308 out of 410 days: A Trade Embargo on Cisalpine Gaul?

In view of the fact that the Boii and rest of the Gauls were offering for sale various articles and an especially large number of captives, the Romans became afraid that they might some day use the money against them, and accordingly forbade anybody to give to a Gaul either silver or gold.  (Zon. 8.19)

I came across this odd little quote in the fragments of Cassius Dio in the midst of the narrative of events preceding the Second Punic War.  This got me thinking about the monetization of the region and led me back to this passage in R. Haeussler, Becoming Roman? Diverging identities and experiences in ancient northwest Italy (2013), p. 98:


The chapter from which this is pulled is a nice example of a historian integrating numismatic evidence into the narrative.  Anyway this further led me to discover that all of Ermanno A. Arslan’s publications are online.  A very exciting resource.  And, I also got to read some of the work of Giovanni Gorini who also seems to have put much of his publications online.

So in some regions, like Turdetania in Further Spain [the most unfortunate place name ever!], it has been suggested that the issuing of bronze coinage is a reaction to Roman regional engagement, a vehicle to help with the collection of taxes, etc. So, S J Keay, “The Romanisation of Turdetania” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 11.3 (1992), 275-315, esp. 288ff. By contrast, the current suggestion seems to be that the peoples of Northern Italy were already engaged in the use and production of silver coinage before their engagement with the Romans.  

The passage from the epitome of Dio (above) is interesting because of how it sees a connection between the acquisition of silver and gold and military readiness.  It ties trade and commerce directly to war resources. The trade doesn’t give the Gauls more resources–they already have a good deal of material wealth–instead it gives them a type of resource, gold and silver (coins?!) which make it easier to engage in warfare.

And, here’s a nice pic of a padane drachma just so this post has one:

Two Hints about Mint Output at Roman Allied Communities during the First Punic War

Looking again at the coins of Suessa, Cales, and Teanum, especially specimens which have been on the market, it occurred to me how heavily used the obverse dies seem to be, especially at Teanum:

Even after the obverse die break in ways to mar the face of the god portrayed they keep on being used.  Such intensity is not consistent with a ‘vanity project’ but instead with a more rushed economically driven agenda.  Not a bad die study opportunity here.  [The last two are the same obverse die as this Fitzwilliam Specimen; interesting specimen with a prow mint symbol at CNG site].

The other curiosity that might hint at wide circulation (and by extension striking in some significant volume) is the fact that the Boii of the Po river valley (aka Cisalpine/Transpadine Gaul)  borrowed the type of Cales’ bronzes for an obol silver issue:

The specimen above is called a ‘drachm’ and the catalogue notes the assignment to the Boii is provisional.  (We need a few good hoards or excavation finds…)

This last one is listed as possibly from the Danube region.