Unique Roman gold coin found in Lower Saxony


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A gold coin weighing nine grams, which was found on a field in Fredenbeck, Lower Saxony, in the district of Stade, in December 2017 and has since been scientifically examined and restored, is unique worldwide.

Unique Roman gold coin found in Lower Saxony
Gold Multiplum of the Emperor Constans, 342-3 AD, found in Lower Saxony
[Credit: Christina Kohnen (Cologne)]

“Thanks to the support of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, the Landschaftsverband Stade and the Landkreis Stade, the rare piece has now been purchased for the permanent exhibition in the Museum Schwedenspeicher,” said Michael Roesberg, District Administrator of Stad.

The so-called Multiplum, a “special coin” (diameter 29 millimeters) with the portrait of the Roman emperor Constans from the 4th century, is now on permanent display in the Stader Museum Schwedenspeicher. Metal detectorist Matthias GlĂŒsing made the sensational discovery in the area of prehistoric burial mounds. He had systematically examined areas in the joint municipality of Fredenbeck with the approval of regional archaeology authorities.

Multipla are particularly valuable mintings of common Roman coins which were only issued on special occasions and handed over to prominent personalities by the Roman emperors in the course of festive and special ceremonies. They belonged to a circle of individuals on whose loyalty the ruler was particularly dependent: highest dignitaries, commanders of the Roman armed forces and imperial bodyguards. They received a multiplum for their services on the occasion of the enthronement of a new emperor, a celebration of his accession to the throne, before and after campaigns or other important events. Friends of Germanic rulers could also be awarded the imperial large coins.

On the obverse of the coin is the portrait of Emperor Constans with a diadem and armour. Constans was born between 320 and 323 and was killed on February 350. He was the youngest son of Emperor Constantine the Great. After his father died in 337, he ruled the Roman Empire together with his brothers. After the victory over his brother Constantine II in 340, the entire western part of the empire, including Britain, Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula, fell to him. The coin was minted in the years 342/343 in Siscia (today Sisak/Croatia). The nine gram heavy multiplum is a worldwide unique specimen – there are no other parallels.

Gold multipla have rarely been found in the area outside the borders of the Roman Empire. In free Germania they were special status symbols with which Germanic rulers legitimized their power. The princes often wore their multipla around their necks in a representative and orderly manner.

Unique Roman gold coin found in Lower Saxony
Presenting the coin (from right): Daniel Nösler (district archaeologist), Matthias GlĂŒsing (metal detectorist and
finder of the coin), district administrator Michael Roesberg and Hans-Eckard Dannenberg (Stade History Club)
[Credit: Christian Schmidt/Landkreis Stade]

“It can be assumed that the former owner was a prince or king of the Saxon great tribe that emerged during this period. There is good evidence that this prominent member of the Saxon elite was awarded the multiplum as a gift from the emperor for military service or for alliances kept,” explains Daniel Nösler, district archaeologist at Stad.

Germanic auxiliary troops have been reported several times during the reign of Constans. “The gold multiplum is thus the earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of a Saxon elite in Lower Saxony from a time when written records are scarce,” says Nösler.

The sensational discovery had been intensively researched in recent months: An excavation was carried out at the site and metal detectors were used to locate it. In addition, the archaeologists evaluated historical maps and aerial photographs. “So far, there is good evidence to suggest that the gold coin was offered at a special site, which was characterised by a small moor, a striking group of burial mounds, an ancient path and an impressive hill,” says Nösler.

After more than 1,600 years, this extraordinary piece has now been rediscovered.

District Administrator Michael Roesberg acknowledges the commitment of the sponsors: “The purchase, which was made possible by the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, the Landschaftsverband Stade and the Landkreis Stade, means that the multiplum can be permanently presented to the public in the Stader Museum Schwedenspeicher. This adds a unique attraction to our museum landscape. The donors, the finder and the property owner are very grateful for this.”

“The finder, the Department for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and the Stade Museums have worked together in an exemplary manner. A gold coin of unique cultural value and testimony to the connection between the late ancient Roman emperor Constans and a Germanic ruler can thus be presented to the public near where it was found. The Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung was happy to support the purchase,” says Dr. Martin Hoernes, Secretary General of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.

Dr. Sebastian Möllers, Director of the Stade Museums, is of course also enthusiastic: “The Multiplum is a real highlight for our recently opened permanent exhibition on prehistory and early history in the Elbe-Weser Triangle. Although we do have to rearrange a few things, we are naturally not afraid of any extra work for such a special piece.

Source: Landkreis Stade [trsl. TANN July 08, 2019]




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