Dear Friends of ancient mythology!
Egypt, Alexandria, Hadrian, AD 117-138
AE - drachm, 35.3g, 20.22g
Alexandria, AD 117/8 (RY 2)
Obv.: AVT KAIC TPAIANOC AΔPIANOC
Bust, draped, laureate, r.
Rev.: Euthenia, clad in garment of Isis (in chiton and peplos with the typical knot before her breast), wearing crown of Isis (sun disk between horns), leaning l., resting l. arm on small sphinx, laying r., and holding in raised r. hand grain-ears, poppies and lotus-flower(?).
in field LB (= year 2)
Ref.: Milne 844; BMC -
VF, green brown patina
(1) The portrait of Hadrian is a bit unusual and reminds of Caligula. It seems that it needed some time until the Alexandrians got the right portrait!
(2) The typical knot at the breast is the so-called Knot of Isis, the Tit-Knot. This knot originally was a special knottet girdle tie und has relations to the religious sign of Ankh. The Ankh Cross was suggested in ancient Egypt as...
As we come to the end of 2019, and welcome in the New Year, it seems appropriate to reflect on time and the calendar. I photographed this clock in the old town square in Prague a few years ago. The clock dates from 1410 and was made by Mikuláš of Kadaň, clockmaker and Jan Šindel, astronomer and mathematician. It is an amazing work of art and science. In addition to the time, the clock shows the relative positions of the sun, moon, and constellations of the zodiac. It is the oldest working astronomical clock.
It takes about 365.2422 days for the Earth to revolve around the sun, not something that has always been well reflected in the calendar. The calendar of the Roman Republic fell short more than 10 days each year which meant that the seasons drifted against the calendar. The years were periodically reconciled with the addition of a “mensis intercalaris” – a.k.a. Mercedonius from merces for wages - although it was...
2019 for me was focused primarily on building my modern Hungarian type set. In working on this set, I discovered something that is not documented well in any English or Hungarian catalog that I have found, which is that there are three distinct strike types for ultra-modern Hungarian coins.
I consider the modern coinage period for Hungary to have started in 1946 for various reasons I have discussed before on this forum, however, I have not talked much about Hungarian ultra-moderns. After Hungary regained independence from the Soviets in 1989, there was a brief transitional coinage period, followed by a major transition for the Hungarian Mint. The mint incorporated in 1992, becoming the Hungarian Mint Ltd., with the National Bank of Hungary as the major shareholder (they would become the sole shareholder in 1996). This transformation of the mint began what I consider to be the ultra-modern period of Hungarian coinage.
The issues of 1992 were sparse, with a high mintage for...
Post your middle bronzes of Severus Alexander or Julia Mamaea or anything you feel is relevant.
The Scriptores Historia Augustae (SHA) is a late Roman collection of biographies, written in Latin, of the Roman Emperors, their junior colleagues, designated heirs and usurpers of the period 117 to 284. It is ostensibly a compilation of works by six different authors, but a recent computer analysis of its style has demonstrated that it is the work of a single author. It is a challenging source for historians because it contains kernels of truth, but these are interspersed with remarkable omens and fantastic anecdotes. At least one ruler has been entirely invented. The most clear-headed exposition of it all can be found on Jona Lendering's introduction to the work at Livius.org, which describes it as "something like an ancient mockumentary" and summarizes it as "a collection of (bogus) biographies of Roman emperors of the second and third centuries."
The virtue of Pietas, religious or filial devotion, was one of great importance to the ancient Romans, and Pius was a cognomen reserved for those who could demonstrate that they had it by the bucketloads. Antoninus Pius was one of those guys, and he so burnished the idea that a good ruler should also embody this virtue that even sociopathic and fruitcake emperors like Caracalla and Elagabalus would, decades later, take his name in wholesale fashion for their own, patently false advertising be damned.
But, Antoninus wasn't always called Pius. We know this because the earliest coins struck in his name as emperor made no mention of his PIVS-ness at all. On these rare issues, struck in the weeks following Hadrian's death on 10 July 138, he is either simply IMP ANTONINVS AVGVSTVS, IMP T AEL CAES ANTONINVS AVG, or IMP CAES AEL ANTONINVS AVG.
The story goes that Antoninus, not even six months into his job as Caesar, was with Hadrian when the latter died at his villa in the seaside...
So Dies Natalis Solis Invicti is already over here, and today in my part of the world, the annular solar eclipse was fully visible, with the maximum annular phase reached at 13:23 hrs.
After we ooh'ed and aah'ed over the "Ring of Fire" that we won't be experiencing here for another 40 years, it occurred to me that the moon-impeded daytime lighting seemed just about right for a little coin photography.
There were a few coins that were already in my photography queue, but I figured I would include, as a tribute to Luna and Sol, the following two subjects...
AR Antoninianus. 5.18g, 23.6mm. Rome mint, AD 217. RIC IV 284a corr. (draped and cuirassed; see plate); RSC 396a. O: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind. R: P M TR P XX COS IIII P P, Diana Lucifera (or Luna) wearing crescent on head, fold of drapery in circle round head, holding reins...
In this thread bcuda wrote
Be glad you live in the 21st century. I collected utterly alone with ancient-coin books for my companions for many years prior to the internet. Ancient-coin dealers who sent out paper fixed-price lists would advertise (in Coin World and elsewhere) that you could get their lists if you would write and ask for them. I did. At the time I lived in Montana and mail was usually a day slower than to the coasts so the coins I wanted were often already sold. When a catalog came in the mail my wife would call my office...
The Christmas Star has been debated on many levels. The International Planetarium Society website (ww.ips-planetarium.org) lists over 100 citations to the Star of Bethlehem. Some of those articles and letters were part of a multifaceted decades-long argument among at least five astronomers and one editor. Writing in Archaeology Vol. 51, No. 6 (Nov/Dec 1998), Anthony F. Aveni cited 250 “major scholarly articles” about the Star of Bethlehem.
For about 1500 years, the story of the Star of Bethlehem was accepted as historically accurate because it was divine truth. With the Renaissance, a new way of looking at the world evolved. The scholarly tradition of explaining the Star of Bethlehem with scientific evidence apparently began with Johannes Kepler. In 1604, he published The New Star in the Foot of the Serpent (De stella nova in pede serpentarii: et qui sub ejus exortum de novo iniit, trigono igneo…). In that tract, he examined a...
Dear Friends of ancient mythology!
Here is the next contribution to the theme Roman-Egyptian mythology. The cause for this article was the following coin, especially the meaning of the IS on the upper field of its reverse which has fascinated me.
Egypt, Alexandria, Hadrian, AD 117-138
AE - drachm, 35.4mm, 26.43g
Alexandria, 129/30 (RY 12)
Obv.: AVT KAI - TPAI AΔPIA CEB
Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
Rev.: Rivergod Nilus, bearded and laureate, nude to hips, leaning l., holding cornucopiae in outstretched r. hand and reed in l. arm, resting with l. arm on small hippopotamus, stg. r.,
in ex. LΔΩΔEK (= year 12)
in upper field LS
Ref.: Milne 1267; Dattari 1805; Köln 993; Emmet 1015
about VF, blue-green patina
IS = 16 (cubits), means the optimal level of the flood of the Nile. The S should be read as 'digamma', not as 'stigma'! The cubit was the unit length measured from elbow to the tip of the...
Happy Birthday, Sol Invictus
December 25 is the birthday of the Roman Sun God, Sol Invictus
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered Sun".
The use of the title Sol Invictus allowed several solar deities to be worshipped
collectively, including Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god, Sol, the god of Emperor
Aurelian, and Mithras, a soldiers' god of Persian origin.
Emperor Elagabalus (AD 218-222) introduced the festival, and it reached the height
of its popularity under Aurelian, who promoted it as an empire-wide holiday.
The festival was placed on the date of the solstice because this was on this day
that the Sun reversed its southward retreat and proved itself to be
These coins are from the emperors Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161), Aurelian (AD 270-275),
and Constantine (AD 306-337).
Antoninus Pius Provincial AE 23 - Emesa, Syria...
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