Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ryan McVay, Jan 15, 2024.

  1. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    OK. I have given up on trying to find a reference for this coin. It is a bit difficult to identify the Emporer on this one. My options are either based on the city (Chalcis ad Belum, Chalcidice) are Hadrian (which is where I am currently leaning), Trajan, Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius.

    My coin is only 5.67g, 18mm. Most of these coins are double the weight at around 11-13g (per acsearch public results) and size 22-26mm. I have found only one example in acsearch that comes in around my weight which is identified as RPC III 3475.1 = Lindgren I 1929. But my coin has no legend on the reverse and oddly enough I have a palm frond and shield combo with a spear in the other hand. Whereas all other examples have, what I opine as correct, the spear and shield in one hand and palm in the other.

    I'm looking for any reference on this coin or even help validating the portrait.
    Helioseiros-Obv.jpg Helioseiros-Rev.jpg
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  3. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    As I see it, the city must be Judaea, Ascalon. Compare to these examples (especially the from Hadrian on):

    The reverse is actually a really cool type. RPC describes the figure with various versions of this:

    War-god Phanebal, standing left, holding harpa (?) in right hand and small round shield and long palm branch in left hand​

    80230.jpg 47892.jpg 424567.jpg 329625.jpg

    I would learn toward Trajan or Hadrian. But trying to ID emperors on Provincials from portraits can be risky, since they didn't always create a good likeness (as the Imperial mints would have) or even know what the emperor looked like in some cases. (Oftentimes you need at least a bit of obverse legend to be sure.)

    Might be easier to say with bigger photo but I wouldn't be surprised to learn it's anyone from Claudius through the Severans.

    But it's from Ascalon with Phanebal on the rev. I have very little doubt there.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2024
  4. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    It is amazing how we (humans) come to a conclusion and then stick to it. I kept searching spear, shield and palm...guess what..I don't have a spear. I found a series of coins that were close and decided this must be a smaller denomination of that.

    Phanebal-obv.jpg Phanebal-rev.jpg

    I think you are correct this is a Trajan example. RPC III 3998 The jaw line gouge is the give away.

    Many thanks for the correction and identification. I spent well over 12 hrs on this guy. And another collector spent about 4 hrs before handing off to me.
    nerosmyfavorite68, Bing and Curtis like this.
  5. Curtis

    Curtis Well-Known Member

    I'm sure anyone who has tried to really research their coins has had that experience! But sometimes what feels like a dead-end actually leads somewhere interesting, even if the path isn't immediately obvious.

    In this case, the similarity in iconography between Helioseiros and Phanebal is remarkable (ALT: Phanébal, Phanebalus, Phanebalos). Both very scarce and seemingly little-known (and interesting) deities, both apparently limited to single cities.

    Is there any relationship between them? Apparently, some have suggested there may be. There is a lot of syncretism (merging & transformation) between ancient gods of different people and cities, so it's fair to wonder about these two. (It could also just be artistic influence.)

    I was curious, so I looked around a bit.

    Henri Seyrig (1970: p. 97, trans. from French) described Phanebal as:

    "...Phanébal - whose great analogy with Helioseiros of Chalcis ad Belum has already been observed by S. Ronzevalle..."
    -- Serig, H. 1970. "Antiquités Syriennes." Syria 47 (1/2): 77-116. [JSTOR: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4390577]

    From Seyrig, there seem to be similarities between Phanebal and various other deities as well.

    The Ronzevalle cited would be this obscure article:

    Ronzevalle, S. 1930. “Helioseiros.” Arethuse 6: 6-17.​

    Unfortunately, I think Arethuse is hard to find. Not sure if it's been digitized.

    It's not exactly clear how all the different deities are related, but there are other brief mentions about Phanebalus here and there in the literature on Roman-Era religions in the Levant, sometimes alongside Helioseiros or similar deities. Would be interesting to see what is known about their relations to one another.
  6. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    Here's an interesting article that talks about civic deities vs city deities. YOu will have to scroll past a 15 pages of indexing to get to the article. It also references the following Finkielsztejn, Gérald, ‘Phanébal, déesse d’Ascalon’, Studia Phoenicia, 9 (1992), 51–55. I haven't tried to find it yet. But I assume it will be in French.
    philologus_1 and Curtis like this.
  7. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    Well, I did find an obscure coin and did win it at auction recently. Here is my official Helioseiros coin from Syria, Chalcis ad Belum, Marcus Aurelius, 161-180AD.

    Doing a little data mining on acsearch.info I came away with 19 hits for the reverse type. I had to remove the duplicates or the same coin sold at different auction houses and ended up with 15 coins.
    • Trajan 6 coins with a possibility of 2 denominations 12.24g, 12.43, 11.73, 14.02, 14.29, 9.34
    • Hadrian 3 coins with a possible 3 denominations (5.73g, 7.51, 13.72g)
    • Antoninus Pius 3 coins all around- 13.29, 15.15, 13.69
    • Marcus Aurelius 3 coins- 12.37g (pictured), 11.02 and 9.71g.
    RPC8606-Obv.jpg RPC8606-Rev.jpg

    If anyone else has additional examples please share.
  8. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    OK. I found a second example. This one is a smaller Antoninus Pius coin @2.93g.
    philologus_1 likes this.
  9. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    I have not finished reading this dissertation but I find it extremely helpful to understanding the civic gods of the Palestine area.

    It also has quite a few numismatic coins used in the dissertation that are great for identifying coins of Ascalon!

    Attached Files:

  10. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Well-Known Member

    Here's my latest Helioseiros coin. I have not been able to find a reference this coin. It is about a 1/3 the size and weight of the vast majority of the coins. Any help is appreciated!
    1000004219.jpg I'm fairly certain this is not from Ascalon. It is 3.58g and 18mm.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2024
    Bing likes this.
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