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The Danube Limes and the Barbaricum (294-498 A.D.)

A Study In Coin Circulation*
Delia Moisil
p. 79-120


Le limes danubien et le Barbaricum. (294-498) Étude de la circulation monétaire.
Cette étude s’intéresse au territoire de l’actuelle Roumanie. Un certain nombre de travaux ont pu mettre en évidence les spécificités de la circulation monétaire, par exemple une préférence pour la thésaurisation des monnaies d’argent impériales au ive siècle en Transylvanie et en Banat ; une abondance relative des découvertes de monnaies siliques d’argent dans la zone correspondant à la culture de Mures-Tchernjakov, en relation avec les tributs donnés aux Goths par les Romains ; une concentration des plus importants trésors de monnaies d’argent dans une petite zone d’Olténie. Le ve siècle est principalement représenté par les monnaies d’or de Théodose ii, sans doute offertes aux Huns. Les monnaies de bronze du ive siècle sont très courantes jusqu’en 378, mais rares pour le ve siècle (avec des exceptions dans les zones situées près du limes romain). Nous remarquons une persistance des monnaies du type Fel temp reparatio dans les trésors et les sites de la région du Banat, tout comme une pénurie de monnaies d’argent. Les imitations restent marginales et le phénomène reste principalement limité à l’Empire et à la fin du ive siècle ou au ve siècle. Les monnaies arrivaient en Transylvanie et dans le Banat par une voie occidentale et en Petite Valachie et en Moldavie par une route méridionale.

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Entrées d’index

Mots-clés :

monnaie, archéologie

Géographie :

Europe orientale

Chronologie :

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Texte intégral

Texte intégral en libre accès disponible depuis le 15 novembre 2006.

1The geographical area with which this study deals is limited to approximately the Romanian sector of the Danube and the Barbaricum territories largely equivalent to the present Romanian territory.

2This study seeks to analyse the finds of the Barbaricum coins which are in a direct relationship with those provided by the Danubian limes. The analysis of the coin distribution will be made by separating the coins of Limes from the coins of Barbaricum, and also from the coins of the territories that had been previously occupied by the Romans from those that originated in the territories that had never belonged to the Empire. Basically, the territories in Barbaricum separated in this way conform to the historical Romanian regions. We also distinguish a period when the Goths were in the North of the Danube (till 378 and after 378, until the Huns came into the area); with another period, when the area was controlled by the Huns; then a third period which followed the Huns’ defeat (after 454).

3The numismatic material which I consider includes 1,332 bronze coins, 62 silver coins and 67 gold coins that were single finds from Barbaricum, and a number of ca. 5,100 pieces that were provided by the hoards. The Roman Limes of the Danube, from the Iron Gates to the Danube’s mouth, furnish approximately 10,000 single coins and about 20,000 coins that were provided by the hoards.

  • 1 Butnariu, V., 1987, pp. 113-140; 1988, pp. 131-196; 1991, pp. 67-107. Through convention, all these (...)
  • 2 Ocheseanu, R., 1997, 3, 1-2.

4The material at the research’s disposal is occasionally difficult to analyse, given that it was published, in several cases, without any other specifications except the information concerning the name of the emperor. A more detailed analysis is impossible without a revision of the studies that were published before the ‘70s. Until this is done, I have used the data as they were published. For Barbaricum, the main source was the register of the finds from the 4th and the 5th centuries which was analysed by V. Butnariu1. To this register were added the coins which were discovered in this region mentioned in studies published after 1990, and also a series of new finds that are still unpublished. For the north-Danubian outposts, the material published by Gh. Poenaru-Bordea was used, and for Dobrogea – the extremely consistent material gathered by R. Ocheseanu2.

5After abandoning Dacia province, the Roman rule continued to influence several points at the north of the Danube river. The area situated at the south of Brazda lui Novac and the north of Limes Transalutanus was probably reconquered. Especially during the Tetrarchy and Constantinus i’s rule a vast reconstruction of the Limes took place. Dierna, Drobeta, Hinova, Sucidava, but also Pancevo, Banatska Palanka, Pojejena, Gornea, Mehadia – all of them on the left bank of the river – were being rebuilt or fortified in this period. The Roman castrum at Bàrbosi, Galati district, at the Lower Danube, seems to have been also temporary re-occupied.

6The territories situated across the Lower Danube underwent radical changes regarding ethnic and demographic structure during the 4th and 5th centuries. The 4th century started by a sharp demographic rise in the Eastern parts of the Carpathians. The representatives of the culture complex Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov settled in these areas, and they dominated the present territory of Romania until the year 378. The resultant complex was a consequence of an acculturation process centered on the Goths.

7The end of this period is marked by the beginning of the Huns’ migration towards west, Goths’ dislocation and their penetrating the empire. The relationships between the Goths and the Romans fluctuated strongly, from the plunder raids at the second half of the 3rd century, by land and sea, in Balkans and Minor Asia, to the foederats status given to them by Constantinus i after the war from 332. The Goths settlement in the ex-Roman province Dacia happened later, in the second half of the 4th century. Even in Walachia, their settlement is not visible before becoming foederats. The Goths’ rule, extended over a large area (from Volynia to Black Sea and from the Northern Donetk basin to Transylvania) and inaugurated a period of prosperity in this region.

  • 3 Protase, D. & Suceveanu, A., 2001, pp. 700-701.

8The Huns’ movement provoked the disappearance of Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov culture. The Huns’ domination can be divided into three stages3. The first one (375/6-408) occured, when the centre of power was still in the East of the Danube Mouth, and the Hunnish confederation includes Alans and Ostrogoths. For this period, the documents mention the co-operation between the Hunnish head Uldis and the Romans. The fragment of a Hunnish boiler found at Sucidava, a ritual object, is considered to be a trace left by the mercenaries of Hunnish origin enrolled in the Roman army. In the second stage (408/420-434), a transfer of power to the royal Huns took place as well from the east to Pannonia. The Hunnish attacks were concentrated in the southern Pannonia and the north-west of Balkan Peninsula. In the last stage (434-453), there was a change of direction in their attack towards Italy and the West. This started with the peace agreed upon with the eastern part of the Empire and ends at Nedao, by breaking up the coalition. The Gepids might have settled a centre of power in the north-west of Transylvania as early as the periods of their co-optation in the ethnic mixture led by the Huns. After the Huns’ defeat, their power continued to be felt in Transylvania until the second half of the 6th century when they were defeated by Longobards.

9These political changes and alterations of the ethnic structure affected the economy strongly in the region of the Lower Danube. Periods of prosperity alternated with periods when the towns on the Danube river, but also settlements in Barbaricum, were destroyed. The framework of an economy that used coin for trade, that occurred in the first three quarters of the 4th century, disappeared once the Hunnish domination at the north of the Danube sets up.

1. Coin Sources in Barbaricum

10Before beginning an analysis of the coins found in Barbaricum, we will briefly review the ways in which these northern Danube territories are still furnished with coin during the 4th and 5th centuries.

11The stipends given to the Roman armies in the region, in a century when quiet moments at this border were rare, the payments to the Imperial administration and trade are all means through which the coins get in the Danube border region. This inflow of coins from within the Empire towards the periphery got into contact with the barbarous world both by means of trade or payment to the barbarians’ mercenaries in the Roman army, and also by means of barbarians’ plunder that threatened the borders of the Empire, or by means of stipends given to them.

12The imports from the Roman world were spread across a huge area, at the north of the Danube, but also in the North-Pontic steppes, up to Scandinavia. Even if it is impossible to distinguish them from similar objects brought in Barbaricum through plunder raids made on the Roman Empire territory, the archaeological finds of glassware, Roman pottery, amphorae coming from the Black Sea region, bronze vessels and, fewer silver vessels, jewellery, mirrors, iron pieces of harness or weapons all bear witness to the trade in this region.

  • 4 Priscus, i and xviii.

13This trade was possible both by means of commercial inroads in the barbarous territory and by means of border trading taking place, as the written antique sources mention, in certain places destined from this purpose. These points are on the Danube line. As a consequence of signing the treaty with the Goths in 369, two such places were designated for trading activities. This was a practice that had become common between Romans and barbarians, as the embassy sent to Constantinople by the Huns in 466 was asking for peace and a trading place near the Danube4. Before that, in 448, Attila had asked that the place destined for trading between Huns and Romans be changed from the Danube river to Naissus.

  • 5 Barnea, I., 1968, p. 501.
  • 6 Duncan, G. L., 1993, pp. 112-113.
  • 7 Ammianus Marcelinus, 27, 5 and Themistios, 10, 133-140.
  • 8 MihÆilescu-Bîrliba, V., 1980, pp. 222-234.

14Sucidava Moesica (Izvoarele)5 or the Roman outposts in Barbaricum, Drobeta and/or Sucidava-Celeiu6 are considered such places in which commercial trade took place. Even if they refer to an exceptional situation generated by Valens’ expeditions against the Goths, the antique texts give us an idea about the proportions of the trade between Romans and Goths, and the products exported from the Empire in the second half of the 4th century. We thus find that the Goths suffered because of Valens’ campaigns when “the trade was interrupted” and they did not receive “the products necessary to their subsistence”7. Corpus Juris Civilis iv, 41, 1 and 30-35 mentions the fact that wine, oil and beverage export was banned by Valentinianus, Valens and Gratianus. In the 5th century, Marcianus as well banned iron export and weapons sales to the barbarians, a decision that might have been motivated by the barbarians’ being used against the Empire (Corpus Juris Civilis iv, 41, 2 and 35-40)8.

  • 9 Zosimos, iv, 20; Iordanes, Getica, 25.

15During the quiet periods at the Lower Danube, commercial trade was an important concern for the Roman garrisons’ commanders in the region: according to Themistios’ narratives, before 367-369, they were engaged more in trading activities than in military duties. The concerns of the heads of the Empire administration are also mentioned for about the same period, when the Visigoths went across the Empire9, because of the pressure put on them by the movement of the Huns. Taking advantage of the desperate circumstance of the new foederats at the southern Danube, of speculative prices on food items, they procured slaves from among the Goths, sold in order to be saved from death through starvation.

  • 10 Ammianus Marcelinus, 27, 5, 2.

16Sums of money reached the northern Danube through the subsidies paid to the Visigoths (Thervings) who occupied the Danube Plain to Limes Transalutanus, and were probably interrupted during the Valens’ wars, and to Taifals who became alies of the Roman Empire since 35810. But the most important sums paid in the Danube region were those given to the Huns in 440, that left strong marks on the part of Barbaricum studied here.

17Incursions into the Roman territory for plunder also played a role in the coin import in Barbaricum. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how these certain coin finds at the northern Danube actually got there.

2. Single finds structure


18In general, the gold coins in the region examined in Barbaricum, had been, with a few exceptions, issued in the years 393-395, and mostly in the first half of the 5th century. The information provided by the gold coin finds overlap those concerning the stipends received by the Huns, especially during the reign of Theodosius ii.

19The biggest amount of gold issues was found in Transylvania. From the 67 single finds, 27 come from Transylvania. This is the only place that also provided imitations of gold pieces.

20There were not many gold pieces before the year 378. The interval between 317-347 is not represented in Barbaricum, and there was not found a single issue that could be dated from this period. In Transylvania it was found that one single was coin issued in the first three quarters of the 4th century, dated 313-314. In Banat, the coins from this period represent a higher percentage (50%), but there are only four, out of which two aurei from the tetrarchy period. In Moldova were found only solidi, one dated 317, and the other two from 347-348 and 352-355. In Walachia, one single piece from the tetrarchic period was found, but three from the finds in this region were issued in the period 350-378. Oltenia provided only two tetrarchical issues and one from the period 367-383.

21The presence of gold pieces from the interval 361-388 for the regions situated on the left bank of the Danube may be considered as an echo of the situation in Dobrogea, where these gold pieces represent the majority (7 pieces from 11 finds dated in the 4th and 5th centuries). The payments for the armies in this region in the context of the Valens’ wars, but also the trivialization of the gold coin, were causes that contributed to the loss of these pieces.

  • 11 ChiTescu, M. & Poenaru Bordea, Gh., 1981-1982, p. 197.
  • 12 Schönert-Geiss, E., 1979, pp. 175-176.
  • 13 Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E., 1999, p. 3.

22Single finds of gold coins were reported on the Danube limes, or near the Danube – at Dierna (a gold multiple from Gratianus11), at Iatrus12 (8 issues from the period 375-395, from which four issues belong to the mint of Sirmium, dated 393-395), Remesiana – Bela-Palanka (a solidus from Theodosius i), Viminacium-Kostolac (a solidus from Arcadius), Novae-Cezava (a tremissis from Honorius), Mala Jasikova (a tremissis from Aelia Eudoxia), Paracin-Horeum Margi (a tremissis from Pulcheria), Novacene, Plevna district (two solidi from Arcadius) and at Storgozija, Plevna district (a solidus from Honorius)13. The majority of the pieces was issued after the year 378.

23The chronological distribution of gold coin issues in Barbaricum shows the preponderance after the years 393-395, when the control exerted by the Huns in the north of the Danube was a certainty. The geographical distribution of the gold finds in Transylvania shows a concentration of these coins in an area that includes the districts Bihor, Alba, Cluj, Mures, Sàlaj and Maramures.

  • 14 Davidescu, M. & StîngÆ, I., 1985, pp. 75-102. Davidescu, M., 1989.

24In Oltenia, the three finds of gold coins from the reign of Theodosius ii were made in the former Roman castra Hinova, Romula and Resca. The bronze coins issued after the year 383 were found in these fortifications only in insignificant amounts (two issues from the period 392-395, and other two from 406-408 at Hinova)14.

25The solidus fractions are very rare, both in single finds and in the hoards. It should be noted that a large number (10) was issued from the mints of Occident Ravenna (6, out of which 4 in Transylvania), Mediolanum and Rome, after 395.

26The issues of the eastern mints from Constantinople and Thessalonica from the 5th century are represented by 9 gold pieces, but which were concentrated in Oltenia, Moldova and Walachia.


  • 15 Mitrea, B., 1979, pp. 63-73. Butnariu, V., 1988, pp. 132, 138 et 142.

27In comparison with the other regions of the Empire, the silver coins that had been issued in the 4th century are over-represented in the Romanian territories15, both among single coins and coins belonging to hoards. However, single finds of silver coins were also delivered in Dobrogea and in some towns from the Danubian Limes. The distribution in various regions of silver issues from the 4th century that have been published is the following:

Banat: 2
Moldova: 14
Walachia: 16
Oltenia: 21
Transylvania: 9
Dobrogea: 25

28Only in Banat were silver pieces weakly represented. This situation is related to the lack of silver hoards in this region. The two coins that were discovered here are before the siliquae apparition.

29The other three regions from Barbaricum furnished almost the same quantity of silver coins. Chronological distribution of the coins shows a higher preponderance of issues from the years 340-355 in Transylvania, Moldova and Walachia. In Oltenia the majority of coins came from the period 364-378. Single finds of silver from Oltenia and Walachia do not contain issues before the year 324, as sometimes happens in Moldova, Banat and Transylvania. Not even the siliquae hoards that were discovered in Oltenia and Walachia, whose chronological structure is very well known, indicate a penetration of silver issues dated before the year 351.

30From the 63 silver coins that were found in Barbaricum, 9 siliquae (one of which is an imitation of an issue from Constantius ii) were provided by the necropolises, most of them of Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov type. Most of the coins (7) were found in Walachia and Moldova. Such pieces are not reported to have been found in the necropolises from Oltenia, but the pieces used for statistics have a very wide distribution in this region.

31The situation in Dobrogea is somewhat similar to the situation in Oltenia: 63% of these finds were issued between 364-375. All the other issues were dated from the period 351-361, the first half of the 4th century not being represented by any of the pieces. In the case of this region, the supremacy of the Constantinople mint is obvious in furnishing this area with silver coins beginning with the year 364. After the year 375, the silver coins were not present even in this region, as the single finds showed.

32The finds in Barbaricum provided by precise archaeological contexts were quite a few; therefore a short review is in order. The most frequently found coins in the main culture of the 4th century, Sântana de Mures-Tcherjakhov, on present Romanian territory, comes from Constantius ii (7 from a total of 11). There were also found 4 silver coins, which correspond to the observations regarding the quantity of silver coins from this region which were associated with the presence of the Goths. In the sites or necropolises of Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov type from Moldova, the most recent coin was issued no later than the end of the Constantius ii’s rule. On the other hand, were found no coins dating from Constantinus i in Walachia and in the south-eastern corner of Transylvania. Pieces were found later, that were from Valentinianus i (one coin dated 364-367) and from Honorius (dated 408-423), and also Valentinianus ii respectively (dated 383-392). It will be seen in future archaeological researche if there is a connection between shifting location of the migration of preference for silver issues and the movement of the Goths from Moldova to the regions mentioned above.


33The single bronze coin finds made in Barbaricum are rather few compared with the ones on the Danube Limes, but they are the most indicative of the intensity of coin circulation in this region. A lower number of sites furnished greater quantities of coin issued in the 4th century and even these do not exceed 40 (see the annexe Single Coin Finds in Barbaricum). From Banat we have 275 bronze coins, from Transylvania 339, from Oltenia 534, from Walachia 139, and from Moldova 54 (a total of 1,341 for the whole region analysed). We must mention that were not included the north-Danubian outposts – under Roman control – in this calculation.

34The regions in the Limes’ immediate neighbourhood are the ones where greater quantities of coin have been discovered.

  • 16 For further discussion about the significance of the presence of the coins issued in the 5th century (...)

35The inter-Carpathian territory of the Roman province Dacia is also interesting because of the quantities of bronze issues of the 4th century – the most productive ones are the ancient Roman cities Apulum, Napoca, Porolissum, Potaissa. As in the case of Banat, in Transylvania the most numerous are the coins from 348-354. This situation corresponds to the one in Tibiscum (19 pieces from a total of 21), to the Drobeta Roman castrum and to the hoards Moldava Veche, Dalboset and Orsova, but not to the situation in Dierna or Gornea. Approximately 21% of 4th and 5th centuries bronze coin finds in Transylvania are the ones from 330-341, but the period 364-378 is also extremely well represented in this sample with high coin/year coefficient. There were only 4 issues after the year 395, two of them dated 395-401, and two a little later, but from the first half of the 5th century. For Banat, the most recent coin coming from single finds is dated 378-395 and there are no issues from end 4th through 5th centuries. Clearly the events related to the Huns’ invasion, meaning a change in the ethnic structure of the region, and Rome’s abandoning of the north-Danubian outposts, determined a change in attitude towards the coin. Gold issues are more frequent in the 5th century than the bronze or silver ones, and they represent the result of some political payments made to population that inhabit this region16.

36Oltenia, probably the region from the ex-Roman province that was under the control of Romans for the longest period of time, is also the one that furnished the largest quantity of coin. The Roman castra spread on the northern part of the Danube contributed – until the moment they were abandoned – to the continous use of the coin. The feature of the region is the great inflow of coin from the years 330-341 (30% of the single bronze finds), and also the fact that issues subsequent to the year 364 are fewer, but even issues from the 5th century (5 pieces) are present. The castra from Dierna, Hinova, Drobeta or Sucidava furnished – for the interval 364-378 – percentages between 15% and 35% of the total of bronze finds. A poblished study of the Drobeta sample indicates the place from where the piece comes (the Roman castrum, the antique city, and Drobeta territory). The Oltenia sample indicates that this coin present in the castra is no longer spread in immediately bordering regions except in very reduced quantities. This fracture in the economy of the region, as well as the abundance of precious metal or bronze hoards in the area, are the effect of the same events generated by the Huns’ pressure on the eastern border of the Empire. Strangely, Walachia furnished 15% of the total bronze finds on its territory from the period 364-378. The next well represented period is 330-341.

37Moldova, situated at a greater distance from the border and more exposed to the migratory waves towards the north-Pontic steppes, is interesting for the low number of bronze coins discovered. The greatest number of coins found in a settlement in this area is 5 (in Husi). The small coin hoards in this area are almost absent (only the hoard discovered at Traian is known). The better represented issues are those from the period 348-354 (7 pieces) and the ones from 330-341 (6 pieces, from which 4 dated 330-336). A number of 4 pieces dated 378-383, that occur in an extremely small number in the other regions within Barbaricum, issued at Siscia, have been found in Moldova, one at Trusesti, another one at Câmpulung Moldovenesc, and two at Independenta, Galati district, immediately close to the Danubian border. The bronze pieces from the 5th century are only represented by two issues of the type virtvs exerciti, and the interval 383-395 is not covered by any pieces.

38The issues from the 5th century are represented only sporadically in Barbaricum. Only Oltenia furnished a piece dated in the second half of the 5th century, in Zenon’s time.

39The bronze coins discovered in Banat (except the Roman outposts) give little indication as to mint issue. Only 42 from them can be studied from this point of view. The most constant issues in this sample are those from the Siscia mint. The most numerous, however, are the ones from Sirmium, in the period 351-354. Except the issues from this interval, the Sirmium mint is not represented by any piece. The period 347-354 also furnished the highest percent of issues from the mints in Constantinopolis and Thessalonica.

40For Transylvania, the domination of the issues from the mint at Siscia is clear in the intervals 330-337, 351-354 and 364-367. The mint at Sirmium follows it closely, like in Banat, with the issues from 351-354, but also with the ones from 355-361. The bronze coin discovered in this area comes preponderantly from Pannonia region. Banat is in the same area of influence of Siscia and Sirmium mints. Over a longer period of time, Thessalonica imposed itself immediately following Siscia, between the years 330 and 361.

41In the case of Walachia, the dominant mint is Heracleea, followed by Nicomedia and Siscia.

42For Oltenia, excepting the castra under the Roman rule until the last quarter of the 4th century, the mint of Heraclea is the one that supplies the most significant quantity of coin until the year 318, and from 324 to 330, the issues from Siscia are as present as the ones from the Heracleea mint. Thessalonica is the mint that supplied the greatest number of pieces issued between the years 330 and 341, and Siscia between the years 341-378.

43In Moldova, Heracleea and Cyzicus Eastern mints are preponderantly represented (but also Siscia for 378-383), which reflects the fact that these areas are furnished from the neighbour regions across the Danube.

3. The hoards

44Fifty-two hoards were discovered in the regions within the Barbaricum analysed here. Their terminus post quem is during the 4th and 5th centuries. A part of them have been inadequately studied or have been totally lost until recently. We have tried to consider all useful data.

45Neither of these mints closed with issues after the years 450-451. Their territorial distribution is as follows:

Transylvania: 21
Banat: 9
Oltenia: 5
Walachia: 8
Moldova: 1

46With a few exceptions, the hoards are small, having less than 200 pieces, and often even less than 100. The larger hoards are concentrated in the North-Danubian outposts and around them. The few larger hoards found in Barbaricum are made up of mainly precious metal coins.

4726 (+ 4) hoards are made up of bronze, 15 are of bronze and silver, 6 are of silver, 4 (+ 2?) of gold, 2 of gold and silver, including jewels, one of gold, silver and bronze (currently lost). For very few of them, we know for sure that they were totally recovered. This is a fact that makes all the conclusions relative that we might draw after analysing their structure.


48The hoards made up of gold coins of which is useful information are very few. The most spectacular ones remain the finds of gold ingots wearing a stamp with the mint’s mark. The first find of this kind was made at Crasna, Pasul Buzàului, where there were found approximately 20 gold ingots wearing the stamp of the Sirmium mint. In 1934, there were discovered 4 gold ingots having the stamps of the mint mints at Sirmium, Naissus, Thessalonica and of a Roman army mint during 379-380. The found was made at Feldioara, and is considered by some authors to be part of the Crasna hoard, spread after finding. From the same place there comes another gold ingot, struck at Thessalonica and dated 379-380. Such finds are undoubtely the result of the payments made to some barbarian officers, possibly Goths, co-opted in the Roman army, or to some barbarian heads having the status of foederati. In the same category we must also integrate the hoard discovered at Simleul Silvaniei, made up of 14 gold multiples (2, Maximianus Herculius; 1, Constantinus i; 2, Constantius ii; 1, Valentinianus i; 5, Valens; 1, Gratianus ; 2, imitations after issues from Valens) and of jewels.

  • 17 MihÆilescu-Bîrliba, V. & Ursachi, V., 1988, p. 127.

49The hoard discovered at Hodora, Cotnari, Iasi district, in the year 1916, is made up of approximately 20,000 gold coins and stamped ingots, whose exact composition is not known, but that should probably be attributed to the end of the 4th century and to the 5th century17. The most important quantities of coin brought in Barbaricum were probably owed to the payments made during Theodosius ii’s rule to the Huns. This emperor’s issues are relatively frequent even in the single finds in Transylvania. They are present on a much more extended area, between the North-Pontic steppes, on the present territory of Moldova and Ukraine.

50In Transylvania, hoards are mentioned at Hida, Sàlaj district, containing six issues during the years 425-450, and the hoard found at Dobra, Hunedoara district, of whose composition is not too much known (eastern emperors, especially Theodosius ii). In Banat – the hoard at Denta, Timis district, of which we only know 15 pieces, issued from Valentinianus i to Valentinianus iii.

51Mixed hoards have been discovered, but their composition is little known. The one at Biled was made of approximately 2,000 gold, silver and bronze pieces, issues from Traianus to Constantinus i (?), and the Borsec, Valea Corbului hoard, made up of gold and silver jewellery and 15(?) gold and silver coins, of which one from Constantinus i (?).


52The hoards made up of siliquae are mainly in Oltenia and Câmpia Românà are not numerous, no more than 50 (Viespiesti, 30; Redea, 27; Drànic, 9; Gura Ialomitei, 46). The pieces in this series were issued until the year 378. Only one single such hoard was found in Transylvania at Ungurei, Alba district, but unfortunately it has not been recovered. We know that it included siliquae issued until the year 358.

  • 18 Mitrea, B., 1979; Stirbu, C., 1980, pp. 152-153.

53A series of large hoards, today almost totally lost, discovered in the 19th century, are mentioned on the Danube river on the left bank: the one made up of 6,000 siliquae discovered at Sucidava, the one discovered at Zimnicea, from which approximately 400 siliquae have been kept, and the one discovered at Caracal, of which we know it was made up of at least 3,000 silver coins that have been melted and which included also siliquae from Procopius18.

54We only know a single hoard in which siliquae and denarii are associated: the hoard discovered at Sibiu in 1785, that included gold jewelry and coins among which a denarius from Didius Julianus and a siliqua from Constantius ii could be identified.

Bronze and silver mixed

55The bronze and silver mixed hoards do not include pieces from later than 383-392 and can be grouped in two categories: hoards in which denarii and bronze coins from the 4th century are associated; hoards in which siliquae and bronze coins from the 1st-3rd centuries are associated.

56Only the hoard at Sàpata, Arges district associates bronze issues in the 1st-3rd centuries with siliquae. This hoard is made up of 27 bronze issues in the 1st-3rd centuries and 11 siliquae.

57Associations of denarii and bronze coin in the 4th century are frequent in the four provinces that have provided us with a more consistent number of hoards. However, the ratio between these nominals is different. Thus, in Transylvania, in the four hoards of this kind, denarii are a majority, indicating that the new coin penetrated less and that the coin in the stock before the Roman retreat from Dacia continued to be hoarded. The intention to hoard good quality silver coin is obvious: in the hoard discovered at Hunedoara, closed with three bronze issues from Constans, from among 1,117 identified coins, 25 are drachmas, 1,033 are republican denarii and 54 are imperial denarii and antoniniani. The hoard at Nires includes 29 denarii from Nero to Severus Alexander and a AE of type Fel Temp Reparatio issued from Constantinus ii. The hoard at Reghin contains approximately 50% issues before tetrarchy and closes as well with Fel Temp Reparatio issues. The hoard at Galospetru includes four imperial denarii and a bronze issue since the period 367-375.

58The find at Laslea, at the point Unghiul Prodului, made up of 28 coins issued from the 1st century until 375, consists approximately 54% of bronze coins issued from the 1st-2nd centuries, 21% of denarii and antoniniani, and only 11% issues of the 4th century (330-340: 1, 348-354: 1, 367-375: 1).

59The high percentage of silver and bronze coin issued during the period when Dacia province was ruled by the Romans is a feature of the hoard finds in Transylvania. In Banat and Oltenia provinces, that were as well Roman provinces and which were in direct contact with the Danube Limes, this ratio is inverted in favour of the 4th century issues.

60The hoard at Dalboset in Banat, that can be included in this category, contains two antoniniani and a subaerat denarius, most pieces (73%) being issued during 348-361. It corresponds to the two hoards at Dierna, discovered in 1934 and 1941 respectively, that contain a low percent of denarii and antoniniani – of 1.39% (17 pieces), 0.82% (6 pieces) respectively, the rest of the coins being issues during the 348-361 period (96.4%, 97% respectively).

61In Walachia, the hoard at Islaz presents an interesting structure, of the hoard type at Hunedoara, which shows the preference for good quality silver coins. It is made up of 160 coins, from among the most 96.2% are Roman republican denarii to which two bronze issues of the 4th century (from 324-330 and 330-335) are added. A different structure, in which the majority is bronze coin with large module, is the one in the hoard discovered in Bucharest, Tei area: most of them are colonial bronze coins from Septimius Severus to Gallienus, together with an imperial denarius and a bronze coin from Valens.


62The majority of hoards in Transylvania containing bronze coins have a small number of pieces and only a few issues before the 4th century. The one at Gherla, made up of 83 pieces, includes only two bronze coins from Faustina and Marcus Aurelius and an antoninianus. The rest of it has the following structure: 330-340: 18,07%; 340-348: 13,25%; 355-361: 38,55%; 367-375: 12,08%. This hoard had been set up in an area where the coin is supplied mainly from the mint at Siscia, in the period 330-375 – probably Pannonia. Its overall chronological structure is otherwise normal for a province of the Empire.

63Another three hoards are of similar types: the one discovered at Cipàu, Mures district, on the fireplace of a dwelling in the 4th century (275-324: 2, 324-330: 2, 330-340: 4, 348-361: 4, 364-367: 3), the one at Biharia, com. Biharia, Bihor district (275-324: 1, 330-340: 5, 340-348: 1, 348-354: 1, 355-361: 2, 367-375: 1, 383: 1), and the one at Rupea-Hoghiz, Brasov district (1 Probus, 1 Diocletianus, 1 Constantius i, 2 Maximinus Daza, 3 Constantinus i, 1 Constantinus ii, 3 Constantius ii, 1 Julianus, 1 Jovianus, 3 Valentinianus i, 1 Gratianus, 1 Valentinianus ii, 2 Theodosius i, 1 Arcadius, 395-408).

64However, the hoard discovered at Pasul Vulcan is one that includes, like the Transylvanian silver hoards, a high percent of coin issued before the Roman retreat from Dacia – 31.4%. It closes with an issue from Julianus, and the most numerous issues are those from Constantius ii.

65A number of three hoards coming from the same region might have been made up only of bronze coin from the 4th century, but it is not sure whether they have been kept wholly or not. These are those at Deusu, com. Chinteni (324: 1, 330-340: 2, 348-354: 2), Anies, com. Maieru (46 coins from Maximinus Daza 305, Maxentius 310-312, Constantius ii 351-355, for which the number of pieces attributed to each emperor is not specified), and the one at Fizes (11 issues from Valentinianus i or ii).

66The bronze hoards discovered in Banat are made up of a larger number of pieces, over one thousand in some cases. They were buried after the period 341-348, for the hoard Ràcàsdia i and iii, after the period 354-361 for Ràcàsdia ii and Moldava Veche, and after the period 378-383 for the two hoards found at Orsova (Dierna) and for the one at Jupa. The three hoards at Ràcàsdia are made up mainly of issues dated 341-348: 91,7% for hoard i, 96,3% for hoard ii, and 89,3% for hoard iii.

67The main mints for this period of time are Siscia and Thessalonica – for the first two hoards at Ràcàsdia and for the one at Moldova Veche – and Thessalonica and Cyzicus for Ràcàsdia iii. This distribution corresponds to the single finds from Banat.

68The hoards at Moldova Veche and Dalboset have the largest number of issues dating from 348-354, but the percentage this period represents does not exceeds 40%. Both of them include pieces from the third and the second century respectively, and both close with issues that cannot be dated later than 361.

69The hoards found at Orsova, within the port and the yard of the town’s old prefect’s office, have most of the pieces dated in 348-354, but they closed later and contain a double percent of such pieces. Orsova i closed with an issue dated 367-375 and has the following structure: 348-354: 540, 74%; 355-361: 169, 23%. The second one closed with an issue from 383-392 and has 775 pieces dated 348-354 (63,4%) and 404 pieces dated 355-361 (33%).

70Two hoards are mostly made up of issues from 351-354. The first one, the one at Gornea, com. Sichevita, (351-354: 8, 72%), has its most recent issue in 367, but is made up of a small number of pieces. In the structure of the one at Jupa, Tibiscum, found in the ruins of a building of the Roman castrum, there are also pieces from the second century. It is made up of issues from the period 351-354 (943 pieces: 97.1%), and the last piece is dated 383.

71For a series of hoards as the ones at Sânmartinu Sârbesc, com. Peciul Nouà (Constantinus i-Constans), at Moldova Nouà (issues from Constantius ii to Julianus), at Fàget (Constantinus i-Constantius ii), at Pojejena (issues from Constantinus i to Julianus), at Moldova Veche (Constantius ii: 766, 81,4%; Constantius Gallus: 111, 11,5%; Julianus: 79, 8,2%), we have little information about the dating of the pieces, but their structure probably resembles the other’s. About the hoard at Unip, com. Sacosul Turcesc we only know that it was made up of issues dated in the 4th century.

72In Oltenia as in the case of Banat the finds of bronze hoards concentrated on the Limes. Sucidava is the site that furnished the most numerous hoards in this region. There are six hoards, of which four have terminus post quem situated in the 402/8-408/423 interval. Other three hoards of small dimensions were discovered at:

  • 19 Moisil, D., 2003a (forthcoming).
  • 20 Moisil, D., 2003a (forthcoming).

Bistret, com. Bistret, at Càlugàreni point, 22 bronze coins from Constantinus i to Arcadius, most of them from the period 383-395;
Basarabi, district of Dolj, 27 bronze pieces issued between the year 330 and 387-388, in which the issues from the period 348-361 are preponderant19;
Târgu-Jiu, a hoard from which only 5 bronze coins have been kept, dated 330-395/40120.

73As in Transylvania, these hoards are of small size. None of them contains issues before the 4th century and all three closes after the year 378.

  • 21 Poenaru Bordea, Gh. & Barbu, I., 1970, p. 294.

74The hoards at Sucidava can be classified into two large groups: on the one hand, those that close with issues from Constantius ii, and on the other hand, the ones that close with issues from the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 5th century. In the first group there is the one of 20 bronze and silver coins, dated between 219 and Constantin’s epoch (14 pieces, 70%). In the second group, the hoard found in the fortress includes 96 bronze issues from Constantius Chlorus at Arcadius (Constantinus i: 20, 22,9%; Constantinus ii Caesar: 8, 9,1%; Constantius ii Augustus: 29, 33,3%). The hoards with a terminus post quem at the beginning of the 5th century (402-408, 408-423 respectively) are hoards made up wholly of bronze issues, the oldest pieces being from 324-330. Only one has been found in a layer untouched by the Hunnish arson and has the following structure: 383-395: 44, 61,9%; 402-408: 21, 21,9%. The other four were lost when the fortress was destroyed by the Hunnish attackers. This event was dated as a hypothesis by Gh. Poenaru-Bordea after May 408 and before 412, during Uldis’ raid made in southern Danube or in a period between 424 and 427, related to Roua and the regulation of Huns’ settelment in the Pannonic Plain21. The composition of these hoards is as follows:

  • 22 Poenaru Bordea, Gh. & Barbu, I., 1970, pp. 251-295.

Sucidava, in the fortress, in the Hunnish arson layer, 888 coins, dated between 340 and 408 (383: 25, 4,5%; 383-395: 463, 83,1%; 402-408: 46, 8,2%).
Sucidava, in the fortress, in the Hunnish arson layer, 700 coins, dated 324-408 (355-361: 18, 8,6%; 383-395: 164, 78,8%).
Sucidava i/1968, in the fortress, square 8D, under the floor of a dwelling set on fire together with the fortress, 395 coins dated 330-423 (330-346: 15, 4,18%; 346-364: 18, 5,02%; 364-378: 27, 7,54%; 378-383: 1; 383-395: 218, 61%; 395-408: 78, 22%; 408-423: 1).
Sucidava ii/196822, in the fortress, square 6B, under the floor of a dwelling set on fire together with the fortress, 136 coins dated 330-408 (330-346: 2, 0,55%; 346-364: 8, 6,45%; 364-378: 11, 8,87%; 378-395: 67, 54%; 395-408: 36, 29%).

  • 23 MihÆilescu Bîrliba, V. & Ursachi, V., 1988, pp. 117-130.

75Hoards made up only of bronze coin are extremely rare in Walachia and Moldova region. We know of only one hoard of this type for each of these regions: the one from Pitesti, Arges district, made up of 86 coins from Antonius Pius to Constantinus Gallus, and the one at Traian23, com. Sàbàoani, district of Neamt. The latter is made up of 35 bronze coins, most of them dated between 364 and 375 and has the following chronological structure: 351-355: 4, 11,4%; 355-361: 5, 14,2%; 364-375: 9, 25,7%; 364-367: 15, 42,8%.

4. The Length Of Coins Use

  • 24 Depeyrot, G., 1991; 2001, 2, p. 45.

76Once issued, the coins remained in circulation till the moment they were withdrawn from the Empire marked through collecting different fees, in order to strick them again (mostly in the case of fluctuation of weight or title, as happened in the first part of the 4th century), or the moment they are hidden in a hoard or are lost. For the period we are interested in here, restricking of the pieces took place with a higher frequency in the periods of nominals instability. The frequency of official withdrawals of the bronze coins from circulation was very much reduced after the year 33024. This fact could explain the abundance of these pieces in most of the examined sites from the 4th and 5th centuries, and for the growth of the coin production due to the reduction of the weight of the pieces.

77If for the territory of the Empire these withdrawals of coins from circulation took place with relative regularity, the territories within Barbaricum were outside any kind of control without administrative structure. The withdrawal of the pieces that had already arrived here through different circumstances did not take place and old coins were used together with new coins.

  • 25 Depeyrot, G., 1999, pp. 43-51; 1991.

78Two of the available methods could be used25 to establish the structure of the current coins used in the 4th and 5th centuries in the sector of the Danube Limes, from Iron Gates to its mouth: firstly, for systematic archaeological research, the study of the coin distribution on strata; then the study of the hoards discovered in the region as if they could be considered as a drawing of coins in circulation.

  • 26 Schönert-Geiss, E., 1979, pp. 174-176.
  • 27 Butcher, K., 1995, p. 305.
  • 28 Butcher, K., 1995, p. 305.

79Very few archaeological publications have taken into account this aspect for the Danubian limes, and even fewer for the Barbaricum area. At Iatrus26, where there was no obvious evidence of an occupancy of the site before the end of the third century or before the beginning of the 4th century, the provincial issues were present among the discovered coins. At Nicopolis ad Istrum27, 43 provincial coins issued by this city were found and these show the fact that the most of them were lost for long intervals of time after they were issued (the intervals of time were established between 50 and 100 years for 14 of them, between 101 and 150 for other 9, and 200 and 250 for other 10). The author considers that it is possible that late second-century and early third-century were deposited along with those of the fourth- and fifth-century either because the old coins were still in circulation as currency alongside the later pieces, or that they were being used for some other purpose28. These other purposes could be to strike counterfeit coining, but that could be an expansion.

  • 29 OpaiT, C., 1991, pp. 457-482.
  • 30 Depeyrot, G., 2001, 2, pp. 35-37.

80The only site on present Romanian territory for which it was tried to record the chronological distribution of the coins from levels of excavations that can be dated independently, is the late Roman fortification at Halmiris, in Scythia Minor (Independenta, district Tulcea)29. On the level 7, the coins found are issues from the interval 314-401, but among them there is a colonial issue also (Histria). Its presence is not surprising, because, as we shall see, the hoards, that ends in the last quarter of the 4th century and in the 5th century, include old currency rather frequently. This situation was mentioned for the discoveries from the western areas of the Empire in this period, and it was explained through module similarities between the old pieces and the new ones30. On levels 8 and 9, which correspond to the 5th century, 9 coins were discovered – 1, Aurelian; 1, 296-298; 1, 324-328; 2, 364-378; 3, 383-395 – indicating the persistence of these pieces in circulation, in this period.

81The reuse (most probably unofficial) of the Constantinian coins is also evidenced by the finding at Durostorum of such a piece overstruck with an IB mark of value, owed probably to the centenionalis module similarity to the module of a dodecanummia.

  • 31 Kovacs, L., 1989, pp. 145-155.
  • 32 MihÆilescu-Bîrliba, V. & Ursachi, V., 1988, p. 210.

82For Barbaricum, the presence was signalled of the Roman imperial coins in archaeological contexts that belong to the culture of Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov dated in the 4th century, but also the presence of late Roman coins in graves dated in the 9th and 10th century A.D. belonging to the Hungarians31. At Bârlad-Valea Seaca, in a hole situated near the settlement number 2 of the type Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov, a bronze coin issued at Mesembria, by Filip the Arabian, was found. In a settlement belonging to the same culture, at Glàvànestii Vechi, a denarius from Antonius Pius was found, and at Trusesti, a coin which can be dated to the third century32. The presence of the late Roman coins in the graves dated in the 9th and 10th centuries points how long lasting and stable was the coin circulation in the Barbaricum.

83The hoards illustrate which coin was most appreciated by the hoarders. That is why the presence of denarii in the hoards that closed in the 4th century indicates the preference for a high quality silver coin, which was not on the market at the moment of the hoard burial.

5. Imitations

84The imitations found in the analysed area, barbarian or not, are made of gold, silver, bronze, and lead. It is still difficult to establish if they should be assigned to the barbarous people in the Danube area, to semi-official Roman mints or to individuals interested in getting some profit from this work. As a phenomenon, the imitation of the official issues of the Roman Empire begins mainly in the last quarter of the 4th century, when stopped the coin furnishing for the Danubian Limes, and when the control over the outposts located in the north of the Danube, started to show up. We can add to these the Gothic and Hunnish plunder raids, whose victims were cities like Iatrus, Tomis, but also Sucidava or Drobeta.


85The imitations of the bronze coins issued during the 4th and 5th centuries in the analysed area copy the following types of reverses:

  • 33 Arrubium, n° 598.
  • 34 Bestepe, n° 340.
  • 35 Straja, n° 749.
  • 36 Straja, n° 749.
  • 37 ChirilÆ, C., Gudea, N. & Stratan, I., 1974.
  • 38 ChirilÆ, C., Gudea, N. & Stratan, I., 1974.
  • 39 Babadag I, n° 294.
  • 40 Bestepe, n° 342.
  • 41 Bestepe, n° 343.
  • 42 Bestepe, n° 344-345.
  • 43 Bestepe, n° 346-347.
  • 44 Bestepe, n° 348.
  • 45 Bestepe, n° 349.

victoria laetae princ perp: 5. A 3.13 g piece, copying an issue of the Siscia mint, with ziz as a mint mark, delivered in the Arrubium33 hoard; a 1,41 g piece, from Bestepe34 hoard; two single finds at Tropaeum Traiani, copying issues of this type from Siscia mint, with Constantinus i’ name on the obverse; a 1,71 g piece, copying the issues of the same Siscia mint, discovered at Sucidava-Celeiu.
fel temp reparatio: 6.
type fh, a piece discovered in Straja35 hoard.
type fh1, a piece discovered in Dalboset hoard.
type fh3, a piece discovered in Straja36 hoard, weighing 1,4 g; a 1,1 g piece in the Bestepe hoard; ae2 piece discovered in Orsova ii37 hoard;
type fh4, ae2 piece discovered in Jupa38 hoard, weighing 4,60 g;
secvritas reipvblicae: 2. A 1,50 g piece from Babadag 1 hoard39; 0,98 g piece from Bestepe hoard40;
gloria romanorvm 8: A 1,42 g piece from Bestepe41 hoard;
salvs reipvblicae: 2. Two pieces, of 1,19 g and 0,80 g each, from Bestepe hoard42;
virtvs exerciti: 2. Two pieces, of 0,88 g and 1,32 g each, from Bestepe hoard43;
concordia avgg: 1. A 1,35 g piece from Bestepe hoard44;
gloria romanorvm 23: 1. A 1,27 g piece from Bestepe hoard45.

  • 46 A piece in a private collection, seen by us; not published.

86So far, the presence of one single bronze imitation of an issue of the Sirmium mint of the type vot x mvlt xx in wreath, in Oltenia has been indicated46. Unfortunately, the exact finding location cannot be clearly specified, so as it cannot be known whether it was found in Barbaricum or in the Roman territory.

87From among these 20 bronze imitations, half come from the Bestepe hoard, three from single finds (two from Tropaeum Traiani and one from Sucidava-Celeiu) and seven from hoards in which they are insignificant parts. It is much more interesting that almost all of these imitations can be found in hoards following the years 378-383. The exceptions are those from Arrubium-Macin, closed in the year 324, and those from the Dalboset hoard, whose terminus post quem is during Iulianus rule. However, the integrity of these hoards is not guaranteed.

  • 47 Bojkova, 1994.

88Neither of the 29 hoards of the 4th century, made up of approximately 18,000 bronze coins found in Bulgaria, and whose structure was pub-lished by Bistra Bojkova47, signal the presence of imitations. There are as well no coin imitations in published sources, discovered at Nicopolis ad Istrum, Iatrus, or Drobeta.

89Apparently, in the current stage of our knowledge about the finds in this region within the Roman Empire, the presence of coin imitations is a « boundery » phenomenon, which is manifest mainly within the Empire and, for sure, a phenomenon that belongs especially to the last quarter of the 4th century and the 5th century. A possible explanation could be derived from the greater « permeability » during the last quarter of the 4th century of bronze coins hoards in comparison with the various old nominals. The phenomenon is present in the West, too. Another explanation could be derived from the overestimation of some older pieces that consequently became attractive both for the one who is making the hoard, and for the imitations manufacturers who sought a profit.


  • 48 CulicÆ, V., 1972.

90Lead imitations, copied as well from official types of bronze coins, issued during the 5th century can be considered some of the most spectacular features of the currency present in Lower Danube, especially after finding the ‘patterns’ from which these were cut at Sucidava Moesica – Izvoarele. V. Culicà published 22 such pieces, from a total of 500 flans, some of them not stamped. The published coins copy the minimmi issued from Marcian, Leon, Zenon or Anastasius. Two of the published pieces48 present a wider outer linear circle, probably copying issues of pentanummia. This fact may call for modifying the dating of these pieces to the 6th century.

  • 49 OcheSeanu, R., 1997.
  • 50 OcheSeanu, R., 1997.
  • 51 Moisil, D., 1997.
  • 52 Anadolchioi, n° 230.
  • 53 Poenaru Bordea, Gh., 1973.

91Such imitations were also discovered in an area situated along the Danube border in the provinces Scythia Minor and Moesia Secunda. There were single finds at Troesmis49 (2), Tropaeum Traiani50 (10) and Durostorum51 (4). There were also finds in the hoard discovered at Anadolchioi (22 pieces), among which only one is legible, considered to be of the Izvoarele type, copying an issue from Zenon52 and also in the hoard at Sucidava-Celeiu i/196853 (1?). But none of them was discovered in Barbaricum.

92The lead imitations, manufactured in this area, were all made after 5th century issues. They are more numerous than the bronze ones from the Lower Danube. Besides the pieces discovered at Izvoarele (500), another 39 pieces were found. Among them, 14 were single finds. They are found in two hoards: the one from Sucidava-Celeiu, whose terminus post quem is 408-423 – one single piece, and the one from Anadolchioi, closed with an issue in 545-546, in which the relative frequency of the lead imitations is much higher – 17.40%.

93On the map, the following geographical distribution can be noted: the center is Sucidava Moesica; the imitations are distributed radially from it on the Roman roads that link Izvoarele to Troesmis, Durostorum and Sucidava-Celeiu; on the road that follows the Danube river, then to Tropaeum Traiani on the road inside the province, that goes toward the north of Scythia Minor, to Tomis; on the road that links the border to the fortress at sea.


  • 54 Nudelman, A. A.& Rikman, E. A., 1976, pp. 52-53, n° 8.

94The fairly consistent presence of the 4th century silver nominals is one of the features of the present Romanian territory. This feature refers to settlements such as Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov. Even though they are not very numerous for the moment, the imitations of siliquae were discovered in Barbaricum in the North-Pontic steppes54 but also in the North-Danube outposts ruled by Romans.

  • 55 Butnariu, V., 1988, p. 152, n° 21.

95An imitation of a siliqua from Constantius II with the reverse type votis xxx mvltis xxxx was discovered at Bogdànesti, com. Fàlciu, Vaslui, Moldova (found in the 125th grave of inhumation)55.

  • 56 Tudor, D., 1968, p. 443.

96Unfortunately, the imitations manufactured and introduced into circutalion by Goths during the crisis period in 364-450 – about which D. Tudor mentions with reference to Sucidava56 – are not published.

97A series of collections in museums include imitations of siliquae from Constantius II, Valens or Valentinianus, most of them of vota type, made after issues of the mint from Sirmium and Constantinopolis (the collections of the Museum in Brasov and of the Museum of Romanian National History in Bucharest). The pieces in Bucharest are a fragment of a hoard, very likely to be found on the present Romanian territory, made up of more than a hundred siliquae, very many of them having either the obverse, or the reverse with a double strike or overstruck. Such pieces are associated with others that can be considered surely imitations. They have writing mistakes in the legend and a fairly awkward portrait, which are present also on other pieces without mistakes in the obverse or reverse legends. The coins in this hoard fragment seem to be the result of successive attempts to produce imitations after siliquae, including pieces that illustrate different stages of punching, some of this punching being extremely close to the originals.

98Even if this information needs confirmation through controlled archaeological finds, we have to consider that such imitations might have been manufactured here, most likely in Oltenia or the Romanian Plain, that are immediately next to the Limes, maybe even at Sucidava. We still have to establish whether these can be attributed totally to the Goths or to some semi-official mints that manufactured necessity coin destined for the payment of some troops who were much used on the Danube river line in the last quarter of the 4th century.


  • 57 Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E., Poenaru-Bordea, Gh. & Moisil, D., work in progress.

99Few imitations of gold coins have been published, and all of them have been discovered in Transylvania. Thus, there were found: a barbarian imitation of an aureus (?) from the 5th century, at Copalnic-Mànàstur; an imitation of a tremissis of Theodosius ii (very barbarized), type inqxxxxnconxviipp, found at Valea lui Mihai, Bihor District, Transylvania, in a Germanic grave (into the skeleton’s mouth); an imitation (from Sirmium mint, during the Gepids rule?) of a solidus from Theodosius ii found in Bihor District, copying the type impxxxxconxviipp57. This last piece can be dated in the 6th century, because of the presence of a Greek cursive letter in the obverse legend.

100All three pieces known here copy gold issues from Theodosius ii, brought in important quantities within the area controlled by the Huns during the 5th century, in Pannonia, in the North-Pontic steppes, but also in the areas within Carpathians’ curvature (Buzàu) and inside the Carpathians’ bow (Sighisoara), both as a consequence of the raids in the Empire, and especially as a consequence of the stipends given by this Emperor. The imitations of Theodosius ii gold types touch Transylvania peripherally, being manufactured somewhere in Pannonia region. It is also worth signalling the presence of some imitative issues whose prototype was gold, but which are made of silver.


101The Goths are the only population in the region to which imitation of Roman coins could be assigned although the evidence we have is not sufficient. Coin stricking seems to be common for a population having been in touch with an economy based on pecuniary exchange for a long time and having received an infux of coins as subsidies paid to them by the Romans from the period they became foederati. The Gepids certainly issued gold coins, but this happened in the 6th century, probably after taking Sirmium and its mint under control.

102The bronze issues used in small market change can not be assigned to the barbarian populations settled in the north Danube territory. But the presence of important quantities of bronze coins in Barbaricum indicates the close connection to an economy using coins. The Banat region settled by the Sarmats who gained the foederati status produced a great amount of coins. This also happened in Oltenia which had a special political status as mentioned before.

103A great influence in Barbaricum is due to stipends given to the Roman army defending the limes. The money paid to the army facilitated the trade nearby the frontier. A great amount of coins found on the limes and the area closed to it is dated near the years 332, 358, 369 when frontier wars opposing Romans and different tribes of Goths took place. On the other hand, there is a coincidence between these years and a period of high production of the mints.

104The coin influx in Barbaricum followed a western route through Banat and Transylvania from the area covered by the Siscia and Sirmium mits and a southern route for the outer-Carpathians regions.

105There are some particular features for the currency in these regions:

106– a preference for silver coin hoarding focused on the issues from the period when Dacia was part of the Roman Empire;

107– a concentration of the « major » single finds in the area close to the limes and in the ancient Roman cities settled outside of the roman border;

108– the very consistent presence of bronze coins in Banat and a relative lack of precious metals coins;

109– the association of siliquae finds with the cultural area of Sântana de Mures-Tchernjakhov to be understand as a result of the Roman subsidies paid to these tribes and/or payment of the Goths mercenaries enrolled in the Roman army;

110– the quasi-absence of the 5th century bronze coins finds for the entire area studied here except some outposts on the left side of the Danube;

111– the presence of hoards containing gold in coins or ingots from parts of the Roman subsidies paid especially in the 5th century; the 5th century especially represented by gold finds, concentrated in the inner-Carpathians region and Moldova.

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Map 1. Gold coins from the 4th and 5th century in Barbaricum


Map 2. Silver coins from the 4th and 5th century in Barbaricum


Map 3. Hoards from the 4th and 5th century in Barbaricum


Map 4. Imitations of the 4th and 5th century monetary types found on the Low Danube limes and in Barbaricum

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Document annexe

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* Nous remercions Jeanne Chase pour sa relecture attentive.
1Butnariu, V., 1987, pp. 113-140; 1988, pp. 131-196; 1991, pp. 67-107. Through convention, all these finds without bibliographical references belong to the register made by V. Butnariu.
2Ocheseanu, R., 1997, 3, 1-2.
3Protase, D. & Suceveanu, A., 2001, pp. 700-701.
4Priscus, i and xviii.
5Barnea, I., 1968, p. 501.
6Duncan, G. L., 1993, pp. 112-113.
7Ammianus Marcelinus, 27, 5 and Themistios, 10, 133-140.
8MihÆilescu-Bîrliba, V., 1980, pp. 222-234.
9Zosimos, iv, 20; Iordanes, Getica, 25.
10Ammianus Marcelinus, 27, 5, 2.
11ChiTescu, M. & Poenaru Bordea, Gh., 1981-1982, p. 197.
12Schönert-Geiss, E., 1979, pp. 175-176.
13Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E., 1999, p. 3.
14Davidescu, M. & StîngÆ, I., 1985, pp. 75-102. Davidescu, M., 1989.
15Mitrea, B., 1979, pp. 63-73. Butnariu, V., 1988, pp. 132, 138 et 142.
16For further discussion about the significance of the presence of the coins issued in the 5th century, Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E., 1999, chap. 2-3.
17MihÆilescu-Bîrliba, V. & Ursachi, V., 1988, p. 127.
18Mitrea, B., 1979; Stirbu, C., 1980, pp. 152-153.
19Moisil, D., 2003a (forthcoming).
20Moisil, D., 2003a (forthcoming).
21Poenaru Bordea, Gh. & Barbu, I., 1970, p. 294.
22Poenaru Bordea, Gh. & Barbu, I., 1970, pp. 251-295.
23MihÆilescu Bîrliba, V. & Ursachi, V., 1988, pp. 117-130.
24Depeyrot, G., 1991; 2001, 2, p. 45.
25Depeyrot, G., 1999, pp. 43-51; 1991.
26Schönert-Geiss, E., 1979, pp. 174-176.
27Butcher, K., 1995, p. 305.
28Butcher, K., 1995, p. 305.
29OpaiT, C., 1991, pp. 457-482.
30Depeyrot, G., 2001, 2, pp. 35-37.
31Kovacs, L., 1989, pp. 145-155.
32MihÆilescu-Bîrliba, V. & Ursachi, V., 1988, p. 210.
33Arrubium, n° 598.
34Bestepe, n° 340.
35Straja, n° 749.
36Straja, n° 749.
37ChirilÆ, C., Gudea, N. & Stratan, I., 1974.
38ChirilÆ, C., Gudea, N. & Stratan, I., 1974.
39Babadag I, n° 294.
40Bestepe, n° 342.
41Bestepe, n° 343.
42Bestepe, n° 344-345.
43Bestepe, n° 346-347.
44Bestepe, n° 348.
45Bestepe, n° 349.
46A piece in a private collection, seen by us; not published.
47Bojkova, 1994.
48CulicÆ, V., 1972.
49OcheSeanu, R., 1997.
50OcheSeanu, R., 1997.
51Moisil, D., 1997.
52Anadolchioi, n° 230.
53Poenaru Bordea, Gh., 1973.
54Nudelman, A. A.& Rikman, E. A., 1976, pp. 52-53, n° 8.
55Butnariu, V., 1988, p. 152, n° 21.
56Tudor, D., 1968, p. 443.
57Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E., Poenaru-Bordea, Gh. & Moisil, D., work in progress.
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Référence électronique

Delia Moisil, « The Danube Limes and the Barbaricum (294-498 A.D.) », Histoire & mesure [En ligne], XVII - 3/4 | 2002, mis en ligne le 15 novembre 2006, consulté le 18 avril 2014. URL :

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Delia Moisil

The Coin Room, National Museum of History, 12 Calea Victoriei, Bucharest – Rumania.

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