The small hoard of silver coins under consideration in this article was purchased in to to by Mr. Newell in Cairo in December 1923, and has been very kindly entrusted by him to the writer for study. The dealer in antiquities from whom the coins were purchased assured Mr. Newell that they formed a single hoard which had very recently been found by certain fellahin at Sakha in the Delta, and that to the best of his knowledge the hoard was intact. His statements are borne out by an examination of the coins. It is certain that they all came from one hoard: they were all covered with a distinctive patina composed of several layers of purple oxide and verdegris, so thick that each coin was a formless lump on which the outlines of the design were scarcely distinguishable. That we have the complete hoard before us cannot be asserted so confidently. The finders might very easily, have kept back some part of the find. But during a sojourn of some weeks following the purchase, after spending considerable time in looking over the stocks of the many dealers in Cairo and in Alexandria, Mr. Newell was unable to find any trace of other coins like those in the hoard. Certainly no casual tourist would have wished to purchase mere formless lumps of metal so encrusted that only a person accustomed to handling such objects could be certain even that they were silver. That the hoard was found in the Delta is very likely, but this cannot be proved.
A feature of the hoard before us is the curious and unusual association in it of coins of the Peloponnesus and of Rhodes of the second and first centuries before Christ, with Roman denarii of the first and second centuries after Christ. There can be no question that we are dealing with one hoard, and not with two hoards mixed together. There are two instances where a Greek and a Roman coin are glued together by their common corrosion; these have not been cleaned, except so far as to enable one to distinguish their types. In one instance we have a Rhodian hemidracham (type of B. M. C. Caria, PI. XL, 12) still adhering to a quinarius of Trajan from the mint of Caesarea (B. M. C. Gal. etc. p. 53, No. 54, PI. IX, 11), and again, a triobol of the Achaean League with a denarius of Domitian. These coins have not been separated, as it was deemed more important to keep them together for demonstration, than to separate them merely to determine their exact variety, as was done with other adhering coins in the hoard.
The Greek coins are for the most part varieties of the coins of the Achaean League, chiefly from Elis, and of Sicyon, Argos and Rhodes, in much worn condition. The Roman coins date from the last years of Nero to the end of Trajan's reign, and every reign is represented, Trajan's having the largest number. The earlier denarii down to the end of the reign of Titus and some of those of Domitian, as might be expected, are more or less worn; many of Domitian's are in splendid condition, while those of Nerva and Trajan are almost without exception in brilliant condition, showing little, if any evidence of circulation. The latest coins in the hoard are from Trajan's sixth consulship (114–117 A. D.) and we can place the burial of the hoard at about that time—shortly before, or immediately after the emperor's death.
The details recounted above are mostly taken from Mr. Newell's notes, which he turned over to the writer with the hoard. There are two important questions to be considered in connection with this find, which make it unique in the annals of coin finds in Egypt, (1) How explain the presence of a quantity of Roman denarii in Egypt? (2) How account for the presence with them of a number of Greek coins of at least two centuries earlier?
(1). After the acquisition of Egypt by the Romans, it became an imperial province, and, in accordance with a policy initiated by Augustus, was treated by successive emperors as a province apart from the other imperial provinces.1 The final Ptolemaic coinage was allowed by Augustus to continue in use, and the Roman denarius equated to a tetradrachm, which from the reign of Ptolemy XIII Auletes was no longer of even approximately pure silver. With the reign of Tiberius, a new tetradrachm of billon was introduced, the value of which was set at that of a denarius.2 This billon coinage, minted at Alexandria, with its fractions in copper, continued in circulation and furnished the bulk of the money for the daily needs of the province until the reign of Diocletian. Now it has been noted3 that while the denarius apparently circulated freely about the shores of the Mediterranean in the early centuries of our era, its occurrence in Egypt is comparatively rare; the rubbish mounds, while yielding immense quantities of the local billon money, seldom give forth denarii singly or in hoards. Sig. Dattari, who for years examined most of the hoards found in Egypt,4 noted only one hoard of denarii ranging from the reign of Vespasian to Marcus Aurelius, and two or three from the time of the Severi. These small lots Milne thinks were either military in origin, or the property of some Roman official. The accounts on papyri or ostraca, where military accounts are often stated in Roman currency, would bear out this opinion, as would also the scarcity of documents that mention denarii and do not deal with the affairs of the Roman government. This apparent scarcity of the denarius in the daily business life of Egypt as reflected in the papyri was noted by Mommsen,5 who advanced the theory that the rather frequent occurrence of the words άργυρίου δραχμαί in settlements of accounts must refer interchangeably to the Ptolemaic silver or to the denarius. Sig. Segr� 6 has found an explanation of the scarcity of denarii in Egyptian hoards that is probably correct. He suggests that the denarius, standardized with the Alexandrine tetradrachm, was considered as legal tender in Egypt, because the standard Roman coin of gold and silver was current in all the provinces of the Empire. But in effect the denarius did not circulate in Egypt, due to the exceptional monetary advantage accorded the Romans in Egypt, so that the intrinsic value of the Roman silver maintained itself above that of the Alexandrine tetradrachm. In the second and third centuries the ratio between the silver of the denarius and the imperial Alexandrine tetradrachm became increasingly more unfavorable to the Alexandrine money, which then had to be limited in circulation to internal use, while the Roman denarius of high intrinsic value, was almost eliminated from local circulation. This, he concludes, is the reason for the rarity of finds of hoards in Egypt before the time of the Severi.
(2). Let us turn for a moment to the other question, that concerning the presence of a number of Greek coins in the hoard. Of these, there are twelve from Rhodes of circa 166–88 B. C., three from Argos of circa 322–229 B. C., five of Sicyon of circa 250–146 B. C., and of those of the Achaean League after 280 B. C. three are from Aegium, nine from Elis, one from Pallantium, and one of doubtful provenance. All of these were coins that became standard for a time beyond the districts in which they were issued. The coins of Rhodes enjoyed a wide circulation about the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean long after they ceased to be struck.7 The abundance of coins of the Achaean League in finds testifies to an almost equal popularity. Argos and Sicyon, two very prosperous communities during the Hellenistic period, continued to strike coins of their own even while members of the Achaean League, and these enjoyed a wide circulation in the Peloponnesus. The established use of these coins continued long after the introduction of the denarius, so that we find references in writers like Polybius, Plutarch and Dio to the various Greek drachmae and the Roman denarius alike by the word δραχμή. To quote Head (l. c.) "It is quite probable that a loose use of the word δραχμή for all silver coins of about the size of the Roman denarius, great numbers of which must have remained in circulation for a century or perhaps two, after they were issued, was very general at this time." The remarkable fact, then, that is pointed out by this hoard, is the persistence of these coins in circulation, for perhaps as long as two centuries beyond Head's estimate. The owner would not have treasured them along with the denarii if they had no commercial value, unless he were a collector of coins, a numismatist, and we have no certain evidence for the existence of such in antiquity, nor would any numismatist; ancient or modern, make a collection of coins of this combination. The extreme wear on the Greek coins indicates long use before they entered the hoard, which was probably begun some time in Domitian's reign, as may be judged from the wear on the coins of his imperial predecessors, and the very slight wear on the coins of that emperor and his successors.
To return to the other question, namely the presence of this combination of Greek and Roman coins in Egypt. It might be suggested that they were the property of a Roman soldier in Egypt. But soldiers are more likely to be spenders than savers, and seldom left hoards, so far as we know. Even if this objection can be overridden, it is impossible that a Roman soldier should have been transferred from Achaea to the peculiarly imperial province of Egypt, because Achaea was a senatorial province which had no soldiers. Then the total absence from this hoard of Ptolemaic silver, which remained in circulation in Egypt, as we know from the papyri, until the end of the third century of our era,8 is a striking characteristic. If the hoard is representative of the better coinage in ciruclation in Egypt in Trajan's time, certainly by Gresham's law some Ptolemaic silver should have been included in it. But this negative evidence drives us to the conclusion that the hoard was not intended for use in Egypt; it was the property of some resident of Achaea, temporarily sojourning in Egypt, probably in or near Alexandria (the dealer had a suspicion, but no actual proof, that the hoard came from the Delta), who intended to return to Greece where his money would be good. This intention was in some way prevented, and the coins remained in Egypt, to be discovered in our time.
Just as this paper goes to press, an article by F. Heichelheim 9 has appeared in Klio which throws further light upon the reason for the burial of the hoard. In this article, the writer comments on the sudden fall of the value of the Roman aureus especially in Egypt under Trajan. A sudden fall in the value of gold would make some careful merchant or banker who had dealings with the countries about the Mediterranean, save the pieces of good silver that fell into his hands. A merchant in the Delta, where the hoard is supposed to have been found, would be able to pick up these coins from abroad and save them with the silver denarii of Rome. Trade with the outside world must have been very active. These silver coins would be safer to save than the aurei, the value of which was uncertain. With this explanation, the association of the Greek with the Roman coins does not seem so strange.
The five coins of Trajan with Greek inscriptions from the mint of Caesarea in Cappadocia belong naturally in the hoard, when we understand the presence of the coins of Greece and Rhodes. The mints of the great eastern cities of Antioch and Caesarea turned out great quantities of silver that circulated abundantly in the Eastern Mediterranean, and furnished a staple coinage for the East.
The hoard then has furnished us with these facts: first, that the coins of certain Greek cities remained in circulation under the Roman Empire for a longer period than was formerly supposed; second, that these coins passed current, in ordinary transactions, on a footing at least equal to the denarius. This state of affairs in the eastern part of the empire would accord with the well known Roman policy of disturbing as little as possible existing institutions in the acquired provinces.
There are on the coins of the Achaean League in the hoard some combinations of monograms not hitherto noted, and on the other Greek coins, some new magistrates' names. These have been noted in the list in the proper places. For the identification of the Roman coins, I have used Mattingly and Sydenham's Roman Imperial Coinage (London, 1923–6) rather than Cohen's Descr. Hist, des Monnaies Imp�riales Romaines which has a less scientific arrangement. For the coins of the reign of Trajan, I have inserted also references to Strack's 10 recent work on the coins of that Emperor. There are some rare and unusual combinations of types, as I have noted in the commentary.
Here follows for the imperial coins a table of frequencies of occurrence for the various emperors:
|Emperor||Date A. D.||No. of yrs. in reign||No. of Coins in Hoard||Average coins per year of reign|
|Nerva||96–98 ca.||1 yr. 4 mos.||24||18|
Note: The coins of Titus and Domitian struck under the reign of their predecessor, are listed with his coins. Coins of female relatives of the emperor are counted with his coins. The coins from Caesarea have been counted with the other coins of Trajan.
In the above table disregarding the figures of the first four because of their smallness, it is interesting to note an increased average of coins per year in the hoard as we approach the time of burial. This is as should be expected. The exceptional increase in Nerva's reign out of all proportion to his regnal years is probably due to the energy of the hoarder during that period. The figures of the table in general bear out the remarks already made above on the evidences of wear on the coins.
I should like here to express my very great appreciation to Mr. Newell, Mr. S. P. Noe and Mrs. Agnes B. Brett for their many kind and helpful suggestions.
1. Head of Helios r., radiate.
5.* Fragment of coin of Rhodes, ℞ outward, similar to above, TA; adhering to ℞ of coin of Caesarea (Cappadocia), B. M. C. Gal., Capp. etc., p. 53, No. 54, AϒTKAIΣ|NEP|TPAIAN|ΣEB|ΓEPM, head of Emperor r. laur. Pl. II.
Type: Head of Helios, three-quarters r.
℞ Full-blown rose to front; magistrate's name with symbol. Cf. B. M. C. Caria, p. 260 f.
12. Similar. ℞ stuck to fragment of another coin. Illegible.
Forepart of wolf r.
℞ A with symbol and magistrate's name.
14. Two coins adhering; v. No. 6.
15.* Dove flying r.
℞ Σ in shallow incuse square and magistrate's name, OΛϒ[M]|ПIA|ΔAΣ. Part of name covered by fragment of adhering coin of Rhodes, B. M. C. Caria, p. 254. B. M. C. Pelop. p. 52, No. 197. 2.59.
18. Dove flying 1.
20. Head of Zeus r., laureate [AIГIEΩN].
23.* Head of Zeus r., laureate.
℞ Monogram of the Achaean League with abbreviations of the name of the mint and magistrate's monograms in the angles. Clerk, Coins of the Achaean League, No. 244? Plate X, 16. The upper monogram, judging from his plate, has been misread by Clerk. It seems to be a combination of the letters upsilon and gamma. 1.81.
34.* Head laur r. IMP Nero Caesar AVGUSTVS.
35. Nero Caesar AVGVSTVS otherwise same as 34. Matt.-Syd. No. 45.
36.* IMP SER Galba AVG Head r. bare.
℞ In wreath of oak: SPQR
37. IMP Otho CAE[SARA]VG TRP Head bare r.
39. [A VITE]LLIVS GERMAN IMP[ . . . ] Head r. laur.
40.* A VITELLIVS G[ERMAN]IMP TRP Head r. laur.
41. IMP Caesar VESPASIANVS AVG Head r. laur.
42.* [IMP] Caesar VESPASIANVS AVG Head r. laur.
45. IMP CAES VESP AVG P M Head r. laur.
46. IMP CAES VESP AVG P M COS IIII Head r. laur.
47 and 48. IMP CAES VESP AVG P M COS IIII Head r. laur.
50. IMP CAES VESP AVG CENS Head r. laur.
℞ PONTIF MAXIM Vespasian seated r. holding branch and sceptre. Matt.-Syd. No. 65. 73 A. D. 2.62.
51. IMP Caesar VESPASIANVS AVG Head r. laur.
57.* Same. Head l. laur.
58. CAE[SAR] VESPASIANVS AVG Head r. laur.
59–61. IMP Caesar VESPASIANVS AVG Head r. laur.
62.* Caesar VESPASIANVS AVG Head l laur.
64. T CAESA[R VESP]ASIANVS Head r. laur.
65. Caesar AVG F DO[MITIANVS] [or COS III?] Head r. laur. 74–76.
℞ Stuck to coin of Achaean League, v. No. 33, above.
66. Caesar AVG F DOMITIANVS Head r. laur.
67. Caesar AVG F DOMITIANVS COS [V or VI?] Head r. laur.
68. CAESAR AVG F DOMITIANVS Head r. laur.
70. IMP TITVS CAES Vespasian AVG PM Head r. laur.
71 and 72. Same.
75 and 76. DIVVS AVGVSTVS VESPASIANVS Head of Vespasian r. laur.
℞ S.C on shield supported by two capricorns; below, a globe. Matt.-Syd. II p. 123, No. 63. 80–81. m 2.90, 2.87.
77. CAESAR DIVI F DOMITIANVS COS VII Head r. laur.
78.* IVLIA AVGUSTA TITI AVGVSTI F Bust r. draped.
℞ VENVS AVGVST Venus standing r. leaning on cippus, holding helmet and spear. 80–81. 3.07. An unusual specimen; cf. Matt.-Syd. II p. 122, No. 56, Pl. III, 55 where she holds helmet and spear; also Cohen No. 14.
79.* IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG PM Head r. laur.
81. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP V Head r. laur.
83. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP VI Head r. laur.
87. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP VII Head r. laur.
89. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP VIII Head r. laur.
90. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM [TRP??] Head r. laur.
91. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP VIIII Head r. laur.
94 and 95. Same.
96–100. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP X Head r. laur.
102. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP XI Head r. laur.
103 and 104. Same.
105 and 106. Same.
115. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP XII Head r. laur.
℞ IMP XXII COS XVI CENS P PP Minerva r. with javelin and spear. Matt.-Syd. No. 171. 92–3. 3.31.
117 and 118. Same.
119 and 120. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP XIII Head r. laur.
129. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP XIIII Head r. laur.
131–132. IMP CAES DOMIT GERM PM TRP XV Head r. laur.
135. IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TRP XVI Head r. laur.
138* DOMI]TIA AVGVSTA IMP DOMIT Bust draped r, hair in long domed queue.
139.* IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TRP COS II PP Head r. laur.
142. IMP NERVA CAES AVG PONT MAX TRP Head r. laur.
143–144. IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TRP COS III PP Head r. laur.
145 and 146. Same.
147 and 148. Same.
155–158. IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR POT Head r. laur.
159. IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR P II COS III PP Head r. laur.
162. IMP NERVA CAES AVG PM TR POT II Head r. laur.
163. IMP CAES NERVA TRAIAN AVG GERM Head r. laur.
165 and 166. Same.
171 and 172. Same.
176. Same. Head r. laur. and aegis.
180–182. Same. (181 has aegis on obv.)
183* and 184. Same. (183 has aegis.)
186–188. Same. (188 has aegis on obv.)
189–192. Same. (192 with aegis.)
193. Same, (aegis.)
194. Same, (aegis.)
195. Same. (dr. l. s.) IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TRP.
196–201.* Same. (dr. l. s.)
℞ DAC CAP (in ex.) COS V PP SPQR OPTIMO PRINC Dacian seated l. on pile of arms. Cf. Matt.-Syd. No. 96, where he is seated r. only. So also Cohen, No. 118; Strack, 157. 103–111. 2.98, 2.87, 3.02, 3.00, 3.16, 2.85.
202–205. Same. (dr. l. s.)
℞ DANVVIVS (in ex.) COS V PP SPQR OPTIMO PRINC The Danube reclining l. on rocks; above, cloak floating; his l. arm resting on urn; r. on ship's prow. Matt.-Syd. No. 100; Strack, 159. 103–111. 2.69, 3.19, 2.89, 2.94.
206 and 207. Same. (dr. l. s.)
208 and 209. Same. (dr. l. s.)
210. Same. (dr. l. s.)
211. Same. (dr. l. s.)
212–213. Same. (dr. l. s.)
214*–219. Same. Head laur. r. draped.
229 and 230. Same.
℞ Same. Victory r., inscribing on a shield fixed to a trophy:
℞ Same. Trophy of arms: one round and two hexagonal shields; at base, two javelins and round shield on l.; two swords and hexagonal shield on r. Cf. Matt.-Syd. No. 147b, from which this and the six following coins present some interesting variations. Strack, 140. 103–11. 2.97.
253 and 254. Same.
256 and 257. Same.
258. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TRP COS V PP Bust draped r., Aegis.
259. Same inscr.
℞ Same inscr. Bust draped, r.
262 and 263. Same (aegis).
264. Same (aegis).
265–267. Same (aegis).
268. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER PM TRP COS V DES VI [PP] Bust r. dr. (aegis).
269. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TRP COS VI PP Head r. dr. (aegis)
272. Same. Head r., undraped.
273. Same. Head r., both shoulders draped.
274 and 275. Same.
276 and 277. Same.
Same. Trajan on horseback l., holding a Victory and spear. Matt.-Syd. No. 291; Strack, 196. 112–4. 2.86.
279–283. Same. (Bust r. laur. dr. and cuir.)
284–285* and 286. IMP TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC PM TR P Bust r. laur. draped.
287. IMP CAES NER TRAIAN OPTIM AVG GER DAC Head laur. r. dr.
288. IMP TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC [PM TR P] Head r. laur. dr.
289. IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC Head r. laur. dr.
290. Same. (dr. and cuir.)
291 and 292. Same. (dr. and cuir.)
293 and 294. Same. dr. and cuir. r.
295.* Bust r. draped. MATIDIA AVG DIVAE MAR[CIANAE F].
296. AϒT KAIΣ NEP TPAIAN [ΣEB ΓEPM] Head r. laur.
297* and 298.* Same. Larger flan.
299. AϒTOKP KAIC NEP TPAIAN CEB ГEPM ΔAK Head r., laur.
† The letter vau, Greek numeral for six.
Tac. Ann. II, 59, 4: Augustus inter alia dominationis arcana .... seposuit Aegyptum.
Mitteis-Wilcken, Papyruskunde, I,. l (Grundz�ge) p. lxvi. Segr�, Metrologia e Circolazione, p. 417.
Milne, in Annals of Arch, and Anthrop. VII, p. 52.
Quoted by Milne, l. c., in 1914; the records of the Amer. Numis. Society fail to show any finds of importance since then to the present date.
Archiv f. Papyrusforschung, I, p. 272 ff.
Segr�, op cit. p. 417.
B. V. Head, in B. M. Cat., Caria p. cxiv. f.
Wilcken, U., Papyruskunde, I, l, p. lxv; id. Griechische Ostraka, I, p. 728.
P. L. Strack, Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichspr�gung des zweiten Jahrhunderts. Teil I, Die Reichspr�gung zur Zeit des Trajan. Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 1931.