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Stater or Aureus?

One of the important problems of the koson coins is the nominal value. Was it a Greek stater type or a Roman aureus? Understanding this might help us in clearing some historical, political and economic aspects regarding the koson coins.

Max Bahrfeldt considered, based on an average weight of 8.42 g, that the coins are staters folowing the Greek weight system.

The Dacians adopted Hellenistic coins as models for their mint, inspiring themselves from the coins of king Philip II and Alexander the Great of Macedon. But only silver coins were imitated, the kosons being the first and only Dacian gold coins. In the 2nd and the 1st centuries BC, in Dacia have circulated gold staters of Alexander the Great type and Lysimachus type, produced in large numbers in various mints from the Hellenistic world. Thanks to the popularity and the trust shown, the Alexander the Great and Lysimachus types were produced until the time of Mithridate VI Eupator (120-63 BC), including in the cities of Histria, Tomis and Kallatis. The average weight of these staters from the 1st century BC is around 8.30 g.

Alexander the Great type stater issued in Kallatis mint Lysimachus type stater issued in Kallatis mint

The Romans have rarely issued gold coins during the Republic time, the aureus being usualy produced during times of crisis. For the 1st century BC, we quote some examples, like aureus issued by Sulla during a military campaign, with a weight of 10.80 g (1/30 part of a Roman pound), for Pompey (9.00 g, 1/36 part of a pound) or Caesar and Brutus times (8.10 g, 1/40 part of a pound). The aureus coins are seldom found in discoveries from Dacia, proving that the Dacians preferred Greek staters.

Aureus produced for Brutus (source: Numismatica Ars Classica, 86, 8 October 2015, no. 23)

Some researchers, including Constantin Preda, considered that the kosons are issued as Roman aurei. C. Preda noticed that the coin by itself is thin and wide, like the aurei, while the Greek gold stater was thicker and narrower.

The average weight of the kosons from the Târșa hoard is 8.49 (the MNIR lot).

”But kosons exist, especially from the first group, that have a weight out of range from the average (8.26 – 9.26 g). They are not often encountered, but indicate the fact that from a quantity of metal, a specific quantity of pieces must have been made, with concerns about a certain average. In the initial phase, probably, the coins would have been distributed or even distributed as parts of larger lots, and only the total weight was important, not the individual one of each piece. This hypothesis is sustained by the fact that the only discoveries that are sure are hoards of koson coins.”

Mihai Dima, Dan Ilie, ”Tezaurul de monede de tip KOSON descoperit la Târsa, com. Boșorod, jud. Hunedoara. Lotul păstrat la Banca Națională a României”, in Simpozion de Numismatică, organizat cu ocazia comemorării Sfântului Ștefan cel Mare, domn al Moldovei (1504-2004), Chișinău, 29 septembrie-2 octombrie 2004, Bucharest, 2007, p. 41.

It might be important to observe that in the Strei hoard, the koson coins are found together with Lysimach type staters.