Alexandrian Tet of Numerian

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ancient coin hunter, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Just a guy making his way in the universe

    My latest acquisition is a tetradrachm of Numerian struck in Alexandria, Egypt.

    In 282, the legions of the upper Danube in Raetia and Noricum proclaimed as emperor Numerian's father, the praetorian prefect Marcus Aurelius Carus, beginning a rebellion against the emperor Probus. Probus' army, stationed in Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia), decided they did not wish to fight Carus and assassinated Probus instead. Carus, already sixty, wished to establish a dynasty and immediately elevated Carinus and Numerian to the rank of Caesar.

    In 283, Carus left Carinus in charge of the West and moved with Numerian and his praetorian prefect Arrius Aper to the East to wage war against the Sassanid Empire. The Sassanids had been embroiled in a succession dispute since the death of Shapur and were in no position to oppose Carus' advance.

    According to Zonaras, Eutropius, and Festus, Carus won a major victory against the Persians, taking Seleucia and the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon (near modern Al-Mada'in, Iraq), cities on opposite banks of the Tigris. In celebration, Numerian, Carus, and Carinus all took the title Persici maximi. Carus died in July or early August of 283, possibly due to a strike of lightning.

    Numerian and Carinus as Augusti
    The death of Carus left Numerian and Carinus as the new Augusti. Carinus quickly made his way to Rome from Gaul, arriving in January 284, while Numerian lingered in the East.The Roman retreat from Persia was orderly and unopposed, for the Persian King, Bahram II, was still struggling to establish his authority.

    By March 284, Numerian had only reached Emesa (Homs) in Syria; by November, only Asia Minor. In Emesa he was apparently still alive and in good health, as he issued the only extant rescript in his name there. Coins were issued in his name in Cyzicus at some time before the end of 284, but it is impossible to know whether he was still in the public eye by that point.

    After Emesa, Numerian's staff, including the prefect Aper, reported that Numerian suffered from an inflammation of the eyes and had to travel in a closed coach. When the army reached Bithynia, some of Numerian's soldiers smelled an odor reminiscent of a decaying corpse emanating from the coach. They opened its curtains and found Numerian dead.

    After Numerian's death
    Aper officially broke the news of Numerian's death in Nicomedia (İzmit) in November 284. Numerian's generals and tribunes called a council for the succession and chose as emperor Diocletian, commander of the cavalry arm of the imperial bodyguard, despite Aper's attempts to garner support. The army of the east gathered on a hill outside of Nicomedia and unanimously saluted their new Augustus. Diocletian accepted the purple imperial vestments and raised his sword to the light of the sun, swearing an oath denying responsibility for Numerian's death. He asserted that Aper had killed Numerian and concealed the deed. In full view of the army, Diocletian then turned and killed Aper.

    Numerian, Feb/March 283 - Oct/Nov 284 A.D.

    Roman Provincial Egypt

    Billon Tetradrachm, 8.26 grams, 20.7 mm, Alexandria mint

    Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right

    Reverse: Athena seated left on high backed throne, wearing crested helmet, long scepter in left hand, Nike offering wreath in right hand.

    I particularly enjoy the patina on this coin, as well as the finely crafted reverse.


    Feel free to post any of your Numerians' here. Thanks for looking.
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I see many of his Tets to have this look. Mine does too.

    Numerian (283 - 284 A.D.)
    Potin Tetradrachm
    Egypt, Alexandria
    O: A K M A NOVMEPIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind.
    R: Athena seated left on high backed throne, wearing crested helmet, Nike in right, shield leaning against throne, L - B* across fields ,Year 2, 283 - 284 A.D.
    Alexandria Mint
    Milne 4719; Curtis 1939; Dattari 5608 Emmett 4013
  4. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Numerian and Carinus have a type, unique to the Alexandrian series, honoring a specific legion, Legion II, Traiana.

    19 mm. Numerian. Struck year 3, late 284
    ΛEΓ B TPAI, eagle standing left, head back, wreath in beak. LΓ in field right

    Here is its companion type for Carinus:


    19 mm. Carinus
    ΛEΓ B TPAI, eagle standing left, head back, wreath in beak. LΓ in field right (284/5)

    I don't know why this legion was honored and no others were. We are familiar with the legionary series of Marc Antony, Septimius Severus, and Gallienus, however this one is obscure. Alexandria did only this one-legion legionary "series" in its entire history.
    Aunduril, Theodosius, TJC and 10 others like this.
  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  6. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Cool addition
    ancient coin hunter likes this.
  7. Alegandron

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

    Great addition @ancient coin hunter ! Tets are always good! The patina really enhances the detail and devices... nice.

    My only NUMERIAN:

    RI Numerian 283-284 CE AE Ant Stndg receiving Victory.jpg
    RI Numerian 283-284 CE AE Ant Stndg receiving Victory
  8. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Nothing alexandrian for Numerianus at home

    Numerianus, Antoninianus Ticinium mint, 5th officina, 2nd emission, Dec 282 AD
    M AVR NVMERIANVS NOB C, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust of Numerianus, seen from behind
    PRINCIPI IVVENTUT, Prince of youth standing left, holding baton and sceptre. VXXI at exergue
    3,35 gr, 23 mm
    Ref : RCV #12219, Cohen #76, RIC vol V #366

  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    And a very large flan! Nice one :)

    Both are on my wish list :)


    I have only two Numerian tets. Both were "Cover Girl" coins, seen after makeup removal in these pictures.

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Numerian
    year 2, CE 283/4, as Augustus
    potin tetradrachm, 19 mm, 7.16 gm
    Obv: AKMANOVMEPIANOCCEB; laureate draped bust right
    Rev: Athena seated left on throne, holding Nike and spear
    Ref: Emmett 4013(2-A)

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Numerian
    year 3, CE 284/5
    potin tetradrachm, 20 mm, 7.25 gm
    Obv: AKMANOVMEPIANOCCEB; laureate draped bust right
    Rev: Nike flying right, holding wreath; ETOVC - Γ
    Ref: Emmett 4022(3), R2; BMC 2469
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    No tets of Numerian, but I have a Diocletian with the exact same Athena Nikephoros seated reverse:

    Diocletian Alexandrian Tetradrachm Athena.jpg
    Diocletian, AD 284-305
    Roman billon tetradrachm, 19.2 mm, 7.24 g, 12:00
    Egypt, Alexandria, AD 285-6
    Obv: Α Κ Γ ΟVΑΛ ΔΙΟΚΛΗΤΙΑΝΟC CЄΒ, laureate and cuirassed bust, right
    Rev: Athena seated left, holding Nike and resting on scepter, shield at side; L B (= regnal year 2) in field
    Refs: Dattari 5638; BMCG 2485; Milne 4765; Cologne 3211; RCV 12856.
    Orange Julius, Cucumbor, TIF and 3 others like this.
  11. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    I received a new Numerian tetradrachm snack in the mail today... I was going to start a new thread but noticed there is already one for Numerian's Alexandrian coins.

    So... my coin is much like the others in the tread... Great coins everyone!

    It seems these Athena seated coins come in a few different variations....
    1. as Caesar
    2. as Augustus
    3. without right field star
    4. and with right field star above the "B."
    Anyway, mine is as Augustus, with the star above the "B" in right field. It was interesting to learn that Numerian's coins from Alexandria are dated from Carinus' reign so Numerian's first full year as Augustus are dated "B" or year 2 (There are year 1 LA coins from the bit of time as Augustus in Carus' first year). It must be tough to be a younger brother... always getting hand-me-down clothes and second-tier emperor status.

    I wish I knew the significance of the star. I realize the answer is "we'll probably never know" but it must signify something... or why include it?

    Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 283 - 28 Aug 284 A.D.
    Obverse: A K M A NOVMEPIANOC CEB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind
    Reverse: Athena seated left on high backed throne, wearing crested helmet, Nike in right, shield leaning against throne, L - B* (year 2) across fields
    Billon tetradrachm, Milne 4719; Curtis 1939; Dattari 5608; BMC Alexandria p. 319, 2464 var (star)

    @TIF I think your Numerian - Athena seated coin is as Augustus rather than Caesar as the obverse legend seems to end in "CEB" rather than "KC." Also, I love that year 3 Victory coin... a bad year for little Numie.

    Anyway, his death story has always been a fun read. All of the various causes of death (inflammation of the eyes, carbon monoxide poisoning) sound made up to cover for "we killed him earlier on the trip than we should have"... or maybe not. Thoughts? Did he die naturally and Aper was just buying time? Or was he murdered? We'll of course never know but it would be fun to write our own stories as we imagine it.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
  12. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Numerian 4.jpg
    AE Tetradrachm
    OBVERSE: A K M AN NOVMEPIANOC K C, laureate, draped & cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: LA (year 1) above eagle standing facing between two vexilla, head right with wreath in its beak
    Struck at Alexandria, Egypt, 283 AD
    9.3g, 20mm
    Milne 4674
    Numerian 2.jpg
    OBVERSE: A K M A NOVMEPIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: Athena seated left, holding Nike and sceptre; shield below chair, L-B (date) across field (Year 2)
    Struck at Alexandria, Egypt, 283/4 AD
    19mm; 6.74g
    Köln 3192-3193; Dattari 5607, Emmett 4013; Sear 12272
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Yes, you're right. Thanks for spotting the error!
  14. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Here's one more that I've had for awhile... a little worn but I like the eagle reverse.
    Numerian as Augustus
    283/284 (Year 2)
    Laureate, draped bust right, seen from behind
    (No legend)
    Eagle standing left, head right, wreath in beak, wings open, between two vexilla
    L B in upper field
    Emmett 4018
  15. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Bing, I really like your Numerian as Caesar, eagle and vexilla coin! Very nice, I'll be on the hunt for one of those "as Caesar" coins.
    Bing likes this.
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