Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 1-1 (May 2009)Nico Roymans; Joris Aarts: Coin use in a dynamic frontier region. Late Iron Age coinages in the Lower Rhine area
3 Survey of the principal coin groups from the Lower Rhine region

3.3 Lower Rhine triquetrum staters and the ethnogenesis of the Batavi (c. 50-15 BC)

The silver and bronze ‘rainbow cups’, which feature a triquetrum on the obverse and a configuration of dots and circles on the reverse (Fig. 8), are also mainly of Lower Rhine origin. They are the youngest variants of a long-running coin series that began with gold staters in the first half of the 1st century BC. These staters came from the trans-Rhine region and were probably struck in the oppidum on the Dünsberg in Hessen. After about 50 BC, production of these coins largely shifted to the Lower Rhine area, where the series was continued in silver and, still later, in bronze. This was a gradual process; even the youngest bronze coins often contain a small quantity of gold or silver, or are sometimes gilded. This points to a conservative adherence to the old series and to the use of these coins in the same kind of transactions as the older gold coins. A salient feature is the presence of small additional marks on the reverse of many silver and bronze coins; in total no less than 20 different variants are now known. The coins still occur in the earliest Augustan forts in the Lower Rhine region, although it is not likely that new coins were minted in this period. All in all, this coin group seems to include a large number of issues spread over time from the period c. 50 to 15 BC. The coins are concentrated in the eastern part of the Dutch river region (Fig. 9), a fact which – together with the relatively late dating – would justify the attribution of most issues to the Batavi.[19] Their production coincides with the historically documented ethnogenesis of the Batavi. The coins may have played a role in the integration of native and migrant groups into the new Batavian community, perhaps dominated by an elite from north of the Rhine. Of interest here is the presence of large numbers of coins (more than 250 specimens) at the cult place of Empel.


Fig. 8 Hoard of silver triquetrum staters from Echt (L). (Photo Restaura, Haelen).


Fig. 9 Distribution of silver and bronze triquetrum coins. a. Roman camp; b. other find spots; c. hoard (after Roymans 2004, Fig. 6.1).