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CELTIC-L  April 2002

CELTIC-L April 2002

Subject:

Re: Caesar on the Gauls

From:

John Hooker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Thu, 4 Apr 2002 09:31:44 -0700

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (157 lines) , text/plain (7 lines)

Hi Vyvyan,

>> >> Perhaps if you actually looked at some Gaulish coins then you would see
>> >> that they did use the Roman alphabet.
>> >
>> >This is faulty logic.  Here's your syllogism::
>> >The coins are Gaulish.
>> >They have Latin inscriptions.
>> >Therefore Gaulish coins may have Latin inscriptions.
>> >
>> >But the question is 'are the coins Gaulish or Romano-Celtic or Roman?'
>So
>> >your basic premise is unproved.
>> >
>> >And it becomes circular when you use this false 'proof' as evidence that
>> >Gauls used the Roman alphabet on coins.
>>
>> None of this makes any sense. Define "Gaulish", "Romano-Celtic", and
>> "Roman" in a numismatic context for me and I might better understand what
>> you are trying to say.
>
>I mean by Gaulish to do with the culture of the Gauls.  By Romano-Celtic I
>mean belonging to the culture which emerged from the marriage of Roman and
>Celtic culture after the conquest of Gaul in Europe and the Occupation in
>Britain.  By Roman I mean specific to Roman culture and not derived from
>Celtic at all.
>
>But your syllogism is still faulty.

O.K. Then by your criteria I can actually prove that purely Gaulish coins
used Roman letters.

In 57 B.C. Caesar responded to a coalition of Belgic tribes formed because
they were afraid that if the rest of Gaul was subdued, then the Romans
might march against them and they would lose their independance and be
unable to usurp the thrones of other tribes as was common, as Caesar tells
us, by powerful men who could afford to hire mercenaries.

The currency of mercenaries was gold coins. We know this is the case, not
only in Gaul, but in the Greek world as well. John Melville-Jones had
demonstrated how issues of Greek gold coins correspond to military campaigns.


At that time, the Belgic tribes started to issue a huge number of gold
staters. we know that they used their own gold as, at the same time, Roman
gold coins were of a high standard of purity -- 95 - 98% pure. The Celtic
gold, on the other hand rarely exceeded 75% and often was considerably
less. Also, Celtic gold varied in its alloy (a three part alloy -- Au, Ag.
Cu.) This is very different from the situation in Rome where intrinsic
value was important. The coins that the Gauls issued to fund their war
against the Romans are found, for the most part within the territories of
those that issued them, attesting to their purpose by revealing that they
were not being used for trade with their neighbours.

Each of these Belgic tribes issued gold coins that were derived, in their
designs, from Greek coins that they had previously obtained as mercenary
payments. The Belgic tribe that first started issuing their own coins, as
far as we can tell, was the Ambiani. In their territory was found a small
number of coins that while listed as Celtic by Simone Scheers, nevertheless
have not only about 95% gold content, but are virtually indistinguishable
from coins issued by the Greek state of Taras in southern Italy, and these
types were used to fund the defence of that city. The Ambiani soon started
copying these coins for their own purposes in baser gold.

All the other early Belgic coins followed the model of posthumous issues of
Phillip II of Macedon, and we have records of Celts involved in campaigns
at the time of Antigonas Gonatas.

So, we have established that these tribes used their coins for hiring
troops and this was a long standing tradition that they adopted through
their contact with the Greeks. we have also established that the Greek and
Roman gold was highly refined, and that they cared about the intrinsic
worth, but Celtic gold was not, and they didn't. We have also established,
through the provenances, that each Celtic issue did not usually stray far,
and was thus not used in regular inter-tribal or international trade. This
latter fact is also confirmed by the broader culural context of the use of
gold coins as military currency. We also see that a huge increase in the
gold issues, corresponds to the campaigns of Caesar. In many cases,
patterns of hoard burials follows Roman advances, further confirming this
view.


Back to Caesar. the first thing he did, as any good general would do, is to
become informed of the names of these belgic tribes, and what military
might they could muster. Knowledge of their money would have been part of
this as well -- he could then understand what sort of forces thay could
hire. If a tribe had no gold, they would likely not present as much of a
threat as a tribe that could afford to hire troops from as far away as
Britain (As the Ambiani were able to do, and we can tell that from a large
number of Ambiani -- "Gallo-Belgic C" coins found in Britain -- a very
unusual thing). These Ambiani coins did spread further than most other
Celtic coins. They were formerly attributed to the Bellovaci, and I am not
100% sure that the former attribution was not right after all. The
Bellovaci were the most military powerful of all the Belgic tribes, and the
Ambiani could never muster the number of troops that the Bellovaci could.
But current literature says the coins were Ambiani, and until this is
properly researched and written up, the coins must stay Ambiani.

One of the tribes that Casar learned about was the Nervii. The Belgae
considered them their fiercest fighters, but the Nervii, by reason of a
smaller population, could only muster half the troops of the Bellovaci.
This was still five times that of the Ambiani though, further evidencing a
possible mistake in the current attribution of that huge number of coins to
the Ambiani

Caesar has some interesting things to say about the Nervii. First he says
that the information was obtained from his research, and was not knowledge
that the Romans already knew. He discovered that they did not allow traders
into their country and did not allow the importation of wine or other
luxuries, that they would never submit to the Romans or accept peace on any
terms.


We are very familiar with the coins of the Nervii that were issued to
finance their resistance to the Romans. Each of the tribes had their own
characteristic coin design, although each of them were related and
descendant from the Phillip stater. We have considerable provenances and
can be sure of most of the attributions (The Ambiani/Bellovaci being the
main exception in my mind). These gold issues in Gaul came to a halt when
they were subjugated, but later small and base coins were used in a
blossoming Roman-Celtic economy.

Now for the clincher: there are typical Nervii gold coins bearing the
legend VIROS.

So we have Gaulish coins that have Roman letters. They are not
Romano-Celtic, the Nervii would not waste their spit on a Roman. They did
not (obviously) view these coins as having anything that would spell out
some Nervii/Roman affiliation. On their part, the Romans did not know
anything about the Nervii until they got the Belgic borderlands and made
inquiries. The coins predate the conquest and so can neither be
Romano-Celtic nor Roman. All of this comes from mutually confirming
archaeological/numismatic/historic evidence. What more you could you need?

I am still not following you regarding the Arverian coins with the
VERCINGETORIX legend, are you trying to say that they are somehow Roman or
Romano-Celtic?

And what about the current British coins that have D.G. REG. F.D. would
these, therefore, be Romano-British? ;-)

I am having considerable difficulty following your reasoning in all these
emails. You revealed that you are in Australia, and I am entertaining the
idea that perhaps you are really Vincent Megaw playing an elaborate and
extended April Fool's day joke on us all. ;-)

Cheers,

John

http://www.writer2001.com/
Hooker & Perron, Total Project Coordination
Database-Web...Graphics...Custom Maps...Colour Suites...Expert Systems
Building the Celtic Coin Index on the Web:
http://www.writer2001.com/cciwriter2001/



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