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Knowing the Roman imperial mints: IV- Ticinum

May 6, 2017

The present Italian city of Pavia originates from a roman military camp founded to guard the main communications hub of the northern half of the Italian peninsula, from which the causeways leading to Gaul, the Balkans and Rome itself started. As on so many other occasions, the original camp grew until to give rise to a settlement of urban entity which reached the rank of Roman municipality probably before the end of the second century BC.

 

The privileged strategic position of Ticinum would provide multiple enrichment opportunities to its inhabitants, making it a prosperous city during most of the Roman imperial period. The lootings of 452, at the hands of Attila, and of 476, responsibility of Odoacer´s heruli, could have put an end to this prosperity but they did not do it: quite the opposite, Ticinum would know its moment of maximum splendor during the barbarian rule of Italy, being adorned with new buildings by Theodoric the Great, king of the Heruli, and even elevated to the category of Lombard kingdom´s capital after the conquest of 572.

 

From the numismatic point of view, Ticinum begins to issue coins during the reign of Aureliano (273-275), who founded the city mint using the staff of the extinct mint of Mediolanum (Milan). Its great strategic importance would persuade Diocletian of the desirability of preserving this mint within the new monetary organization of the Empire. The Ticinum mint had two offices at that time (had come to have up to six), three since the year 300 onwards and four since 322 to its final closure at 326. The reason for its closure was, ironies of the fate, similar to the one that caused its opening: the transfer to the east of its personnel to the object of conforming the new mint of Constantinople.

 

Their coinage were quite abundant and above all of very good artistic quality. The style used is quite characteristic: less hard than that of the western mints but retaining a point of realism that distances it from the balkan-eastern coinage. The coins of photos 1, 2, 3 and 4 will serve to illustrate the work of this mint.

 

Photo 1.- Follis coined in the third office of Ticinum in the name of the eastern Caesar Galerius Maximianus during the period 300-303. Bronze with silver alloy.

 

Photo 2.- Follis coined in the second office of Ticinum on behalf of the Caesar of the East Maximinus Daia during the biennium 305-307, this is during the second tetrarchy. High quality specimen, with a scarce reverse, where the style of the mint can be clearly appreciated. Bronze with a minimum silver alloy.