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Knowing the Roman imperial mints: VIII- Lugdunum.

October 21, 2017

The ancient city of Lugdunum corresponds to the present Lyon, the great city of the French southeast. Founded in 43 BC by the Julius Caesar´s legate, Lucius Munatius Plancus, will reach great importance, prosperity and wealth during the high-imperial period as described in contemporary texts, to the point of rising to the status of first city --capital-- of Gaul. This splendor would begin to weaken at the end of 2nd century  AD when Lugdunum aligns itself in the faction of Clodius Albinus, being severely punished by its rival, Septimius Severus, after defeating to Albinus in the battle of Lugdunum (AD 197), happened precisely in the environs of the city. Nonetheless, in spite of this punishment, Lugdunum would still be for a century more the most important city of Gaul and its principal administrative center. During the Late Empire it will become less important than Treveri, where the capital of the prefecture was relocated, although still retaining a great social and economic dynamism, which is why Diocletian decides to endow it with an imperial mint (AD 297) in which to issue the new coinage that had to circulate in place of the old one.

 

Photo 1.- The great Roman theater of Lugdunum. It was built in the second century AD: the most splendid time of the city.

 

Lugdunum's coinage usually presents a very careful style as well as original (there are several designs of bust own of this mint that are not found in the others) that make it quite appreciated by collectors. At first the imperial mint only struck follis (with silver alloy and without it), later, in 340, also embarks on the coinage of gold and silver, especially the latter one and not precisely in small quantities: reason why the silver siliquas, especially the types with laurea on the reverse, are not rare nowadays. The following coins (photos 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) will serve to briefly illustrate the coinage issued by this mint during the period AD 313-363.