On the size of the two massive inflows of monetized precious metals in present day Bulgaria after the return of the Thracians having served for Alexander III and the Diadochi, as well as in the Roman army
Keywords:Gold and Silver Coin Hoards, Coin circulation in Thrace, Hellenistic Period, Roman Period, Thracian mercenaries and auxiliaries
From a monetary point of view Bulgaria proves to be surprisingly rich. In the full statistics by countries for Roman hoards Bulgaria comes in fifth position (out of 34) with one hoard for every 130 sq. km. The mid-3rd century is truly the summit of non-recovered deposits in Bulgaria. No less than three quarters (600 out of 800) of all Roman coin hoards found in Bulgaria were buried during the 3rd century. Looking at hoards buried in Bulgaria during Greek times (Fig. 5), one finds two peaks: one during the 4th century BCE, but actually concentrated at the end of the century, which may be linked with the return of Thracian auxiliaries having served in the army of Alexander the Great, and a second one, more spectacular, at the end of the 2nd century and the first half of the 1st century, which may be linked with the return of Thracian auxiliaries having served primarily in the Roman Republican army. With more than 150 hoards in a few decades, the last third of the 4th century BCE is thus the first massive phenomenon of hoarding in Bulgaria. It came with Alexander the Great, first through his northern campaign but much more through the Thracian auxiliaries which came back in their homelands at the end of their services. For the last part of the 4th century BCE, Bulgaria and Romania absorbed nearly one half (44%) of all the occurrences for gold Alexander the Great’s coin hoards, more than three times what could be found for Macedonia or continental Greece. Thracian auxiliaries at that time preferred gold with the two Hellespontic mints of Abydus and Lampsacus favouring the production of staters while the mints of Asia Minor concentrated on drachms.
The second moment of major flow of monetized precious metals into Bulgaria came two centuries later with a peak during the last decade of the 2nd century and the three first decades of the 1st century BCE. It includes a variety of coinages: the explicitly Roman tetradrachms of the First Meris of Macedonia and those in the name of Aesillas, the civic tetradrachms of Thasos and Maroneia, the drachms of Dyrrachion and Apollonia, the Athenian stephanephoroi. The circulation pattern differs from one coinage to another: the tetradrachms of the First Meris of Macedonia were found in the western north as the Roman Republican denarii (Vratsa Province) while the tetradrachms in the name of the Thasians were massively found in the provinces of Shumen and Stara Zagora. None is concentrated on the seashore.
To sum up, modern Bulgaria is this area which has three times produced an accumulation of coin deposits like no other region at the same time and for which a military cause can each time be clearly identified. These three massive burials have been caused by: 1) the return of Thracian auxiliaries having served under Alexander the Great and later on — the Diadochi; 2) the return of Thracian auxiliaries having served the Roman Republican army, and 3) the unrest of the 240s culminating in the battle of Abritus in 251 CE. These coinages have been extensively studied and we do have a die-study for most of them (Table 1). This allows to settle the original number of obverse dies, how much it makes in talents for an average productivity of 20,000 coins per obverse die, and the yearly average in talents. Thereafter, some estimations of the size of the inflow of monetized precious metals brought by Thracian auxiliaries could be suggested: ca. 50,000 talents of Attic silver reached the area in the early Hellenistic times (Fig. 11), and for the late Hellenistic, as a working hypothesis, ca. 15,000 talents, adding the Roman Republican denarii and the drachms of Apollonia (Fig. 12).