Saturday, 17 April 2010

Gallienus from Seleucia

I have a passion for the provincial coins and this one just came my way as an unidentified coin of Macrinus (217-8) when it is, in reality, a coin of Gallienus (253-68). The mint city is Seleucia ad Calycadnum in Cilicia.

Obverse: AV K Π ΛK ΓAΛΛIHNOC, draped, cuirassed and laureate bust right, seen from behind

Reverse: CEΛEVKEΩN KAΛVKAΔNΩ, Athena stg. right, shield in left hand, stabbing with spear a Giant with snakelike feet, who kneels before her; he grabs her spear with left hand and has a rock in his raised right hand. Rare.

The reverse shows a scene of the Gigantomachia. After Zeus has locked up the Titans in the Tartaros, Gaia sets her sons, the Giants, on the Olympic gods. They are human shaped with snakelike feet. The battle occurred at Phlegra. The Giants throw rocks and mountains. They couldn't be killed by gods, only by humans. So Herakles came into play. He shot a poisoned arrow on Alkyoneus and dragged him over the frontier where he died. Athena threw the island of Sicily on another Giant, where he was buried. His fire breathing comes out of the volcano, Mount Etna, until today.

Seleucia ad Calycadnum is located a few miles from the mouth of the Calycadnus river in south-central Mersin province of Turkey, 80 km (50 mi) west of the city of Mersin. It is now known as Silifke.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

An almost perfect coin of Aurelian....

I want to feature here a coin that is almost perfect, a beautifully detailed coin of the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-5AD). It will also give me the opportunity to correct a slight error in the catalogue reference number in the sales description (mea culpa!).
Silvered antoninianus, RIC V 254, MIR (Göbl) 225c1 (not c2 as I list in the sales description)

Siscia mint, obverse IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse ORIENS AVG, Sol standing left holding globe in left and raising right, right foot on captive, second captive to right, * in left field, P in exergue

This is a truly superb coin with well detailed features, every fleck of hair and detail on the emperor's cuirass (armour) is evident. Click on the picture for an enlarged version to enhance the detail.. It also retains the full silver coating of the period.

These coins are about 5% silver, the remaining metal composition being bronze. The imiscibility, or "unmixability" of copper (the major constituent of bronze) and silver was exploited by the Romans to produce coins that looked like silver when they were new but soon betrayed their base metal core.

This coin can be purchased, guaranteed for a lifetime as genuine, by following the link at the top left of this page.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

An update to the origins of Mauseus

I had always assumed that the name "Mauseus", as part of Carausius' names, had come from Germanic or Britannic origins but that may not be the case. In the new Numismatic Chronicle (volume 169, 2009) there is the latest in a series of papers by Richard Ashton on the ancient coins of Rhodes. This particular paper is about a specific series of bronze coins that have the name of an official on "Mousais". Could it be that the origins are much further south and derive from the Greek?