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4 FLORIN CURTA Q153
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7 COINS, FORTS AND COMMERCIAL EXCHANGES IN THE SIXTH- 56
8 AND EARLY SEVENTH-CENTURY BALKANS 57
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Summary. The nature of settlements in the sixth-century Balkans is a matter of
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current debate. Amphorae and hoards of iron implements and weapons have been
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discussed in relation to this controversy. A key problem is that of the use of coins in
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an economic environment without any large-scale agricultural production. While
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hoards of coins have been analyzed in relation to the presence of the military in
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the Balkans, single finds of coins remain a category of archaeological evidence
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commonly neglected in discussions of the sixth-century economy. The article
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offers an explanation connected with the quaestura exercitus implemented in
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536, and its conclusion is that the small copper denominations discovered on
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hilltop sites in the Balkans were not obtained on the market (none existed in
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any of the many hilltop sites known so far), but piggybacked on transports of
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annona.
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INTRODUCTION
29 78
30 The nature or character of the settlement pattern in the sixth-century Balkans has been a 79
31 subject of debate among historians and archaeologists. The chief reason is that nearly every aspect 80
32 of the history of the last century of Roman rule in the Balkans has been revised in the past twenty 81
33 years. The problem of ruralization the transformation of urban centres into something less than 82
34 cities, but more than just villages is certainly the largest area of revision. Only slightly less 83
35 extensive revision has occurred in the scholarship of the non-urban settlements of the sixth century, 84
36 where archaeologists have sketched a picture of a great number of fortified sites. 85
37 Recently, the debate has focused on these sites: were they civilian (fortified villages) or 86
38 military (fortresses inhabited by soldiery)? According to Archibald Dunn, fortified hilltop sites in 87
39 northern Greece offered shelter to the urban and rural populations fleeing the lowlands under the 88
40 continuous threat of barbarian raids (Dunn 1997, 144; 2004, 5512). Mihailo Milinkovi believes 89
41 that the very large number of fortified sites cannot be interpreted either as refuges or as purely 90
42 military sites. There is in fact evidence of women and children inside the forts, and the empire, 91
43 according to him, could not possibly have administered all those sites. They were therefore fortified 92
44 villages, and their rural character is betrayed by finds of agricultural implements (Milinkovi 2012; 93
45 2014, 251). Andrew Poulter, meanwhile, denies the existence of any identity or even similarity 94
46 between the hilltop sites in the northern Balkans, which he regards as temporary refuges, and those 95
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1 regularly built fortifications on the frontier, which more obviously performed a military role 50
2 (Poulter 2004, 247; 2007, 380) Like Milinkovi, Chavdar Kirilov points to the archaeological 51
3 evidence of agricultural occupations as an argument in favour of the idea that hilltop sites were 52
4 fortified villages, not military forts (Kirilov 2007, 3378). 53
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FORTS AND AGRICULTURE
8 57
9 However, agricultural implements found on hilltop sites in the central and northern 58
10 Balkans have often been misdated, as many of these sites were reoccupied in the ninth and tenth 59
11 centuries. In several cases, the tools in question are to be associated with the early medieval, and 60
12 not with the late antique, phase of occupation. This is also true for implements found in hoard 61
13 assemblages. Out of the three hoards mentioned by Kirilov, Shumen is most likely to be of early 62
14 medieval, and not late antique, date, as indicated by the coulters and the spade frame found in that 63
15 assemblage (Curta 2013, 831 and 835; 827 fig. 6). On the other hand, the mattocks and pick-axes, 64
16 as well as the sickles and bill-knives found in abundance in late antique hoards, fit very well within 65
17 the picture of small-scale cultivation of crops either within or just outside the fort walls. Large 66
18 open spaces existed, for example, on the northern side of the early Byzantine fort built in the 67
19 south-eastern corner of the ancient city of Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikiup); there is no sign of 68
20 large-scale grain cultivation, and the open spaces may have been used for garden cultivation of 69
21 millet and legumes (Poulter 1995, 181). Analysis of palaeobotanical assemblages from Iatrus 70
22 (Krivina) has revealed that the diet of the soldiers in the fort garrison consisted of oats and peas, 71
23 both of which may have been cultivated on site (Hajnalov 1982). But there is also sufficient 72
24 evidence to suggest that such small-scale cultivation on plots inside or outside the city walls was 73
25 not sufficient for the subsistence of the relatively large number of people living inside sixth-century 74
26 hilltop sites. The distribution of sixth-century amphorae (particularly LR1, LR2 and spatheia) in 75
27 the Balkans has been interpreted as evidence of a state-run distribution of food supplies to the 76
28 garrisons stationed in forts (Curta 2001, 187). Palaeobotanical assemblages from the late sixth- 77
29 and early seventh-century military site at Svetinja comprised mixtures of wheat, rye, barley and 78
30 millet an indication of supplies of corn coming from outside the military settlement, probably 79
31 from neighbouring Viminacium, to which they may have been shipped via the annona-like 80
32 distributions signalled by finds of Late Roman amphorae (Borojevi 1987). The author of the 81
33 Strategikon a late-sixth- or early-seventh-century military treatise recommended that when 82
34 campaigning north of the Danube River, in Sclavene territory, Roman troops should not destroy 83
35 provisions found in the surrounding countryside, but instead ship them on pack animals and boats 84
36 to our own country (Strategikon XI 4.8). 85
37 That Roman soldiers needed to rely on food supplies captured from the enemy suggests 86
38 that there was no large-scale production of food in or around the fortified sites in the Balkans. 87
39 Similarly, the analysis of faunal remains from Iatrus shows that the soldiers in the garrison relied 88
40 heavily on hunting for meat procurement (Bartosiewicz and Choyke 1991, 196). Even if, on the 89
41 basis of the evidence of hoards of iron implements, one has to admit that some inhabitants of the 90
42 fortified sites in the sixth-century Balkan provinces of the empire turned to small-scale cultivation 91
43 of crops in order to supplement insufficient or irregular annona distributions, no evidence exists 92
44 that such activities were anything more than temporary or economically marginal. Hilltop sites in 93
45 the Balkans may not all have been military, but none of them appears to have functioned as a 94
46 fortified village. Behind or just outside the walls of the sixth-century forts, no agricultural 95
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1 occupations could be practised in such a way as to satisfy the needs of the existing population. 50
2 The ruralization of the late antique Balkans must therefore be understood as a militarization 51
3 of the countryside. 52
4 The agrarian technology revealed by the analysis of hoards is one of limited resources, 53
5 which could in no way be linked to a self-sufficient rural economy. Since the size of the fields 54
6 depends upon the implements used to till them, one might ask how it was possible to feed the 55
7 population military or otherwise living within the ramparts of the numerous sixth-century 56
8 forts. It has long been suggested that the archaeological evidence, particularly that of amphorae 57
9 and lead seals, points to the great significance of the quaestura exercitus, an administrative unit 58
10 created in 536 by means of connecting rich provinces overseas (islands in the Aegean sea, Caria 59
11 and Cyprus) with border provinces such as Moesia Inferior and Scythia Minor, in order to secure 60
12 both militarily and financially the efficient defence of the Danube frontier (Curta 2002 and 2016). 61
13 The main responsibility of the quaestor exercitus was the annona for the army in Moesia Inferior 62
14 and Scythia Minor: the taxes collected in Caria, Cyprus and the Aegean islands were redirected 63
15 towards the troops stationed in the northern Balkans either in cash or, more likely, in kind. The 64
16 distribution of LR 2 amphorae in the Balkans overlaps with that of lead seals with inscriptions 65
17 referring to officials of the imperial administration, many of whom worked for the quaestura 66
18 exercitus. 67
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COMMERCE, ANNONA AND THE NUMISMATIC EVIDENCE
22 71
23 But how did the distribution of the annona actually work in the sixth-century Balkans? 72
24 Catherine Abadie-Reynal has contrasted the free-market commerce indicated by finds of 73
25 Palestinian amphorae (particularly the so-called Gaza amphora, LR4) with the annona 74
26 distributions to the army signalled by LR1, LR2 and spatheion-type amphorae, thus implying that 75
27 the latter were not commerce, but exchanges of a rather different nature (Abadie-Reynal 1989; 76
28 2010). Conspicuously missing from this discussion of military sites, amphorae and commerce is 77
29 the numismatic evidence. To be sure, a great many sixth-century hoards of copper are known from 78
30 hilltop sites, including those that have also produced hoards of iron implements Pernik and 79
31 Shumen, for instance. Florin Curta and Andrei Gndil have suggested that the accumulation of 80
32 copper coins in the hoards found in the northern Balkans, particularly those dated to the last two 81
33 decades of the sixth and the first decade of the seventh century, is almost exclusively associated with 82
34 the military (Curta and Gndil 201112, 945). In other words, they were collections of small 83
35 value in the possession of the soldiers moved to the Danube frontier during Emperor Maurices wars 84
36 with the Avars and the Slavs. 85
37 The presence of balances and weights a specifically Balkan feature of late-sixth-century 86
38 hoarding behaviour points unmistakeably to payments of donativa in gold. Soldiers would then 87
39 have taken the gold coins to the imperial campsor (money changer) attached to their unit in order 88
40 to get their small change in copper coins. Such a scenario is primarily based on the evidence of a 89
41 funerary inscription found in Makriky (now in Bakrky, ancient Hebdomon) in the late-nineteenth 90
42 century. The inscription mentions a certain John, son of Hyakinthos, who followed the expedition 91
43 as imperial campsor and died probably while on campaign somewhere in the Balkans on August 21, 92
44 544 (Asdracha 1998, 4946). The campsor must have carried large amounts of copper coin with 93
45 him, which he may have obtained directly from the mint. It is unlikely that he carried with him 94
46 anything but large denominations folles and half-folles which explains the considerable number 95
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1 of such denominations in hoards from the central and northern Balkans. The only way soldiers could 50
2 have obtained smaller denominations, especially pentanummia and minimi, would have been at the 51
3 market. 52
4 But was there a market (or markets) in the northern and central Balkans during the sixth 53
5 century? Assuming for a moment that the hilltop sites were fortified villages, where did the peasants 54
6 go to sell the surplus and to obtain the coins they needed to purchase the goods that they could not 55
7 produce themselves? Conversely, what would soldiers do with the copper coins, if the bare 56
8 necessities of their lives were covered by non-commercial distributions of annona? Was there 57
9 any trade going on in the sixth-century Balkans, and if so, under what forms? How and where 58
10 did monetary exchanges take place? This paper offers some plausible answers to those questions 59
11 on the basis of single finds of coins, a category of archaeological evidence commonly neglected 60
12 in discussions of the sixth-century economy in the Balkans (Fig. 1). F1 61
13 62
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SINGLE COIN FINDS IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
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17 Single, as opposed to hoard, finds are commonly used for two different kinds of argument 66
18 by two different groups of scholars. Archaeologists use single finds to date the end of the occupation 67
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45 Figure 1 94
46 The main sites mentioned in the text. 95
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1 of hilltop sites along the Danube or in the interior (Barnea 1990; Madgearu 1997; Mikhailov 2012). 50
2 By contrast, numismatists rely on single coin finds to reconstruct the monetary circulation in the 51
3 region, which they can then link to broader economic patterns at the scale of the entire empire 52
4 (Torbatov 2002; Guest 2007; Gndil 2008; Hadi-Maneva 2009; Mikhailov 2010; Tenchova 53
5 2011). Some, for example, have noted the sharp contrast between the relatively large number of 54
6 minimi on urban sites in the coastal regions, and their absence in the forts in the interior. According 55
7 to T. S. N. Moorhead (2007, 297), at Butrint, the nummus economy continued to exist in the early 56
8 sixth century precisely because the city was neither an administrative nor a military centre. 57
9 Similarly, Andrei Gndil has recently explained in terms of Mediterranean trade networks the 58
10 presence of coins from Carthage in Thrace and Asia Minor, as well as of coins from Alexandria 59
11 in Dobrudja (Gndil 2016). 60
12 So far, however, single coins from hilltop sites have rarely been treated as significant 61
13 archaeological finds. In some cases one single coin is mentioned for the entire site, as at 62
14 Rusalka, on the Black Sea coast (Kitov 1971, 14). Only a few sixth-century coins are known 63
15 from Kaleto near Sredec, in the hinterland of Burgas, and from Gradishte e Symizs near Maliq, 64
16 in the hinterland of Kor (Balbolova-Ivanova 1997; Karaiskaj 197980, 1756). The same is 65
17 true for Klisura/Germania (Filipova 2001). By contrast, more than 200 coins have been found 66
18 in the early Byzantine fort at Voivoda, but mention is made only of the emperors in whose 67
19 names they were struck, with no indication of denominations or mints (Dremsizova-Nelchinova 68
20 1967). Several coins are published from Pernik, including two pentanummia and two pieces of 69
21 16 nummia struck in Thessalonica (Iurukova 1962, 40 and 42; Paunov 2014, 179 and 1856). 70
22 At Ibida (Slava Rus, in Dobrudja), the largest number of coins struck between the times of 71
23 Anastasius and Heraclius are half-folles, followed by folles and pentanummia. Of the 72
24 half-folles and pentanummia, most were struck under Emperor Justin II, while the largest 73
25 number of folles are from the rule of Justinian (Iacob 2009, 70). Half-folles also predominate Q274
26 among the coins published so far from excavations in Durostorum (Silistra, Bulgaria; Gancheva 75
27 2015, 459). 76
28 Only recently have complete series from key sites been published properly, including 77
29 information about denominations and mints. Coins struck under Justinian are the most numerous 78
30 on all seven of the sites which have been selected from among those with the best-published coin 79
31 series (Table 1; Dochev 200203; Opai 1991, 4578 and 46873; Torbatov 2002, 92130; T1 80
32 Parushev 1991, 2631; Vlcu and Nicolae 2010, 289297; Mikhailov and Iosifov 2012; 81
33 Schnert-Geiss 1991). At a quick glance, there is a clear preponderance of large denominations, 82
34 with more folles than half-folles (Table 2). However, the 41 minimi struck under Anastasius, T2 83
35 and found on the Carevec Hill in Veliko Trnovo (all single finds), stand out as particularly 84
36 odd in light of Moorheads remarks about the nummus economy. Minimi are also mentioned 85
37 among the coins from the French-Serbian excavations in the lower town of Cariin Grad (the site 86
38 in central Serbia that has been identified with Iustiniana Prima), but no exact numbers have so far 87
39 been published (Ivanievi 2015, 90). However, a rare coin is known from those excavations a 88
40 local imitation of a half-follis struck under Justin II (Ivanievi and Stamenkovi 2014). Equally 89
41 interesting is the situation in Gabrovo (Bulgaria), where the stratigraphic observations suggest that 90
42 fourth- and fifth-century coins circulated along with coins struck under the sixth-century emperors 91
43 (Mikhailov and Iosifov 2012, 148). Such coins appear also in sixth-century hoards found inside 92
44 forts in the central Balkan region, for example in one of the towers at Cari Mali Grad near Belchin 93
45 (Bulgaria; Paunov 2013, 110). The eight pentanummia struck in Chersonesus and found inside the 94
46 fort at Cape Kaliakra may easily be explained in terms of the Black Sea trade, but the same cannot 95
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1 TABLE 1 50
2 Numbers of coin finds from seven sixth- to seventh-century sites in the northern Balkans. Letters indicate copper 51
denominations: M = 40 nummia; K = 20 nummia; I = 10 nummia; E = 5 nummia
3 52
4 Carevec Celei Gabrovo Krivina Murighiol Kaliakra Odrci 53
5 54
Anastasius:
6 M 28 1 8 1 2 3 5 55
7 K 8 7 2 4 3 8 56
8 Justin I: 57
M 16 5 8 3 5 4 6
9 K 13 2 3 1 8 3 10 58
10 Justinian: 59
11 M 33 9 14 11 23 2 19 60
K 13 3 5 1 8 6 16
12 I 6 1 2 2 4 9 17 61
13 E 4 62
14 Justin II: 63
M 10 15 4 5 14 11 22
15 K 25 19 4 2 16 9 18 64
16 E 1 6 65
17 Tiberius II: 66
M 6 1 4 2 1
18 K 6 1 1 67
19 Maurice: 68
20 M 12 12 7 5 1 69
K 5 13 4 8 2
21 I 1 1 70
22 Phocas: 71
23 M 7 7 72
K 14 4
24 Heraclius: 73
25 M 15 9 74
26 75
27 76
28 TABLE 2 77
29 Numbers of sixth- to seventh-century denominations in seven fortified sites in the northern Balkans. Letters indicate copper 78
denominations: M = 40 nummia; K = 20 nummia; IS = 12 nummia; I = 10 nummia; E = 5 nummia
30 79
31 M K IS I E minimi 80
32 81
Carevec 127 78 7 41
33 Murighiol 55 40 4 82
34 Odrci 54 55 18 11 83
Celei 43 43 2 2 1
35 84
Kaliakra 43 34 9 8
36 Gabrovo 34 19 1 2 85
37 Krivina 20 6 2 86
38 87
39 88
40 be true for the ten-nummia piece from the same mint found in Macedonia at Pinja (Parushev 89
41 1991; Georgiev 1985). 90
42 In all of the cases mentioned above, there is no indication of the archaeological context in 91
43 which coins have been found. The only reason that a coin struck under Justinian was reported as 92
44 being found in one of the towers of the fort excavated in Dolno Cerovo appears to be that that is 93
45 in fact the latest coin found on the site (Stoianova-Serafimova 1963, 19). Another coin of Justinian 94
46 was found in the bastion-like tower of the early Byzantine fort at Markovi kuli, near Skopje 95
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1 (Mikuli and Nikuljska 1976, 97; 1978, 13940; 1979, 712). The excavation inside tower 12 at 50
2 Murighiol produced a half-follis of Justin II (Isvoranu and Vlcu 2010, 418). No archaeological 51
3 interpretation has been offered so far for the presence of these coins inside towers, as the 52
4 archaeologists who have published them seem to have been exclusively concerned with their 53
5 chronological value for dating building or occupation phases. 54
6 The same is true for the coin struck under Justinian in 539/40 which was found in the 55
7 rubble of a house destroyed by fire inside the fort excavated at Turcoaia/Troesmis, in Dobrudja: 56
8 as the coin has no traces of wear, the date of its minting has been used to date the destruction of 57
9 the house (Oberlnder-Trnoveanu 1980, 251). This interpretation has also been advanced for the 58
10 coins struck under Justinian, Justin II and Maurice which were found in the fire debris inside houses 59
11 excavated in Khisarlka near Anevo (Dzhambov and Deianova 2004, 318) and Castra Rubra 60
12 (Izvorovo, near Harmanli; Borisov 2015, 2789). Elsewhere, no information exists on the 61
13 archaeological context of coin finds. This is particularly regrettable in the case of the relatively 62
14 numerous coin finds from the Lower Town at Cariin Grad (Ivanievi 2014) and from Peshtera 63
15 (Petrunova 2012). 64
16 By contrast, Sergei Torbatovs recent publication of the complete series of single coin finds 65
17 from Odrci offers a unique opportunity for plotting some of those finds on the site plan (Torbatov 66
18 2002). Because the medieval occupation of the site destroyed several late antique houses, coins are 67
19 omitted which are specifically stated to have been found in the streets between houses, or outside 68
20 their walls. However, those found inside the late antique houses are unlikely to be in a 69
21 stratigraphically secondary position. The find spots of 28 out of 125 coins found within the fort 70
22 could thus be plotted with some degree of certainty. Not all of them have been plotted, for two 71
23 houses that produced sixth-century coins (XXXII and XL) do not appear on the site plan. In one 72
24 of them four coins were found, three folles (struck for Anastasius, Justin I and Justin II respectively) 73
25 and a dekanoumion struck under Justinian. In the other house, there was a half-follis struck under 74
26 Justinian, and a pentanoumion minted under Justin II. All the remaining coins are folles and 75
27 half-folles (Fig. 2). These two denominations appear together in only three cases: houses X, XVII F2 76
28 and XXXIX. There are no details about the construction of any of those houses, nor about other 77
29 finds with which the coins may have been associated. Much as in Dolno Cerovo, Markovi kuli 78
30 and Murighiol, some of the coins from Odrci have been found in the towers a half-follis struck 79
31 under Justin I in the central, square tower III, and another struck under Justin II at the entrance to 80
32 the semicircular tower IV. Both towers may have been used as dwellings. There is a remarkable 81
33 absence of coin finds on the western side of the fort, with only one half-follis struck under Maurice 82
34 from house XXVI, which belongs to a group of two houses built within, and next to the ruins of two 83
35 other houses dated to the second quarter of the fourth century (Doncheva-Petkova and Torbatov 84
36 2001, 244). 85
37 Equally surprising is the distribution of finds by denominations: most half-folles have been 86
38 found in the northern, and most folles in the southern part of the eastern half of the fort. Particularly 87
39 interesting is the presence in house II (built right next to what the excavators believed to be the 88
40 guardhouse) of two half-folles, one struck under Anastasius, the other under Justin II. Together 89
41 with these coins were fragments of amphorae, as well as lamps. While nothing is known about 90
42 the specific types of the amphorae, all lamps known from Odrci are specimens of Iconomus class 91
43 XXXIII (Doncheva-Petkova and Toptanov 1982, 115). Such lamps belong to a larger group, which 92
44 John Hayes has called the plain orange class. He believed them to have been produced in Bulgaria, 93
45 most likely with the moulds found in the south-western tower of the early Byzantine fortress at 94
46 Kranevo, near Varna, only 13 miles to the south-east of Odrci (Hayes 1992, 83). The association 95
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1 50
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Figure 2
45 Q3 The distribution of copper coins inside the early Byzantine fort at Odrci. Circles mark folles, stars mark half-folles. Plan and 94
46 data after Torbatov 2002. 95
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1 between such imports and coins suggests that monetary exchanges took place inside house II, 50
2 which may have served as an outlet for commodities brought from nearby forts, probably 51
3 piggybacking on transports of annona in amphorae. 52
4 This conclusion is substantiated by the examination of other archaeological contexts with 53
5 sixth-century coins. Two half-folles struck under Justin II are known from two rooms of a large 54
6 building excavated in the central part of the upper town on Mount Jelica, south of aak, in southern 55
7 Serbia. Judging from the tools (a billknife, an iron ladle and a pair of shears) and the weapons 56
8 (fragments of a sword, a scramasax and a helmet), this building may well have been a warehouse, 57
9 an interpretation further substantiated by other finds, such as a key and a balance (Milinkovi 58
10 2010, 4469). 59
11 In Histria, on the Romanian Black Sea coast, two folles struck under Heraclius have been 60
12 found in a house next to the Greek temple (the so-called zone T). One of them was discovered in a 61
13 room together with a B-shaped bronze buckle. Several lamps have been found in the building, 62
14 together with fragments of amphorae, window glass and large storage vessels with stone or clay lids 63
15 (Pippidi et al. 1961, 22933; Nubar 1960, 189). Unfortunately, no illustration of the lamps has been 64
16 published, but judging from the lamp finds from Histria, they could have been one of four types, 65
17 none of which was produced locally (Curta forthcoming). However, unlike Odrci, the radius of 66
18 the commercial network for the procurement of lamps is quite large almost 100 miles. This is 67
19 not surprising, given that Histria was an important city, whose existence continued into the first 68
20 two decades of the seventh century (Suceveanu and Angelescu 1994). There are many indications 69
21 of long-distance trade in Histria, such as glassware (Bjenaru and Bltc 2000), as well as a large 70
22 quantity of LR1 and LR2 amphorae (Bdescu 2012), some of which were found together with 71
23 the two coins of Heraclius. Whether or not one of the rooms in which the two coins was found 72
24 served as storage space for a shop remains unknown, but the association between coins and 73
25 amphorae strongly suggests commercial exchanges. This is also true for a few urban centres in 74
26 the interior. Salvage excavations carried out in 1982 in Stara Zagora revealed a large building with 75
27 several occupation and repair phases between the second and the sixth centuries. In room 3, a coin 76
28 struck under Justin II was associated with amphora fragments (Nikolov and Kalchev 1986, 589 and 77
29 634). 78
30 One of the most impressive archaeological contexts with sixth-century coins is that of a 79
31 three-room house discovered in 1937 on the southern side of the early Byzantine fort at 80
32 Golemanovo kale near Sadovec, in northern Bulgaria (Uenze 1992). Because the excavator of the 81
33 house was the Romanian archaeologist Ion Nestor (even though the director of excavations was 82
34 Gerhard Bersu), the building is now commonly known as the Nestor house. Judging from the 83
35 remains of window glass, this was one of the most important buildings on the site. The coin was 84
36 associated with a pair of silver earrings and a silver cross with a central cabochon, a clear indication 85
37 of the high status of the occupant. That conclusion is substantiated by a hoard of seven gold coins 86
38 found in the corner of the small room to the south three tremisses struck under Justinian, Justin II 87
39 and Tiberius II, and four solidi struck under Justin II, Tiberius II and Maurice. In addition, the 88
40 excavation of the house produced amphora fragments and coarse ware sherds, as well as a lamp. 89
41 The latter is a specimen of a small group that appears only on a few sites in central and northern 90
42 Bulgaria (Stoikov 2001, 5056). It is not clear where the lamp from Golemanovo kale was 91
43 produced, but most other artefacts in the house came from elsewhere: amphorae, the pair of silver 92
44 earrings, the cross, the cast fibula with bent stem and the remains of charred seeds, possibly 93
45 shipments of annona distributions of grain (Uenze 1992, 4778). Five half-folles struck under Justin 94
46 II and a follis struck under Justinian have been found next to the building, specifically in the middle 95
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1 of the two streets running along its western and eastern sides. This unusual concentration of coin 50
2 finds inside and around the Nestor house strongly suggests that its occupant engaged in 51
3 commercial exchanges. 52
4 Amphorae, Late Roman C and African Red Slip wares, glassware, clay lamps, and coins 53
5 struck under Justin I, Justinian and Justin II have also been found in a large building in Tropaeum 54
6 Traiani (Adamclisi, southern Dobrudja; Gmureac 2009, 2767). Farther into the interior, the 55
7 evidence of commercial exchanges is less persuasive. The half-follis found in house 14 in Ras 56
8 (Pazarite) near Novi Pazar, in southern Serbia, was associated with a bronze pin, a lamp, a sickle, 57
9 an arrow head, a whetstone and 269 fragments of pottery, all wheel-made (Popovi 1999, 956). 58
10 Whether or not the lamp was of local production, neither the bronze pins nor the sickles were locally 59
11 manufactured. The isolated position of house 14 in the middle of the fort, as well as the fact that the 60
12 half-follis in question is the only copper coin known from Ras, make it difficult to draw any firm 61
13 conclusion as to the function of the building. It is unlikely that it was a storage or retail area, and 62
14 it may well have been just a normal dwelling. 63
15 This is definitely the case for house 5, discovered just next to the defence wall built in 64
16 Svetinja in northern Serbia, across the narrow strip of land between the Mlava River and an old 65
17 arm of the Danube. The hearth found in the north-western corner of the house clearly points to 66
18 the use of this building as a dwelling. Nonetheless, the ceramic material in the house consists of 67
19 amphorae, particularly LR1 and LR2. The remaining sherds were of fine, wheel-made Grey Ware 68
20 with stamped decoration, a ceramic category with very good parallels in assemblages in Hungary 69
21 and Transylvania that have been attributed to the Gepids (Popovi 1987, 25). In addition, the 70
22 assemblage included a half-follis struck under Justin II in Thessalonica in 574/5. Another coin of 71
23 Justin II a follis struck in Nicomedia in 571/2 was found next to house 4, at the southern end 72
24 of the wall. The assemblage in that house also included a large quantity of amphora fragments, 73
25 but also Grey Ware with stamped ornament. Two more coins, both folles struck in Constantinople 74
26 under Emperor Maurice, have been found in another house built on top of house 5, even closer to the 75
27 rampart than the previous building. Unlike house 5, however, this had no fireplace, and there was no 76
28 Grey Ware with stamped ornament. However, much as in houses 4 and 5, the ceramic assemblage 77
29 was dominated by amphora remains, primarily LR1 and LR2, with the latter making up 83 percent 78
30 of all fragments. There was a fragment of a comb case and a D-shaped belt buckle, as well as a flint 79
31 steel. Tucked in the north-eastern corner of the house, on the floor, were 570 plates of lamellar 80
32 cuirass, which had been transformed into a more or less compact pile by the fire that apparently 81
33 destroyed the house (Popovi 1987, 28; Ivanievi 1987, 62). Fragments of lamellar cuirass are 82
34 known from several other forts in the Balkans (Milinkovi 1999, 111 fig. 8.3; Covacef 200405, 83
35 443; Ivanievi and pehar 2005, 148; Ivanievi 2010, 770 fig. 19.12; Milinkovi 2010, 8691 84
36 and 98140; Angelovski 2015; Ristov 2015, 381). The earliest specimens are those from a military 85
37 warehouse of a fifth-century fort in Topraichioi near Babadag (Dobrudja; Glad 2012, 356). On the 86
38 basis of metal dust and slag found in the filling of the house in Svetinja, the excavator has suggested 87
39 that it might have functioned as a smithy. However, its small size makes it difficult to envisage such 88
40 a role for what was evidently a special-purpose building. Moreover, the plates found in the north- 89
41 eastern corner are not all from the same cuirass, which points to the possible use of the house as a 90
42 repair workshop or a storage room. If the former, then the associated coins may have been used 91
43 for the payment of service. The large number of amphora remains both in dwellings and in the 92
44 workshop bespeaks the military character of the occupation of the site. It has already been 93
45 mentioned that the palaeobotanical analysis of the charred seeds found in Svetinja indicates that 94
46 the garrison was supplied with corn from a neighbouring site, most likely Viminacium. The corn 95
47 96
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1 must have been shipped upstream to Viminacium on the Danube, as indicated by the remains of the 50
2 citys port (Mirkovi 1999). Together with those shipments came also other goods in smaller 51
3 quantities lamps or cast fibulae with bent stem from other parts of the Balkans, lamellar cuirass 52
4 plates or glassware from other parts of the Empire, and of course smaller denominations necessary 53
5 for market exchanges of smaller value. 54
6 The association of annona, military equipment and coins is also documented 55
7 archaeologically in the case of a building excavated next to one of the gate towers at Capidava 56
8 (Dobrudja; Opri and Raiu 2016). The building had three rooms, one of which produced 12 57
9 amphorae (five of them lined up against one of the walls), quern stones, African Red Slip wares, 58
10 two lamps, 23 loom weights and a shield boss. The latter has many analogies in sixth-century 59
11 military sites in the Balkans (Raiu and Opri 2014). Next to the entrance to the room was a hoard 60
12 of 51 copper coins (42 folles and 9 half-folles), some of them stacked, others arranged in falling 61
13 rows. Andrei Gndil rightly interprets this as a currency (emergency) hoard, as it represents a 62
14 snapshot of the coin circulation in late sixth-century Dobrudja (Gndil 2009, 87). These were coins 63
15 kept together in a wooden box on a shelf, to be at hand when change was needed. As in Svetinja, the 64
16 commercial character of the building is beyond any doubt, but it is important to note that there was 65
17 no special place for market exchanges. Transactions involving coins exchanging hands took place in 66
18 the same buildings as those that served for the storage of food and other goods shipped as annona to 67
19 the troops. Judging from the existing evidence, the goods moving up the capillaries of the army 68
20 supply system in the Balkans were redistributed by means of the same command chain that may 69
21 have been responsible for the inner organization of the forts. Soldiers took the money in the form 70
22 of copper coins from the campsor and then purchased the goods brought to them via the state-run 71
23 distribution system. 72
24 In the absence of prices, it is impossible to assess the speed with which money moved 73
25 around, but all payments seem to have been local, without coins moving much from one site to 74
26 another. That, at least, is suggested by the rather uniform monetary profile of the northern Balkans, 75
27 characteristic of which is the predominance of the higher denominations. If, as seems likely, all 76
28 exchanges took place inside specific buildings within the walls of the fort, with no marketplace, then 77
29 it is not difficult to imagine how middlemen such as the officers in charge of the distribution of the 78
30 annona could have taken advantage of their position to enrich themselves. There is actually no other 79
31 way to explain the social differences inside forts made visible by artefacts of precious metals, hoards 80
32 of gold and expensive dress accessories (often for women) with elaborate decoration. 81
33 82
34 83
CONCLUSION
35 84
36 With no evidence of large-scale cultivation of crops, marketplaces or a diversified 85
37 monetary mass, the idea of a group of free peasants inhabiting the forts and turning into soldiers 86
38 for the occasion must be abandoned. Instead, one needs to admit that the archaeological, as well 87
39 as the numismatic, evidence strongly suggests that the forts were military sites, even though it seems 88
40 reasonable to allow for the possibility that soldiers in garrisons not only brought their families with 89
41 them (as indicated by the written sources), but also engaged in marginal economic activities, such as 90
42 small-scale gardening and hunting, to increase the volume and quality of the food provided by the 91
43 state from the annona collected in the rich provinces overseas. The world of the Balkans was not one 92
44 of fortified villages, but one of strongholds maintained and supported by the state. Whether or not 93
45 there was a food-producing economy in the sixth-century Balkans, coins served primarily to 94
46 facilitate exchanges resulting from the state-run distribution of food and goods. Hoarding, therefore, 95
47 96
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1 may be an indication that hoard owners hoped to leave the Balkans at some point, together with their 50
2 savings, to invest in or purchase from markets elsewhere in the Empire. 51
3 It cannot be an accident that despite the relatively large number of copper coins in both 52
4 single and hoard finds in the Balkans, they were typically not deposited in graves, unlike 53
5 contemporary gold coins. The only sixth-century copper coin found in a burial assemblage in the 54
6 Balkans is the 10-nummia piece struck under Justinian and deposited in a grave in Piatra Frecei 55
7 (Petre 1987, 76). Many more gold coins are known from graves found in Mangalia and Graanica, 56
8 as well from an ossuarium in Athens (Preda 1980, 95; Milinkovi 2003, 1456; Threpsiadis 1971, 57
9 1011). By contrast, all sixth-century coins from burial assemblages in the Crimea are of copper 58
10 (Repnikov 1906, 1517 and 378; Veimarn and Aibabin 1993, 256, 767 and 1601; Aibabin 59
11 and Khairedinova 2009, 11016). 60
12 But the notion of the sixth-century Balkans dominated by folles and half-folles needs 61
13 qualification. Minimi struck under Anastasius are known from sites close to the sea, as well as in 62
14 the interior (Opai 1991, 457; Vladimirova-Aladzhova 1998, 25; Dochev 200203, 292). 63
15 Pentanummia struck in Chersonesus are known from coastal sites, while those struck in Carthage 64
16 reached forts in the interior (Parushev 1991, 29; Krzyanowska 1983, 190). The 16-nummia pieces 65
17 struck in Thessalonica under Justinian appear in Macedonia, but also in the northern Balkans 66
18 (Iurukova 1962, 42; Mikuli and Nikuljska 1979, 712; Vlcu and Nicolae 2010; Mikhailov 67
19 2012, 141; Ivanievi 2014, 42; Mikhailov 2014). Dekanummia struck under Justinian (as well 68
20 as, occasionally, under Justin I and Maurice) have been found all over the Balkans, from Cape 69
21 Kaliakra to Archar, and from Murighiol to Butrint (Krzyanowska 1983, 190; Boshkova 1984, 70
22 111; Georgiev 1985, 206; Gomolka-Fuchs 1991, 186; Opai 1991, 468; Parushev 1991, 27; 71
23 Atanasov and Iordanov 1994, 54; Vladimirova-Aladzhova 1998, 26; Dochev 200203, 294; 72
24 Moorhead 2007, 299). The complex picture drawn on the basis of some of the smallest 73
25 denominations available indicates, therefore, that hilltop sites in the Balkans were connected with 74
26 economic networks through which such denominations circulated in much greater numbers in order 75
27 to serve typically urban markets. Since no evidence exists that those markets were directly 76
28 connected to the hilltop sites in the Balkans, the only possible explanation for the presence, albeit 77
29 in small numbers, of the small denominations on sites so far removed from the urban markets is that 78
30 they were piggybacked on transports of annona. Moreover, if that is true, one has to admit also that 79
31 such coins were given as small change to soldiers for purchases of annona-related products. In the 80
32 absence of any physical remains of marketplaces inside the hilltop sites, the sale of the 81
33 annona-related products may have taken place within the same facilities in which those products 82
34 were stored. The particular form in which goods and services were exchanged in the northern 83
35 Balkans during the sixth century was an adaptation to the complete collapse of the villa economy 84
36 and the absence of any significant, local production of food, the surplus of which could create the 85
37 basis for the organization of marketplaces. With no peasants in villages, the soldiers in forts had 86
38 to make do with the public dole. 87
39 88
40 Department of History 89
41 202 Flint Hall, P.O. Box 117320 90
42 University of Florida 91
43 Gainesville, FL 32611-7320 92
44 USA 93
45 E-mail: fcurta@ufl.edu 94
46 95
47 96
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