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[Saussaye, Numismatique de la Gaule Narbonnaise. Paris 1842.
Duchalais, Description des médailles gauloises. Paris, 1846.
Hucher, L'Art gaulois. Paris, 1865, 1874.
Muret et Chabouillet, Catal. des monn. gauloises de la Bibl. Nat. Paris, 1889.
H. de la Tour, Atlas des monn. gauloises. Paris, 1892.
Blanchet, Traité des monn. gauloises. Paris, 1905.]

The coins of ancient Gaul consist of three principal classes: (i) Greek, chiefly of the town of Massalia; and (ii) native Gaulish, imitated originally from Greek (or Roman) coins; and (iii) Roman colonial of Lugdunum, Nemausus, Vienna, and Cabellio in the valley of the Rhone.

Massalia was a colony of Phocaea founded about B.C. 600. Its earliest coins are small uninscribed divisions of the Phocaic drachm with incuse reverses and of various types (Tré d'Auriol, Rev. num., N.S. xiv. 348, and Mélanges de Num., i. 12 sqq.; further references in Blanchet, p. 545; illustrations in Babelon, Traité, II. i. 1571 f.). Notwithstanding their archaic appearance it does not seem that these little pieces are, with few exceptions, much earlier than the middle of the fifth century B.C. It is not improbable that there were several issues of such coins, extending perhaps over a period of seventy or eighty years; and it is not certain whether all of these coins (representing some twenty-five types) belong to Massalia, or should not rather be distributed among various cities on the same coast. It may be that some of the were not actually struck in Gaul, but brought from Asia Minor.


Next in order of time comes a series of small coins, for the most part obols, with types on both sides. Among these the following may mentioned:—

Before circ. B.C. 400.
Head of Apollo (?)[1] of archaic style, wearing a helmet on which is a wheel.Wheel. (de la Tour, Pl. II. 520.)
AR Obol 13-8 grs.
Head of Artemis, of archaic style.Μ Crab. (Ibid., Pl. II. 510.)
AR Obol.

After circ. B.C. 400.

In this period, if not earlier, begin the well-known obols:—

Youthful male head, usually with small horn sprouting from forehead, and sometimes slight whiskers.ΜΑ in two quarters of a wheel (de la Tour, Pl. II.)
ΛΑΚΥΔΩΝ Horned (?) youthful male head. (Rev. Num., 1888, p. 496.)Wheel (Ibid., Pl. II. 535.)

1 Cf. the archaic statue of the Amyclean Apollo as described by Paus. Lac. 19 εχει δε επι τη κεφαλη κρανος.


Lakydon was the port of Massalia. On some specimens of the obol the place of the whiskers is taken by letters, which, from their inconspicuous position, may possibly be the artists’ signatures (ΠΑΡ, ΜΑ, ΑΤΡΙ, &c.).

Before the middle of the fourth century the drachm makes its first appearance at Massalia:—

coin image
FIG. 1.
Head of Artemis, her hair adorned with sprigs of olive.ΜΑΣΣΑ Lion. (Fig. 1)
AR. Drachm 58-55 grs.

The earliest specimens of these drachms are of very beautiful work. The first branch of the olive-tree is said to have been brought to Massalia with the statue of Artemis from Ephesus,[2] hence its presence on these coins. The cultivation of the olive was a source of great wealth to the town.

The fine style of art was not long maintained on the coins of Massalia. This is partly due to their having been carelessly manufactured in large quantities, for they were for a long time the chief currency not only of Southern Gaul as far as Lyons but even of the whole valley of the Po. They were extensively copied by the various Celtic tribes, and the barbarous imitations are far more common than the pieces of pure Greek work.

After circ. B.C. 200.

About the close of the third century a change takes place both in the style and in the weight of the Massalian coins.

Head of Artemis, with quiver at her shoulder [B. M. Guide, Pl. 44. 1].ΜΑΣΣΑΛΙΗΤΩΝ Lion
AR. 42-40 grs.

This reduction in the weight of the drachm was sudden, not gradual. It was the result of the adoption, for commercial reasons, of the standard of the Victoriatus (see Haeberlin in Z. f. N., xxvi. p. 238).

Among the bronze coins of Massalia the following are of frequent occurrence:—

Head of Apollo. [de la Tour, Pl. IV. 1495 f.]ΜΑΣΣΑΛΙΗΤΩΝ Bull rushing
Æ .95
Head of Athena. [Ibid., Pl. IV. 1914 f.]ΜΑ Tripod
Æ .9

It would seem the Massalia acquired increased importance after the fall of Syracuse in B.C. 210, and large numbers of bronze coins were issued by it during the second and first centuries B.C. It probably finally lost the right of coining after it’s capture by C. Trebonius, Caesar’s legatus, B.C. 49 (Dion Cass. xli. 25; Caesar, B.C. ii. 22).

1 The two principal temples at Massalia were those of the Ephesian Artemis and of Apollo Delphinios (Strab. p. 179).


Other Greek coinages from the neighborhood of Marseille (third century B.C.) are:—

Glanum (St. Rémy). Silver, obv. Head of Persephone, rev. ΓΛΑΝΙΚΩΝ Bull, 34.26 grs. (Blanchet, p. 239).

Caenicenses (between Marseille and Salon). Silver, obv. Head of river-god Kaenos, rev. ΚΑΙΝΙΚΗΤΩΝ, Lion. 32 grs. (Blanchet, p. 239).

Samnagenses (near Marseille). Bronze, obv. Head of Apollo, rev. ΣΑΜΝΑΓΗΤ, Bull rushing (Blanchet, p. 240.).

Antipolis. Under Lepidus (B.C. 44-42) Antipolis struck bronze, obv. Head of Venus, rev. Victory crowning trophy ΑΝΤΙΠ. ΑΕΝ. (Blanchet, p. 442).

The following places in the Rhone valley may be mentioned as having struck money, some at first with Greek inscriptions, and later with Roman:—Lugdunum (COPIA. FELIX MVNATIA on the earliest coinage, beginning B.C. 43;; afterwards COPIA). Vienna (C.I.V. = Colonia Iulia Viennensium). Nemausus (earlier coins reading ΝΑΜΑΣΑΤ, of conjectural attribution; later NEM. COL., rev. Crocodile chained to palm). Cabellio (AR with KABE; later CABE; under Augustus, COL. CABE). Avenio (early silver and bronze, AOYE). On all these coins see Blanchet, pp. 427-41, and Willers, Num. Zt., 34, pp. 65-138.

Gaulish Money. The money of the Gauls, like that of most barbarous races in ancient times, consisted of imitations of the coins of Greece and Rome. The models selected were naturally coins already widely circulating in Western Europe, such as the gold staters of Philip of Macedon and of Tarentum, the drachms of Massalia and of the Greek cities on the coast of Spain, and, somewhat later, the denarii of the Roman Republic. The originals from which the Gaulish gold coins were imitated probably came into Gaul by way of Massalia, or possibly by the Danube and Rhine valleys. Very few such originals, however, have been found in Gaul.

Southern Gaul. In this district, comprising the Roman province of Narbonesis, the coins most frequently met with are silver, often inscribed with Greek characters and bearing types derived from the coins of Massalia, Rhoda, &c., and quinarii with legends in the Latin character, having on the obverse a helmeted head and on the reverse a horseman. Among the coinages of the south-west must be mentioned the money of the Longostalatae (AE, obv. Head of Hermes, rev. ΛΟΓΓΟΣΤΑΛΗΤΩΝ Tripod) and of certain kings of the Narbonesian district (Bitovios, Amytos, Kaiantolos, Rigatikos).

Central Gaul, comprising portions of the Roman provinces of Aquitania, Lugdunensis, and Celtica, was the district in which the gold staters of Philip were first imitated, and where the copies follow most closely their Greek model. The attributions of these staters to the several tribes (Aedui, Arverni, &c.) are often very uncertain; but there are gold Avernian staters of Vercingetorix, and silver and bronze coins of Epasnactus (EPAD). Certainly Aeduan are the silver coins reading EDVIS and ORCETIRIX. The silver and bronze coins are of various

types, and become very abundant in the time of Caesar and Augustus after the suppression by Rome of the native gold currency.

Western Gaul. In the maritime districts the coins depart further from the Greek and Roman prototypes and exhibit more characteristically Gaulish devices, such as the head on the obverse surmounted by a boar, and the man-headed horse on the reverse. (Fig. 2.)

coin image
FIG. 2.

Northern Gaul (Belgica). The coinage of this region is almost wholly of gold, and the Greek origin of the types is scarcely traceable. In fabric the specimens which have come from the parts about the Rhine are usually of concave form, the concavity becoming less and less perceptible as we approach the West. To the Atrebates are attributed staters with disintegrated versions of the human head and horse, somewhat British in style. There are also bronze coins with the name Commios sometimes identified with the adversary of the Romans. The Treveri have staters with a characteristic V-shaped pattern, derived from the eye of the original head, on the obverse. Large flat staters, attributed to the Parisii and Bellovaci, are frequently found in Britain, and may be British. To north-east Gaul also belong various cast bronze coins (obv. rude head, rev. horse or bird or two animals opposed, attributed to the Senones; and obv. warrior carrying torques, rev. animal, attributed to the Catalauni).

Celtic Coins of Central Europe

The more important of the obscure coinages issued by Celtic peoples in Central Europe, chiefly in the districts of the Upper Rhine and Danube, may be briefly mentioned here (see Blanchet, Traité des monnaises gauloises, pp. 443-77). The most remarkable are the gold Regenbogenschüsselchen (‘rainbow-cups’), of concave fabric, and with various types, the most characteristic being a shell-pattern. These and similar coins (Types: bird’s head, serpent, triskeles, &c.) are found in Hungary, Bohemia, Bavaria, Switzerland, the valleys of the Rhine and Po, &c. Gold pieces imitated from Macedonian coins (head of Athena, rev. Nike or figure with lance) are found in Moravia. From the Noricum (Lower obverse, and a horse or horseman on the reverse, for the most part probably derived from the tetradrachms of Philip II. They frequently bear in Roman letters names (chiefly of kings) such as Adnamat, Nemet, Gesatorix, Ecritusirus, Suicca, Nonnos, Biatec (see Kubitschek in Jahresh. des Oesterr. Inst., 1906, pp. 70 f., and Hunter Cat. III. 707 f.). A coin of Biatec imitates the heads of Honos and Virtus from a denarius of B.C. 82. Hungary produces very barbarous imitations of tetradrachms of Philip II and of denarii of the Republic and Augustus.

From Transylvania come imitations of tetradrachms of Philip II, and also large scyphate pieces of base metal with still more degraded types of the same kind.