Arta monedelor geto-dacice


The great number of silver coins struck by the Geto-Dacians between approximately the middle of the IV-th century B. C. and the end of the first B. C. are to be considered not only as imitations of thasian or macedonian prototypes coming from the south of Danube, but as three series of which the first and the most ancient has an autochthonous iconography with a full succesion of degradation till the end of this coinage, the second and the most large is formed really by several kinds of imitations of macedonian Philipp's the second tetradrachms and the third is an influence series of celto-dacian coins found in the west of Dacia, that is the contact area with Celtic neighbours.
This huge amount of such good silver coins in Dacia is all the more strange by the fact that silver was scanty here and the mines were in the north, in the hands of enemy Celtic tribe of Boi. This work demonstrates cooptation of Dacia in the economy of the hellenistic aegean world as a result of the intensive change of salt (necessary for processing skins in helmets, shields, breastplates and so on) against silver coming from Thrace and Macedonia. The irrecusable proof of such a change results from the interdiction of the salt import in Macedonia, expressly stipulated in its peace treaty with Rome after Pydna.
The later decrease of silver percentage in dacian coins is the effect of the advance of the roman legions in the Balkans area which finally became part of the Roman Empire and the autonomous coinage (now pure bronze covered with silver) of Dacia ceased. It would be a big error to fancy that the geto-dacian coins (struck in a larger number than those about 20 000 pieces hidden as treasures) are the proof of an intensive monetary economy, unusual for a barbarian people of the East, but quite natural in Gallia, for exemple. From a forth century B. C. decree of Olbia we know that this greek city played the role of collecting and distributing such good silver coins towards those cities which lacked it as they lacked corn coming also from olbian area. In front of them was Athens whose silver of Laurion became insufficient to sustain its large and prestigious currency which was the dollar of greek antiquity.
Another new standpoint which is exposed in this booklet is that putting for the first time together for study with coins the toreutic treasuries of the V-th – IV-th centuries B.C. and those of II-nd I-st centuries. They have in common a part of their iconography as well as the artists who worked them, being at the same time gold and silversmiths or coin engravers. Gold and silver were of course in the hands of dacian lords and craftmen came to their courts like the well known masters from Athens to the scythian kings of South Russia whose master works we can now admire in the Hermitage.
The succesion of toreutics and coins is in our opinion the following: after the period of north danubian treasuries of toreutics (V-th – IV-th centuries B.C.) a large series of a threefold coinage takes place as a result of silver coming here for the salt exported from the real mountains existing at the surface of the soil in the hill area of extra and intracarpathian Dacia. When this has diminished by the just mentioned measures imposed to Macedonia by Rome and when the hellenistic trade suffered hard pains from the same new worldpower (see the revolt of Mithridate VI Eupator against Rome, who upraised many greek cities begining with Athens and ending with Histria) from the very large silver coins issued by Thasos and Macedonia Prima will be made vases and body or garmet jewelry.
When Dacia at its turn was conquered by the Romans, the enormous salt reserves were at their disposal and apart the normal absorbtion of roman denarii only some silver pieces of toreutics were discovered in the new danubian province.
This new understanding and chronology of the huge geto-dacian coin material puts on real historical and economical basis a phaenomenon for which even if till now was to be invented a cause (the richness of silver in Dacia) it remained impossible to find a purpose (exportation of salt and the coinage of silver for selling it on the olbian market).