Featured The first and last Goths

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by medoraman, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    On the world stage, the Goths first appeared around the northern shores of the Black Sea around the second century AD. From there, their migrations of different bands into Europe and in contact and war with the Roman empire most have heard about. Visigoths eventually made their way to Spain and formed a core of that country, and the Ostrogoths invaded and took over the Italian peninsula proper.

    Neither of these Gothic cultures lasted, being assimilated into later invader's cultures over the next few centuries. Neither of these groups of Goths were the first to issue coins either. This distinction goes to Goths on the Taman peninsula. This is an area on the northern shores of the Black Sea where Goths first appeared in the western historical record.

    Around the middle 3rd century they started issuing coins imitating a Roman denarius with a Mars reverse. As time went on it became more and more degraded. Almost all examples have been found on this peninsula, with a few in the immediate area around it proving it was a local issue and did not circulate widely.

    Taman Goths.jpg

    Taman Goths, Circa 300AD, Denarius, 2.31g: Obv: Stylized head right Rev: Winged figure right, two circles below, blundered text around. Celator 20.7 pp 22-6. Early Goths issue from the Taman Peninsula region based on a Roman Denarius. Ex Dmitry Markov

    Another reference for these is L.N. Kazamanova, “Varvarskie podrazhaniia rimskim denariam s tipom idushchego Marsa,” Vestnik Drevneél Istorii 1 (1961), Group III

    Probably goes without saying, but extremely rare. I had read about these 15 years ago or so but had never seen one for sale until this month. Of course, something so weird and rare I just had to have it even though I have blown my coin budget for a while on another recent purchase I will get around to posting soon.

    Interestingly, even though the Goths of the Taman peninsula were the first in the historical record, they are also the last. They were able to remain intact through invasions from the Black Huns, Kievian Rus, Mongols, and Islamic invasions. Even up into the mid 18th century there are reports of isolated villages in the area speaking Gothic as their native tongue. Sadly, this is no longer true, but still quite an impressive run.
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  3. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter** Supporter

    Very interesting, medoraman. Thank you for posting this.
    7Calbrey likes this.
  4. Orfew

    Orfew Supporter! Supporter

    Great writeup and an interesting coin.
  5. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    Very rarely do I see a coin posted here that truly surprises me, and which I can honestly say I never heard anything about. This is one such coin.

    Congratulations! Well done and great write-up.
    Paul M. likes this.
  6. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Awesome coin and write-up. And timely. My HEL class talked about Gothic this morning. I gave them this Gothic Bible drill. First one here to tell me chapter and verse gets one trillion dollars.

    Screenshot 2017-02-27 11.52.54.png
    galba68, RAGNAROK and Paul M. like this.
  7. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    That's a very cool coin from an interesting culture. I like how the style degenerates. Any idea if they were delivered at the time they circulated?
  8. Orfew

    Orfew Supporter! Supporter

    Atta unsar, þu in himinam, weihnai namo þein. qimai þiudinassus þeins, wairþai wilja þeins, swe in himina jah ana airþai. Hlaif unsarana þana sinteinan gif uns himma daga. jah aflet uns þatei skulans sijaima, swaswe jah weis afletam þaim skulam unsaraim. jah ni briggais uns in fraistubnjai, ak lausei uns af þamma ubilin.

    Anglo Saxon
    Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;

    Si þin nama gehalgod

    to becume þin rice

    gewurþe ðin willa

    on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.

    urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg

    and forgyf us ure gyltas

    swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum

    and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge

    ac alys us of yfele soþlice
  9. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    oh wow, how cool...nice coin and post med. i would have never guessed what that was, maybe thought it was an indian bronze or something.
  10. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Very cool. Shows patience is key to collecting, and luck.
  11. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    There's a pretty recent book about this coinage, by V.N. Kleshchinov. Unfortunately it is in Russian.


    The title is: Roman-Sarmatic denarii from the end of the second to half of the fourth century. Published in Moscow, 2016. 78 pages, 544 coins depicted.
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  12. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    Luke 2:1. I loved HEL in college, but we never looked at Gothic.
    RAGNAROK likes this.
  13. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago

    That's truly fascinating!! Thanks for posting M-man!!!
  14. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Congratulations and well done, Paul! Here's your money. Don't spend it all in one place!

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  15. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    That's the first I've heard of these Goths staying in the peninsula for so long... very cool, if true. My second hand info had it that they left in the middle of the fourth century (thus the dating). This is allegedly according to Sergeev in:
    Sergeev A.Ya. Varvarskiy "Chekan na Tamani" ('Barbarous issues on Taman'). In "Numizmatika v Istoricheskom muzee". Moscow, 2001. P.61-88.

    Here's mine:
    Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 12.36.02 PM.png
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  16. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    This view agrees with the linguistics textbook I use: “Gothic was spoken and occasionally written in Italy, Spain, and France until perhaps as late as the ninth century A.D. but gradually gave way to Romance languages. The last vestiges were reported from the Crimea in the eighteenth century.” C. M. Millward, A Biography of the English Language, 3rd ed., p. 64
  17. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    This is an important article by Andrei Sergeev (1933-1998), a great researcher and collector, whose coins now are being kept at the State Historical Museum in Moscow. It has been translated into English and been published in a very interesting catalog, Barbarian Coins on the Territory between the Balkans and Central Asia, Moscow 2012, a large book with 256 pages and many pictures. At the end are some of Sergeev's ground-breaking articles, among them 'The Taman Denarius' (p. 219-233). It was supplemented with coins found by Vladimir Kleshchinov, a researcher and collector like Sergeev, the author of the monography mentioned above.

    Here's the index of the articles and a fragment of the text.

  18. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Poking around (mostly just on Wikipedia), it seems most likely that the Taman Goths or a closely related group fled into nearby mountains, including the Crimean mountains, in the 4th century with the Hunnic invasion. So probably both sources are right... Gothic was spoken until the 18th century in the general area, though not in Taman proper. (@medoraman, does that cohere with what you found?)

    I will have to get my hands on a copy of that book, @Pellinore! Thanks!
    Gavin Richardson likes this.
  19. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    What I was reading was that random passages would note villages speaking Gothic were located in the area during medieval times, including on the Taman peninsula itself. The last reference of them was in the mid 1700's by a Orthodox priest touring the region.

    Not an expert by any means, just what I was reading from various websites on the issue.
  20. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    Wow => congrats on the cool new coin, Medoraman ...

    Sadly, I don't have anything to toss-into your sweet thread (now on my wish-list)

  21. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    There are 5 phases of these coins, according to Kleshchinov, the first starting in about 160, where the Roman examples are followed so well that the emperors (and empresses) can be recognized. In the second phase, starting about 175, the emperors loose there typical characteristics, but they are clearly 'barbaric imitations' of Roman denarii like we know them from Germania, Gallia and Brittannia. In the third phase the type is stereotyped and losing its meaning.

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