How many mints were there in Serbia in the late thirteenth century

In the late thirteenth century, Brskovo and Rudnik dominated the scene. Later, new mining areas were opened up, and it would be surprising if the number of mints increased. A limited pilot study, concentrating on the coronation and horseman types of Stefan Dusan, shows that the proportions of different sigla vary sharply from one hoard to another. The hoards also show that the sigla can be grouped to some extent, and they also show some marks are very plentiful while others are uncommon or rare. This could reflect major mints and smaller mints. If we could interpret only the most common half-dozen marks as mint-marks, this would already account for over 90% of the coins.
The half-dozen relevant hoards about which details are avaible can be placed more or less in chronological order, well enough that it then becomes difficult to explain the differences in the proportions of certain sigla in them by any other hypothesis than that they are secret-marks.
What would in principle be a clinching argument, if a larger assemblage of hoards were available, is that the varying proportions occur on a regional basis. This already seems to be the case – coins without sigla are most plentifulin the south-west, at Belovo and Kicevo. Coins with N-O are heavily predominant in the regions nearest the prolific silver mine of Novo Brdo. This gives some encouragement to think that the letters could stand for the mint name, although it does not follow that they must do so in every case. No large northerm hoard, from anywhere near Rudnik, is available, and coins marked R-V are distinctly less common in the southern hoards than they are in Ljubic`s catalogue.
Stylistic analysis would in all probability help to confirm and extend the conclusions to which the hoards are beginning to point. The coronation coins are quite varied in style, and a good classification of them in terms of their die-cutting could be made. It could then be correlated with the sigla. What this will tell us, there is no way of guessing in advance. There may have been more mints than die-cutting centres, but if some at least of the sigla refer openly to mint-places grouing them regionally by means of the hoards and the stylistic analysis should open the way for some well-founded hypotheses. Mints, as opposed to die-cutting centres, might be distinguished by correlating other physical aspects of the coins, e.g. weight-dispersions or trace elements.
If we can eventually attribute most of the coins to their mints, this will be of some interest for Serbian history, because it should permit an assessment of monetary circulation within Serbia – again through a topographical analysis of the hoards.

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