Searching for Identities in the Coinage of Pautalia

  • Lily Grozdanova Department of Ancient History and Thracian Studies St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. BG-1504 Sofia
Keywords: provincial coinage, Pautalia, identity, identification issues


The question whether or not coins are intended and being produced as a communication medium is a fundamental and ongoing debate in the area of ancient numismatics. Nevertheless, the work with and the interpretation of these materials in their historical context seem to indicate beyond a doubt that the imagery of the die designs is meaningful, carefully chosen and strictly controlled. The Roman provincial coinage is an exciting research subject in this matter. The authors account for a complicated multileveled authority system sanctioning the issues, starting from the emperor himself, through the central provincial administration, to the city elites personally responsible for the minting. Thus, coins potentially carry information that could identify in some way all the involved parties. The specifics of the coin manufacturing also enrich further the data they carry and complicate its accurate extraction.

The city issues of Pautalia have a rich and diverse coin typology. The detailed and qualitative die designs contain themes characteristic for the entire region of the province of Thrace, but also such highly typical for the town reality. The production specifics of the specimens indicate the plausible existence of a common atelier supplying the cities in the region of inner Thrace, a theory already presented in the specialized literature. The complexity of the chosen material and of the term identity itself inevitably evokes questions as to what extend the concept of identity is approachable through the particular coins; indications of which identity constructs could be attested for in these materials; how are the types representative for separate identities etc. The analysis of the Pautalia coinage has the potential to shed more light on these complicated issues.