Silver Siliqua of Julian II, Mildenhall

front and back of a silver siliqua coin

A silver siliqua struck for Emperor Julian II, dating from AD 360-361.

The coin depicts on its obverse face the profile bust of Julian II facing right, accompanied by the legend FL CL IVLIAN-VS P P AVG. ‘P P’ is the abbreviated form of ‘Pater Patriae’, an honorific title given to most Emperors on taking the throne, while ‘AVG’ refers to his title as ‘Augustus’ or senior ruler. The full translation as follows: Flavius Claudius Iulianus, Father to his country, Augustus.

On the reverse, we see the figure of Victory advancing left holding a wreath and palm, the legend reading VICTORIA DD NN AVG (Victoria Dominorum Nostrorum Augustorum), translating as: ‘to the Victory of our lord and Emperor’.

At the bottom of the reverse face under the figure of Victory are the letters ‘LVG’, which stand for the city of Lugdunum (Lyon), denoting where this coin was minted.

In the late Roman period, the names for different coin denominations are largely unknown and thus ‘siliqua’ is ascribed to these pieces due to the fact that the siliqua was a small Roman unit of weight. Research suggests that twenty-four siliquae made up a solidus (a late Roman gold coin) in equivalent value. Struck for the first time under Constantine the Great in the AD 320’s, siliquae were issued consistently throughout the 4th and 5th centuries, turning up in Britain as single losses and in hoards, both of coins only and deposited alongside precious metal objects. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Hoxne hoard, buried in or after AD 408 and containing 14,212 siliquae in total along with silver spoons, jewellery and other tableware.

Julian II was born in c. AD 331 or 332 in Constantinople (modern Istanbul), becoming Caesar or junior Emperor of the Western Empire in AD 355 by Constantius II. In AD 356, he led campaigns across the Rhine that lasted until AD 361. Tension between Julian and his co-Emperor Constantius began to emerge in AD 360, when Julian began issuing coins with the title of Augustus rather than Caesar, effectively proclaiming himself the senior emperor.

Civil war seemed inevitable, though this was avoided due to Constantius’ death on November 3rd AD 361. On December 11th of the same year, Julian entered Constantinople and was proclaimed sole ruler of the Roman Empire. His short reign earned him the cognomen of ‘the Apostate’, since it was under his authority that paganism was once again restored as the official religion and Christian practices placed under strict controls. He died aged 31 or 32 in AD 363 as a result of battle injuries following a largely unsuccessful campaign against the Sassanids in Mesopotamia, just under two years into his sole reign.

View the full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database

Thank you to the finder for allowing this object to be featured.

This find was recorded by the Suffolk Finds Recording Team, supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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