Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coins from the Martberg

The occasion for this posting is somewhat celebratory. I have been identifying coins, part-time, with Fundmünzen der Antike (FdA) since the beginning of February to fund my studies in Germany this year. The material I have been working on comes from the Martberg and I finally finished identifying and entering the material into the database. My contribution was in identifying 1,279 coins ranging from the Iron Age to the late fourth century AD. The next step in my work will be regularizing the data in the database so it may move to book production. The coin finds should also be added on the online database in the future. Systematizing the database will undoubtedly be a great deal of work since several people have been working on the coin finds and sometimes entering the material in different ways (e.g. using different abbreviations or spellings in references, legends, etc.).

I have been processing the coin finds from Yotvata, Israel as well and so it was quite interesting for me to see what sorts of 4th century coin types were circulating in this part of the Empire compared to the East. I also enjoyed the opportunity to familiarize myself with some Iron Age coin types since I've typically focused on Greek and Roman coinage in my studies.

For those who are not familiar with FdA, it has been producing the well-known inventories of coin finds from Germany, in the easily recognizable blue hard covers since 1960; the series is called: Die Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Deutschland (FMRD) and is further divided into various volumes by modern federal regions and individual sites. This important series, founded by Hans Gebhart and Konrad Kraft, and now edited by Maria R.-Alföldi and Hans-Markus von Kaenel, has no doubt had some influence in prompting similar projects such as Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Österreich (FMRÖ), and several others.

The Martberg is a Gallo-Roman temple complex near modern Koblenz. The first volume on the Martberg coins (FMRD IV: 4,1) was published in 2005 and inventoried around 5,000 coin finds. The forthcoming volume on the Martberg coins will contain an additional 6,000-7,000 coins. Such a large number of finds from a single cult site are not as well documented anywhere else in the Roman world as from the Martberg.

Apart from my attribution work, I am not actively studying the coins from the Martberg, but I have tried to keep up on some of the literature and the research. Already, the systematic study of coin finds from this site has produced fruitful results, including evidence for the presence of an Iron Age mint. It is also an important site for the study of 'barbarous' imitations and even reverse types from the site have been analyzed in relation to material context. Several previously unrecorded types have been identified in various publications and some new types that were discovered in preparation of the second FMRD volume will also be published. Here is a sample bibliography of some publications (the front matter of the present and forthcoming FMRD volumes should provide a more complete bibliography) :

Kaczynski, B. and M. Nüsse. (forthcoming 2008/2009). "Reverse Type Selection in Sanctuaries? A Study of Antoniniani found in Various Contexts," in H.-M. von Kaenel and F. Kemmers (eds.), Coins in Context I: New Approaches in Interpreting Coin Finds (provisional title). Mainz: von Zabern, Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike.

Kaczynski, B. (in progress). Münzen im Kontext. Die keltischen und römischen Münzfunde vom Castellberg bei Wallendorf – Ein Beitrag zu Genese, Entwicklung und Ende eines treverischen Siedlungszentrums sowie zu Münzwesen und Münzumlauf im Gebiet der Treverer vom 1. Jh. v.Chr. bis 5. Jh. n. Chr. Ph.D. Dissertation: Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt

Wigg, D.G. 1998. "Ein neuer treverischer Bronzemünztyp vom Martberg an der Mosel und die Frage des Martbergs als Münzstätte," Trierer Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kunst des Trierer Landes und seiner Nachbargebiete Trier 61: 73-81.

Wigg, D.G. 2000. "The Martberg on the Lower Mosel and the Development of the Coin-Using Economy in North Gaul in the Late Latène and Early Roman Period," in B. Kluge and B. Weisser (eds.), XII. Internationaler Numismatischer Kongress, Berlin 1997. Akten - Proceedings - Actes. Berlin: Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin--Preussischer Kulturbesitz: 447-452.

Wigg, D.G. 2000. "Der Beitrag des Martbergs zur eisenzeitlichen Numismatik," in A. Haffner and S. von Schnurbein (eds.), Kelten, Germanen, Römer im Mittelgebirgsraum zwischen Luxemburg und Thüringen. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt, GmbH: 485-496.

Wigg-Wolf, D.G. 2004. "Zur Interpretation und Bedeutung der 'Barbarasierungen' der römischen Kaiserzeit," in A.F. Auberson, H.R. Derschka, and S. Frey-Kupper (eds.), Fälschungen - Beischläge - Imitationen: Sitzungsbericht der vierten internationalen Kolloquiums der Schweizerischen Arbeitsgemeinscaft für Fundmünzen. Lausanne: Éditions de Zèbre, Untersuchungen zur Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 5: 55-75.

Wigg-Wolf, D. 2005. "Coins and Ritual in Late Iron Age and Early Roman Sanctuaries in the Territory of the Treviri," in C. Haselgrove and D. Wigg-Wolf (eds), Iron Age Coinage and Ritual Practices. Mainz: von Zabern, Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike 20: 361-379.

Zedelius, V. 1984. "Die keltischen Silbermünzen vom "Marberger Typus" aus dem östlichen Trevererland," in Trier - Augustusstadt der Treverer. Stadt und Umland in vor- und frührömischer Zeit. Ausstellungskatalog des Rheinischen Landesmuseums Trier 1984. Mainz: Rheinisches Landesmuseum.



Nathan- Bravo for your (probably tedious at times) attribution work. Perhaps, some day you will consider doing a short article for a popular numismatic publication like the Celator about your experiences which gives some indication of the range of types, mints etc. Pieces like that will give collectors a better idea of the importance of archaeological work.


Peter Tompa


Dear Peter,

Thank you for the congratulations. I had considered writing up a short article on the sort of research conducted by the "Frankfurt School of Numismatics" and other continental numismatists, who work at the intersection of archaeology and numismatics, which I would submit to the ANS Magazine. At present, however, I've got too many projects on my plate and need to finish off the dissertation. It is certainly something worth doing in the future for a more popular publication, whether it be the ANS Magazine, the Celator, etc.

It is also good that the discussion about coin finds is taking place within the archaeological community itself. Kris Lockyear recently published an article in Britannia 2007 (which I just read today, in fact, after Prof. von Kaenel distributed copies around the department) on the need to publish coin finds thoroughly. His article focused on Britain and British archaeologists and I don't think the problem is as dire on parts of the continent as it may be in Britain, but it is worth reading. Historical, archaeological, and numismatic knowledge could only benefit from a higher standard of publication of coin finds from excavations and would allow for more comparative analyses.

Anonymous said...

beautiful rare coins, one of my favorites. they are considered to be as masterpieces of mintage industry. thanks for posting this article..
i saw another article on the same subject on there are also many interesting facts about many ancient rare coins... worth viewing...


Thank you for your comment and for the interesting link. I do note that there is some commercial content in some of the articles on ancient coins from that website and so I would simply like to mention that there is a general concern about the way in which ancient coins and other antiquities are procured and reach the market. In my view, it would be good for more collectors to read about the issues and the concerns. As far as internet resources are concerned, I would refer readers to the article,
"A Survey of the Material and Intellectual Consequences of Trading in Undocumented Ancient Coins: a Case Study on the North American Trade,"
or a similar version
. Readers may also wish to consult relevant entries at
Looting Matters
. Thank you for reading and participating in the discussion!

All best,

Anonymous said...

Dear Nathan,
thank you for this article. As I found some of the coins while doing some archaeological excavations there it is good to see that people from all over the world are working with the results. Meanwhile they found much more than 10.000 coins from celtic to roman age.