Saturday, February 26, 2005

Billon antoninianus, Gallienus, Mediolanum, Göbl 1088y 

GALLIENVS AVG, Radiate cuirassed bust right, one ribbon behind, one forward across shoulder | PROVIDENTIA AVG, Providentia standing facing. leaning on column right, head left, pointing wand at globe left and holding cornucopia right.

Not especially nice on the obverse, but a very detailed, well-struck, reverse. Note Providentia's odd pose: while her shoulders seem to be squared up facing the viewer, her hips must be twisted 90° to allow her legs to be positioned as they are. Looks uncomfortable.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Æ tetradrachm, Alexandria, Gallienus, Milne 4077 

AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB, Laureate draped cuirassed bust right | LI, Eagle standing left, head right, holding wreath. Regnal year across fields.

As had been true with Hellenistic coins of the Ptolemies, coins of Roman Egypt often featured eagles on the reverse, a fortunate coincidence that both the Romans and the Egyptians placed special significance on the strength and power of the raptor.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Silvered Æ antoninianus, Gallienus, Antioch, Göbl 1659g 

GALLIENVS AVG, Radiate cuirassed bust right | SOLI INVICTO, Radiate-crowned draped Sol standing facing, head left, holding whip right and raising hand left.

Many sites overstate Aurelian's role in introducing the cult of Sol to Roman religion. The sun god was brought to Rome by Elagabalus. The god was made more Roman, and the chief god of Rome, under Aurelian, but Sol Invictus certainly existed in the Roman pantheon before that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Æ40 Ptolemy II Philadelphos, Alexandria, 285-246 BCE, Sear GCV 7784var 

Diademed and horned head of Zeus Ammon right | [ΠΤΟ]ΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ [ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟΣ], Eagle looking back standing left on thunderbolt, leaf between legs. Cornucopia projecting fron left wing.

Ptolemy I was Alexander's general who found himself in charge of Egypt at the time of Alexander's death in 323 BCE. His descendants ruled until Octavian defeated Cleopatra VII (and Marc Antony) in 30 BCE.

The Ptolemaic bronzes include some of the largest coins of antiquity. This 40mm example (over 1.5 inches in diameter) isn't the largest, but it is a big hunk of metal.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Æ21, Parium in Mysia, Valerian, SNG von Aulock 1343 

IMP C VALERIANVS AVG, Radiate draped bust right | CGIHP, Capricorn right, celestial globe between front legs, cornucopia above.

CGIHP is an abbreviation for the full Colonia Gemella Julia Hadriana Parium, today the site of Kamares, in Greece.

This example surprised me a little with the object between the Capricorn's front legs until I was reassusured that it was the expected celestial globe, with the equatorial, latitudinal, and longitudinal bands a bit more prominent than usual. (The Romans usually portrayed a star with eight points.)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Billon antoninianus, Gallienus, Rome, Göbl 348a 

GALLIENVS AVG, Radiate head right, one ribbon behind, one forward across shoulder | IOVI VLTORI, Jove standing facing, head right, holding lightning bolt left and cloak right. S in left field.

While busts ornamented with drapery, or cuirass, or both, seem to have been more popular at the other imperial mints, the mint of Rome appaears to have produced more like this, with no ornament but the radiate crown, a mark of denomination for this antoninianus (or double denarius).

The significance of the position of the ribbons is completely unclear, but usually a particular issue is seen with one or the other. It's uncommon for both to have been used with a given reverse, though that is true for this issue.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Æ23, Antioch in Pisidia, Gallienus, Lindgren III, 686 

IMP C P [...]ALLIENV[...], Radiate draped cuirassed bust right | ANTIOCH ICL, Legend around large SR, Γ beneath.

I think it's interesting that the reverse of this coin echoes designs popular at Rome two centuries before in the time of Caesar Augustus.

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