Gallienus Samosata mint

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    A new addition from @John Anthony . Nobody can seem to agree on where and when it was minted. RIC is unable to assign it to a specific city and attributes it to an "Asian mint" and dates it to AD 259. Sear, similarly vague, attributes it to an "uncertain Syrian mint, AD 260."

    Robert Göbl identified the issuing mint as Samosata, a city on the river Euphrates in Mesopotamia, the site of which (Samsat in Adiyaman Province, Turkey) today lies under a reservoir. Like Antioch, Samosata played an important role for ancient traders travelling the Eastern trade routes to Damascus and the oasis kingdom of Palmyra. Samosata probably operated as a mint between 255-258, possibly replacing the mint at Antioch which was plundered several times in this period -- in 253 (during the reign of Trebonianus Gallus) or 256 and again in 260: the sources for the period are rather patchy. [see Claire Franklin-Werz, "Gallienus and the East," Coins Weekly, available here]

    If this is true, it makes assigning a date of the coin to AD 259 or 260 somewhat problematic. I suspect -- but am far from certain -- dating the coin to AD 260 was probably done on the basis of the singular AVG being used on the reverse instead of the plural AVGG that would be expected had it been issued during the joint reign of Valerian and Gallienus, which came to a tragic end with the capture of the senior Augustus by the Persians. One does have to wonder, however, if coinage celebrating victory over the Persians in the east would have been issued shortly after this event. I suspect the coin was issued earlier in the joint reign -- during the operation of the Samosata mint -- and the use of the singular AVG is an enigma.

    Gallienus ORIENS AVG Tyche and Emperor antoninianus.jpg
    Gallienus, AD 253-268.
    Roman AR Antoninianus, 3.56 g, 22.0 mm, 6 h.
    Samosata(?), AD 260 (?).
    Obv: Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / ORIENS AVG, turreted female (the Orient) standing right, presenting wreath to Gallienus standing left in military dress and holding a spear; wreath above. RIC V 445; Göbl 1698b; RSC 705a; RCV 10298; Hunter 71.

    Note the similarity in style and iconography to this issue, also attributed by Göbl to Samosata, celebrating Roman successes against the Sasanians in the years AD 253-254:

    Gallienus RESTITVT ORIENTIS Antoninianus.jpg
    Gallienus, AD 253-268.
    Roman Billon Antoninianus, 4.40 g, 23.5 mm.
    Samosata, AD 255-256.
    Obv: IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG, radiate and draped bust, right.
    Rev: RESTITVT ORIENTIS, turreted female (the Orient) standing right, presenting wreath to emperor, standing left, who holds spear in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 448; RSC 902; Cohen 902; RCV 10341; Hunter p. xlvii; Göbl 1677m.

    Post your coins of the Samosata mint, ORIENS AVG issues or whatever you feel is relevant!
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  3. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Neat addition
    Roman Collector and paschka like this.
  4. benhur767

    benhur767 Sapere aude

    AR antoninianus, Samosata, 255–6 CE; 21mm, 3.33g. RIC V 448, RSC IV 902. Obv: IMP C D LIC GALLIENVS AVG; radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust r. Rx: RESTITVT ORI–ENTIS; Oriens standing r., presenting wreath to emperor standing l., holding scepter. MS.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    rp1505bb3128.jpg rp1555bb2987.jpg

    I believe there once was a tendency among scholars to give a name that seemed reasonable for a mint location when it was only certain that the mint was distinct from the others but we did not know where it was. As a result, various workers will use Emesa and Antioch while others prefer Syrian and Eastern. Is Samostata in this group? In some cases there is good evidence for location but in others we have assigned likely places without firm bases.
  6. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    Here's one from Samosata of his frau with a similar (but different) reverse [seller photo]:
    Obv: CORN SALONINA AVG, Sal facing r. wearing stephane.
    Rev: CONCORDIA AVG; Gal.(l) and Sal.(r) clasping hands, wreath above. This type of scene has been used on imperial wedding/marraige anniversary issues. Not sure about this case.

    To me it was striking that the same structural elements (2 parties facing in agreement, wreath) as the coins for Gallienus above are here arranged in similar order but with a very different meaning, or so I suppose. Just got this and haven't researched it yet.
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Eye of Horus

  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Great post, Roman Collector, and nice commentary everybody else. I just recently got a Valerian that I'd been poking around getting information for, and now I feel a lot smarter. That Coins Weekly article by Claire Franklin-Werz was very informative too.

    For mint info for Gallienus and family, I like to use is arranged in a very useful chart form showing the different mint attributions by authority. Sometimes everybody agrees, but in this instance, RIC 287c is listed as Antioch (RIC), Samosata (Göbl) and Syrian Mint (Sear).

    Valerian - RESTITVTI ORIENS AUG 2018 (5).JPG

    Valerian I Antoninianus
    (c. 256-258 A.D.)
    Antioch or Samosata or Syrian mint

    IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS PF AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust rt. / RESTITVT ORIENTIS, Orient, turreted, right presenting wreath to Valerian, in military attire, left.
    RIC 287c; RSC 189; Sear 9967
    (4.12 grams / 23 x 20 mm)
    R*L, TIF, Roman Collector and 2 others like this.
  9. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Very nice coins, everyone! Today, I learned Samosata is now submerged under water.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  10. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Roman Collector, I'd like to throw another Gallienus antoninianus into the mix. I bought this coin at a CNG auction 426, lot 550 (already slabbed), & attributed to the Samosata Mint, 2nd emission, AD 256-260. The reverse inscription reads "VIRTVS AVGG". Gallienus & Valerian are facing each other.
    Auction 426, lot 550.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice!
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