The Nablus Collection is a previously-unpublished hoard of imperial Roman bronze coins from the Tetrarchic Period (294-318) housed at the Catholic University of America.

The Collection is comparable to many other, similar hoards and confirms common trends such as weight, time span, and inflation during the period. One programmatic weight reduction, in the year 307/308, is well documented in the Collection, and the hoard further substantiates a lesser-known weight reduction in the year 312 for which no material evidence had as yet been discovered. The Collection, however, differs from other hoards in several remarkable ways, raising questions that require creative hypotheses. The mint distribution supported by comparable hoards of the period contrasts strikingly with that of the Collection, which evidences a balance of eastern and western mints peculiar for the period. The hoard testifies to the economic rise of a frontier colony which by the 320s had become an established community with its own bishop and the importance to attract a flow of foreign coin from across the Empire. The Collection adds a small piece to the story of that turbulent period when Constantine marched from York, crossed the Empire, and finally settled in the East.

The Nablus Collection at The Catholic University of America (CUA 5248) is a hoard of imperial Roman bronze coins from the Tetrarchic period (294–318), with three intruders of outlying dates, that came into the possession of Fr. Romain Butin in 1927.1 Comparands abound for this collection,2 which was minted and deposited during one of the periods of greatest inflation in Roman imperial coinage.3 The most salient shared features are find location, hoard size, metal type, denomination type, and date of minting and deposit (see Table A). On the other hand, the collection shows some striking contrasts to the norms established by the comparands. As a hoard, the collection also helps to substantiate a trend in imperial coin weights of the period.4 I argue that 175 of the 178 coins in the collection constitute a savings hoard. Additionally, the Nablus Collection evokes and spans that exciting period of Roman history in which Constantine was first hailed imperator, then fought to claim his place in the Tetrarchy, and finally transformed Diocletian's system radically. Part of that transformation was a reversal of the systematic debasements of currency that spanned the period of this hoard. It was owing perhaps more to bags of coins like these, and the promise that they would grow heavier rather than lighter, than to Constantine's conversion, that brought about the Christianization of Europe.5 After describing the unusual characteristics of this hoard, I propose that it is evidence of the economic benefits accruing to Nablus and other frontier colonies in the aftermath of Constantine's successful prosecution of civil war against all of his rivals, and his subsequent settling of veterans. A sudden influx of recently-minted coins from the other half of the Empire suggests a new phase of prosperity for certain types of persons and places in the fourth-century Empire.

TABLE A.

Nablus Collection, Inventory with References to Published Collections

inv. no.Ref.MintDate beginDate end
5284.001 RIC VI, p. 664, No. 26a: Vienna Alexandria 297 298 
5284.002 RIC VI, p. 621, No. 58a: Vienna Antioch 304 305 
5284.003 RIC VI, p. 663, No. 34a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 302 303 
5284.004 RIC VI, p. 666, No. 41: Vienna Alexandria 304 305 
5284.005 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.006 RIC VI, p. 557, No. 29a: Vienna Nicomedia 303 304 
5284.007 RIC VI, p. 619, No. 50a: Vienna Antioch 298 298 
5284.008 RIC VI, p. 619, No. 50a: Vienna Antioch 298 298 
5284.009 RIC VI, p. 675, No. 80: Oxford (Ashmolean). Alexandria 308 310 
5284.010 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.011 RIC VI, p. 427, No. 29a: London (British Museum) Carthage 296 305 : 1 May 
5284.012 RIC VI, p. 463, No. 74a: Vienna Siscia 294 294 
5284.013 RIC VI, p. 512, No. 23a: American Numismatic Society Thessalonica 302 303 
5284.014 RIC VI, p. 469, No. 134a: London (British Museum) Siscia 301 301 
5284.015 RIC VI, p. 492, No. 3a: Vienna Serdica 303 305 : 1 May 
5284.016 RIC VI, p. 323, No. 94a: American Numismatic Society Aquileia 306 : 25 July 307 : autumn 
5284.017 RIC VI, p. 467, No. 109b: American Numismatic Society Siscia 299 299 
5284.018 RIC VI, p. 286, No. 43b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Ticinum 300 303 
5284.019 RIC VI, p. 492, No. 3b: Vienna Serdica 303 
5284.020 RIC VI, p. 492, No. 3b: Vienna Serdica 303 305 : 1 May 
5284.021 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 17b: Voetter/Gerin 6–7. Heraclea 296 297 
5284.022 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 19b: Oxford (Ashmolean). Heraclea 297 298 
5284.023 RIC VI, p. 580, No. 12b: American Numismatic Society. Cyzicus 297 299 
5284.024 RIC VI, p. 426, No. 29b: London (British Museum), Oxford (Ashmolean) Carthage 298 299 
5284.025 RIC VI, p. 427, No. 31b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Carthage 299 303 
5284.026 RIC VI, 620, No. 52b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 299 300 
5284.027 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 112c: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 309 309 
5284.028 RIC VI, 620, No. 52b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 299 300 
5284.029 RIC VI, p. 621, No. 58b: Vienna. Antioch 304 305 
5284.030 RIC VI, p. 665, No. 32b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 301 301 
5284.031 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 103: American Numismatic Society Alexandria 310 310 
5284.032 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 107a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.033 RIC VI, p. 513, No. 26b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 302 303 
5284.034 RIC VI, p. 284, No. 35b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Ticinum 298 299 
5284.035 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 101a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.036 RIC VI, p. 533, No. 24b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 305 : 1 May 307 : (early) 
5284.037 RIC VI, p. 362, No. 102b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 301 301 
5284.038 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 51b: Vienna Antioch 298 298 
5284.039 RIC VI, p. 358, No. 66b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 296 297 
5284.040 RIC VI, p. 314, No. 26b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Aquileia 298 298 
5284.041 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 112a: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.042 RIC VI, p. 624, No. 74b: Vienna Antioch 306 307 
5284.043 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 107a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.044 RIC VI, p. 674, No. 72: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (mid) 308 
5284.045 RIC VI, p. 629, No. 95: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 308 
5284.046 RIC VI, p. 627, No. 85: Vienna Antioch 308 (early or mid) 308 
5284.047 RIC VI, p. 631, No. 106a: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 309 (early) 
5284.048 RIC VI, p. 535, No. 37a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 308 309 
5284.049 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 20b: Paris Heraclea 297 298 
5284.050 RIC VI, p. 535, No. 37a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 308 309 
5284.051 RIC VI, p. 514, No. 30a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 310 311 
5284.052 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 43: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.053 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 105a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.054 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 112a: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.055 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 101a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.056 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 46: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.057 RIC VI, p. 537, No. 50: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 310 310 
5284.058 RIC VI, p. 637, No. 138: Vienna Antioch 310 310 
5284.059 RIC IV pt. 2, p. 89, No. 254 Rome or Flavia Neapolis 231 233 
5284.060 RIC VII, p. 676, No. 8: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 313 314 
5284.061 RIC VII, p. 676, No. 8: Glasgow (Hunterian Museum) Antioch 313 314 
5284.062 RIC VI, p. 514, No. 40b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 310 311 
5284.063 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 107b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.064 RIC VII, p. 704, No. 8. Alexandria 315 315 
5284.065 RIC VII, p. 676, No. 8: Glasgow (Hunterian Museum) Antioch 313 314 
5284.066 RIC VI, p. 485, No. 233a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Siscia 313 (early) 313 (early) 
5284.067 RIC VI, p. 638, No. 147b: Vienna Antioch 310 311 
5284.068 RIC VI, p. 484, No. 229a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Siscia 313 (early) 313 (early) 
5284.069 RIC VI, p. 589, No. 62. Cyzicus 310 310 
5284.070 RIC VI, p. 566, No. 71a: Vienna Nicomedia 312 (early) 312 (early) 
5284.071 RIC VII, p. 303, No. 57: Vienna Rome 316 317 
5284.072 RIC VII, p. 303, No. 57: Munich Rome 316 317 
5284.073 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 22: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.074 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 23: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.075 RIC VI, p. 514, No. 30b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 310 311 
5284.076 RIC VI, p. 405, No. 45: American Numismatic Society Ostia 309 (late) 312 (October) 
5284.077 RIC VI, p. 382, No. 258: American Numismatic Society Rome 310 311 
5284.078 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.079 RIC VII, p. 245, No. 136: Vienna Arles 317 317 
5284.080     
5284.081 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.082 RIC VII, p. 24, No. 72: Vienna Arles 316 (early) 316 (early) 
5284.083 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.084 RIC VII, p. 242, No. 100 Arles 316 (later) 316 (later) 
5284.085 RIC VII, p. 296, No. 2: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 313 313 
5284.086 RIC VII, p. 247, No. 136: Vienna Arles (?) 317 317 
5284.087 RIC VII, p. 247, No. 136: Vienna Arles (?) 317 317 
5284.088 RIC VI, p. 389, No. 333: London (British Museum) Rome 312 (end) 313 
5284.089 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.090 RIC VII, p. 361, No. 14: Vienna Ticinum 314 314 
5284.091 RIC VII, p. 249, No. 150: London (British Museum) Arles 317 318 
5284.092 RIC VI, p. 387, No. 295a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 312 (end) 313 
5284.093 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 33: London (British Museum) Rome 315 315 
5284.094 RIC VII, p. 248, No. 146: Vienna Arles 317 318 
5284.095 RIC VII, p. 240, No. 72: Vienna Arles 316 316 
5284.096 RIC VII, p. 246, No. 120: London (British Museum) Arles 317 317 
5284.097 RIC VII, p. 309, No. 97: Glasgow (Hunterian Museum) Rome 317 318 
5284.098 RIC VII, p. 300, No. 40: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 315 316 
5284.099 RIC VII, p. 307, No. 78: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 317 317 
5284.100 RIC VII, p. 302, No. 52: London (British Museum) Rome 316 317 
5284.101 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 33: Delos Hoard Rome 315 315 
5284.102 RIC VII, p. 241, No. 80: London (British Museum) Arles 316 (early) 316 (early) 
5284.103 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27 Rome 314 315 
5284.104 RIC VII, p. 242, No. 100: London (British Museum) Arles 316 (late) 316 (late) 
5284.105 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.106 RIC VI, p. 594, No. 105c: Voetter/Gerin 14 Cyzicus 312 313 
5284.107 RIC VI, p. 136, No. 177: Oxford (Ashmolean) London 310 (mid) 312 (late) 
5284.108 RIC VII, p. 98, No. 10: London (British Museum) London 313 314 
5284.109 RIC VII, p. 124, No. 34: London (British Museum) Lyons 315 316 
5284.110 RIC VI, p. 566, No. 71c: London (British Museum) Nicomedia 312 (early) 312 (early) 
5284.111 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.112 RIC VII, p. 300, No. 40: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 315 316 
5284.113 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.114 RIC VI, p. 627 for ob. legend. Antioch 307 : spring 307 : spring 
5284.115 RIC VII, p. 300, No. 40: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 315 316 
5284.116 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.117 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.118 RIC VII, p. 361, No. 7: Vienna Ticinum 313 313 
5284.119 RIC VII, p. 361, No. 7: Vienna Ticinum 313 313 
5284.120 RIC VI, p. 519, No. 61b: Paris Thessalonica 312 313 (early) 
5284.121 RIC VII, p. 175, No. 145: Milan (Castello Sforzesco) Trier 317 318 
5284.122 RIC VII, p. 168, No. 40: London (British Museum) Trier 313 315 
5284.123 RIC VII, p. 704, No. 6: London (British Museum) Alexandria 314 315 
5284.124 RIC VI, p. 638, No. 147d: Vienna Antioch 310 311 
5284.125 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.126 RIC VII, p. 393, No. 4: London (British Museum) Aquileia 317 317 
5284.127 RIC VII, p. 398, No. 2: London (British Museum) Aquileia 313 313 
5284.128 RIC VII, p. 428, No. 31: Vienna Siscia 317 317 
5284.129 RIC VI, p. 428, No. 39a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Carthage 305 : 1 May 306 : 25 July 
5284.130 RIC VI, p. 362, No. 112a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 303 305: 1 May 
5284.131 RIC VI, p. 512, No. 22a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 300 301 
5284.132 RIC VI, p. 582, No. 21a: Voetter/GerinCyzicus 305 : 1 May 306 : 25 July 
5284.133 RIC VI, p. 314, No. 26a: London (British Museum) Aquileia 297 298 
5284.134 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 55a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.135 RIC VI, p. 619, No. 47a: Vienna Antioch 296 296 
5284.136 RIC VI, p. 366, No. 132a: Vienna Rome 306 306 
5284.137 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.138 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.139 RIC VII, p. 247, No. 134: Vienna Arles 317 317 
5284.140 RIC VII, p. 371, No. 76: Paris Ticinum 317 318 
5284.141 RIC VII, p. 308, No. 90: Vienna Rome 317 317 
5284.142 RIC VII, p. 176, No. 162: Cambridge (Fitzwilliam) Trier 317 318 
5284.143 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 (early) 309 (early) 
5284.144 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 (later) 309 (later) 
5284.145 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.146 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.147 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 99a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.148 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 100a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.149 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 100a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.150 RIC VI, p. 674, No. 71: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (mid) 308 (mid) 
5284.151 RIC VI, p. 565, No. 68: Vienna Nicomedia 311 311 
5284.152 RIC VI, p. 628, No. 94a: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 308 (later) 
5284.153 RIC VI, p. 565, No. 66c: American Numismatic Society Nicomedia 310 311 
5284.154 RIC VI, p. 644, No. 167b: Vienna Antioch 312 312 
5284.155 RIC VI, p. 636, No. 133c: Vienna Antioch 310 310 
5284.156 RIC VI, p. 685, No. 160b: Vienna Alexandria 312 313 
5284.157 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 105c: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.158 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 105c: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.159 RIC VI, p. 685, No. 160b: Vienna Alexandria 312 313 
5284.160 RIC VI, p. 562, No. 55: American Numismatic Society Nicomedia 308 : December 310 : May 
5284.161 RIC VI, p. 535, No. 37a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 308 309 
5284.162 RIC VI, p. 631, No. 103: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 309 
5284.163 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 43: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.164 RIC VI, p. 632f. Antioch 309 310 
5284.165 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 100a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.166 RIC VI, p. 685, No. 160b: Vienna Alexandria 312 313 
5284.167 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 43: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.168 RIC VI, p. 628, No. 94a: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 308 (later) 
5284.169 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 (later) 309 (later) 
5284.170 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 17a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 296 297 
5284.171 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 19a: Paris Heraclea 297 298 
5284.172 RIC VI, p. 495, No. 14a: Vienna Serdica 305 : 1 May 306 : 25 July 
5284.173 RIC VI, p. 557, No. 29a: Vienna Nicomedia 303 304 
5284.174 RIC VII, p. 302, No. 52: London (British Museum). Rome 316 317 
5284.175 RIC VII, p. 124, No. 33: Oxford (Ashmolean) Lyons 315 316 
5284.176 RIC VII, p. 558, No. 116: London (British Museum) Heraclea 330 333 
5284.177 RIC VII, p. 241, No. 80: London (British Museum) Arles 316 (early) 316 (early) 
5284.178 RIC VIII, p. 457, No. 109: London (British Museum) Constantinople 351 : 15 March 355 : 6 November 
inv. no.Ref.MintDate beginDate end
5284.001 RIC VI, p. 664, No. 26a: Vienna Alexandria 297 298 
5284.002 RIC VI, p. 621, No. 58a: Vienna Antioch 304 305 
5284.003 RIC VI, p. 663, No. 34a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 302 303 
5284.004 RIC VI, p. 666, No. 41: Vienna Alexandria 304 305 
5284.005 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.006 RIC VI, p. 557, No. 29a: Vienna Nicomedia 303 304 
5284.007 RIC VI, p. 619, No. 50a: Vienna Antioch 298 298 
5284.008 RIC VI, p. 619, No. 50a: Vienna Antioch 298 298 
5284.009 RIC VI, p. 675, No. 80: Oxford (Ashmolean). Alexandria 308 310 
5284.010 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.011 RIC VI, p. 427, No. 29a: London (British Museum) Carthage 296 305 : 1 May 
5284.012 RIC VI, p. 463, No. 74a: Vienna Siscia 294 294 
5284.013 RIC VI, p. 512, No. 23a: American Numismatic Society Thessalonica 302 303 
5284.014 RIC VI, p. 469, No. 134a: London (British Museum) Siscia 301 301 
5284.015 RIC VI, p. 492, No. 3a: Vienna Serdica 303 305 : 1 May 
5284.016 RIC VI, p. 323, No. 94a: American Numismatic Society Aquileia 306 : 25 July 307 : autumn 
5284.017 RIC VI, p. 467, No. 109b: American Numismatic Society Siscia 299 299 
5284.018 RIC VI, p. 286, No. 43b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Ticinum 300 303 
5284.019 RIC VI, p. 492, No. 3b: Vienna Serdica 303 
5284.020 RIC VI, p. 492, No. 3b: Vienna Serdica 303 305 : 1 May 
5284.021 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 17b: Voetter/Gerin 6–7. Heraclea 296 297 
5284.022 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 19b: Oxford (Ashmolean). Heraclea 297 298 
5284.023 RIC VI, p. 580, No. 12b: American Numismatic Society. Cyzicus 297 299 
5284.024 RIC VI, p. 426, No. 29b: London (British Museum), Oxford (Ashmolean) Carthage 298 299 
5284.025 RIC VI, p. 427, No. 31b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Carthage 299 303 
5284.026 RIC VI, 620, No. 52b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 299 300 
5284.027 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 112c: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 309 309 
5284.028 RIC VI, 620, No. 52b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 299 300 
5284.029 RIC VI, p. 621, No. 58b: Vienna. Antioch 304 305 
5284.030 RIC VI, p. 665, No. 32b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 301 301 
5284.031 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 103: American Numismatic Society Alexandria 310 310 
5284.032 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 107a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.033 RIC VI, p. 513, No. 26b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 302 303 
5284.034 RIC VI, p. 284, No. 35b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Ticinum 298 299 
5284.035 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 101a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.036 RIC VI, p. 533, No. 24b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 305 : 1 May 307 : (early) 
5284.037 RIC VI, p. 362, No. 102b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 301 301 
5284.038 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 51b: Vienna Antioch 298 298 
5284.039 RIC VI, p. 358, No. 66b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 296 297 
5284.040 RIC VI, p. 314, No. 26b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Aquileia 298 298 
5284.041 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 112a: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.042 RIC VI, p. 624, No. 74b: Vienna Antioch 306 307 
5284.043 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 107a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.044 RIC VI, p. 674, No. 72: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (mid) 308 
5284.045 RIC VI, p. 629, No. 95: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 308 
5284.046 RIC VI, p. 627, No. 85: Vienna Antioch 308 (early or mid) 308 
5284.047 RIC VI, p. 631, No. 106a: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 309 (early) 
5284.048 RIC VI, p. 535, No. 37a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 308 309 
5284.049 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 20b: Paris Heraclea 297 298 
5284.050 RIC VI, p. 535, No. 37a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 308 309 
5284.051 RIC VI, p. 514, No. 30a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 310 311 
5284.052 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 43: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.053 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 105a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.054 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 112a: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.055 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 101a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.056 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 46: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.057 RIC VI, p. 537, No. 50: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 310 310 
5284.058 RIC VI, p. 637, No. 138: Vienna Antioch 310 310 
5284.059 RIC IV pt. 2, p. 89, No. 254 Rome or Flavia Neapolis 231 233 
5284.060 RIC VII, p. 676, No. 8: Oxford (Ashmolean) Antioch 313 314 
5284.061 RIC VII, p. 676, No. 8: Glasgow (Hunterian Museum) Antioch 313 314 
5284.062 RIC VI, p. 514, No. 40b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 310 311 
5284.063 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 107b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.064 RIC VII, p. 704, No. 8. Alexandria 315 315 
5284.065 RIC VII, p. 676, No. 8: Glasgow (Hunterian Museum) Antioch 313 314 
5284.066 RIC VI, p. 485, No. 233a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Siscia 313 (early) 313 (early) 
5284.067 RIC VI, p. 638, No. 147b: Vienna Antioch 310 311 
5284.068 RIC VI, p. 484, No. 229a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Siscia 313 (early) 313 (early) 
5284.069 RIC VI, p. 589, No. 62. Cyzicus 310 310 
5284.070 RIC VI, p. 566, No. 71a: Vienna Nicomedia 312 (early) 312 (early) 
5284.071 RIC VII, p. 303, No. 57: Vienna Rome 316 317 
5284.072 RIC VII, p. 303, No. 57: Munich Rome 316 317 
5284.073 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 22: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.074 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 23: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.075 RIC VI, p. 514, No. 30b: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 310 311 
5284.076 RIC VI, p. 405, No. 45: American Numismatic Society Ostia 309 (late) 312 (October) 
5284.077 RIC VI, p. 382, No. 258: American Numismatic Society Rome 310 311 
5284.078 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.079 RIC VII, p. 245, No. 136: Vienna Arles 317 317 
5284.080     
5284.081 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.082 RIC VII, p. 24, No. 72: Vienna Arles 316 (early) 316 (early) 
5284.083 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.084 RIC VII, p. 242, No. 100 Arles 316 (later) 316 (later) 
5284.085 RIC VII, p. 296, No. 2: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 313 313 
5284.086 RIC VII, p. 247, No. 136: Vienna Arles (?) 317 317 
5284.087 RIC VII, p. 247, No. 136: Vienna Arles (?) 317 317 
5284.088 RIC VI, p. 389, No. 333: London (British Museum) Rome 312 (end) 313 
5284.089 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.090 RIC VII, p. 361, No. 14: Vienna Ticinum 314 314 
5284.091 RIC VII, p. 249, No. 150: London (British Museum) Arles 317 318 
5284.092 RIC VI, p. 387, No. 295a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 312 (end) 313 
5284.093 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 33: London (British Museum) Rome 315 315 
5284.094 RIC VII, p. 248, No. 146: Vienna Arles 317 318 
5284.095 RIC VII, p. 240, No. 72: Vienna Arles 316 316 
5284.096 RIC VII, p. 246, No. 120: London (British Museum) Arles 317 317 
5284.097 RIC VII, p. 309, No. 97: Glasgow (Hunterian Museum) Rome 317 318 
5284.098 RIC VII, p. 300, No. 40: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 315 316 
5284.099 RIC VII, p. 307, No. 78: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 317 317 
5284.100 RIC VII, p. 302, No. 52: London (British Museum) Rome 316 317 
5284.101 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 33: Delos Hoard Rome 315 315 
5284.102 RIC VII, p. 241, No. 80: London (British Museum) Arles 316 (early) 316 (early) 
5284.103 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27 Rome 314 315 
5284.104 RIC VII, p. 242, No. 100: London (British Museum) Arles 316 (late) 316 (late) 
5284.105 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.106 RIC VI, p. 594, No. 105c: Voetter/Gerin 14 Cyzicus 312 313 
5284.107 RIC VI, p. 136, No. 177: Oxford (Ashmolean) London 310 (mid) 312 (late) 
5284.108 RIC VII, p. 98, No. 10: London (British Museum) London 313 314 
5284.109 RIC VII, p. 124, No. 34: London (British Museum) Lyons 315 316 
5284.110 RIC VI, p. 566, No. 71c: London (British Museum) Nicomedia 312 (early) 312 (early) 
5284.111 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.112 RIC VII, p. 300, No. 40: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 315 316 
5284.113 RIC VII, p. 298, No. 19: London (British Museum) Rome 314 314 
5284.114 RIC VI, p. 627 for ob. legend. Antioch 307 : spring 307 : spring 
5284.115 RIC VII, p. 300, No. 40: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 315 316 
5284.116 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.117 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.118 RIC VII, p. 361, No. 7: Vienna Ticinum 313 313 
5284.119 RIC VII, p. 361, No. 7: Vienna Ticinum 313 313 
5284.120 RIC VI, p. 519, No. 61b: Paris Thessalonica 312 313 (early) 
5284.121 RIC VII, p. 175, No. 145: Milan (Castello Sforzesco) Trier 317 318 
5284.122 RIC VII, p. 168, No. 40: London (British Museum) Trier 313 315 
5284.123 RIC VII, p. 704, No. 6: London (British Museum) Alexandria 314 315 
5284.124 RIC VI, p. 638, No. 147d: Vienna Antioch 310 311 
5284.125 RIC VII, p. 299, No. 27: London (British Museum) Rome 314 315 
5284.126 RIC VII, p. 393, No. 4: London (British Museum) Aquileia 317 317 
5284.127 RIC VII, p. 398, No. 2: London (British Museum) Aquileia 313 313 
5284.128 RIC VII, p. 428, No. 31: Vienna Siscia 317 317 
5284.129 RIC VI, p. 428, No. 39a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Carthage 305 : 1 May 306 : 25 July 
5284.130 RIC VI, p. 362, No. 112a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Rome 303 305: 1 May 
5284.131 RIC VI, p. 512, No. 22a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Thessalonica 300 301 
5284.132 RIC VI, p. 582, No. 21a: Voetter/GerinCyzicus 305 : 1 May 306 : 25 July 
5284.133 RIC VI, p. 314, No. 26a: London (British Museum) Aquileia 297 298 
5284.134 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 55a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.135 RIC VI, p. 619, No. 47a: Vienna Antioch 296 296 
5284.136 RIC VI, p. 366, No. 132a: Vienna Rome 306 306 
5284.137 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.138 RIC VI, p. 620, No. 54a: Vienna Antioch 300 301 
5284.139 RIC VII, p. 247, No. 134: Vienna Arles 317 317 
5284.140 RIC VII, p. 371, No. 76: Paris Ticinum 317 318 
5284.141 RIC VII, p. 308, No. 90: Vienna Rome 317 317 
5284.142 RIC VII, p. 176, No. 162: Cambridge (Fitzwilliam) Trier 317 318 
5284.143 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 (early) 309 (early) 
5284.144 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 (later) 309 (later) 
5284.145 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.146 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 309 
5284.147 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 99a: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.148 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 100a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.149 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 100a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.150 RIC VI, p. 674, No. 71: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (mid) 308 (mid) 
5284.151 RIC VI, p. 565, No. 68: Vienna Nicomedia 311 311 
5284.152 RIC VI, p. 628, No. 94a: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 308 (later) 
5284.153 RIC VI, p. 565, No. 66c: American Numismatic Society Nicomedia 310 311 
5284.154 RIC VI, p. 644, No. 167b: Vienna Antioch 312 312 
5284.155 RIC VI, p. 636, No. 133c: Vienna Antioch 310 310 
5284.156 RIC VI, p. 685, No. 160b: Vienna Alexandria 312 313 
5284.157 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 105c: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.158 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 105c: Vienna Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.159 RIC VI, p. 685, No. 160b: Vienna Alexandria 312 313 
5284.160 RIC VI, p. 562, No. 55: American Numismatic Society Nicomedia 308 : December 310 : May 
5284.161 RIC VI, p. 535, No. 37a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 308 309 
5284.162 RIC VI, p. 631, No. 103: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 309 
5284.163 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 43: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.164 RIC VI, p. 632f. Antioch 309 310 
5284.165 RIC VI, p. 678, No. 100a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Alexandria 308 (late) 310 
5284.166 RIC VI, p. 685, No. 160b: Vienna Alexandria 312 313 
5284.167 RIC VI, p. 586, No. 43: Oxford (Ashmolean) Cyzicus 308 309 
5284.168 RIC VI, p. 628, No. 94a: Vienna Antioch 308 (later) 308 (later) 
5284.169 RIC VI, p. 632, No. 110: Vienna Antioch 309 (later) 309 (later) 
5284.170 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 17a: Oxford (Ashmolean) Heraclea 296 297 
5284.171 RIC VI, p. 531, No. 19a: Paris Heraclea 297 298 
5284.172 RIC VI, p. 495, No. 14a: Vienna Serdica 305 : 1 May 306 : 25 July 
5284.173 RIC VI, p. 557, No. 29a: Vienna Nicomedia 303 304 
5284.174 RIC VII, p. 302, No. 52: London (British Museum). Rome 316 317 
5284.175 RIC VII, p. 124, No. 33: Oxford (Ashmolean) Lyons 315 316 
5284.176 RIC VII, p. 558, No. 116: London (British Museum) Heraclea 330 333 
5284.177 RIC VII, p. 241, No. 80: London (British Museum) Arles 316 (early) 316 (early) 
5284.178 RIC VIII, p. 457, No. 109: London (British Museum) Constantinople 351 : 15 March 355 : 6 November 

A coin hoard found in 1934 in a cave to the north-west of the Palestinian village of Yamun, about 30 km to the north of Nablus, contained 341 bronze coins.6 The coins, mostly in poor condition, represent only four issuing authorities: Constans I, Constantius II, Constantius Gallus, and Julian. Baramki regards the terminus ante quem for the closing of the hoard to be the end of Julian's reign, as the coins represent no later emperor. He also notes that 98 coins (29% of the hoard) are unidentifiable, although 207 of the coins are of Constantius II (60%), and only Constans (2 coins) is represented as Augustus, Constantius Gallus (8) and Julian (23) both being represented as Caesars. With nearly a third of the hoard unidentifiable, we must regard it as incomplete for the purposes of dating.7 Still, the striking preponderance of coins of Constantius II as Augustus, and the evidence of the other identifiable coins compresses the possible date range to those years when Constantius II was in power. The terminus ante quem for the coins of Julian is 360, at which time his cousin Constantius II attempted to strip him of his army, causing the revolt of the same troops and their proclamation of Julian as Augustus. Therefore the termini of identifiable coins are 337–360.

The Nablus Collection is similar. Consisting of 175 Tetrarchic bronze folles (dating 294–318), one bronze follis of Constantine (c. 330–333), one bronze follis of Constantius II (c. 351–355), and one silver denarius of Alexander Severus (c. 231–233), the Nablus Collection is a hoard dating to the period just before the Yamun hoard, and consisting of a similar amount and metal type. Some outliers must be excluded from the hoard. The Constantinian coin (5284.176) was minted in Nicomedia, just as were seven other coins ranging in date from 303 to 312, six of them of emperors other than Constantine prior to the latter's sole hegemony. The other coins were minted by the eastern Augusti Diocletian (two), Maximinus (two, along with one of Maximinus as Caesar), and Licinius (one). The Constantinian coin (5284.176) differs from all other coins in the hoard in date, type, legend, and weight (it is the second-lightest coin in the collection after that of Alexander Severus, which I argue to exclude). It is the only coin in the collection with the obverse legend CONSTANTI–NVS MAX AVG and one of only three with broken obverse legend (GAL VAL–ERIA AVG:). It is the only coin with the reverse legend GLOR–IA EXERC–ITVS (with any breaking pattern), while the rest of the hoard shows only a few reverse legends (e.g., forms of GENIO POPVLI ROMANI/CAESARIS/AVGVSTI and SOLI INVICTO COMITI alone account for 140 coins, or 80% of the hoard). Apart from the three coins of Valeria (the only woman depicted in the collection) and one clear intruder of Constantius II, this coin (5284.176) is the only coin with an obverse type of a diademed head, laureate head obverse types accounting for the rest (over 98% of the hoard). The reverse type of 5284.176 is also unique in the collection, which is dominated by the Sol holding globe type and the Genius with cornucopiae type, together accounting for 140 coins (80% of the hoard). Finally, the coin is separated from the putative hoard by at least twelve and as many as fifteen years, and from the opening date of the hoard by 36–39 years. With the coin, therefore, the hoard spans 36–39 years. Without it, on the other hand, the hoard spans precisely 25 years, which is the average span for hoards in this time and place.8 Could this be because this was the term of service for a Roman soldier, the most likely recipient of large sums of cash at any period?9 For another example, the Yamun Hoard mentioned above has a range of 23 years. I therefore exclude 5248.175.

FIG. 1.

5284.176 obverse

FIG. 1.

5284.176 obverse

FIG. 2.

5284.176 reverse

FIG. 2.

5284.176 reverse

Another coin, 5284.59, may have been minted in Nablus itself. Founded about a mile and a half to the west of ancient Schechem in Samaria, at the foot of Mt. Gerizim, where today the last Samaritans relocate annually to celebrate passover according to the ancient law, Flavia Neapolis (later Julia Neapolis) was one of the five great cities of Palestine mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus.10 It was refounded in the year 72 by the Emperor Titus after the Jewish War, and it was home to an imperial mint at least as early as the time of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180).11 The mint of Neapolis was not operational during the putative period of the present hoard, having ceased by the year 253, 41 years prior to the terminus post quem for the opening of the hoard in 294.12 On the grounds of date alone we must consider this lone silver denarius an intruder to the hoard.

FIG. 3.

5284.59 obverse

FIG. 3.

5284.59 obverse

FIG. 4.

5284.59 reverse

FIG. 4.

5284.59 reverse

This silver denarius (5284.59) is of uncertain mint location, although it was probably minted at Nablus. We find common specimens of a silver denarius of Alexander Severus (r. 222–235) answering to the legends and types of 5284.59 minted at Rome and at no other mint (RIC 4.2, 89, no. 254). The present specimen thus may be attributed to the Roman mint. On the other hand, the coin may have been minted at Nablus and found its way into the hoard or the collection by some unknown circumstance. According to Herodian, Alexander Severus had come to Syria in 231 at the beginning of a campaign against the Sassanid Persians (6.4.3). Having arrived at Antioch, the young emperor conscripted three armies, took them east, lost the vast majority of his troops, and then returned to Antioch. Facing low morale among his troops, and eager to return to the West, Alexander bestowed a cash bonus on the survivors of the Persian campaign in 233 (6.6.4). Thus, two events are candidates for the minting of large sums of coins, one in 231 and one occurring in 233, giving us reliable termini for 5284.59. It must be admitted that Alexander may have minted these coins at Rome and brought them to Antioch with the raising of an army in mind, leaving open the possibility of Rome as the mint city if the coin is of that date. On the other hand, since there was a mint in operation at Nablus for the entire period of Alexander's regnal years, he may more easily have minted coinage for the conscription in situ. Furthermore, if the coin was made for the purpose of relieving tension which was the response to an unforeseen calamity, then it was almost certainly made at Nablus. If the coin was minted at Rome, it would be quite a coincidence indeed that it came to be lost in a remote provincial city which just happened to have a mint in operation at the time. It is therefore possible that the coin was minted and lost in Nablus, and that, whenever it was found, it was subsequently added to the collection, or even acquired on a separate occasion by Fr. Butin himself. If the original owner of the hoard spent his whole life in Nablus, this would explain the presence of the silver denarius.

At the other end of the timeline lies the single bronze coin of Constantius II: 5284.178. With a FEL TEMP REPARATIO and Falling Horseman reverse type, this is the only coin of Constantius II in the Nablus Collection, and a period of c. 33–38 years separates it from the bulk of the collection. It therefore raises a fortiori the same concerns of date applied to 5284.176, the Constantinian coin mentioned above. That coin, with a MAX AVG legend and diademed reverse type, both unique to the collection, lies between with a date of 330–333. This coin was made in Thessalonica, where numismatic evidence indicates that Constantine spent most of the years 330–333, after celebrating the dedication of his new city (May 11, 330) and the 25th anniversary of his accession (July 25) at Constantinople.13 Most of the coins fall within a tight range of years; further proof, then, would be required to include outliers separated from the rest of the hoard by multiple years. With the exception of 294, every year in the putative hoard period 294–318 offers multiple specimens. In the chart below (Table B, which plots specimen date/specimen number ordered by ascending date), these outliers depart so drastically from the trend that they are unable to be pictured: the silver denarius of Alexander Severus (59) and the bronze of Constantius II (178); the coin of date intermediate to 178 and the bulk of the collection; and the unique Constantinian coin (176). I therefore propose that they have been added to the hoard after deposit. Certain knowledge of whether this happened by accident before the hoard's discovery, or deliberately at some time afterward, may have died with Fr. Butin or whoever sold the collection to him.

FIG. 5.

5284.178 obverse

FIG. 5.

5284.178 obverse

FIG. 6.

5284.178 reverse

FIG. 6.

5284.178 reverse

TABLE B.

Nablus Collection, Distributed According to Mint Year and Inventory Number

Nablus Collection, Distributed According to Mint Year and Inventory Number
Nablus Collection, Distributed According to Mint Year and Inventory Number

A few coins require further comment. Two coins of Maximinus Daia (5284.153 and 160) minted at Nicomedia (one while he was Caesar and one while he was Augustus) contain in the reverse legend the curious ligatured mark “CMH.” The meaning of this mark is still uncertain, as a recent article on Constantinian bronze shows.14 5284.9 has an unexampled obverse legend in BEAETIS, not BEAETISS, as the closest match in Roman Imperial Coins indicates. The obverse legend of 5284.118 was made with an erroneous N which was changed into an A on the die itself, thus: IMP CONSTNNTINVS P F AVG. If this hypothesis explaining the N/A overstrike is true, there would probably be other coins made using the same faulty die. There are no such coins in the present collection. Though there are duplicate coins from single issues, there are no die-links in the collection. The largest group of duplicate coins from the same issue is the group of Roman coins minted in 314/315: 5284.78, 103, 111, 116, 117 and 125. Coin 5284.64 is unexampled: though eight officinae are attested for this issue and reverse legend, Δ is not attested for this obverse legend (only Γ and Η). Similarly 5284.69: though all six officinae are posited for this issue, only Γ and Δ are attested (69 is from Ϛ). 5284.164 is also unattested in RIC.

FIG. 7.

5284.153 obverse

FIG. 7.

5284.153 obverse

FIG. 8.

5284.153 reverse

FIG. 8.

5284.153 reverse

FIG. 9.

5284.160 obverse

FIG. 9.

5284.160 obverse

FIG. 10.

5284.160 reverse

FIG. 10.

5284.160 reverse

FIG. 11.

5284.9 obverse

FIG. 11.

5284.9 obverse

FIG. 12.

5284.9 reverse

FIG. 12.

5284.9 reverse

FIG. 13.

5284.118 obverse

FIG. 13.

5284.118 obverse

FIG. 14.

5284.118 reverse

FIG. 14.

5284.118 reverse

FIG. 15.

5284.64 obverse

FIG. 15.

5284.64 obverse

FIG. 16.

5284.64 reverse

FIG. 16.

5284.64 reverse

FIG. 17.

5284.69 obverse

FIG. 17.

5284.69 obverse

FIG. 18.

5284.69 reverse

FIG. 18.

5284.69 reverse

FIG. 19.

5284.164 obverse

FIG. 19.

5284.164 obverse

FIG. 20.

5284.164 reverse

FIG. 20.

5284.164 reverse

The mint distribution of the Nablus Collection offers some striking contrasts to other bronze hoards of the same period (see map on p. 193). These contrasts present an obvious problem: is the Nablus Collection a single hoard, or two? I have already argued that the three outliers ought to be dismissed as intruders to the hoard, but the possibility remains that the “hoard” is actually two hoards. The data are scarce, and the words of Carson and Kent apply to the Nablus Collection: “Unfortunately it is only rarely that any hoard from one of the eastern provinces is preserved, examined and published in detail, and this possibly is the first occasion on which a hoard of this precise period has been so studied.”15 Carson and Kent were talking about a hoard found in Izmir, dating from 351–361, and indeed, though another hoard of the exact same date was published recently, it was found near York, and only includes a single coin (0.5% of the hoard) minted east of Aquileia, and none east of Siscia.16 Whether or not the Nablus Collection consists of a single hoard like the Izmir hoard mentioned above, it is the first occasion on which a hoard of this date has been studied, and so our conclusions are tentative. But if other hoards from the surrounding period, 268–361, are any indication, the Nablus Collection is unique in that it contains substantial amounts of coins from both eastern and western mints. More strangely, the coins from the East (the place of deposit) were almost all minted before the coins from the West.

Why would the owner of this hoard have acquired so many coins at home in the East, traveled in the West for approximately 20 years, and then returned home to stay? Do these coins provide a slight glimpse into the life of a single soldier? Alternatively, if the owner never left home, how can we explain his acquisition of a large number of western coins that were relatively new when he acquired them? I first show the frequency of mints represented, then propose the (perhaps less exciting) hypothesis: that the owner never left Nablus, but that the coins from western mints were brought by a soldier of Constantine, who finally retired somewhere in the East.

Of 175 coins, the Nablus Collection contains 69 coins from the western mints of London, Lyons, Arles, Trier, Ticinum, Rome, Ostia, Carthage, and Aquileia; 106 coins from the eastern mints of Serdica, Siscia, Heraclea, Thessalonica, Cyzicus, Nicomedia, Antioch, and Alexandria (Table C). Five other hoards from this period contain only coins from one or the other of these two groups of mints, the exceptions being of negligible proportions (Tables DG). One hoard from Tiberias, about fifty miles from Nablus and dating 268–296 (Table E), contains only coins from the East, another (Table H) only coins from the West (a single coin from Siscia, in Illyricum at the crossroads of East and West, occurring in each), while the others represent similar bias: 91% from East (Table D), 98.7% from the East (Table F) and 95.9% from the West (Table G). In each case, the hoard overwhelmingly represented the mints from the half of the Empire in which the hoard was discovered. The Nablus Collection, on the other hand, is more balanced, with 39.4% coming from the West and 60.6% coming from the East, a ratio of 3:2 rather than at least 9:1. The Nablus Collection therefore departs from strong contemporary trends of bronze coin hoards. Without knowledge of the provenance of the collection I might have posited two separate hoards. Even knowing that it was all aquired at once, I might posit two hoards deposited separately, then later brought together like the three outliers already identified, but I would still not have explained a third salient trend in the collection: the balanced representation of Antioch and Alexandria from all periods represented. I first consider the other consequences of the two-hoard hypothesis before attempting to explain this fact.

TABLE C.

Nablus Collection, Frequency of Mint Locations by Date

Date294–299300–303304–307308–311312–330Total
MintNo.%No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%
London 2.8 1.1 
Lyons 2.8 1.1 
Arles 13 18.3 13 7.4 
Trier 4.2 1.7 
Ticinum 4.5 5.3 5.6 3.4 
Rome 4.5 10.5 9.1 1.9 28 39.4 33 18.9 
Ostia 0.6 
Carthage 13.6 9.1 2.3 
Aquileia 9.1 9.1 2.8 2.9 
Serdica 15.8 9.1 2.3 
Siscia 9.1 5.3 4.2 3.4 
Heraclea 22.7 9.1 7.7 1.4 11 6.3 
Thessalonica 15.8 5.8 1.4 4.0 
Cyzicus 4.5 9.1 9.6 1.4 4.6 
Nicomedia 10.5 5.8 2.8 4.0 
Antioch 27.3 31.6 36.4 19 36.5 5.6 39 22.3 
Alexandria 4.5 5.3 9.1 16 30.8 7.0 24 13.7 
Total 22 100 19 100 11 100 52 100 71 100 175 100 
Date294–299300–303304–307308–311312–330Total
MintNo.%No.%No.%No.%No.%No.%
London 2.8 1.1 
Lyons 2.8 1.1 
Arles 13 18.3 13 7.4 
Trier 4.2 1.7 
Ticinum 4.5 5.3 5.6 3.4 
Rome 4.5 10.5 9.1 1.9 28 39.4 33 18.9 
Ostia 0.6 
Carthage 13.6 9.1 2.3 
Aquileia 9.1 9.1 2.8 2.9 
Serdica 15.8 9.1 2.3 
Siscia 9.1 5.3 4.2 3.4 
Heraclea 22.7 9.1 7.7 1.4 11 6.3 
Thessalonica 15.8 5.8 1.4 4.0 
Cyzicus 4.5 9.1 9.6 1.4 4.6 
Nicomedia 10.5 5.8 2.8 4.0 
Antioch 27.3 31.6 36.4 19 36.5 5.6 39 22.3 
Alexandria 4.5 5.3 9.1 16 30.8 7.0 24 13.7 
Total 22 100 19 100 11 100 52 100 71 100 175 100 
TABLE D.

King (1986), Frequency of Mint Locations by Date

Date320–325325–330330–335335–341348–360Total
MintNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.%
Ticinum 2.7 
Rome 2.7 
Aquileia 2.7 
Heraclea 2.7 2.7 
Constantinople 16.2 16 
Nicomedia 8.1 5.4 14 
Cyzicus 2.7 
Antioch 10.8 10.8 2.7 24 
Alexandria 2.7 13.5 10.8 2.7 11 30 
Total           37 100 
Date320–325325–330330–335335–341348–360Total
MintNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.% of totalNo.%
Ticinum 2.7 
Rome 2.7 
Aquileia 2.7 
Heraclea 2.7 2.7 
Constantinople 16.2 16 
Nicomedia 8.1 5.4 14 
Cyzicus 2.7 
Antioch 10.8 10.8 2.7 24 
Alexandria 2.7 13.5 10.8 2.7 11 30 
Total           37 100 
TABLE E.

Hamburger (1964), Frequency of Mint Locations

Date268–296
MintNo.% of total
Siscia 1.0 
Cyzicus 12 12.2 
Tripolis 17 17.3 
Antioch 68 69.4 
Total 98 100.0 
Date268–296
MintNo.% of total
Siscia 1.0 
Cyzicus 12 12.2 
Tripolis 17 17.3 
Antioch 68 69.4 
Total 98 100.0 
TABLE F.

Carson and Kent (1971), Frequency of Mint Locations

Date351–361
MintNo.% of total
Arles 0.2 
Rome 0.8 
Siscia 0.3 
Sirmium 0.2 
Thessalonica 21 1.8 
Heraclea 76 6.4 
Constantinople 254 21.5 
Nicomedia 379 32.1 
Cyzicus 183 15.5 
Antioch 82 6.9 
Alexandria 34 2.9 
Uncertain 137 11.6 
Total 1182 100.0 
Date351–361
MintNo.% of total
Arles 0.2 
Rome 0.8 
Siscia 0.3 
Sirmium 0.2 
Thessalonica 21 1.8 
Heraclea 76 6.4 
Constantinople 254 21.5 
Nicomedia 379 32.1 
Cyzicus 183 15.5 
Antioch 82 6.9 
Alexandria 34 2.9 
Uncertain 137 11.6 
Total 1182 100.0 
TABLE G.

Barclay (1994a), Frequency of Mint Locations

Datec. 340s–348
MintNo.% of total
Trier 243 58.6 
Lyons 90 21.7 
Arles 57 13.7 
Rome 1.4 
Aquileia 0.2 
Siscia 1.4 
Thessalonica 1.0 
Heraclea 0.7 
Constantinople 0.2 
Nicomedia 0.5 
Cyzicus 0.5 
Total 415 100.0 
Datec. 340s–348
MintNo.% of total
Trier 243 58.6 
Lyons 90 21.7 
Arles 57 13.7 
Rome 1.4 
Aquileia 0.2 
Siscia 1.4 
Thessalonica 1.0 
Heraclea 0.7 
Constantinople 0.2 
Nicomedia 0.5 
Cyzicus 0.5 
Total 415 100.0 
TABLE H.

Barclay (1994b), Frequency of Mint Locations

Date351–361
MintNo.% of total
Trier 29 15.4 
Lyons 106 56.4 
Arles 44 23.4 
Rome 2.1 
Aquileia 2.1 
Siscia 0.5 
Total 188 100.0 
Date351–361
MintNo.% of total
Trier 29 15.4 
Lyons 106 56.4 
Arles 44 23.4 
Rome 2.1 
Aquileia 2.1 
Siscia 0.5 
Total 188 100.0 

To posit two separate hoards would raise the further question of how a hoard of coins minted in the West came to be deposited in Palestine. It would seem at first far easier to suppose that the collection consists of a single savings hoard, built up in the years between 294 and 318, and finally deposited shortly thereafter. But if they were collected over time, why do almost all the coins of western mints date from c. 312–318, and almost all the coins from the eastern mints date from 294–313? The place of deposit should have been expected to have produced the more recent coins.

The trail of mints across Europe described by the Nablus Collection is a veritable map of the career of Constantine. The major events of a thirty-year span are represented, from 306, when Constantine was proclaimed Augustus by his troops at York on the 25th of July, to 312/313, when Constantine invaded Italy and captured Rome before turning north to issue the Edict of Milan in 313, to 324 when Constantine was at Antioch before turning back westward, not to return to that side of the Hellespont again until 335, when he celebrated his tricennalia in Nicomedia.17 It is tempting to conjecture that this savings hoard was built up by someone in the employ of and traveling with Constantine, the issuer of 57 of the coins (33%). This would solve the problem posed by the unusual proportion of eastern and western mints represented. A soldier from York might have traveled with Constantine to the South, by way of Arles, the fourth-best represented mint in the collection, to Rome (second-best), to Antioch (the best-represented mint) in 324, finally retiring at Nablus. Why then would he possess so many coins from his new home, minted long before he ever arrived there?

More likely, such a soldier would have started out in Palestine, which accounts for the constant substantial representation of Antiochene and Alexandrian coinage throughout the hoard period. None of the hoard's Constantinian coins were minted before 312, when Constantine defeated Maxentius at Rome. The coins from before that period, however, are mostly from his rivals, especially Maximinus and Maxentius, who made common cause against Constantine in the winter of 311–312. The ensuing year saw the war between the two factions that ended in October with Constantine's famous victory at Rome, where Constantine and his vision of the Chi-Rho triumphed over Maxentius' faith in his interpretation of the Sybilline Oracles.18 If he was a supporter of the losing side, the transfer of his money could be easily explained. The beneficiary could then have received his bonus at Rome and then traveled ultimately to Antioch in the manner conjectured above. This second hypothesis meets with fewer objections, but still would raise an edifice too large for the mere evidence to bear.

The collection supports known trends in weight for bronze folles of the period. The eastern coins support the trend of a reduction in weight of the 10-gram follis by about one-third to 6.64 grams in 307/8, and the western coins (312–318) support the trend mentioned by Sperber of a subsequent reduction by half again to 3.57/3.36 grams in 312.19 These trends appear more clearly when plotted, for the reduction in weight predictably decreases from the opening of the hoard in 294 to its close in 318. That the decrease is neither constant nor gradual, but rather occurs in two successive steps of lower average weights, appears in the chart below (see Table I, which plots specimen weight/specimen number ordered by ascending date).20 The first step occurs in the Nablus Collection in 307, the second in 312, when Constantine invaded Italy, and coins from western mints, especially Rome, begin to predominate. Of 71 coins from the period 312–318, 57 are from western mints (80%).

TABLE I.

Nablus Collection, Distributed According to Weight (g.) and Inventory Number (inv. no. arranged according to mint year)

Nablus Collection, Distributed According to Weight (g.) and Inventory Number (inv. no. arranged according to mint year)
Nablus Collection, Distributed According to Weight (g.) and Inventory Number (inv. no. arranged according to mint year)

Also pointing to Constantine's prosecution of civil war during this period is the presence of coins from Ticinum, all but one of which were minted between 312, when Constantine challenged Maxentius in Italy, and 316, when Constantine defeated Licinius at Cibalae and established himself in the East for the next two years. If the owner of this savings hoard was in Constantine's employ and traveled with him during this period, that would explain why 30 of the 34 coins minted at Rome (88%) were minted during this period. If the owner was a soldier—not unlikely considering the relatively small size of the hoard and the fact that it consists entirely of bronze coins—he would have exhibited peak periods of receipt and spending (the combination of which would result in a high frequency of bronze coins) during the periods of (civil) war.21 In commenting on the period in general and Diocletian's Price Edict in particular, A.H.M. Jones estimates the common soldier's ration allowance at four or five solidi per annum, which would result in a purse full of copper pennies.22 Table B exhibits these trends.

In summary, the Nablus Collection presents a hoard of 175 Tetrarchic bronze folles, dating from 294–318. All active mints of the period are represented. The weight range of the collection as a whole represents noted trends. Of 175 coins, 5 are of uncertain identification: 5284.80, 86, 87, 92 and 174 (coin edge worn away; text in exergue lost). The Nablus Collection provides a rare specimen of a savings hoard of Tetrarchic bronze from the East, unique in its fairly balanced representation of both eastern and western mints, and as evidence for the two major programs of debasement in 307 and 312.

FIG. 21.

5284.80 obverse

FIG. 21.

5284.80 obverse

FIG. 22.

5284.80 reverse

FIG. 22.

5284.80 reverse

FIG. 23.

5284.86 obverse

FIG. 23.

5284.86 obverse

FIG. 24.

5284.86 reverse

FIG. 24.

5284.86 reverse

FIG. 25.

5284.87 obverse

FIG. 25.

5284.87 obverse

FIG. 26.

5284.87 reverse

FIG. 26.

5284.87 reverse

FIG. 27.

5284.92 obverse

FIG. 27.

5284.92 obverse

FIG. 28.

5284.92 reverse

FIG. 28.

5284.92 reverse

FIG. 29.

5284.174 obverse

FIG. 29.

5284.174 obverse

FIG. 30.

5284.174 reverse

FIG. 30.

5284.174 reverse

The more exciting story of this hoard would make it the savings of a soldier or other follower of Constantine, who followed the emperor out of Britain all the way to the East, perhaps retiring in Nablus. The opening and closing years of the hoard describe the span as a military career: about two decades. One characteristic, however, remains constant throughout the whole period represented by the hoard: the mint of Antioch is always well-represented, followed by Alexandria. Alexandrian and Roman coins were no doubt frequently interchanged, owing to the constant commerce between Egypt as the bread basket and the caput mundi that it fed. Additionally, Alexandria was the closest mint to Antioch, which is itself the mint nearest to the deposit location. The owner of this hoard, then, need never have left Nablus. As a colony, Nablus was flourishing precisely during this period: in 324, Nablus sent a bishop to the Council of Nicaea.23 Such a city would have brought military money to any baker or craftsman spending his entire life in this one place.24 Thus were it not for the unique mint distribution over time, any dealer in food commodities could have owned this savings hoard, regardless of who and how many other persons indirectly contributed to it. This cannot account for the coins of 312–318, which come from the West. The most plausible explanation is that the owner was stationed in the city as a soldier with a long career behind him, but the possibility remains that a large quantity of earlier eastern coins were brought by soldiers of Maximinus or Maxentius to Rome, where they were redistributed to the soldiers of the victorious Constantine, one of whom could have been the owner of this hoard. By considering how cash was being used during this transitional period of late antiquity, we can see how the Nablus Collection might have fit into the vast mosaic that was emerging, not always according to a plan, in the fourth-century Empire.

1.
A death notice in The Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1937) mentions that Fr. Butin had been a trustee of the Schools from 1923 and Director of the School in Jerusalem in the academic year 1926–1927. Fr. Butin died in a car accident, aged 66, on December 8, 1937.
2.
For example, J. Baramki, “Coin Hoards from Palestine. A Hoard of Late Roman Coins from Yamun,” Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 11 (1944): 30–32; B.H. Hamburger, “A Hoard of Antoniniani of Late Roman Emperors from Tiberias,” Israel Numismatic Journal 2.3–4 (1964): 19–31; R.A.G. Carson and J.P.C. Kent, “A Hoard of Fourth-Century Roman Bronze Coins from Izmir,” Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 21 (1971): 137–154; C.E. King, “The Constantinian Mints,” ANS Museum Notes 9 (1960): 117–138; and C. Barclay, “A Hoard of Fourth-Century Roman Bronze Coins from Haxby, N. Yorkshire,” Numismatic Circular 102 (1994): 155–156.
3.
On inflation in this period, see C. Howgego, Ancient History from Coins (New York: Routledge, 1995), 134–137, and D. Sperber, Roman Palestine: 200–400. Money and Prices (Jerusalem: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1974, repr. 1991).
4.
This trend is noted by Sperber, who references a “private communication” with Lawrence H. Cope in 1972.
5.
Cf. P. Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 528: “It was the entry of new wealth and talent into the churches from around the year 370 onward, rather than the conversion of Constantine in 312, which marks the ‘turning point in the Christianization of Europe.’” For Constantine's monetary reforms, see Jean-Michel Carrié & Aline Rousselle. L'Empire Romain en mutation; des Sévères à Constantin, 192–337 (Paris: Seuil, 1999), 245–246, on the reappropriation of pagan statues for coinage. In Constantinople certainly, in Nablus possibly, and perhaps throughout the East, this process must have begun much earlier than in the West.
6.
Baramki, “Yamun,” 30.
7.
S. Noe, “Hoard Evidence and its Importance,” Hesperia Supplements 8, Commemorative Studies in Honor of Theodore Leslie Shear (1949), 235; see also his arguments for the use of the argumentum ex silentio in the case of a Babylonian hoard of 100 coins (240): “[B]ecause [Demetrius I Soter's] predecessor's coinage is also present, attention is called to the absence of the common coinage of his successor, Alexander I Balas. From its absence, it is argued that the hoard would seem to have been buried before Alexander came to power.”
8.
M. Waner and Z. Safrai, “A Catalogue of Coin Hoards and the Shelf Life of Coins in Palestine Hoards during the Roman-Byzantine Period,” Liber Annuus 51 (2001): 305–336.
9.
Cf. A. Goldsworthy, The Complete Roman Army (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2003), 208, on the fourth-century reduction of the retirement age to 20 years. On soldiers and large sums of cash, see R. MacMullen, “The Roman Emperor's Army Costs,” Latomus 43 (1984): 571–580, who estimates that the military infrastructure accounted for two thirds of the state budget.
10.
The Passover rite referred to is that found in Exodus 12. For Ammianus Marcellinus on the civitates egregiae of Palestine, viz., Caesarea, Eleutheropolis, Neapolis, Ascalon, Gaza, see Res Gestae 14.8.11.
11.
M. Rosenberger, The Rosenberger Israel Collection Volume III: City-Coins of Palestine: Hipos-Sussita, Neapolis, Nicopolis, et al. (Jerusalem, 1977).
12.
R.J. Bull and E.F. Campbell, Jr., “The Sixth Campaign at Balâtha (Schechem),” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 190 (1968): 5.
13.
C.H.V. Sutherland and R.A.G. Carson, Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. 6–7 (London: Spink and Son, 1966–1967), vol. 7, 78.
14.
See María del Mar Royo Martínez, “Simbología y poder en las emisiones de bronce Constantinianas,” Gaceta Numismatica 168 (2008): 20, n. 14: “Las siglas CMH del final de esta leyenda han sido interpretadas de la siguiente manera: la primera de ellas (la C) como marca de valor, correspondiente a la inicial de cien (sestercios) mientras que la MH se correspondería con el numeral griego cuarenta y ocho, numeral que a juicio de J. I. San Vicente tendría relación con el número de monedas que en teoría entraban en una libra (48 monedas). Sobre esta cuestión, vid.: J. I. SAN VICENTE.” RIC 6, 548, notes merely that the significance of the symbol is uncertain, and cites the differing opinions of J.P.C. Kent, “The Pattern of Bronze Coinage under Constantine I,” Numismatic Circular (1957): 74, and J. Maurice, La numismatique constantinienne. 3 vols. (Paris: Leroux, 1908–1912), xxxvi–xxxvii.
15.
Carson and Kent, “A Hoard of Fourth-Century Roman Bronze Coins from Izmir,” 138.
16.
Barclay, “A Hoard of Fourth-Century Roman Bronze Coins from Haxby, N. Yorkshire.”
17.
Without having recourse to Eusebius, we may base the dates of Constantine's movements largely on numismatic evidence and the Codex Theodosianus. This evidence is set out by P. Bruun, Studies in Constantinian Chronology. Numismatic Notes and Monographs 146 (New York: American Numismatic Society, 1961), 146.
18.
The ancient sources for the sign of Christ (the chi-rho: ☧) are Eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.28, and Lactantius, De Mort. Pers. 44.4–6. For Maxentius and the Sybilline prophecy, see also Lactantius, 44.8: “that on that day the enemy of Rome would perish” (illo die hostem Romanorum esse periturum).
19.
For the first reduction, Sperber (1974) points to L.C. West and A.C. Johnson, Currency in Roman and Byzantine Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944), 76. As Sperber merely cites a private communication for the second reduction, this hoard would go some way toward substantiating the claim.
20.
The odd outlier (2.8 g) at the first position is the silver denarius of Severus Alexander.
21.
Cf. MacMullen, “The Roman Emperor's Army Costs,” 575–576; he comments on the specific circumstances in the fourth century, and the effect on a local market of a large number of soldiers who could carry cash more easily than supplies. He concludes (577): “there would be tremendous savings through distributing men in small, stationary groups at natural market-centers: in riverine forts, in towns, and at cross-roads. Since actual troop dispositions in the Later Empire correspond with this picture of economy, it seems fair to suppose that they were dictated by considerations of cost-saving. Imperial forces settled in clusters larger than a single legion, …such as had been seen in the first and second centuries, were beyond Rome's means in the fourth and fifth.”
22.
A.H.M. Jones, The Decline of the Ancient World (New York: Hold, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), 8: “Bread for one year (3 lb a day) cost rather over a solidus, meat (1 lb a day) and wine (1 pint a day) rather under two solidi each, oil about three quarters of a solidus. The cheapest clothing cost two-thirds to one solidus per garment…but we hear of poor men who lived on three solidi a year.”
23.
Avraham Negev and Shimon Gibson, Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (New York: Continuum, 2001), 205.
24.
On the colony status and likelihood of some military presence in Nablus in the fourth century, see B.H. Isaac, The Limits of Empire: the Roman Army in the East (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992, c1990), 363, 431 and n. 38.