A Geta provincial; more questions than answers

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by TIF, Aug 26, 2020.

  1. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

    Many times a coin catches my eye because of something interesting about its looks. Maybe it has fine artistry. Maybe it's a type I haven't seen before. Maybe there's just something about it that warrants a second look or an in-hand look. The latter is the case with this coin. The first couple of points may apply too :).

    PONTOS, Amasia. Geta (Caesar, 198-209)
    Dated CY 208 (208/9)
    AE, 31 mm, 16.73 gm
    Obv: [Π?] CЄΠTIMI ΓЄ[TAC + illegible under bust] sandwiched between dotted borders; bareheaded, draped and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: AΔ CЄV ANT AMA[illegible] / ЄT CH; Altar of Zeus Strateus, surmounted by eagle standing facing, head left, wreath in beak, with wings spread; tree to left.
    Reference: W. H. Waddington, Recueil général des monnaies grecques d'Asie Mineure, Volume 1, Part 1, p. 40, #96 (variant; obverse legend and style; reverse legend)

    Coins from Amasia with the Altar of Zeus Strateus reverse have been shown a few times on CoinTalk but I wouldn't say they're a frequent guest. The coins don't seem to be rare per se, just scarce on CT. Not sure why.

    This one caught my eye because of the lovely portrait, the unusual slant of the altar, and one more very specific thing that really piqued my interest. Something I hadn't seen before on an ancient coin. On medievals, yes, but not ancient. See it yet? No? I'll give you a minute.


    The obverse legend is sandwiched between two dotted borders o_O. I've not seen this before. Have any of you seen an ancient coin (provincial) with this arrangement? (Do you even care?) I like it. There are only a few of these Amasia Geta altar coins in ACsearch and none have the legend sandwich. There are a few on Vcoins right now too. No legend sandwiches there either.

    Also, the sloped altar is puzzling. Looking through all Altar of Zeus Strateus (or Stratios) coins in ACsearch and other places, I see none like it. The reverse looks like it may have been double-struck (look at the legend at ~10:30-12:00). Could the slanted altar top be due to an oblique strike? Seeing the coin in hand, I don't think that's the explanation for the slanted altar top. Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of it and haven't examined it thoroughly since I received it just last night, plus I haven't thoroughly explored online information. I haven't even gone to my storage locker to dig through my numismatic books. I haven't spent much time trying to discern and decipher the legends, which clearly vary from the auction listing and Waddington entry.

    And the Altar of Zeus Strateus... who? What? Where? I'm not finding any mentions of this altar in the area where the coin was struck. I found mention of and ruins of one in Greece and in a different part of Asia Minor. Who decided the altar on this coin was of Zeus Strateus, and why? (It is entirely possible that this question might be answered by one of many books in my storage locker, or by a more concerted effort at internet research :sorry:.)

    That's why I've posted so few coins this year. I buy them, have grand plans to research them for a writeup, but end up with more questions than answers and no time to pursue it further. I show them to friends in private messages but never get around to posting them on the public board so this time I'm forcing myself to not wait until all loose ends are tied up neatly.


    To sum up:

    Here's a cool coin I bought! :D


    Opinions, answers, and additional questions are welcome.

    Oh, here's a quickie in-hand video.

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  3. Restitutor

    Restitutor Well-Known Member

    The obverse reminds me of the First Meris coins with the beaded design around the portrait. The eagle rising up from the temple is a pretty badass look, and you are quite right it’s a very cool coin indeed! Congrats on the pickup!
    finny, lordmarcovan, Bing and 9 others like this.
  4. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    That is a party on a coin, TIF!! I've never seen a border sandwich like that on a provincial, and rarely elsewhere (on a western ancient). Here's a Republican type that has one:

    Screen Shot 2020-08-26 at 4.54.11 PM.jpg
    M. Acilius M.f. Denarius, c. 130 BCE (not my coin)
    Curtisimo, finny, Limes and 11 others like this.
  5. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    Excellent writeup, and equally excellent coin @TIF.
    lordmarcovan and TIF like this.
  6. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker

    An interesting and mysterious coin.

    I love the double border, I have never seen that before either.

    Maybe the celator who created it got themselves fired by being too innovative?

    lordmarcovan and TIF like this.
  7. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I am of no help.

    It's a beautiful bronze though. The video also gives it more "life". Congrats on the addition.
    lordmarcovan and TIF like this.
  8. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    I've been looking at these Amasia types recently and have not seen one like yours. Very interesting and Rare! Not in Isegrim. Purchased this a few days ago from my coin guy and I can't find a reference for it either. It's similar to other types but with a rabbit? in eagles claws.

    ama2.jpg Pontus, Amasia. Septimius Severus AE28
    Obv: AY KAI Λ CEΠT CEOYΡOC ΠEΡ CEB, laureate, draped bust right.
    Rev: AΔ CEY ANT AMACIAC MHT NE ΠΡ ΠON ET CH, Eagle standing facing, wings spread, on altar of Zeus Stratios with tree at left.
  9. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    @TIF ! Neato find! That is a cool sandwich, nice, and CONGRATs on the snare!
    lordmarcovan and TIF like this.
  10. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Very neat coin indeed, I seen it somewhere recently and thought it was strange with the cut away alter. Congrats TIF.
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  11. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Glad you won it, TIF.
    I was a sad under bidder!
    BETTER than the auction photo.
  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ..neat coin...great detailed portrait! :)
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  13. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    What an amazing provincial coin to be made at the very end of the meteoric rise of a young man who had all the earmarks of a capable and popular ruler.
    And to be made shortly before a time that Caracalla would completely destroy provinces that showed favor to Geta.
    Best I can offer is a shabby but historically very interesting coin of the two:
    Caracalla and Geta
    Æ27 of Marcianopolis, Moesia Inferior. AD 209-211. AY K M AY ANTΩNINOC AY K Π C ΓETAC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Caracalla, facing laureate and draped bust of Geta left / Y +Λ OYΛΠIANOY MAPKIANOΠOΛITΩN, Tyche standing left, holding rudder and cornucopiae; lighted altar and Є (mark of value) to left, eagle above dolphin to right. H&J, Marcianopolis,; Varbanov 1085 (same obv. die as illustration). 11 gr, 27mm, 1h.

    With the famous Freddie Mercury w\vacume reverse...
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Cool coin, @TIF ! This might be your coin listed in Mionnet suppl. 4, p. 431. It may help you reconstruct the obverse legend:

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  15. Ryro

    Ryro Trying to remove supporter status Supporter

    Now that you got the old percolator percolating, of course I can show you a reverse with the unique sandwiching between 2 dotted borders... and you bet your bottom denarius it's a MSC!
    Macedon. Koinon of Macedon. Claudius AD41-54.
    Bronze Æ
    23mm., 9,79g.
    nearly very fine
  16. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

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  17. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

    Sorry, Pete! :shy:

    Guess we both have great taste in coins :D
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    That is a great coin. My Caracalla is ordinary but nicer than my Septimius. I have not seen a Geta before. The interesting part to me is that all these have a wall and tree but what is on top of the bricks is quite different.

    All seem to be from that one year (CH).
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  19. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    'Nuff said! And great catch... I went right past that coin in the catalog and my only thought was, "Huh... they kinda messed up that altar." Completely missed the extaordinary obverse. :shame:

    Mine is a Caracalla...

    Caracalla - Pontus Amaseia Zeus Altar 2885.jpg
    AE32. 17.31g, 32.3mm. PONTUS, Amasia, dated CY 208 (AD 208/9). SNG Cop 112; Dalaison 385. O: AV KAI M AVΡ ANTΩNINOC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right. R: AΔΡ CEV ANT AMACEIAC MH NE ΠΡ ΠO, High altar (of Zeus Stratios) surmounted by smaller flaming altar; tree to left, ET CH (date) in exergue.
    Curtisimo, PeteB, Alegandron and 8 others like this.
  20. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Zeus Stratios (Zeus of the Armies) was the chief patron of the Mithridatic dynasty. Here's a bit about him from this paper about Pontic religion:

    "It has long ago been suggested that in the Kingdom of Pontos Zeus Stratios was identified with Ahura-Mazda, a protector of the Achaemenids in ancient Iran, whom the Mithridatids regularly tried to imitate. In Persia this cult was also combined with the worship of Poseidon, as some scholars believe, basing their thinking on the abovementioned note of Appianos about the simultaneous sacrifices for Zeus Stratios and Poseidon."

    And here's a plate coin from Price & Trell's Coins and Their Cities, struck in Amasia under Severus Alexander, showing the city built amidst mountains, and above it, a temple, next to which stands the altar of Zeus Stratios.


    They write: "The sanctuary of Zeus Stratios was not at Amaseia itself, but to the East, behind the mountain, on the high plateau at Buyuk Evlia. In order to show the temple of the high plateau, the die-makers have added it to the design. Mithradates the Great is reported to have sacrificed at the altar of Zeus Stratios and the flames of the altar were said to be visible from the Black Sea. The altar on the coin has flames clearly visible."

    I also found this passage from Appian's account of the Mithridatic Wars at Livius.org:

    "[Mithridates] drove all of Murena's garrisons out of Cappadocia and offered sacrifice to Zeus Stratius on a lofty pile of wood on a high hill, according to the fashion of his country, which is as follows. First, the kings themselves carry wood to the heap. Then they make a smaller pile encircling the other one, on which they pour milk, honey, wine, oil, and various kinds of incense. A banquet is spread on the ground for those present (as at the sacrifices of the Persian kings at Pasargadae) and then they set fire to the wood. The height of the flame is such that it can be seen at a distance of 180 kilometers from the sea, and they say that nobody can come near it for several days on account of the heat. Mithridates performed a sacrifice of this kind according to the custom of his country."
  21. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    It is interesting this Alexander is 20 years later. Was there something special celebrated in that city on years with an H?
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