one would have been considered denarii in Italy (assuming some wound up there) and drachmas in the East but having the same value. With weights being pretty much equal, and assuming the fineness of silver the same, which is not true of later issues from Caesarea, and the legends completely in Latin, it may be that modern writers simply use geographic location as the determination with the coins of Caesarea being labelled as drachmas since the coins are minted east of the Adriatic and as denarii if to the west of the Adriatic. Again, what I would like to know is if geography determined what the name of such coins was and did they circulate as coins of the same value wherever they showed up. Below I have such a coin of Tiberius (along with one of his denarii). It is not in great shape and is well worn with signs of long use. These Caesarea coins of Tiberius are pricey and I only have this low grade one to pair with a Tiberius denarius but even so, one can see their similarity. The piece, labelled as a drachma by Seaby, IMG_1988Tiberius book obv.jpg IMG_1988Tiberius book obv.jpg IMG_1989Tiberius cap drachma table.jpg IMG_1987Tiberiusw cap drachma rev..jpg is 3.41 grams and is a scarcer variety as the head of Drusus (actually the obverse of this coin) is bare with no legend. In Seaby Silver Coins, Vol. II, it is # 3. In addition to the OP's question about the Ephesus mint, any readers care to venture on the question of compatibility of silver coinage from any Eastern mints (except for Alexandria) being accepted in the Latin West at par with those of Eastern mints, IF the legends were in Latin? Caesarea continued with Latin up to the reign of Nero.
     
  13. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Some seem to be suggesting that if it is a denarius it is Imperial and if it is a drachm (or some fraction/multiple of drachm) it is Provincial. Is that the consensus?

    If so, where does a cistophorus fall?
     
  14. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I also have coins of Salonina, Valerian II, and Saloninus apparently from the Cologne mint, and yet Cologne doesn't seem to appear on the Sear list of Roman mints.
     
  15. Dwarf

    Dwarf Active Member

    Which means that Sear's book should be corrected.
    Cologne as primary mint of Postumus is verified.
    What is far from clear and verification is the allocation of a lot of coin-types to the mints of the Gallic emperors and/or Gallienus and his family.

    Just as a sample a discussion in a German forum and a chart by S. Sonderman b.jpg
    https://www.numismatikforum.de/viewtopic.php?t=57974
     
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  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Who was the first to use Cologne? Postumus?
     
  17. Dwarf

    Dwarf Active Member

    Correction: Gallienus was the first
    Established as a branch from the mint of Lugdunum.
    Closed with or shortly after the end of the Gallic Empire.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
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  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I suspect what is causing the problem here is that many lists of mints are limited to the late Roman mints of the Tetrarchy and later which used a system of mint marks that included the city name. Cologne and Ephesus did not operate during that period and were not included in the lists written for RIC 6-10, LRBC or Failmezger readers.
     
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