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Knowing the Roman imperial mints: I - Treveris.

The ancient Roman city of Treveris corresponds to the present Trier, in the west of Germany, very close to the border with the duchy of Luxembourg. It was founded in 16 BC, reigning Octavius Augustus in Rome, with the name of Augusta Treverorum: translatable by Augusta of the Treveris, demonym related to the celtic tribe that dominated the area at the arrival of the Romans and that had been submitted by Julius Caesar forty years ago.

Treveris - Porta Nigra
Treveris - Porta Nigra

Photos 1 and 2.- The famous Porta Nigra in Tréveri. It was built around 180 AD, serving as access to the city from the north. Later it was used as a church, which explains its excellent state of conservation and too why an apse was added on its eastern flank. Photo 1 corresponds to the outer facade of the building, photo 2 to the inner one.

The new city rapidly gained great economic, political and cultural importance, acting henceforth and for centuries as the main focus of Romanization of the northern third of Gaul. From the administrative point of view was elevated to the condition of capital of the border province of Gallia Belgica. Its heyday occurs in the Late Empire, when barbarian pressure on the Rhine frontier forces the emperors to derive large amounts of resources to the north of Gaul, which were distributed from Treveris. In fact, the Caesar Constantius Chlorus would place his capital in Treveris, as would his son Constantine I after his proclamation in Eboracum (York). Consequence of such election was the construction of majestic buildings in the city destined to satisfy the needs of the emperor and his court. Such a building program would change the old landscape of the city, undoubtedly somewhat provincial, for other much more sublime and sophisticated, which would lead the contemporaries to nickname to Treveris "the Second Rome."

Thermal Ruins - Treveris

Photo 3.- Ruins of the monumental thermal complex of Treveris erected at the beginning of the fourth century, reigning Constantine I. In his good times was the third largest of all the Roman Empire.

From the numismatic point of view, the first monetary coinage made in Treveris, if we excuse some brief emission of celtic-roman type dated in the first decades of the principality, date from AD 294, at the dawn of the Diarchy. We check, therefore, that the city, as a first-rate frontier stronghold and as such nucleus of concentration of troops, supplies, etc., was included from a good start in the new monetary model designed by Diocletian (which includes both the use of a new metrology as the opening of new mints and the closure of others), whose entry into force is used by numismatists for dating the beginning of the period known as Late Empire.

Photo 4.- The Basilica. This ancient Palatine Hall (palace) was built in 310 by order of Constantine I for his own use. It has undergone many destructions and reconstructions throughout the centuries but has always been able to retain its original appearance, clearly late Roman. Today it is used as a Protestant church.

The new mint will struck the three metals: gold, silver and bronze. Especially the latter, both with silver alloy (silvered follis) and without it. Comparing Treveris with the rest of western mints, we found that its coinage was especially prolific. This should not surpirse us given that the main objective of the imperial issues was to pay the troops, and there is no doubt that in the specific case of Treveris there was, very near, a long border to defend full of legionaries.

Cathedral of Saint Peter - Treveris

Photo 5.- Late roman façade of the Cathedral of Saint Peter. Considered the most ancient church of Germany, its oldest parts (those that appear in the photo) go back to Century IV.

Treveris´ mint would struck practically without interruption until the reign of Valentinian III (425-455), ceasing its emissions on the occasion of the definitive collapse of the Rhine frontier and the subsequent loss of control of northern Gaul by the dying western empire. In the following photographs (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) we can contemplate some examples of coins minted in Treveris during the period that goes from 294 to 363 (Date of the death of Juliano the Apostate, with which concludes the Constantinian dynasty).

Amphitheater of Treveris

Photo 6.- Ruins of the amphitheater of Treveris. Erected around AD 100 using a very good quality small ashlar, typical of the contemporary gallic monumental buildings.

There are many vestiges of the Roman Treveris in modern Trier. Only for this is worth visiting a city that on the other hand is frankly beautiful and welcoming.In one day it gives enough time to explore it well if you start early. In photos 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 we can know some of these vestiges, including a brief description in the footnotes. The archaeological museum of the city is also worthy of mention, preserving in its showcases, among other wonders, the greatest treasure of aurei found to date: 2650 pieces, many of them unpublished until that moment.

Follis coined in the first office of Treveris in the name of Caesar  Galerius Maximianus

Photo 7.- Follis coined in the first office of Treveris in the name of the eastern Caesar Galerius Maximianus (A.D. 302-303). Bronze with very light silver alloy.

Reduced Follis coined in the first office of Treveris in the name of  Licinius I

Photo 8.- Reduced Follis coined in the first office of Treveris in the name of the co-emperor of the eastern part of the Empire, Licinius I. Year 316.

Reduced Follis coined in the first office of Treveris in the name of Constantine I

Photo 9.- Reduced Follis coined in the first office of Treveris in the name of Constantine I. Year 316. The cult of the sun as the characteristic deity of Constantine's family (Constantius I Chlorus was a convinced devotee) appears clearly reflected in the reverse of this coin.

Reduced Follis coined in Treveris in the name of Constantine I
Reduced Follis coined in Treveris in the name of Constantine I

Photos 10 and 11.- Reduced Follis coined in Treveris in the name of Constantine I during the biennium 310-311. His interest lies in the careful representation of the Sun (photo 10) and the god Mars (photo 11) in the reverse. These are the tutelary gods of Constantine to whom he was entrusted before entering into combat.


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