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Knowing the Roman imperial mints: V- Siscia.

The ancient Siscia is the present Croatian city of Sisak. Its more than 2500 years of history begin in the Iron Age when a Celtic settlement called Segestica, name that would derive in Siscia, is founded in the confluence between the Kupa, Sava and Odra rivers. According to Apiano's words the city was "strongly defended by the waters, which surrounded it forming a great moat around it". In the year 35 BC Siscia is won for Rome by Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, after a 30-day siege. Its great defensive capacity would lead it to be chosen as first order headquarter by Tiberius, the future emperor, on the occasion of the great Ilirian rebellion (6-9 AD), and against the Dacians later. In reward to its loyalty to the Empire, Vespasian elevates the city to the category of Roman colony with the name of Colonia Flavia Siscia.


Siscia retained a great ascendancy over the Illyricum region during the High Empire. This would not be the case in the Late Empire, when military needs advised to move the concentration of military and money resources to Sirmium: much closer to the Danube river than Siscia and therefore better placed strategically to coordinate the defense of the Roman frontier. As Sirmium gained importance, Siscia lost it. In fact it was Sirmium, not Siscia, the city chosen by Diocletian, at the dawn of Tetrarchy, to locate the capital of the portion of the Empire to be controlled by the Caesar Galerius. Nevertheless, Siscia always maintained a prominent importance that would continue during the Middle Ages, thanks mainly to the great capacity of its river port.


Photo 1.- Fragment of the Late Roman city-wall of Siscia.


Few are the remains of the ancient Siscia that can be seen in the current Sisak. The absence of archaeological excavations coupled with urban pressure has caused that only a few fragments of the Late Roman city-wall (photo 1) can be observed.


From the numismatic point of view Siscia begins its trajectory in AD 259, reigning the emperor Gallienus. The new mint was instituted to replace the veteran Lugdunum mint, in Gaul, which had fallen into possession of the usurper Postumus. Its main mission was always to supply numerary to the Danube border troops, for which it minted coins in the three metals. Noteworthy the volume of its bronze emissions, very high, to the point of having had up seven offices working in parallel during the reign of Probus. At the death of Constantine I the Sicia mint had five operative offices, this is, it remained fully active, minting huge amounts of coins. The progressive decline of the Western Empire would lead to a reduction in the number of offices: four (351-378), then two (378-387) and finally a single one which would be closed during the reign of Honorius (circa 413). Photos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 will serve to know some coins struck in the mint of Siscia during the period 309 - 350.


Photo 2.- Follis coined in the fifth office of Siscia on behalf the eastern augustus Maximinus II Daia during the triennium 309-311. Bronze with very light silver alloy. It preserves the superficial silvering indicating that this coin was minted at the beginning of the issue, when the mints sought to highlight said silvering to the purpose of transmitting to the user its character of "pseudo-silver" currency. It can be, therefore, dated in AD 309.


Photo 3.- Follis coined in the first office of Siscia on behalf the eastern augustus Licinius I during the period 313-317. Bronze. Noteworthy the peculiar style of the bust and the allegory of the reverse, strongly oriental.

Photo 4.- Reduced follis coined in the third office of Siscia on behalf Constantine I in the year 317, this is just conquered the city by Constantine after the battle of Cibelae in which Licinius I was defeated. Of all the emissions with reverse SOLI INVICTO COMITI coined by Constantine this is the scarcest one with difference and also the one that most differs stylistically from the rest.

Photo 5.- Centenonial coined in the second office of Siscia on behalf the Caesar Crispus. Bronze with small silver alloy. High quality exemplar with its original silvering well preserved. 320 AD.

Photo 6.- Maiorina minted in the first office of Siscia in the name of Constantius II. This coin was coined during the sovereignty of Vetranio, who ruled the Illyricum prefecture in AD 350 in order to avoid the entrance of the army of the Danube in the orbit of the western usurper Magnentius. Vetranio´s issues were coined exclusively in the Siscia and Thessalonica mints, presenting exclusive types such as this HOC SIGN VICTOR ERIS ("With This Sign you will Conquer"): a clear homage to Constantine I, the founder of the Constantinian dynasty, as well as an unequivocal manifestation of Vetranio´s adhesion to the cause of Constantius II.

Photo 7.- Maiorina struck in the fifth office of Siscia on behalf Vetranio. AD 350. Reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM exclusive of Vetranio. In addition to the issues in the name of Constantius II, the legitimate august, Vetranio also coined coins in his own name, characterized by their very careful art and manufacture.

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History and Numismatics lovers

specialized in ancient coinage.

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