Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.02.36

Andrej Semrov, Die Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Slowenien. Kommission für Geschichte des Altertums der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz and Numizmaticni Kabinet Narodnega Muzeja Slovenije, Ljubljana. Teil V.   Mainz am Rhein:  Philipp von Zabern, 2004.  Pp. 538; pls. 2.  ISBN 3-8053-3392-7.  €65.50.  

Reviewed by Stefan Krmnicek, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main (
Word count: 1175 words

The academic community welcomes happily the arrival of the new fifth volume of the series Die Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Slowenien (FMRSl). This project of the Slovenian National Museum, supported by the Academy of Science and Literature at Mainz, covers a continuous tradition of some 20 years in the registration, identification, and publishing of coin finds from the territory of the Republic of Slovenia. Thus the unique numismatic project Fundmünzen der Antike, hosted by the Academy of Science and Literature at Mainz, remains true to its main principle of providing continuous documentation and publication of all numismatic finds from the regions covered by the projects with which it cooperates.1 Hopefully, the Slovenian project will be followed by further scientific work on the subject of ancient coin finds, especially in times of insufficient financial resources in the humanities. With the publication of the new fifth volume, more than 6300 newly discovered coins and over 60 new findspots have been made available for scientific research, demonstrating the importance of this work.

The book itself is structured like volume four (published in 1998), with the standard chapter preface (pp. 7-8), arrangement of the coins and abbreviations (pp. 9-15), catalogue (pp. 17-506), indices (pp. 507-517), concordance (pp. 518-535), maps (pp. 536-538) and plates. While the textual parts (preface to and explanations of the arrangement of the coins) form only a fraction of the total publication, more than 90% of the complete book consists of the catalogue. This however is not surprising as the main goal of the series Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Slowenien is the precise documentation of the numismatic material rather than its immediate interpretation.

The alphabetical arrangement of the finds in the catalogue is similar to that in volumes one to four, that is according to modern community names or administrative districts. In addition, every single findspot is numbered consecutively. Thus, the numbers are not identical to those of the previous volumes. To avoid any confusion, the author includes a concordance of all findspots for all five volumes at the end of the book. It not only enables the reader to search for the material more quickly and easily (for example if one has to compile all coins of a certain findspot from all five volumes), but it also offers an overview of all archaeological sites with numismatic material and single findspots in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia.

The main advantage of the book is undoubtedly the publication of new numismatic finds in adequate scientific form and of information on the geographical provenience of the coins themselves. The region covered by the volumes one to five offers excellent possibilities for undertaking studies on the monetary circulation in the border region of three Roman provinces.

It is well known that from the very beginning of Roman rule in this region, parts of Noricum, Pannonia and Venetia et Histria (Regio X. of Italia) were situated in what is now the territory of the Republic of Slovenia. As a result of the administrative reforms of the first and second century AD, new borders were created, and urbanised centres were assigned to a different province. For example, the town Colonia Iulia Emona and its hinterland now became part of Italia (Venetia et Histria). After Diocletian's Reform, with the introduction of Dioceses and Prefectures, the governmental structure of the entire Southeastern Alpine Region was completely reorganized. The town Colonia Ulpia Traiana (Poetovio) may serve as an example here. The settlement itself and its surrounding countryside were now in the newly created Province of Noricum mediterraneum. All these historical developments can be put into the context of the numismatic finds. Especially in the post-Diocletianic period, it is possible to take a close look at the mint-distribution in the typical currency pools and to study the differences and similarities of the coin supply in the border region of the various provinces in the Southeastern Alpine Region. Thanks to the addition of the fifth volume of the Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Slowenien and the material it presents, early studies on this topic can now be confirmed or modified slightly.2

But the region is not just of interest for the archaeology and history of the province. If one considers the historical events of the years 350-353 during civil war, the coin finds shed light on events at the centre of the political stage in the Empire. The possibility of tracing the military campaign of Constantius II against the troops of Magnentius through the numismatic evidence can now be investigated. This is possible at least for the section between Aquileia to Siscia as the volumes of the Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Slowenien cover all archaeologically documented single finds and hoards of this region. Another fact which must be considered under these circumstances is that, with the publication of the fifth volume, further coin finds on the territory of Roman Italia are now scientifically recorded. As mentioned above, at different historical periods, various large parts of the territory of the modern Republic of Slovenia belonged to ancient Italia (Venetia et Histria). Until now the numismatic finds only of the most western3 and the southeastern part (Istria)4 of this Roman governmental district have been investigated. Thus the fifth volume contributes much to the discovery of monetary circulation on the territory of Roman Italia.5

There are some minor errors in the book, mainly in the plates (Tafeln). But if one is using the book and its coinlist, as is usual in numismatic investigations on coin finds, only for statistical interpretation, the plates are of little use. Nevertheless, the few mistakes should be briefly mentioned here: The obverse of nr. 46-1 on Tafel I wrongly repeats the obverse of nr. 4-1. On Tafel II there are two mistakes: first the normal numerical order of the catalogue is disturbed by putting nr. 104-37 before nr. 102-10. Secondly, the coin shown as nr. 144-4 is titled erroneously. It is not a dupondius of Marcus Aurelius (nr. 144-4) that is depicted, but the AE-Medaillon of Galerius (nr. 114-4). Also some inconsistent descriptions of punch marks, e.g. for coin nr. 54 of hoard nr. 27/2 (p. 61), can be found in the notes to the coinlists in the catalogue. However, the lack of total uniformity, which is almost impossible to avoid, will be found only if one is interested in the specific topic and studies all notes to every single coin carefully.

In summary, it should be emphasized once more, that the fifth volume of the Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Slowenien provides an important contribution to numismatic research of the Roman Southeastern Alpine Region. Not only does it cover the border region of several Roman Provinces (Noricum/Pannonia superior/ Venetia et Histria and Noricum mediterraneum/Savia/Pannonia prima/Venetia et Histria), but it is also the most recent documentation of Roman coin finds in the Southeastern Alpine Region. Thus one has to congratulate the author and the responsible institutions, the National Museum of Slovenia and the Academy of Science and Literature at Mainz, for the publication of this austere but worthwhile work.


1.   H. Gebhart-K. Kraft et al., Bemerkungen zur kritischen Neuaufnahme der Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Deutschland, JNG 7, 1956, 9-71.
2.   P. Kos, The Monetary Circulation in the Southeastern Alpine Region ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 1000, Situla 24 (Ljubljana 1986). For more recent but brief research on this topic: K. Kränzl, Versuch einer Rekonstruktion des Münzumlaufes des Prinzipates bis zum Ende der Antoninianprägung in Noricum-eine Auswertung des FMRÖ, in: C. E. King-D. G. Wigg (Eds.), Coin finds and coin use in the Roman world: a NATO advanced research workshop. The Thirteenth Oxford Symposium on Coinage and Monetary History 25.-27. 03. 1993, SFMA 10 (Berlin 1996) 265-272.
3.   Ritrovamenti monetali di età romana nel Veneto [RMRVe] Volumes I/2, II/1, II/2, III/4, IV/1, IV/2, VI/1, VI/2, VI/3, VII/2 (Padova 1992-2001) and Ritrovamenti monetali di età romana in Lombardia [RMRLomb] Volume X (Milano 1997).
4.   A. Miskec, Die Fundmünzen der römischen Zeit in Kroatien [FMRHr] XVIII (Mainz 2002).
5.   For a study on the coin finds in Northeastern Italy: G. Gorini, problematiche e metodi di indagine nell'economia monetaria della X. Regio, in: G. Gorini (Ed.), Ritrovamenti monetali nel mondo antico: problemi e metodi. Atti del congresso internazionale, Padova 31 marzo-2 aprile 2000 (Padova 2002) 177-191.

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