Aspecte ale tezaurizării monedei bizantine în Balcani (sec. VI-VII) / Aspect concerning the hoarding of Byzantine coin in Balkans (6th-7th century)
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|Excerpt||The authors analyze 346 coin hoards dated between 491 and 695 so far known from the entire area of East Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe, from Bohemia to the Ural Mountains, and from the Baltic to the Aegean Sea.
Particularly suitable for the kind of questions numismatists often ask about hoards and hoarding behavior is the correspondence analysis, a technique allowing the concomitant study of relations between hoards, of relations between constituent coins, and of relations between hoards and constituent coins. Are there any regional patterns of hoarding behavior most typical for certain periods, but not for others? Were certain coins withdrawn together from circulation and, more importantly, are coins from widely different periods consistently found in association in several hoards? Is there any correlation between the regional distribution of coins and the number of specimens struck in specific mints during specific periods?
The main goal of this study is to offer plausible answers to those and several other questions pertaining to hoarding behavior in the Balkans during the sixth and the early seventh centuries. Our purpose is to find an explanation not for the burial of the analyzed hoards, but for the collection of coins. As a consequence, our analysis will focus primarily on hoards of copper, for which precise minting dates are known. The selection of coins for hoarding was linked to economic considerations and should theoretically reflect the monetary economy in existence at a given place and at a given time. However, hoarding in the early Byzantine period is still poorly understood, and before any conclusions about coin circulation are drawn on the basis of hoards, the latter should be studied on their own, as independent social and economic phenomena.
The authors distinguish between hoards deposited on an impulse and consisting of coins which are readily at hand at the time of the burial (“emergency hoard”) (also called “currency hoard” or “circulation hoard”) and “savings hoard” which may have been accumulated over a long period of time and added to at intervals. Given the long circulation life of early Byzantine copper coins and the presence in several hoards of earlier Late Roman, Roman, and even Hellenistic specimens, it appears that a distinction based on the chronological span covered by a coin assemblage can rarely be of any assistance in hoard characterization.
A cursory comparison of sixth- to seventh-century hoards found in the Balkans and the Near East reveals two important differences. Most hoards in the Balkans have fewer than 100 coins, while the average hoard from Syria-Palestine contains a few hundred coins. Hoards in the Near East often have a chronological gap corresponding to the dated issues of Justinian I (538-565), which makes it even harder to establish a clear difference between “emergency” and “savings,” since it is precisely the heavier, high-value coins that are absent from such hoards. To be sure, in both cases (the Balkans and the Near East), a comparison with site finds, where available, can shed much light on how coins were selected for hoarding.
Less than sixteen percent (54 assemblages) of all published hoards have been found in some kind of container. Given the inaccurate or incomplete publication of many assemblages, as well as the circumstances in which they were found (often during plowing, which can destroy and disperse containers of a more fragile nature), the number of hoards with containers may well be higher. Of all containers about which sufficient information has been published, almost 85 percent are ceramic. Most hoards found in ceramic containers are of copper, although several cases are known of hoards of gold and silver with such containers.
Many hoards of sixth- to seventh-century Byzantine coins include dress accessories. More than half of them are hoards of gold, but dress accessories were also found in hoards of copper and silver. One of the commonest accessories associated with gold or silver coins is the finger-ring. Other dress accessories include pentants, fibulae, bracelets, buckles, and belt mounts.
Ancient coins appear in hoards from regions with a long monetary history, such as Greece, Palestine, or North Africa. Less than twelve percent of all 346 hoards from Southeastern and Eastern Europe contain ancient coins. During the first half of the sixth century, several hoard assemblages included only minimi, often with large quantities of more recent specimens struck under emperors Zeno, Leo I, and Anastasius. The latest coins in minimi-only assemblages with over 500 specimens were struck under Emperor Justinian.
The authors associate hoarding with warfare in the Balkans in the second half of the sixth century. Throughout the second half of the sixth century, the troops were most likely paid in gold, at least for their donativa. Nine out of fourteen hoards of gold from the central and northern Balkans with latest coins struck between 565 and 585 have no more than ten coins. The presence of balances and weights—a specifically Balkan feature of the late-sixth century hoarding behavior—points unmistakably to payments of donativa in gold. Soldiers would then have taken the gold coins to the imperial campsor (money-changer) attached to their unit in order to get their small change in copper coins. The idea that the owners of those hoards were soldiers is not contradicted by the occasional mixture of coins and dress accessories—buckles and fibulae—otherwise known from military sites in the northern and central Balkans. Similarly, that so many of the hoards in the northern Balkans have been found by fort walls or in fort basilicas substantiates the hypothesis of a primarily, if not exclusively, military interpretation of collections of sixth-century copper coins. To judge from the existing evidence, many of those collections represented small amounts of money probably accumulated between two consecutive payments of donativa, and after the procurement of those goods which were needed for daily subsistence.
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