Featured Migration Period Monday - Siliqua Fractionals - Vandals + Gepids - The History - Fall of Rome

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by The Trachy Enjoyer, May 10, 2021.

  1. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    We have medieval Monday...why not migration period Monday? I saw an old thread today on this topic which inspired me to make this.
    Left to right:
    Unique Gepid Siliqua in the name of Anastasius - Thrasamund Siliqua - Gunthamund Siliqua

    The Gepids:
    The Gepids were a Germanic tribe related to Ostrogoths and Visigoths. Coming from around the area of modern-day Germany, they often raided the Roman empire with other Gothic groups during the crisis of the third century. Later on, the Gepids joined the Hunnic confederation of the 5th century. After the Hunnic confederation broke up, the Gepids migrated south into former Roman holdings. To their west, the Ostrogoths ruled Italy. To their east, Byzantium ruled out of Constantinople. Because of this prime positioning, the Gepids controlled many trading towns, chief among them Sirmium.

    Sirmium was an ancient city, dating back to Roman times and before. It once was home to the Roman governor of Illyricum, acting as the administrative capital of the region. Lying in the middle of the old Roman empire, Sirmium was considered a crossroads where East and West met. In that tradition, Sirmium functioned similarly under the Gepids in the 6th century. Located near where the Ostrogothic kingdom, Gepid kingdom, and the Byzantine empire met, Sirmium was the most important town in the Gepid kingdom, serving as their capital and trade hub. It was desired by all powers in the vicinity and subsequently changed hands many times in the 6th century.

    The Gepids had an independent kingdom from the late 5th century until 504 CE when Theodoric the Great and the Ostrogoths conquered the Gepid kingdom. The aptly named Sirmium War was named after the main reason it was fought over, the town of Sirmium. Recognized by all political entities in the area as important, the Gepids had help from Byzantine allies to thwart Ostrogothic aggression. This united Gepid-Byzantine coalition failed, however, and Theodoric annexed the area. The Gepids remained unhappy vassals of the Ostrogoths, with multiple attempts of rebellion. The Gepids were finally freed in the mid-530’s with Byzantine aid and Justinian’s timely reconquest of Italy. In an attempt to reconcile their holdings and fight off the Byzantine invaders in Italy, the Ostrogoths abandoned Gepid lands. The Gepids resumed independent rule of their lands for the next five decades until the Avars conquered most Gepid territory in 567 CE. Sirmium held out, isolated and alone, until it too succumbed to the Avars in 582.

    The left most coin in my pictures is a siliqua of the Gepids/Ostrogoths minted in the name of Anastasius. The obverse features the right facing bust of Anastasius and a crude rendition of the legend DN ANASTASIUS PP AVG. The reverse features a stand/wreath in the center and a cross on top with a kneeling figure whose hands are raised in the air on the right, perhaps some sort of Christian imagery? The legend is OV. There is one other coin like this known to a professor on Gepid coinage who said that example was in the name of Justin. That coin had a die break on the reverse so this example helped clear up the design which shows a symmetrical figure to the left of the center wreath.

    The Vandals:
    The Vandals first enter the historical record with the Marcomannic Wars of Marcus Aurelius. They were minor players in the war and are next seen battling Aurelian, with whom they signed a peace treaty. The Vandals moved into the Balkans at some point and occupied the lands which would become those of the Gepid kingdom. Facing hostility on all sides, however, they asked Constantine the Great for asylum and were settled in Roman Pannonia in 330 AD.

    Shortly after 405 AD, the Vandals decided to migrate south, possibly/probably due to the increasing Hunnic threat. The Vandals plundered their way through Gaul and settled in the south west. In the year 409, the Vandals again decided to move and entered Hispania. In exchange for service as military allies, the Vandals were given land through out Spain. The Vandals proceeded to spend the next 25 years looting their way across the west. They crushed major roman armies while sacking cities and islands. In 428, the accession of Genseric to the Vandal throne changed the fate of the Vandal people and western Europe forever, elevating the disparate tribes from roaming gangs of thieves to the Germanic people who crushed and destroyed West Rome forever.

    In one of the biggest foreign diplomacy blunders of all time, Count Bonifacius, representative of Valentinian III and West Rome, invited Genseric to move his 20,000-80,000 strong army from the rugged land of Hispania to the fertile coast of North Africa. Genseric, only too happy to be given unharrassed travel, complied. The Vandals quickly swept east across North Africa, conquering everything with ease. Bonifacius tried to stop the Vandals but was defeated in battle. During this time, St Augustine was inside the city of Hippo when it was sieged, dieing of stress in the process. Bonifaius escaped to Carthage and raised another army which was also defeated by the Vandals. The Romans and Vandals signed a treaty in 435 which split the province but Genseric soon broke this and seized the rest of Roman Africa including the city of Carthage.

    Genseric's most famous accomplishment and coup de grace was yet to come...in 455, Genseric led his Vandal army on Rome and sacked it. Looting any and all valuables, the Vandals spend days sacking the city. Among the stolen was Valentinian III's wife, the Empress Licinia Eudoxia, and their two daughters. Taking back the treasures of the ancient world, the Vandals settled in Africa to rule for another eight decades of relative prosperity.

    The two siliqua shown are of Thrasamund (center) and Gunthamund (right). Gunthamund ruled for a period of peace and tranquility. He lessened the Vandal policy of persecuting Catholics (they were Arians) and oversaw economic recovery and growth. Thrasamund, Guthamund's successor, finally stopped Catholic persecutions. Thrasamund is rather unnoteworthy but is described by Procopius as "a very special friend of the Emperor Anastasius".

    The Migration Period is one of tumult and change. The shockwaves sent then still reverberate in our world today...show me your coins from this era:joyful:
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Amazing coins @The Trachy Enjoyer - and an excellent write-up. While I've read of the period it mostly came from the perspective of the Byzantine sources and books like Robert Graves' Count Belisarius. Thanks for expanding my knowledge in this area.
  4. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    But... Monday’s taken! Why not “Westward Wednesday”? ;)

    Med-01-Ost-512-Ravenna-N10-1-145.jpg Early Medieval - Ostrogoths
    Municipality of Ravenna, 512-526 A.D.
    AE Decanummium, 16.64 mm x 2.7 grams
    Obv.: Turreted Head of Ravenna, right
    Rev.: Monogram in wreath

    (I really need to get a copy of MEC 1 and get to know these coins better...)
  5. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Part of the reason we have so many detailed histories on this era is the Byzantine reconquest and further contextualization by authors like Procopius! It is quite interesting yet sadly many of these kindgoms didn't last long. The Vandals were conquered by Byzantium in 533, the Ostrogoths in 553
  6. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Nice write up. My only coins from this period are from the Angles and Saxons. It was such a turbulent time in Britain that records are almost non-existent, as are coins. There were no coins struck or even used for more than a century after the Romans left around 410 - they returned to a barter economy.

    The Saxons eventually brought their own coins, and took to trimming the Roman coins they found in Britain to match.

    Arcadius Siliqua, 383-408
    Mediolanum. Silver, 11mm, 0.66g - should be 15mm, 1g (cf RIC X 1227). Found in Yorkshire.

    Coins weren't regularly minted in Britain again for more than 250 years.

    Series BI Primary Sceatta, 675-690
    Essex or East Anglia. Silver, 13mm, 1.12g (Abramson 16.40).

    Even so, they managed to settle and were still ruling England in 1066 when the Normans invaded, which makes them more successful than the Romans.
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  7. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Trachy Enjoyer, Thanks for an interesting article with fascinating coins :happy:. There aren't many of us in the Ancient Coin forum interested in Migration Era coinage, but those who do are very serious about it :D. Several years ago Pellinore posted some handsome Gepid coinage. Pictured below are a few Migration Era coins I've posted before but will enjoy posting the again ;).

    Germanic Solidus of Zeno, late 5th cen..jpg

    2101304-003, AK Collection.jpg

    Athalaric, 4883814-005.jpg
  8. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Wow, great coins! Thanks for sharing! I particularly like your unattributed (tribe specific) Zeno solidus. I haven't quite seen anything like it but if I had to guess, Id say Burgundian (perhaps early Merovingian?). The style with wide eyes reminds me of the solidii from them although I think Burgundian solidii are all in the name of Justin/Justinian. Thats quite the interesting coin

    Your Theodoric might be of the finest style I have seen for one of these! Nice addition

    I was hoping to win my first Migration Period gold coin today at NAC but had no luck:(...oh well, maybe next time will be my chance!
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  9. Brian Bucklan

    Brian Bucklan Well-Known Member

    Ostrogoths; Matasuntha (536-40 AD), Wife of Witigis
    AR Half-Siliqua in the name of Justinian

    Rev: Monogram of Matasuntha
    Justinian Matasuntha 1.jpg
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  10. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    Theodahad, Ostrogothic Kingdom
    AR half-siliqua
    Obv: D N IVSTI-NIAN AC, diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
    Rev: Monogram THEODAHATVS within wreath
    Mint: Ravenna
    Date: 534-536 AD
    Ref: Metlich 61; MIB 55b; Ranieri 287


    Odoacer, Kingdom of Italy
    AE nummus
    Obv: OD[O-VAC], bare-headed, draped bust right
    Rev: Odoacer's monogram (letters ODOVA: “Odovacar”) within wreath
    Mint: Ravenna
    Date: 476-493 AD
    Ref: RIC X 3502


    Sisebut, Visigothic Kingdom
    AV tremissis
    Obv: + SISEBVTVS REX, bust facing
    Rev: + TOLETO PIVS, bust facing
    Mint: Toledo
    Date: 612-621 AD
    Ref: Miles 183a

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  11. tibor

    tibor Well-Known Member

    @John Conduitt Really likin' that Essex/East Anglia piece. The condition
    is amazing. Wow!!
  12. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Awesome! I am glad to see a visigothic tremissis! They are lots of fun
    Mammothtooth, +VGO.DVCKS and DonnaML like this.
  13. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Nice coins and writeup!

    I have a handful of coins of the Völkerwanderung, as the Germans elegantly put it.


    Theoderic(?) AE nummus
    ZomboDroid 26032021220440.jpg

    Athalaric AR 1/4 siliqua
    ZomboDroid 24012020164930.jpg

    Vandals Thrasamund AE nummus victory.jpg

    Vandals Hilderic Rex nummus cross.jpg
    Vandals Hilderic nummus cross.jpg
    Uncertain 4 nummi - I believe this is an ancient counterfeit or imitation
    Vandals AE4 4 nummi contemporary copy.jpg

    Anonymous civic nummus - bust / palm
    Vandals anonymous AE palm carthage.jpg

    Either late Vandal or early post-conquest bust / chi rho
    ZomboDroid 26102019213555.jpg

    I have absolutely no idea what this is!
    ZomboDroid 12012021125734.jpg
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  14. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Those siliquae are pretty awesome... especially that cross/kneeling figure Gepid/Ostrogoth coin! Coincidentally I picked up a migration period coin in today's NAC, one of the early INVICTA ROMA Theoderic monogram coins:
    NAC attributes it to Sirmium, but it looks like Milan to me. (?)

    Hahn says this is a Royal coinage, so probably Hilderic c. 522-533. Vandals in Carthage, at any rate:
    vandals 4 nummi.jpg

    No Lombards in the thread yet... so here's a late 6th c. Lombard half siliqua in the name of Justinian I:
    lombard half siliqua.jpg
    and the other coin I picked up in NAC today, an 8th century half-siliqua (or whatever) with the Perctarit monogram:

    Here's a late 7th century fourrée Merovingian tremissis, imitating an issue of Amboise, moneyer Marcovaldo (I think):
    merov fourr trem.jpg

    And a denier from the early 8th century, Catullacum/St. Denis:
    merovingian denier.jpg

    And finally, an Anglo-Saxon Primary phase sceat, series BII, early 8th century (Kent):

    I love this stuff, but it isn't easy to obtain!! :hurting: Currently I am suffering the most from a lack of Visigothic coins. :D
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
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  15. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    I’m tapped out for coins right now but was watching this one (and a couple of other NAC coins) regardless. Nice score and good price on it.
  16. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    @Brian Bucklan, that Matasuntha is phenomenal!!

    In another thread, somebody erroneously trotted out the South Indian hypothesis for a Vandal coin, but in this case I wonder if it might be that, @Finn235. I haven't seen one quite like this - the portrait is touch cruder & more angular than usual, and the reverse design is odd – but still, something to consider. Here's one from Triskeles (acsearch link) with a similar wreath:
    Maybe? :confused:

    Thanks! I'm glad we didn't end up clashing! I was surprised it stayed so low, especially in that venue. Well, maybe I shouldn't be surprised... not typically the place for bottom feeding. :D

    Always love to see your Odovacar. Any time. Any thread! :happy:
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  17. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Hi, your Gepidic fragment is numismatically very significant and extremely rare.

    I wrote an article on these coins, which you can access here:

    (99+) (PDF) The "Sirmium Group" - an overview | Dirk Faltin - Academia.edu

    I classified your type as Group Q5b. I would be very grateful, if you could provide a proper picture and measurements. And of course any information on the find spot would be invaluable. Your coin may be from the same dies as coin 5b2 (p. 161) in my article, which curiously was found in a grave in what is now Belgium, which is far away from its place of manufacture in what is now Serbia.

    In general, these coins are a bit of a mystery. They are usually attributed to the Gepids, but most of them were probably minted when Sirmium was under Gothic control. Most puzzling are those "special series" to which your coin belongs. They were minted in the name of Anastasius, but may have been made some 50 or more years after his death.

    It is quite surprising, that small silver coins were still useful in this region, far away from the imperial centers. Its economy seemed to have developed in its own way.

    And yes, the Gepids were Christians, most likely of the Arian denomination. The coins attest to their Christianity. In my article I also mention an inscription on a roof tile from AD 582, which reads: "Christ, our Lord, help our town halt the Avars. Protect the Roman Empire and he who has written this." It may be, that the particularly Christian imagery of the last issues of Gepidic coins falls into this period of turmoil and decline.

    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  18. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    This is a very nice coin, but the attribution is no longer accepted. No coins were ever minted for Mathasunta. Just as no coins were ever minted for her monther Amalasuntha despite the many attributions in auction catalogs. The Ostrogoths did not accept the open rule of women. A Gothic king had to be a man and a military leader.

    In fact, the coin was not even minted in Ostrogothic Italy, but in Africa. Its size and fabric is completely at odds with Ostrogothic silver coins.

    The monogram is that of Justinian. The coin was minted at Carthage in the 530s or 540s after the fall of the Vandalic kingdom. It is hence, a regular East Roman/Byzantine Half-Siliqua.
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  19. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I agree, this is definitely an Ostrogothic coin from Milan.
  20. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I think this is a Byzantine issue from Ravenna.
  21. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Tejas (Dirk), Thanks for sharing your important study in Academia, The "Sirmium Group" - an overview. This scholarly paper is an "eye opener" :happy:. I've read many excellent papers published in Academia that failed, in my opinion, because of poor or no illustrations. The excellent illustrations in your study make this an important reference source :cool:.
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