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  5. The Iberian Denarius: Indigenous Coins and Identities


The Iberian Denarius: Indigenous Coins and Identities

Room 17, showcase 1 Denarius of Bolskan (Huesca). About 150–100 BC. Silver. Pulse para ampliar Denarius of Bolskan (Huesca). About 150–100 BC. Silver.

More than 150 towns in Hispania minted coins between the third and first centuries BC. Their issues are the best evidence of Iberia’s cultural and political diversity, indispensable for identifying the different realities that Romans and Carthaginians found on the peninsula and understanding the progressive advance of Romanisation.

Beyond their economic function, coins are symbols of identity. For this reason, they always bear the names of the issuing cities in Iberian, Phoenician, Greek or Latin script. Some of those places would have disappeared forever from the annals of history if not for these small bits of metal.

The incredible variety of coin issues during this period reveals a highly complex territory divided into city-states which struck its own currency. Some followed the Roman system while others maintained their own cultural traditions, expressing both their independence and their adherence to the new power structure.

These coins include Iberian “denarii” and “asses”, which picture a male head and a warrior on horseback accompanied by legends in Iberian script. Although they were struck by Iberians, Celtiberians and other peoples who inhabited what the Romans called Hispania Citerior (roughly the northern half of the peninsula), we do not know the coins’ indigenous names and therefore refer to them using Latin terms.