16 out of 234 days: 1548 Firmum Picenum Hoard

Update later the same day.

Original post below. I write these as I dive in an I like to preserve my train of thought. And, then sometimes post publication new stuff is shared with me by generous colleagues, like Seth Bernard. Who found that Crawford has tracked down records of this hoard in 2003, AND had seen another more recent one that was then unpublished and so leaving yet another content list to track down.

What I don’t understand is why Crawford assumes these are denarii… or that the asses are of the struck variety rather than the cast. I don’t see anything in the Latin to confirm that summary. The epigraphic evidence would suggest 1st Punic War date at least to my untrained eye….

The meat of this article is really the appendices just masses of data on where coins were found.

This is not the post I started writing this morning. That one may appear later today or whenever it is finished, it’s on more aes grave bibliography I was reading. This is a side note…

I went looking for images/info on Mater Matuta to round out my understanding of a findcontext and landed on this Arachne search result and as I read I found a hoard report from a completely different part of the early Roman Italy!

Extremely frustratingly I can’t find the inscription (yet!) in any of the typical epigraphic databases (I tend to start with Clauss/Slaby) and that seems supremely odd as it is clearly published. I also checked Coin Hoards and came up with zilch. My thought is if I can find a better publication of the inscription I might find the coin types. The next stop was to figure out what type of quaestors are making this offering: fines officers!

This got me to an article I’ve now ILL requested:

Piacentin, Sofia. 2021. “Public Fines in Italy Outside Rome.” In Financial Penalties in the Roman Republic, pp. 60-76. Brill.

But! The publisher’s preview gave me a head start:

Turns out Marengo is a PROLIFIC epigrapher with numerous interesting publications that I am studiously not letting myself consider reading at this time. This is the relevant one for the above inscription:

Marengo, Silvia Maria. “Le « multae ».” In Il capitolo delle entrate nelle finanze municipali in Occidente ed in Oriente: actes de la Xe rencontre franco-italienne sur l’épigraphie du monde romain : Rome, 27-29 mai 1996,. Collection de l’École Française de Rome; 256, 73-84. Roma: Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, 1999. Which gloriously turns out to be open access!

The above inscription with the coin hoard is her no. 2:

Which with this transcription let me get the databases to spit it out:

Publications: CIL 09, 05351 = CIL 01, 00383 (p 879) = CIL 05, *00429,012 = ILLRP 00593 = D 06132 = Questori 00278

and gave me an image too:

Still no more information on the hoard…. I guess I’ll have to track down all the publications at some point…

I did however let me try to retrieve it the plaque from Gallica (BnF image database). Picenum, Firmum, and Fermo, gave me nothing relevant, neither did ‘inscription’, but that last search term did return a whole host of yummy images, especially of the fragments of the tablette ilaques.

Location of Firmum Picenum (mod. Fermo)

It was a long standing iron age settlement but made a Latin Colony c. 264 BCE (Vel. Pat. 1.14.8), and then sided with Hannibal… We can assume a deposition of this hoard was mid third century based on letter forms and history of the colony.

The development of the quaestorship in the third century has been a hot topic, furthered by the discovery of the Egadi Rams. I’m not sure yet how the use of the title in colonies intersects. I’ve not read enough. Here’s some starter bibliography…

Prag Jonathan R. W. The quaestorship in the third and second centuries BC. In: L’imperium Romanum en perspective. Les savoirs d’empire dans la République romaine et leur héritage dans l’Europe médiévale et moderne. Besançon : Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l’Antiquité, 2014. pp. 193-209. (Collection « ISTA », 1302) (open access – the whole volume is fascinating!)

Prag, J. (2014). Bronze rostra from the Egadi Islands off NW Sicily: The Latin inscriptions. Journal of Roman Archaeology, 27, 33-59. doi:10.1017/S1047759414001159

Prag, Jonathan R. W. “A Revised Edition of the Latin Inscription on the Egadi 11 Bronze ‘Rostrum’ from the Egadi Islands.” Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 202 (2017): 287–92. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26603819.

Pina Polo, Francisco and Díaz Fernández, Alejandro. “Chapter 2: The development of the quaestorship and the so-called Italian quaestors”. The Quaestorship in the Roman Republic, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2019, pp. 25-50. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110666410-004 (again the whole volume is super relevant)


  • Lafayette reply
  • Review grad student apps by Jan 19
  • Finalize LETTER draft
  • Read more on Aes Grave
  • Circle back to department about any Jan planning meetings

Not Today (but maybe tomorrow, or the day after)

  • post conference Rome accommodation
  • Teaching requests for Fall 2023
  • Set time table for any collaborative RRDP work/publication prep that needs to happen this semester: Chicago pub, INC pub, collaboration with RACOM, etc…
  • Circle back to Capito project
  • Consider ask for funding from Dean’s office
  • Begin Med school rec letter
  • record mini myth
  • find out what is on that v old harddrive and back up to cloud
  • Write up Teaching Eval
  • Cancel at least one more digital membership
  • renew Coinarchives

The Shape of the Letter A

RRC 111/1, Central Italy (?) circa 211-208, AR 4.03 g. NAC 61 (5/10/11), lot. 498.
RRC 126/1;uncertain mint circa 206-200, AR 4.56 g. NAC 61 (5/10/11) lot 571

I enjoy how these two coins together illustrate the variety of acceptable forms of the letter A in the Latin alphabet at the end of the third century.  That on each specimen two very different forms of the same letter co-exist warns the epigrapher against using these letter forms alone as a dating criteria.  It also suggests to me that certain names were rendered in particular ways habitually.  Compare for instance the VAR ligature of RRC 126/1 with that C.VAR ligature of RRC 74/1 (links to BM specimen).  ROMA has an open single bar A because that’s just how the word looks right. 

The thing to read on Latin epigraphy these days is Alison Cooley’s book.  If you’re looking for something online this old school book is fun and still somewhat useful.  Also see Gordon’s guide.

314 out of 410 days: Descriptive Legends

RRC 316/1. ANS 1937.158.34 Obverse: I·S·M·R – Head of Juno Sospita right, wearing goat-skin. Border of dots.

I was thinking about the use of legends on the republican series to label or describe the images.  The above type is a nice example of the use of abbreviation to do so.  We can resolve it based on longer inscriptions in other contexts.

CIL I2 1430 cf. I2 p. 987 = XIII 1030* = XIV 2090 = ILS 3097 = ILLRP 170 = Suppl. It. – Latium vetus 1, 72

I wanted to think about the phenomenon over time and by type of usage.  So I created a little color coded chart.  No promises I didn’t miss a few or mis-transcribe a couple, I didn’t want to give this too much time.


My groupings are pretty subjective, pink for hard to recognize gods, peach for divine qualities/virtues — aren’t those two pretty much the same thing?  Green for Kings, but then I threw in Faustulus because where else would he belong in these categories?  Blue for the accomplishments of individuals.  This can be hard to separate from the moneyer’s name and titular.   A slightly darker blue for military accomplishments and a slightly lighter blue for religious acts.  Purple is for buildings and monuments, but not statues.  Mud is for personifications of place.  I’ve left uncolored others that are not readily paralleled elsewhere in the series.

I’d say 63 BC onwards is the real ramp up in this coin epigraphy if we can call it that.  The trend is towards longer more complete legends, rather than just ‘helpful hints’.  It’s still a long way from the Imperial habit of labeling most reverse types.

[Of course, I’m also ignoring the question of when ROMA is labeling the goddess and when its indicating the minting authority. And, yes, I just gave up transcribing at 431/1.  I’ll save the file and come back to it later, if it should prove useful.]

Update 1/11/16: The Φ on RRC 293/1 should have been on the above chart!