Museum in Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora Publishes Book on Coins Minted by Ancient Roman City Augusta Traiana

Museum in Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora Publishes Book on Coins Minted by Ancient Roman City Augusta Traiana

(L-R) Numismatist Dr. Mariana Minkova, Assist. Prof. Petar Kalchev, and Prof. Dilyana Boteva at the presentation of Minkova's monograph on the coins minted by Augusta Traiana. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

(L-R) Numismatist Dr. Mariana Minkova, Assist. Prof. Petar Kalchev, and Prof. Dilyana Boteva at the presentation of Minkova’s monograph on the coins minted by Augusta Traiana. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

The Regional Museum of History in the southern Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora has published a monograph on the coins minted by the Ancient Roman city of Augusta Traiana.

The monograph is authored by Dr. Mariana Minkova, the head of the Numismatics Department at the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History since 1987. It has been published with funding from Stara Zagora Municipality.

The book entitled “The Coins of Augusta Traiana" was presented by the author as well as Prof. Dilyana Boteva, a historian and thracologist from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski", and Assist. Prof. Petar Kalchev, Director of the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History, the Museum has announced.

In her presentation, Boteva, who is the editor of the monograph, has emphasized that the work of the numismatist from the Stara Zagora Museum provides a lot of answers to questions puzzling the archaeologists.

In her words, the monograph is the first “fully Bulgarian" scientific research exploring the coin minting in the Roman province of Thrace.

The Ancient Roman city of Ulpia Augusta Traiana was probably founded ca. 107 AD by Roman Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD) (after whom it was named) on the site of a previously existing Ancient Thracian settlement called Beroe. (Some recent research indicates it might have been founded by Trajan’s successor, Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138 AD).) It quickly became the second most important city in the Roman province of Thrace after Philipopolis (Trimontium), today’s Plovdiv.

Learn more about the history of Augusta Traiana (known as Vereia in the Middle Ages) in the Background Infonotes below!

(L-R) Numismatist Dr. Mariana Minkova, Assist. Prof. Petar Kalchev, and Prof. Dilyana Boteva at the presentation of Minkova's monograph on the coins minted by Augusta Traiana. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

(L-R) Numismatist Dr. Mariana Minkova, Assist. Prof. Petar Kalchev, and Prof. Dilyana Boteva at the presentation of Minkova’s monograph on the coins minted by Augusta Traiana. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

Minkova’s monograph explores all known 874 coins minted by the Ancient Roman city of Augusta Traiana, whose ruins today are part of the Augusta Traiana – Vereia Archaeological Preserve in the city of Stara Zagora.

A total of 760 of the coins in question are part of the collection of the Stara Zagora Museum, while the rest 114 belong to a total of 22 museums of archaeology and history in Bulgaria and abroad.

The research has found that Augusta Traiana minted coins from 161-163 AD until 260-268 AD (with some pauses), i.e. the period from the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 AD) and his Co-Emperor Lucius Verus (r. 161-169 AD) until the reign of Roman Emperor Gallienus (r. 260-268 AD; r. 253-260 AD as a CoEmperor with his father Valerian).

The largest number of coins was minted in 202-204 AD, when Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193-211 AD) and his family visited the city.

Several coins depicting his wife, Empress Julia Domna (170-217 AD), with different hairstyles are said to be especially intriguing. One of the most interesting coin images depicts the young Julia Domna with her hair up.

The minting of coins by Augusta Traiana was terminated for about 4 decades in the first half of the 3rd century, Minkova’s findings show. It was resumed again for the last time during the reign of Emperor Gallienus.

A coin from Augusta Traiana showing the young Empress Julia Domna with her hair up, on one side, and goddess Artemis on the other. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

A coin from Augusta Traiana showing the young Empress Julia Domna with her hair up, on one side, and goddess Artemis on the other. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

Another coin from Augusta Traiana showing Emperor Caracalla on one side, and a temple of Apollo - on the other. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

Another coin from Augusta Traiana showing Emperor Caracalla on one side, and a temple of Apollo – on the other. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

According to Minkova’s monograph, the coins of the processor of today’s Stara Zagora came in six different types of face value, with types No. 1 and No. 5 being the most common.

During the presentation of her work, she has noted that the coins minted by Augusta Traiana were convertible all over the Roman Empire.

The types of coins minted by Augusta bare said to be typical for the coin system of the Roman provinces of Thrace and Moesia Inferior.

They often feature images of ancient gods Artemis and Apollo, who are believed to have been the main deities worshipped in Augusta Traiana, as well as Aphrodite and Asclepius.

Other images which are typical specifically for the city’s coins include a fortress gate with three towers, a river god at the foot of a hill with a fortress, a maenad (a female follower of Dionysus), Artemis in a biga (chariot) pulled by deer. Some of the coins depict the Roman Emperor as the Thracian Horseman (Heros), the supreme deity of the Ancient Thracians, hunting a wild boar.

Shortly after the presentation of the monograph on the coins of Augusta Traiana, a new archaeological discovery was made in the ancient city when construction workers stumbled upon what turned out to be two tombs inside marble sarcophagi.

Augusta Traiana Coins 3

The front cover of the monograph “The Coins of Augusta Traiana”. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

The front cover of the monograph "The Coins of Augusta Traiana". Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

The front cover of the monograph “The Coins of Augusta Traiana”. Photo: Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History

Also check out this other recent story about research of numismatic materials:

Coins of 42 Roman and Byzantine Emperors Discovered at Late Antiquity Fortress Kovachevsko Kale near Bulgaria’s Popovo So Far

Background Infonotes:

The Augusta Traiana – Vereia Archaeological Preserve in Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora features the ruins of the Ancient Roman city of Ulpia Augusta Traiana founded by Roman Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD) (after whom it was named) on the site of a previously existing Ancient Thracian settlement called Beroe. (Some recent research indicates it might have been founded by Trajan’s successor, Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138 AD).)

It saw its greatest urban development later under Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 AD). It quickly became the second most important city in the Roman province of Thrace after Philipopolis (Trimontium), today’s Plovdiv.

The Roman city of Augusta Traiana covered a territory of about 500 decares (app. 125 acres). During the Late Antiquity, it was visited by several Roman Emperors including Septimius Severus (r. 193-211 AD), Caracalla (r. 211-217 AD), and Diocletian (r. 294-305 AD), which is seen as a testimony to its importance.

In the 2nd-3rd century, Augusta Traiana minted its own coins (a total of 874 of them have been found, as of 2016); it is known to have had commercial contacts with faraway regions and cities such as Sparta, Aquincum (today’s Budapest in Hungary), and the province of Syria.

In the middle of the 4th century, Augusta Traiana became one of the major Early Christian centers in the Balkans.

In the Late Antiquity (4th-6th century) the city of Augusta Traiana was once again known under its original Thracian name of Beroe. Much of it was destroyed by barbarian invasions – by the Goths in the 4th century, the Huns in the 5th century, and later by the Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars. The invasions of the Bulgars and Slavs in the late 7th century, around the time of the two peoples formed the First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD), effectively ended the life of the Ancient Thracian and Roman city of Beroe / Augustra Traiana as it was.

It became part of Bulgaria under Khan Tervel (r. 700-718 AD), who called it Boruy. The city was a major bone of contention during the numerous wars between Bulgaria and Byzantium and became known as Vereia after Byzantium conquered the eastern parts of the First Bulgarian Empire in the late 10th century. Bulgaria reconquered it during the early years of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD).

In addition to its Neolithic, Ancient Roman, Byzantine, and medieval Bulgarian heritage, the territory of the city of Stara Zagora is dotted with Ancient Thracian archaeological sites, including more than 30 known temples of the main god according to Thracian mythology, the Thracian Horseman.

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The Stara Zagora Neolithic Dwellings Museum is part of the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History. It features what are described as “Europe’s best preserved homes from the early Neolithic period". It is based on discoveries made at a Neolithic settlement in the western part of the city dating back to the 7th-6th millennium BC first excavated in 1969 during rescue digs. In addition to the best preserved in situ early Neolithic dwelling in Europe, the museum also features an exhibition of prehistoric art.