The TARRACO mint

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    The city of Tarraco was inhabited before Roman times by Iberians who had business contacts with the Greeks and Phoenicians who settled on the coast. Around 217 B.C., the Roman armies arrived in Tarraco with the Roman general Scipio Africanus. The people there became allies and friends of the Roman people and Tarraco became a supply and winter base camp during the Roman wars against the Celtiberians. When Julius Caesar conquered supporters of Pompey in 49 BC, Tarraco supplied his troops with food provisions. The city was made Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco, maybe by Caesar after his victory in Munda.

    The Tarraco Amphitheatre

    In 27 BC, Augustus went to Spain to watch the campaigns in Cantabria. However, because of his health problems, he decided to stay in Tarraco. He granted many marks of honor on the city, among which were its honorary titles of Colonia Victrix Togata and Colonia Julia Victrix Tarraconensis. Tarraco became the capital of the Roman province Hispania Citerior and, after Augustus' reorganization of Hispania, of Hispania Tarraconensis. Tarraco under Augustus and Tiberius minted its own coins with depictions of the imperial cult and the inscription CVT, CVTT or CVTTAR.

    My worn example of Tiberius from Tarraco
    AE24 7.9g CL CAES CVT
    R: Germanicus & Drusus face to face
    And a nicer one (not mine)
    Augustus Tarraco

    In 68 AD, Galba, who lived eight years in Tarraco, was proclaimed emperor in the city of Clunia Sulpicia. A large part of Galba's provincial coinage has been minted in Taracco. It struck aurei and denarii from April to late 68 AD, and asses from September to December 68 AD. Aurei from Taracco were struck at the heavier pre-Neronian standard of around 7.7g. Denarii were struck at the same standard as Rome however the fineness was slightly higher at 92-98% fine. The portraiture style of the Tarraco workshop is quite crude compared to that of Rome and the busts always terminate with a globe. Vitellius and Vespasian also struck coins in this city.

    My old Galba:
    Vitellius and a Vespasian sold 3 weeks ago in the Roma auction:

    Vitellius denarius
    Tarraco RIC 29

    Vespasian AE As
    Tarraco RIC 1336

    We are certainly interested to see other examples from the Tarraco mint.
    Please show us yours !
    eparch, Ryro, Shea19 and 18 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    Interesting read. Did the name of Galbas village have anything to do with his family name Sulpicius?
  4. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice writeup. Thanks!
  5. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Yes. The city was only called "Clunia" before the time of Galba.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
    Ryro and svessien like this.
  6. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    I very much enjoyed your writeup, especially as it relates to Galba and coins of his that were minted there.

    The Tarraco mint portraits tend to be noticeably less artistic and just sort of "rougher." Contrast these two coins with the same reverse, one from the Rome mint (the sestertius) and one from Tarraco (the aureus):

    7b - Galba AE sestertius.jpg

    7d - Galba AV aureus.jpg
    eparch, Ryro, Shea19 and 7 others like this.
  7. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I would appreciate someone up on the subject to review the current thinking on mints used by Galba. This thread mentions Tarraco; many coins are listed as 'Spanish mint'. I have seen a few attributed to Lyon and have one poor coin which I purchased as 'Narbo'. Are there others or are the generic 'Spanish mint' coins now termed 'Tarraco'? Other than Rome, what are the options?
  9. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Nice writeup!

    I only have one, a realllllly well-loved AE of Augustus with Gaius and Lucius
    Tarraco Spain Augustus Gaius Lucius.jpg
  10. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Very good question. The most important Iberian mint for this period is usually assumed to be Tarraco, probably because it has been the place of residence for both Augustus and Galba. The paper written by H.Mattingly 100 years ago (The mints of the Early Empire) has never been really questioned. But one thing I learned when doing research about Tarraco: until an article published in 1903 by Monti and Laffranchi, the mysterious "T" workshop ( 293-312 AD) was assumed to be Tarraco; but now it has been proved without a doubt that the mint was in fact Ticinium in Italy. Like you said, someone should probably analyze the question again under the light of the newest archaeological discoveries and hoards found in the last decades.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
    Ryro likes this.
  11. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    quoting from

    Mint Assignments of Augustus’ Issues in Spain

    Assigning a mint to issues in Spain from 20 BC onward is a difficult task as the group constitutes one of the richest and most interesting coinages in the entire Augustan series. Laffranchi and Mattingly both noted different style portraits on Spanish mint pieces and accordingly assigned them to different mints, Caesaraugusta and Colonia Patricia.

    Style 1: a stiff looking portrait, seen in 20 issues between 19 and 18 BC.
    Style 2: a curly and round portrait, seen in 30 issues, often on compact flans, between 19 and 16 BC.
    Style 3: a simpler and small portrait, seen on 5 issues between 18 and 16 BC, in the manner of early issues at Emerita.

    Prideaux notes that gold and silver coins had a wide circulation pattern and their types may well have inspired local engravers everywhere. He further notes that Caesaraugusta was an improbable location for a mint as it was quite a young colony (founded between 19 and 15 BC), and it is unlikely that a sophisticated mint of such significance would have been installed in such close proximity to the military headquarters at Tarraco. Prideaux also sees Colonia Patricia as an improbable mint location, as it was in Baetica, very distant from the operations in the northwest and far from Rome and its main port in Spain at Tarraco. Giard attempted to add a third mint at Nemausus, based on a die that was found in the fountain of Nemausus. Prideaux disputes this, questioning why in a time of relative stability in Spain, the main Imperial Mint for the West would have been moved twice within a couple of years.

    Prideaux proposes that Agrippa, upon arriving in Spain in 19 BC to assist in subduing the Cantabrians, had immediate needs for coinage to pay the legions, as well as money to purchase land for founding colonies for the retiring veterans. With the wealth of coins that were produced in this period it seems logical that Agrippa would have used established mints, which would have a full compliment of workers with the requisite artistic and technical knowledge. Emerita could start production immediately as it had recently been an operating mint under the legate P. Carisius. The colony was well situated to strike coins for the southern and western part of Spain. Prideaux proposes that coins of Style 1 and 3 were issued for Augustus by his adiuctor Agrippa at the mint of Emerita shortly after his arrival in Spain. Style 1 coins were engraved by a new celator of Agrippa’s, and style 3 by an engraver who was active under P. Carisius. The location of the other mint is equally obvious. The provincial headquarters at the port in Tarraco was the colony’s lifeline with Rome, and this strong military base was certainly a safe location for a mint. The coins of style 2 may be assigned to this mint. Many of the elaborate types depicting the monuments of Rome were first struck here. Many of the same types were issued by both mints from 19-16 BC, and are distinguished only by their style.

    Prideaux’s arguments are grounds for future scholarship and research.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page