New Domitian Sestertius - GERMANIA CAPTA !

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Julius Germanicus, Dec 12, 2022.

  1. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    This Sestertius, worn but finely styled and on a large and almost medallic flan, is of a rare and historic type commemorating Rome's "victory" over the Germans during Domitian's campaigns of 83-85 against the Germanic peoples of the Chatti, Mattiaci, Vangiones, Triboci and Nemeti. Domitian pursued military actions in Germania and Dacia in an effort to shorten Rome's frontier with the barbarian tribes in order to improve the safety of the Empire until the construction of a border defense system of the Germanic-Rhaetian limes.


    IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XI CENS POT PP – Laureate bust of Domitian right, wearing Aegis on his left shoulder
    GERMANIA CAPTA S C – Germania, as mourning female captive, supporting head with right hand, elbow on knee, seated left on crossed shields at base of trophy of arms; German captive, his hands bound behind his back, standing right, wearing Chlamys, head left, shield to right, helmet on ground
    Orichalcum Sestertius, Rome mint, 85 A.D.
    35 mm / 26,64 g
    RIC II 278 (a), BMCRE 325, C 136, Cayon 17, Sear 2765


    The iconography of this coin is a practical duplicate of the Judaea Capta series of Vespasian and Titus. Domitian certainly pursued propagandistic goals and was eager to display his military prowess, just as his father and brother had succeeded in Judaea, he wanted to be known as conqueror of the Germans. The personification of Germania shows an attitude of deep grief, unable to raise her eyes from the ground, and the German captive standing next to her is unable to shake off the Roman yoke, with his hands tied behind his back. The state of total surrender is also underlined by the presence of the trophy, weapons rendered inoperable by the defeat.

    Contemporary and modern historians have long cast doubts on the proclaimed successes of Domitian in Germany, which Tacitus commented with a dismissive 'in recent times we have celebrated triumphs rather than won conquests over them [the Germans]' (Tac. Germ. 37.5).
    On the other hand, we have to take into account the notorious hostility of the senatorial historiography towards the last Flavian emperor, which resulted in most of his achievements being downplayed. The fact that the upper Rhine region and the Agri Decumates saw no serious barbarian invasions in the century after his reign indicates that Domitian's campaigns and measures must have been quite successful.

    The coin came in an old A.H. Baldwin & Sons, Ltd. envelope and I would be thankful for any further information:


    Please post your Sestertii of Domitian, CAPTA coins, or anything relevant!
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Fantastic coin, especially for the reverse.
    Julius Germanicus likes this.
  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Domitian 2.jpg
    AE As
    OBVERSE: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XI CENS POT P P, laureate head right, aegis at tip of bust
    REVERSE: MONETA AVGVSTI, S-C, Moneta standing left, holding scales & cornucopiae
    Struck at Rome, 85AD
    11.7g, 27mm
    RIC 384
  5. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Very interesting type—but has anyone expressed concerns it might be cast?
  6. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Yes, I have indeeed now been alerted about that possibility and a discussion about this coin in the German forum and it´s return to the seller half a year ago.

    On the other hand my coin is from the same pair of dies as this probably without doubt genuine specimen, sold by CNG in 2017 for 750 USD, but with a different flan shape:


    What do you think?
  7. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I do believe the first coin posted is cast--the irregular wear patters, breaks on the surface of the coin, random flat areas, soapy letters, all point to cast, unfortunately
  8. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    According to an X-ray fluorescence analysis and in the opinion of a major German auction company and a well-known american expert the coin looks (based on the photos) indeed to be genuine :).
    I will send it out to certification and keep you updated.
  9. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I hope it is real! Good idea to get it certified.
  10. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    The OP coin has been examined by David Sear now and he found it to be without doubt genuine :).
    Nicholas Molinari and Broucheion like this.
  11. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

  12. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    Very interesting reverse.
    Domitian just copied the reverse and the formula of Vespasian and Titus' sestertii celebrating the victory against the Jews :

    Germania Capta.jpg

    It is the same design, except for the palm-tree on the Judaea Capta coins which becomes a trophy on the Germania Capta coins.

    Now let's have a closer look on the Germania Capta reverse. The man, who is naked under his cloak on the Judaea coins, is wearing trousers on the Germania coins. The weapons are typically Celtic : hexagon-shaped shields, a Celtic horn called "carnyx" (just over the standing male captive's head), horned helmet (on top of trophy), circular crest on top of helmets, the helmet on the ground at the male captive's feet has a wheel-shaped crest.

    We can find all this on the Gundestrup Cauldron, a Celtic ceremonial 1st c. BC cauldron found in Denmark. Same shields, same carnyx horns, the two horsemen on the left wear helmets with a wheel or with horns.


    A helmet with both a wheel and horns (like the one on top of trophy on Domitian's coin) can be seen among the trophies of the Orange triumphal arch (1st c. AD).

    casque gaulois.jpg

    For the Romans, it seems there was no real difference between Celts and Germans. The weapons on the Germania Capta sesterce are typically Celtic, but it is possible that the 1st c. AD Germans actually used Celtic-inspired weaponry: after all, the Romans themselves had done it in the Republican period.
  13. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Now THAT is some interesting research! Thank you very much!!! Could this be one of the oldest depictions of Germans on coins?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page