Antioch Comes to Rome

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    The strange series of bronze coins struck for Vespasian with a 'Syrian' theme have always fascinated me. Recently, I was able to acquire this neat little semis from that issue.


    V1568.jpg Vespasian
    Æ As, 6.57g
    Rome mint, 74 AD
    Obv: IMP•VESP•AVG•P•M•T•P; Head of Vespasian, laureate, l.
    Rev: ANTIOCHIA; Bust of city-goddess, r.
    RIC 1568 (R). BMC -. BNC -. RPC 1988 (6 spec.).

    Traditionally, the remarkable bronze issue this rather odd semis is from has been attributed to various different mints over the years. Ted Buttrey in the unpublished RIC II.1 Addenda wrote - 'RIC 756-767 are irregular Dupondii, which should be taken together with Asses, semisses and quadrantes (RIC 1564-1581), forming together a single extraordinary issue in four denominations, distinct in typology and metal, as well as overall character from the regular coinage of the year. Although Eastern in aspect and reverse type, the circulation area of the dupondii is almost exclusively Gaul, Germany, Italy – i.e. the West, with scarcely any penetration of the East. Finds of the smaller denominations are rarely attested anywhere, East or West. The citations in RPC II are drawn almost entirely from Western collections, and total: Western - 108, Eastern - 4.

    The Eastern finds appear to be simply the débris of Mediterranean circulation. Previously the series had been attributed to Commagene (BMCRE II, pp.217-222), then as a likelihood to Antioch (e.g. RPC II 1982-2005). The correct attribution to Rome is proved by mules of the dupondii with regular issues (Buttrey, “Vespasian’s Roman Orichalcum: An Unrecognized Celebratory Coinage” in David M. Jacobson and Nikos Kokkinos, Judaea and Rome in Coins, 65 CBE – 135 CE (2012).'

    I think it quite extraordinary that the Rome mint would produce a coin blatantly featuring an Eastern provincial city-goddess that was intended for circulation in the West. Vespasian's fondness for the region that elevated him to the purple must have been strong indeed! The heavy use of dots in the obverse legend is a curiosity as well.

    Feel free to post your city-goddesses!
     
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's interesting. It's a good thing mint workers in antiquity accidentally created so many mules that we're able to extrapolate all sorts of information from them today.
     
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  4. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Believe it or not, this actually was an intentional type and not a mule! That's why the series is so extraordinary - an Eastern themed coinage struck at Rome for circulation in the Western provinces. With no surviving mint records we can only speculate as to why such an issue was produced.
     
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    But it was a mule that proved it was issued by Rome! (Buttrey article).
     
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  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Apologies, I assumed you were referring to the ANTIOCHIA type.

    You would think the Rome mint dupondii mules would be conclusive enough, but I see many folks still attributing this series to Syria!
     
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  7. Macromius

    Macromius Rarely Present

    I LOVE that coin, but that Tyche looks like a Flavian emperor in drag.
     
  8. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Nice portrait on that one. Nice catch David.
     
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