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A Coin from Marcianopolis

Coins from Moesia Inferior don't make either edition of Harlan J. Berk's 100 Greatest Ancient Coins, maybe the next edition. There are about 150 coin types in just the section on Marcianopolis for Septimius Severus and Julia Domna in Varbanov's listing of coins from Moesia Inferior. My coin for today has a nice portrait of Septimius Severus on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse. It is a good size at 27mm, >11g AE and gives an excuse to ponder Roman history.

The Name Marcianopolis? Ammianus Marcellinus, a Roman soldier and historian, documented in the 4th century AD, the six provinces of Thrace, their people, and famous cities. On Mysia and Marcianopolis he isn't exactly eloquent or long winded - noting that Emperor Valens found it a suitable place to winter (AD 368 and subsequent years), while battling the Goths who had aided his rival, the usurper, Procopius. And this note: "Then comes Mysia, with Marcianopolis (so named from the sister of the emperor Trajan), Dorostorus, Nicopolis, and Odessus. Hard by is Scythia, in which the more famous towns are Dionysopolis, Tomi, and Callatia." - Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVII, 4.12 Macianopolis, Trace and later Moesia Inferior was named Parthenopolis until some time after Trajan captured Dacia in 106 AD and renamed the town after his sister Ulpia Marciana - Trajan's capture of Dacia commemorated by this coin.

Trajan, AD 98-117, AR Denarius (18.5mm, 3.26 g, 7h), "Dacia Capta" commemorative, Rome mint, struck circa AD 108-109 Obv: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P Laureate bust right, slight drapery Rev: COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC, DAC CAP in exergue, Dacian seated left on pile of arms, in attitude of mourning, foot on helmet; one round and one oblong shield; on left, two curved swords; on right, two spears Ref: RIC II 98 Where is Moesia Inferior? Moesia Inferior, today is within modern Bulgaria and Romania, with Marcianopolis (Devnya) on the southeastern end of the region as seen in this map:

Moesia Inferior Map

Image Source: Plate 17 from Professor G. Droysens Allgemeiner Historischer Handatlas by R. Andree, 1886 (public domain)

A massive hoard, "The Réka-Devnia Hoard" of Roman silver coins from Mark Antony to Gordian III (and a few more to Trajan Decius) was found near Devnya in 1929. With subsequent finds the hoard totals over 100,000 coins. The first report can be found here: Moushmov, N. (1930), "Une trouvaille de monnaies antiques près du village de Reka-Devnia (Marcianopolis)", Arethuse, p49-52 What about the coin? Flavius Ulpianus, named in the reverse legend, has been identified as the legate (governor) of Meosia Inferior from 210-(?)213 AD - there is some ambiguity in the evidence about whether he was still governor into 213. See:

from : Boteva, D. (1996). Legati Augusti pro praetore Moesiae inferioris A.D. 193-217/218. Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik, 110, 244-245. Interesting to note, in the reference above, that P. Septimius Geta, Septimius Serverus' brother, was the legate in Moesia inferior from ~190-193. Given Septimius Severus died in February 211, in Eburacum, today York, England, this coin can be narrowly dated to AD mid-210 to early-211.

Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis, Septimius Severus (193-211), AE (29mm, 11.89g), Flavius Ulpianus, consular legate (governor), struck AD mid-210 to early-211 Obv: AY K Λ CEΠ CEOYHPOC. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right. Rev: V ΦΛ OVΛΠIANOV MAPKIANOΠOΛITΩN, eagle standing facing, wings gathered, head right Ref: Varbanov 839 (similar to 838 but with no wreath on reverse)

With provincials I find it interesting to see how many others I can find - often the numbers are small. Varbanov lists both 838 and 839 as R3 on his rarity scale (500-1000 exemplars). I found 13 coins that I found in ACSearch of which only 1/13 that is 839 (this coin, misidentified), and 0/~7 on coinproject.com. In his name, "Ulpianus", this magistrate carries a link with Trajan - as the name Ulpius became more popular in Rome during Trajan's reign (Marcus Ulpius Trajanus).

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