308 out of 410 days: A Trade Embargo on Cisalpine Gaul?

In view of the fact that the Boii and rest of the Gauls were offering for sale various articles and an especially large number of captives, the Romans became afraid that they might some day use the money against them, and accordingly forbade anybody to give to a Gaul either silver or gold.  (Zon. 8.19)

I came across this odd little quote in the fragments of Cassius Dio in the midst of the narrative of events preceding the Second Punic War.  This got me thinking about the monetization of the region and led me back to this passage in R. Haeussler, Becoming Roman? Diverging identities and experiences in ancient northwest Italy (2013), p. 98:


The chapter from which this is pulled is a nice example of a historian integrating numismatic evidence into the narrative.  Anyway this further led me to discover that all of Ermanno A. Arslan’s publications are online.  A very exciting resource.  And, I also got to read some of the work of Giovanni Gorini who also seems to have put much of his publications online.

So in some regions, like Turdetania in Further Spain [the most unfortunate place name ever!], it has been suggested that the issuing of bronze coinage is a reaction to Roman regional engagement, a vehicle to help with the collection of taxes, etc. So, S J Keay, “The Romanisation of Turdetania” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 11.3 (1992), 275-315, esp. 288ff. By contrast, the current suggestion seems to be that the peoples of Northern Italy were already engaged in the use and production of silver coinage before their engagement with the Romans.  

The passage from the epitome of Dio (above) is interesting because of how it sees a connection between the acquisition of silver and gold and military readiness.  It ties trade and commerce directly to war resources. The trade doesn’t give the Gauls more resources–they already have a good deal of material wealth–instead it gives them a type of resource, gold and silver (coins?!) which make it easier to engage in warfare.

And, here’s a nice pic of a padane drachma just so this post has one:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s