Gold coins of Emperor Valens found in Egypt
Egypt’s massive storage of artifacts still buried underneath of a pellicle of sand and soil is daily investigated by archaeologists. Indefatigable researches are conducted to extract history from beneath, to find clues on a nation’s past and to restore World history.
And thanks to its immense archaeological materials, scientists regularly unearth new items who change more or less our understanding of this great ancient civilization.
The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced an interesting discovery. Gold coins forged by Roman Emperor Valens were unearthed at the astonishment of archaeologists; these findings represent the first of this kind in the Land of the Pyramids.
The two coins were found during excavations in the west part of St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai. The image represented on the front side of the coins is very similar to that of Valens’ and specialists agreed that he is indeed.
Valens ruled the Eastern Roman Empire between 364 and 378 AD; his reign was nothing close to peaceful. He had to black-out the revolt by Procopius, and then fight the Sassanids, but the war with the Goths meant his end.
In 378 AD a battle was to be fought which will decisively change roman history. Near the town of Adrianople, now Edirne, Valens organized his forces in battle formations. He wanted a quick victory against the unprepared Goths. He had received word of a huge gothic army walking the fields of his Empire, but when scouts returned they reported a far smaller number, thus giving the Romans numerical superiority. Valens couldn’t wait, he wanted a victory, a quick success would give him eternal glory. Following his probably egoistic reason he ignored messages from the Western Emperor Gratian, who urged him not to attack but wait for his reinforcements. All in vain, he saw an opportunity and was keen to use it.
As shields began to clash and swords rage, the Gothic cavalry returned from food gathering. They were sent earlier the day to bring supplies back to the half starved Goths. The battle was intense at their arrival, so by performing a decisive maneuver they were able to storm the roman left flank. The consequences were disastrous; panic overtook the Romans who were now trying to save their skin. Valens quickly realized his defeat so he set haste away from the field; Goths followed. They caught the Roman Emperor hiding in a farm house and preparing himself for a final stand. The Goths had other plans, no more were they to sacrifice their own so they circled the farm house and set it on fire. The last true roman, as Valens was named, found his ending. Of course, there is another theory concerning Valens’ death, he may as well died on the battlefield.
Gold coins of this type were known in Valens’ time as solidii. This type was introduced by Constantine I in 309 and was used until the 10th century. Formally, a gold coin in roman times was known as aureus.
This new finding offers us a glimpse at Egypt’s economy and political status during the reign of Valens.
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