Melita and the sad & bizarre lack of Egyptian iconography on ancient coinage+ luv letter to ancients

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ryro, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    I cannot, straight faced, tell you that I do not owe a huge thanks to @TIF and her truly exceptional article and dazzling video:
    for shining as much light on Melita's unique ancient coinage as one could shine without borrowing Doc Brown's time machine.
    First, the iconography:
    (A mummy rests on a sacred boat guarded by Anubis. Above, figures of Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. Sandstone stela. From Egypt, 332 BCE to 395 CE. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, UK)

    Getting you up to date, Set has just tricked and murdered his own brother, Osiris, and scattered his body parts across the land.
    Osiris wife, Isis, puts all the pieces back together to rebuild her husband (awkwardly unable to find his dismembered phallus uses a massive golden phallus as a replacement).
    Through her magical abilities and the help of Thoth, Isis revived Osiris with her sister Nephthys.

    (Outer coffin of Taywheryt depicting Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. (CESRAS/ CC BY NC SA 2.0 ))

    Then, the coin (their pic):
    (My pic):
    Melita - Mummy of Osiris Bronze
    218-175 BC Obv: veiled and diademed female head right, wearing earring. Rev: Mummy of Osiris standing facing, head left, holding flail and sceptre, between winged figures of Isis and Nephtys, each with sun disk on their heads and one wing angled inwards; Punic ‘NN above. 12.78 grams. Fair.
    Property of a Hertfordshire, UK gentleman; with old envelope.
    Literature CNS 2; SG Cop (Vol. 8) 458-459; Mayr 2; Sear 6584.


    Timeline even included the old British gentleman's tag... from who knows when???
    A lover letter from decades ago to a coin that was a love letter to a civilization that existed thousands upon thousands of years before!
    (I'd make fun of the handwriting... buuuut it's still better then mine)

    The most obvious question on my coin might be, "how did Egyptian gods, motifs and iconography get all the way to modern Malta?"
    But I believe the larger question is, "why didn't more ancient cultures latch on to and utilize those Egyptians artistry??"
    The answer, I believe, lies between them being an isolationist state. To the point that, if you died off of Egyptian soil they believed your spirit ceased to exist! And the fact that they themselves simply never relied on coinage, even to catch up with the outside world.
    Sadly, other than gold coinage (so rare that I only know of one CT pal who has one, @AncientJoe ) minted just after the third intermediate period, it wasn't till Alexander the great followed by general (and probable cousin) Ptolemy,

    (Always happy to show this beast off):
    Ptolemy I Soter
    305-282 BCE. Æ (15mm, 3.85 g, 12h). Tyre mint. Struck after 294 or 289/8 BC. Diademed head of Alexander the Great right / Eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings displayed.

    that ancient Egypt started utilizing coins for trade and barter (much like coinage from the provinces is considered Roman provincial as opposed to the Greek coinage under Roman rule that it is, I consider ptolemaic money as Macedonian over actually Egyptian).

    Though, there are some coins out there with Egyptian iconography if you're willing to look.
    This coin must've always filled Hadrian with sadness. But nevertheless, it still is part of Hadrian's travels, series and shows some fun ancient iconography:

    117-138 AD. AR Denarius (19mm, 2.77gm). Struck 134-138 AD. Head right / Egypt reclining against basket left, holding sistrum, ibis at feet. RIC II 297; RSC 99.
    This coin commemorates Hadrian's visit to Egypt in 130-131 AD. It was while Hadrian was on tour in Egypt that his favorite, Antinoüs, "mysteriously" drowned in the Nile. So great was the emperor's grief that he commanded a series of religious rituals to be performed in the young man's honor, and, on the site where the body was recovered, Hadrian ordered the construction of a city called Antinöopolis in honor of the young man.

    Please post those coins that remind one of the GREATEST civilization. Coins of or that remind of ancient Egypt, thoughts or whatever mumiphies your Osiris :)
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
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  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    That's one of the best reverse of the type I've seen! Jealous, especially of the price :).

    It's mysterious coins like this that really draw me to collecting ancients :).

    Coins of Melita:

    c. 218-175 BCE. Æ 29 mm, 10.82 gm
    Obv: Veiled and diademed female head right
    Rev: Mummy of Osiris standing facing, head left, between winged figures of Isis and Nephtys, each holding a palm frond; Punic ‘NN above
    Ref: SNG Copenhagen (Vol. 8) 458-9

    c. 218-175 BCE. Æ 29 mm, 10.84 gm
    Obv: Veiled and diademed female head right
    Rev: Mummy of Osiris standing facing, head left, between winged figures of Isis and Nephtys, each holding a palm frond; Punic ‘NN above
    Ref: SNG Copenhagen (Vol. 8) 458-9

    c. 160 BCE. Æ 27 mm, 11.88 gm
    Obv: Head of Isis (?) left; Tanit symbol with Kerykeion to left; MEΛΙΤΑΙΩΝ around right
    Rev: Winged male deity (Osiris?) wearing the double crown of Egypt, kneeling left and holding a crook (or sceptre) and a flail
    Ref: CNP 949; Coleiro in NC 1971, 3; SNRIS 2.15 (this coin)
    ex David Freedman collection; Triton V, New York 2002, no. 292

    c. 125 BCE. Æ 26 mm, 11.17 gm
    Obv: Head of Isis (?) left; grain ear before her; MEΛΙΤΑΙΩΝ around right
    Rev: Winged male deity (Osiris?) wearing the double crown of Egypt, kneeling left and holding a crook (or sceptre) and a flail
    Ref: SNG Copenhagen 465

    Since you asked for Osiris, here are some canopic "jars".

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Hadrian
    year 11, CE 126/7
    billon tetradrachm, 26 mm, 12.6 gm
    Obv: AVTKAITPAI AΔPIACEB; laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind
    Rev: L ENΔ EKATOV: Canopus of Osiris right
    Ref: Emmett 827.11, R3; Milne 1205

    EGYPT, Alexandria. Hadrian
    year 18, CE 133/4
    Æ drachm, 26.4 gm
    Obv: AYT KAIC TPAIAN (A∆PIANOC CEB), laureate and draped bust right
    Rev: Canopic jars facing; L I H across fields
    Ref: Emmett 933.18, R1
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  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    My own Hadrian tetradrachm from Alexandria (Year 11) with a Canopic Jar of Osiris on the reverse:

    Hadrian, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 11 (126/127 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Canopic Jar of Osiris (a/k/a Osiris-Canopus Jar and Osiris-Hydreios)* right, L ΕΝΔ - EKATΟΥ [= Year 11 spelled out]. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 5640 (2015); RPC III Online at; Köln 939 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; Milne 1205 [Milne, J., A Catalogue of the Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1933, reprints with supplement by Colin M. Kraay); Emmet 827.11 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; Dattari (Savio) 1327 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]. 25 mm., 13.41 g. (Purchased from Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 212th Buy or Bid Sale, August 2020, Lot 497.)

    Alexandria Tetradrachm - Hadrian - Osiris Canopus.jpg

    *See, with photos of the Osiris-Canopus Jar from Hadrian’s Villa, now at the Vatican Museum, describing it as “A Canopic jar with the head of Osiris emerging from it. In the cult of Isis and Serapis, during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Osiris-Canopus jars (also known as Osiris-Hydreios) were carried by priests during processions. As they are solid, each symbolically carried water from the Nile, fertility that originated from the god Osiris, one of Egypt’s earliest fertility gods. Osiris-Canopus was named after the ancient Egyptian town of Canopus, on the western bank at the mouth of the westernmost branch of the Delta known as the Canopic or Heracleotic branch – not far from Alexandria. Roman Period, ca. 131-138 AD. Grey basalt, from Hadrian’s Villa. Now in the Vatican Museums (Gregoriano Egizio). 22852.”

    N.B. I am pretty sure that what you see at the very top of Osiris's head is a sun disk with horns around it, and that the long horizontal object directly beneath it is also a pair of horns of some kind. But if anyone can identify these objects more specifically, I'd appreciate it.

    And I might as well add my 26th Dynasty bronze Osiris:

    Bronze Osiris 7.jpg
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  5. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    "In the syncretic atmosphere of Late Antiquity, agathodaemons could be bound up with Egyptian bringers of security and good fortune..." - Wikipedia.

    Roman Egypt, Alexandria. Nero, as Caesar, AD 54-68. Billon Tetradrachm (12.74g). Dated RY 5 (58/59 AD). Obv: Laureate head right. Rev: Coiled Agathodaemon, wearing solar headdress, amidst corn-ears and poppies. Ref: Curtis 31; BMC 174; Milne 193.

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  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Excellent score! One of these has been on my want list for some years now. I'm jealous.

    Here's some assorted Egyptian/Egyptesque stuff...

    Obligatory Osiris of Canopus jar.
    Antoninus Pius - Gemini Lot A - 13.jpg

    Harpokrates + crocodile = Harpodile
    Antoninus Pius - Drachm Harpodile Menelaites Nome new 3138.jpg

    Anubis dressed as a Roman soldier during a 4th century Festival of Isis.
    Festival of Isis - 2017.jpg

    Young Antinous, who drowned in the Nile and became a god.
    Antinous - Drachm 3980.jpg

    And finally, a steatite Scarab with flying saucer carved on the base... all the Ancient Alien proof we need!
    Scarab - UFO de vries.jpg
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  7. Alegandron

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


    Egypt Scarab RAMESSES II cartouche 19th Dyn 1292-1189 BCE winged uraeus cobra 4.1g 19mm Gustave Mustaki coll acquired fr Egypt in 1948

    Little more history on your guy’s father:

    These were the guys that Rameses II fought at the Battle of Kadesh... Rameses told everyone HE won, as the Hittites stated THEY won. Lotta dumb mistakes from Rameses II side, but I understand it was really a draw


    Carthage Zeugitania
    AR ½ Shekel
    17mm 3.8g
    2nd Punic War 218-202 BCE
    Sicily mint 216-211 BCE
    Tanit left
    Horse right, sun as double Uraeus
    SNG COP 359
    Ex: Romae Aeternae
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  8. Alegandron

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

    Couple of Faience Eye of Horus:

    Egypt Faience Eye of Horus Amulet ca 1070-332 BCE 3rd Int to Late Per - Blue glaze double sided Obv-Rev.jpg

    Egypt Faience Eye of Horus Amulet ca 1070-713 BCE 3rd Int Per - orange glaze Petrie Amulets plate XXV 19mm Obv-Rev.jpg
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  9. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Nice new acquisition!

    The only coin I can contribute comes from Ibiza and shows Bes, everyone's favorite jolly Egyptian household deity:
    Iberer – Ebusus, 1:8 AE unit, stehender Bes auf beiden Seiten.png
    Iberia, Ebusus (Ibiza), AE ⅛ unit, ca. 2nd c. BC. Obv: Bes standing facing, hurling mace and holding serpent. Rev: Bes standing facing, hurling mace and holding serpent; in field l., flower (?). 13mm, 1.14g. Ref: cf. SNG BM Spain 324-37; cf. SNG Copenhagen 88-91.
  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    I suppose I'll show my Agathadaemon reverse again.

    1. Nerva, 96-98 A.D.

      Type: Billon Tetradrachm, 25mm, 12.7 grams, mint of Alexandria year 96-97 A.D.

      Obverse: Bust of Nerva facing right, KAIS SEB AVT NEPOVAS

      Reverse: Agathodaemon serpent coiled with head right, holding caduceus and grain ear within coils, wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. In exergue, LA.

      Reference: Milne 542, Dattari 638 (rare)


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  11. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Hehe! Yes, I may have tipped my hat to @TIF ahead of posting the thread and let her know that for some inexplicable reason I had almost no competition on the coin (estimated to sell for popcorn, 10-15 GPB:bucktooth:?!?!) and stolen:jimlad: by me for 65 GBP:woot:!!!
    That second Head of Isis, TIF is sharing, was the coin that first got me into coins from Melita (I'll have the type...someday:shame:). Thanks so much for posting her:)
    I posted the link to her thread with this in it, but if you want to know more about this mystery you can do few things as fun today as treating yourself to her AMAZING Youtube video on the history and coinage of Melita:
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  12. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Nice score on the cheap, @Ryro.
    Ryro likes this.
  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    @TIF, I just watched your truly wonderful video about the coins of Melita (as well as the entire thread following it). Well done! I'm afraid that I not only don't have any coins from ancient Melita, but didn't even know that that was Malta's prior name.

    Lacking any coins from Melita, I've decided that today is for Isis and Horus.

    First, here once more is my Julia Domna/Isis nursing infant Horus denarius:

    Julia Domna, AR Denarius ca. 201 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust right, hair waved vertically and fastened in large bun in back, IVLIA AVGVSTA / Rev. Isis, wearing polos on head, draped, standing three-quarters right, head right, holding the nursing infant Horus in left arm against left breast, with her right hand holding a wreath or other ring-shaped object against her chest, her left foot against prow, right, and her left knee bent with Horus resting on it; to left of Isis, rudder rests against altar; SAECVLI FELICITAS. RIC IV-1 577 (p. 170), RSC III 174 (ill.), Sear RCV II 6606, BMCRE 166. 18x20 mm., 3.35 g., 6 h. Ex. A.K. Collection; ex. CNG Triton XX Auction, Jan. 10, 2017, part of Lot # 614, No. E027.

    Julia Domna  Denarius - Isis & Horus Reverse - jpg version RIC IV-1 577, RSC 174, Sear RCV 6606.jpg
    A detail:

    Detail Julia Domna - Isis & Horus Reverse 3.jpg

    My faience Eye of Horus (Uzat Eye):

    Eye of Horus (Uzat Eye).jpg

    My faience Triad of child Horus [with a side-lock] between his mother Isis and his aunt Nebhet (= Nepthys, her Greek name). My apologies for the blurriness; the object is quite small and the photo was taken with my old point and shoot camera (which takes close-up photos much less good than my cell phone):

    Triad of Isis, Horus & Nebhat (2).jpg

    Finally, my bronze Horus in his manifestation as a falcon, on a late 19th-early 20th century wooden base:

    Egyptian Bronze Horus.JPG

    People should understand that my fascination with ancient Egyptian archaeology, antiquities, and iconography long precedes my interest in ancient coins. My paternal grandmother (who was a New York City public librarian for many years after she graduated from high school in 1905) lived on 79th Street, not very far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She took me there frequently when I was a child. My favorite part, from the beginning, was the Egyptian collection, even before they acquired the Temple of Dendur. (It helped, I think, that the collection was near the main entrance!)
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  14. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    This photo is a bit less blurry than the other one, I think. At least you can sort of see Horus's side-lock, and his right hand raised to his mouth. I measured the triad, and it's only 44.5 mm high x 19 mm. wide.

    NEW Triad of Isis, Horus, Nebhet.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
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  15. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Dazzling display of a culture that has certainly inspired me from a very young age as well. Though, I must say how jealous I am of you growing up by the met, every now and again we get some cool mummies and art exhibits at the U of U. But nothing like there!
    Wonderful Patina on that bronze Osiris :D:artist:, and don't even get me started on the envy I have of your Domna:(:troll:...a type I JUST found out existed:wideyed:
    Ps, can totally see the "sidelock of youth" on your statue!!!:jawdrop:
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  16. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Some wonderful eyes of horus! Sadly, I've none to share... but I did get my first scarab a couple weeks ago!
    The back is slate, but the front has a fun design to it:

    And big ups to @Orielensis on the Bes!!!
    LOVE the little party animal:
    And my old avatar of him:
  17. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Are you kidding me??? You have a very handsome Antinous (that's what Hadrian said).
    Those things are incredibly difficult to get in this good of shape. Huge coingrats!!!
    Ps, LOVE the ancient alien proof!
  18. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    Over the past couple years, I've increasingly focused on collecting coins with Egyptian iconography. As such, I envy some of the beautiful coins in this thread, especially the Melita coins, not to mention the antiquities! Egyptian themes are more common on coins than we might realize at first glance, but sometimes the Egyptian elements are under so much Greco-Roman makeup that it's hard for us to notice!

    I'll add my Ibiza Bes to the conversation:

    Bes Ibiza.jpg
    Ebusus (Ibiza), AE 17mm.
    : Squatting Bes, holding club in right hand, serpent in left
    Reverse: Bull butting left.
    Struck ~210-early 2nd Century BC; Burgos 708; Villaronga 22.

    Here's a small Horus falcon mount or appliqué, Egyptian Late Period – Roman period:


    And lastly, a new arrival from CNG today:
    Antoninus Pius, Æ Drachm of Alexandria. Menelaites Nome. Dated RY 8
    : Laureate head right
    Reverse: MЄNЄΛAЄITHC, Harpokrates of Canopus: as a youth, nude from the waist up with the lower body of a crocodile, holding cornucopia with his left arm, right hand raised to his mouth, wearing skhent and standing left; [lit altar] to left; L H (date) in exergue.
    33mm, 17.42 g, struck AD 144/145. RPC IV.4 Online 13971
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  19. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Despite already having the one I posted above, I was really tempted to bid on this one. It's a great-looking coin in its own right, but the fact that the preceding lot was a higher grade example of the same type provided for good odds that it would get overlooked in the auction. Great score! :)
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  20. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Ryro, somewhow I missed this excellent thread until today. Here's a "Year 10" coin of Hadrian similar to the "Year 11" coins shown by @TIF and @DonnaML. I find the detail on the canopic jar and the way it matches the jar from Hadrian's villa quite amazing.
    [​IMG]Image linked from the Egypt Museum
    Hadrian Canopic Jar.jpg
    Egypt, Alexandria, Hadrian, AD 117-138, BI Tetradrachm, dated RY 10 (AD 125/6)
    Obv: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: Canopus of Osiris (canopic jar) right; L ΔE-KATOV (date) around
    Ref: RPC III 5578; Dattari (Savio) 1325-6
    Note: more written on this coin here
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
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  21. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Same here, Z... same here :). Wonderful coin, @SeptimusT!
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