FOR A ROMAN PROVINCIAL COIN WITH AN IMAGE OF THE PHRYGIAN GODDESS KIBELA
In the last few years, as a result of intensive archaeological research in Aqua Khalide – Therma, among many other finds, a large number of coins have been found. The numerous numismatic material discovered during the excavations has extremely wide chronological boundaries and covers the period from the middle of the 4th century BC. until the beginning of the twentieth century.
Of the Roman coins found, a pseudo-autonomous issue with the name Prymnessus from the Phrygia region of Asia Minor is of interest. Prymnessus is one of the many cities in Phrygia that received the right to issue coins during the period I – III century. The city began its coinage in the time of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) and continues with some interruptions to Emperor Gallienus (253-268). Gallienus’ rule also marked the end of autonomous issues for most of the city’s mints in the eastern provinces.
The coin minted in Prymnessus was found in 2015. It is well preserved, without corrosion and layers, found during a canal survey. Weight 4.52 g and diameter 24 mm. From the numismatic material discovered so far, the issue of this city is from the most remote area, which is present in the coin circulation in Aqua Khalida during the Roman period.
The face depicts a ring inscription and a bust of a young man, personification of the Roman Senate, on the left.
On the reverse side is depicted Cybele with a kalatos on her head, sitting on a throne, to the left, with her left hand leaning on a tympanum, the right is stretched over a lion, sitting at the bottom left.
On the obverse of the coin considered here is a personification of the Roman Senate, an iconographic type which, with the exception of a rare issue of Sestos, is not found in the repertoire of the cities of Thrace and Moesia. This image is extremely popular in the pseudo-autonomous issues of cities in the province of Asia, part of which is Phrygia, and the inscription and the portrait are almost identical in the various mints. The appearance of this iconographic type on the obverse in this region is related to the fact that Asia belongs to the so-called senate provinces that were under the administration of the Roman Senate.
As for the image on the reverse, the image of Cybele is also found in the pseudo-autonomous issues in Moesia and Thrace – for example in the coins of Marcianopolis.
This particular coin issue dates back to the time of the North (193-220), a heyday of provincial coinage, during which the mints in the eastern Roman provinces significantly increased their production and enriched their iconographic repertoire.
The emissions of some of the numerous cities in Phrygia with autonomous coinage are extremely rare in the provinces of Thrace and Lower Moesia, and there is usually no data on their location.
Of the collective and single finds of Roman provincial coins published so far, no other coins of the city of Prymnessus are known. This is not only the only specimen from the emissions of this Phrygian city, found in today’s Bulgarian lands, but also the only one found during regular archeological excavations. It is unlikely that this coin entered the Aqua Khalide circulation through trade.
The presence in such a remote area can be explained by the movement of military units or the settlement of veterans coming from the region of Phrygia in Thrace. Located near the Roman colony of Deultum, the baths at Aqua Khalide were regularly visited by soldiers, many of them veterans, who gave their meal in the form of coins in the sacred spring of the Nymphs.
M. Dotkova, 2019, 254-257.
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