Augustus Semis from Philippi - Oxen Plowing with Countermark

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I am still quite new at Roman Provincials, and am at the bottom of a long learning curve. Just got this one, an Augustus from Philippi (maybe). It has a countermark which I was actually able to track down, though it wasn't easy. The rather blotchy patina makes it a bit hard to see, but it looks to be a fairly respectable specimen based on the others I've seen online.

    I was hoping more experienced collectors could provide additional information, and answer two questions I had:

    1. My example seems rather heavy for this issue (5.69 grams), although the diameter is about the same (mine is rather thick). Is this normal? Is it a "semis" as it is sometimes called?

    2. Are those priests or colonists plowing? Different sources have different descriptions. Or are these different types altogether?

    Also, please share any other examples! I really like this type, now that I have one in hand.

    Found a nice one on FORVM (where I got most of my information, though I cross-checked as much as I could elsewhere)
    http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?album=546&pos=331

    Here is mine, with an "enhanced" countermark view (my "TR" is similar, but not the same as the 2 other examples I could find; my R has a more closed-up loop):
    Augustus Philipp. Aug 2018 (2 AVG) (1).jpg

    Augustus Philipp. Aug 2018 (2 AVG) (2).JPG

    Augustus Philipp. Aug 2018 (2 AVG) (3).jpg
    Augustus Æ 15 (Semis)
    (27 B.C.-14 A.D.)
    Roman Provincial - Macedon, Philippi (or Mysia, Parium)

    AVG Bare head right / Two priests ploughing right with yoke of two oxen; countermark TR monogram (Howg. 657).
    BMC 86-88 (Mysia. Parium); RPC 1656.
    (5.69 grams / 15 mm)
    eBay Aug. 2018 Lot @ $2.02
    Countermark: Monogram TR (or plow) in circular punch, 5 mm. Howgego 657 (4 pcs). Note: The monogram may refer to Troas, but may also be a stylized plough.
     
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  3. Ajax

    Ajax Supporter! Supporter

    Sweet coin Mike! I like the countermark. Looking on acsearch the weights range from 3.9g to 6.1g. So they seem to be all over the place.
    I have two examples of the type and they're over a gram apart. The first is 5.25g and the second 4.01.
    278803.l.jpg 278807.l.jpg
     
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  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member


    Thank you Ajax, that is reassuring about the weights - and nice examples you have there.

    My countermark is interesting, but it obscures the oxen - nice to see what they're supposed to look like!
     
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  5. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    The thing is, these Roman provincials are just a continuation of Greek bronzes. I'm painting with a broad brush here, but Greek bronzes were generally much thicker than similarly-sized Roman bronzes. I have some small Augustus provincial bronzes on flans that are much more similar to, say, those of Phillip II of Macedonia than to the LRBs of the 4th century.
     
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  6. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Here's mine, 4,5 gram 17mm

    P1180938nb.jpg
     
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  7. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Mine's 4.28g. I like these for their historical significance: the battleground @Andres2 mentions in his caption.

    Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 3.13.05 PM.jpg
     
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  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for sharing these examples - and their weights. This is indeed a pretty interesting coin from a pretty interesting place.
     
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  9. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for sharing these examples - and their weights. This is indeed a pretty interesting coin from a pretty interesting place.
     
  10. cmezner

    cmezner Well-Known Member

    Interesting countermark, haven't seen it before. Thanks for sharing, always something new to learn :)
    Mine is 5.07 g; 17 x 18 mm; no countermark

    According to
    https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Caligula - Provincial Coinage there seem to be some open questions regarding this issue:
    "Augustus or Gaius Caligula. Unpublished for Caligula. As there is no readable legend on the obverse of this coin, attribution as Caligula is conjectural and based strictly on the style of the portrait, which resembles Caligula. As we know, there is only one pre-principate portrait of Caligula from Carthago Nova with Tiberian portrait. I thought this portrait was Caligula years ago and at one time was said to have been Augustus in catalog."

    #236-IMG_2287.jpg #236-IMG_2288.jpg
     
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  11. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That is very interesting, cmezner - thanks for sharing. I noticed a lot of variation in the portraits on these (mine has a kind of "square head" look - more like Tiberius, perhaps?). I had not heard about the Caligula possibility.
     
  12. Ryro

    Ryro "To the strongest!" Supporter

    Neat counter mark! I read more often that they are priests with oxen. Here is an example of mine with a minty fresh patina.
    CollageMaker Plus_201845211855838.png
    Augustus
    Æ17 of Philippi, Macedon.
    27 BCE-CE 14. AVG, bare
    head right / Two priests
    ploughing right. RPC 1656;
    Varbanov 3770. 3.2g,
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018 at 3:44 PM
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  13. jb_depew

    jb_depew Well-Known Member

    I like this type and have one example to share:

    [​IMG]Obverse: Bare head of Augustus right, AVG behind.
    Reverse: Two priests (pontiffs) plowing pomerium (sacred boundary) right with two oxen.
    References: Varbanov 3226; RPC I 1656
    Size: 17mm
    Weight: 4.36g
     
  14. Orielensis

    Orielensis Active Member

    The weight range of this type appears to be rather large. Mine is 3.39g:

    Augustus.png
     
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  15. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee Well-Known Member

    I hadn't either.

    I'd say based on the size and position of the visible (A)VG behind the head, that it's Augustus.

    @Ryro, I'm wondering if your's might actually be Tiberius... I feel I see faint straight letters before the AVG which might be TI? And based on the high location of the AVG that there is room for a couple other letters, and the almost horizontal back/neck hair.

    Here's an obverse exploration that I did comparing the style of Augustus and Tiberius in this type.
    https://www.cointalk.com/threads/un...pearing-in-my-collection.320061/#post-3147504
     
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  16. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    AUGUSTUS COLONY 1.jpg
    I always understood plowing a boundary furrow for a new Roman settlement to be a way of sacralizing space; this is why priests typically are described doing this sort of thing. Think of it like a pastor offering a blessing for a new house or community building. In a more secular vein, we still have ceremonial shovels turning over the first spade of dirt for a new building. That spade of dirt really isn’t helpful to the building process. It’s a symbolic gesture indicating that this is an important undertaking, a new and valuable thing is happening here; I think the boundary furrow is best conceived of in a similar fashion.

    But when I went to a primary source on this matter, no occasion in the Aeneid specifies that priests are doing the plowing, so the question of “colonists vs. priests” must remain open.

    We see this act described in Aeneid Book 1, when Aeneas spies Carthage being built: “[418] Aeneas marvels at the massive buildings, mere huts once; marvels at the gates, the din and paved high-roads. Eagerly the Tyrians press on, some to build walls, to rear the citadel, and roll up stones by hand; some to choose the site for a dwelling and enclose it with a furrow [concludere sulco].”

    Later in Book 5, Aeneas helps some of his Trojan refugees establish Acesta, and Aeneas himself does the ceremonial plowing: “They enroll the matrons for the town, and set on shore the folk who wish it so – souls with no craving for high renown. They themselves renew the thwarts, and replace the fire-charred timbers of the ships, and fit up oars and rigging – scant of number, but a brave band alive for war. Meanwhile Aeneas marks out the city with a plough and alots homes; this he bids be Ilium and these lands Troy. Trojan Acestes delights in his kingdom, proclaims a court, and gives laws to the assembled senate.”

    I’ll be on the lookout for other primary source references.
     
  17. Pishpash

    Pishpash Mater dracones - spero Supporter

    Mine

    Augustus 20140047 obv.jpg Augustus 20140047 rev.jpg

    Augustus
    Coin: Bronze As
    DIVI F AVGVSTVS - Bare-head of Augustus right, lituus and simpulum before and behind.
    CAESAR AVG / MNKANINIO ITER L TITIO / II VIR - Colonist ploughing with two oxen right.
    Mint: Spain (27 BC – 14 AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 9.20g / 28mm / -
    References:
    • RPC 322
    • SNG Cop. 544
     
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  18. Ryro

    Ryro "To the strongest!" Supporter

    @Ryro, I'm wondering if your's might actually be Tiberius... I feel I see faint straight letters before the AVG which might be TI? And based on the high location of the AVG that there is room for a couple other letters, and the almost horizontal back/neck hair.

    Here's an obverse exploration that I did comparing the style of Augustus and Tiberius in this type.
    https://www.cointalk.com/threads/un...pearing-in-my-collection.320061/#post-3147504[/QUOTE]

    By the tibia of Tiberius, you're right @Justin Lee! I read this at work (can't respond when on work computer;)) and couldn't wait to get home and check. I don't know how I missed this thread from a couple months ago?! #twindadlife. BIG THANKS!
    Anyway, here is a pic I took through my magnifying glass to show how right you are. Sorry for the flash. It just happened to capture that angle best. Man I need to up my photog game...
    20180917_170413.jpg
     
  19. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Interesting examples and information - thank you all.

    The Augustus/Tiberius portrait differences are interesting - because my OP example is off center, the area where the "T" would be in the obverse legend is off-flan. At first I was trying to determine if I could figure this out by the portrait (mine has a rather "square head" that I thought could be Tiberius). Justin Lee's earlier post on the portrait styles seems to indicate Tiberius was the "blockhead" most of the time, while Augustus was the "egghead." So maybe mine is Tiberius? The 2 other countermarked issues I could find (TR or plough) were Augustus, so that could be a clue, or maybe not...

    Thank you Justin Lee and Ryro for noting this Augustus/Tiberius dilemma.
     
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  20. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee Well-Known Member

    Just don't let them catch you calling them that! :smuggrin:;)
     
  21. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Augustus would probably just banish me, like Ovid. Tiberius would have me drug through the Forum with a hook in my jaw. Ouch!
     
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