Featured Mt. Argaeus, Gordian III, and Shapur I

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, May 23, 2020 at 5:17 PM.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    In the words of Tom Petty, “even the losers get lucky sometimes”. You have to love an auction where you lose and still get the coin you wanted. This unexpected star (*) lot from a Frank Robinson (fsrcoin) auction showed up recently. I was outbid on the coin listed in the auction, but there was a second coin, lurking behind the scenes.
    Gordianus Argaeus Cappadocia.jpg
    Roman Provincial, Gordian III, AD 238-244, AR Drachm, Caesarea-Eusebia, Cappadocia, Regnal Year 4 (AD 240-241)
    Obv: AV KAI M ANT ΓOPΔIANOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind.
    Rev: MHTPO KAICA B N, Mount Argaeus, pellet to upper left, ET Δ (date) in exergue
    Size: 3.50g, 17mm
    Ref: Syd. 603


    Where is Mt. Argaeus?
    Mt. Argaeus is a volcanic mountain, today called Mt. Erciyes, which google maps describes today as “This 12,851-foot mountain with a ski resort is also a popular spot for hiking & mountaineering.” And Caesarea, today Kayseri, is a large industrialized city in Central Anatolia, Turkey. It is the seat of Kayseri Province. @Jochen1 has a nice writeup of another AR coin dipicting Argaeus, which also shows a photo of the mountain.

    Caius Julius Solinus, in mid-3rd century AD, roughly contemporary with this coin, writes: that Mazaca [Caesarea Mazaca another name for the city] is below Mt. Argaeus, which is shrouded in snow even in the summer, and the people of the area believe it to be inhabited by their god.

    "Mazacam sub Argæo sitam Cappadoces matrem habent urbium: qui Argæus nivalibus jugis arduus, ne æstivo quidem torrente pruinis caret, quemque indidem populi habitari deo credunt."
    - Solinus Ch. XLVI

    Here's another coin of Gordian III from Caesarea - about 3 years later, not long before his death. Capadoccia was known for speedy horses, wheat, silver, lead, and good wine.
    Gordianus III Grain.jpg
    Roman Provincial, Gordian III, AD 238-244, Cappadocia, Caesarea-Eusebeia, Regnal Year 7 (AD 243/244)
    Obv: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: Six grain ears
    Size: 22mm, 7.00g

    The death of Gordian III
    Although it seems surprising given the number of emperors and battles before him, Gordian III appears to have been the first Roman Emperor to die on an enemy battlefield. He died during the Battle of Misiche, near modern Anbar, Iraq. The Roman version of the story is very different, but scholarly debate is leaning toward the Persian account as the more reliable.

    “Just as we were established on the throne, the emperor Gordianus gathered in all of the Roman Empire an army of Goths and Germans and marched on Āsōristān (Assyria), against Ērānšahr and against us. On the edges of Assyria, at Misiḵē [on the Euphrates as it flows close to the Tigris], there was a great frontal battle. And Gordianus Caesar perished, and we destroyed the Roman army. And the Romans proclaimed Philip emperor. And Philip Caesar came to us for terms, and paid us 500,000 dinars as ransom for his life and became tributary to us.”
    - Shapur I writing of the battle that killed Gordian III in 244 AD between January and March

    Drawing (AD 1860): Rock relief of Shapur I and members of his court

    The destruction of Caesarea

    Caesarea was destroyed not long after this coin was issued, AD 260, by Shapur I after defeating Valerian.

    "And we burned with fire, and we ravaged, and we took captive and we conquered the province of Syria, and the province of Cilicia, and the province of Cappadocia. And in that campaign we conquered from the Roman Empire [thirty-six cities are named with their dependent districts]."
    - Shapur I

    and in another description:

    Caesarea being very populous – for it is said that about 400,000 men dwell in it – they did not take – those in it having nobly resisted their enemies and being commanded by a certain Demosthenes, a man brave and intelligent – before a man who had been taken prisoner, a physician, unable to endure the insults leveled at him, suggested a certain spot by which the Persians entered in the night and killed everyone.
    - The History of Zonaras p.89

    Despite the destruction, Caesarea persisted and is Kayseri, Turkey today. As always, corrections, comments and additional information are appreciated. Post your coins of Mt. Argaeus, Cappadocia, "*" lots, or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 6:27 PM
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  3. Alegandron

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

    Nice, @Sulla80 ... great write-up and super coins!

    I have nary from Caesarea-Eusebeia!

    I have nary of Mt Argaeus!

    I must be worthless...

    But, I have a Gordy-As:

    RI Gordian III 238-244 CE AE As 25mm Hercules S-C

    And, I do have the MAN who:
    - messed up Caesarea-Eusebeia,
    - messed up Valerian big-time, and
    - messed up the Roman Empire!
    He was the F-bomb!


    Shapur I. AD.
    Æ Tetradrachm
    (10.78 gm; 27 mm).
    Mint I (“Ctesiphon”), phase 1a, ca. AD 240-244.
    Obv: Bust of Shapur I right, wearing diadem and mural crown with korymbos / Rev: Fire altar, flanked by two attendants wearing diadems (type 2) and mural crowns.
    SNS type IIa1/1a, style Abi, pl. 20, 5-A8; Göbl type II/1; Paruck 95; Saeedi -; Sunrise 731(this coin).
    From The Sunrise Collection
    Ex: Pars Coins
  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    very kool coins Svlla80...i went on a Mt. Argaeus spree a year or so ago... scotty tribble purse Cappadocia Severus Alex Mt Arg. coins 002.JPG scotty tribble purse Cappadocia Severus Alex Mt Arg. coins 003.JPG Ae Lucius Verus, Mt. Argeus Cappadocia 002.JPG Ae Lucius Verus, Mt. Argeus Cappadocia 003.JPG Cappadocia bronze of Severus Alex and/or Elagalabus and Lucius Verus
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  5. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great additions, Sulla.

    Shapur I say "Hello Gordy, Remember Me?"

    Shapur I (241-272 A.D.)
    AR drachm
    O: Bust of Shapur I right, wearing diadem and decorated tiara terminating in eagle head.
    R: Fire altar flanked by two attendants wearing diadems and mural crowns.
    Göbl type I/1
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  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Hmmm....have seen too many nice coins of yours to buy that story...nice Shapur I from Sunrise, too. I only have the book.
    Sounds like fun & the last one looks like OYHPOC == VERUS to me, RY 5 = 165 (ЄT Є - although hard to see - could be a B or something else)
    especially nice portrait, @Mat.
  7. Alegandron

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

    LOL, I reckon my Shapur is a plate coin. Thanks for for posting!

  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I do not know the details but there have been a lot of these in sales lately. My first was from FSR in February 2018 but he had others in sale later that year so he must have bought a bag of them. I have seen them from several sellers. Most common seems to be year 5 (ETE). Mine has the short form reverse city name KAI and denotes the second neocourate with BNE. po2145fd2678.jpg

    In April 2018, I bought another, also from Frank. Had I known this one was coming I never would have bid on the first. Word that they were suddenly common was getting around and I won this one for quite a bit less than the first. This year four has the long form legend where BNE was moved to the center and both the city name and 'year' are spelled out.

    The mountain type was made as early as Domitian and common in the Severan period. Below is Septimius from year 2 both in silver and bronze.
    pi0930b01577alg.jpg pi0950b01391lg.jpg

    My year 5 Caracalla as Caesar is the darkest shiny black silver coin I have.

    A favorite of mine is the Elagabalus bronze (as usual for AE with the mountain on a table). This year three portrait makes him look almost normal.

    Most of the coins you see are from a few common years suggesting many more were made then. I do not believe that there are coins from each year but I do know a collector who specializes in Caesarea and should ask him if we ever see each other again after coin shows resume.
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  9. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  10. Ryro

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

    Excellent thread on an interesting topic.
    Here's one I Just won. Purchased primarily for the "spooky" appeal of the coin and it being Septy.
    Anyone any idea on the counter mark?:
    Septimius Severus
    CAPPADOCIA. Caesarea-
    Eusebia. (193-211). Ae.
    Laureate head right. Unknown
    CM below chin
    Mount Argaeus on altar
    inscribed ET IΓ.
    Sydenham 428.
    16,13 gr 27,60 mm
    Ex: Ares
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  11. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..right, that's who it is..:) he completed the '5(6) good emperors bronze collection....
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  12. Alegandron

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

    Looks like a rabbit to me, and he left pellets EVERYWHERE on the left side of the obverse... Dude, you need to clean that up!

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  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks for the info & coins, always interesting to see the variations in legends and across years. I only have a small number of Cappadocia coins. And of course now you have me wondering too about whether all years are represented.

    The Septimius Year 2 & 5 (Caracalla) issues particularly interesting to see as they pre-date the first NЄΩKOPIA (temple warden) which show up somewhere around RY 14 for Septimius. And I think you also show the 1 temple version with AE of Elagabalus (with the KAIC N on reverse) . The 2nd temple (B, BN, BNE) granted during the reign of Severus Alexander with some confusion in dating or overlap between coins that acknowledge one or two provincial temples to the cult of the Roman emperor.

    Nice year 4 of Gordianus, with yet another variation in legend KAIC B!
  14. nicholasz219

    nicholasz219 Well-Known Member

    Sydenham notes that it may have been that Caesarea was used as a regional mint, striking coins for most of Asia Minor from Tiberius to Gordian III.

    Bronze issues are struck in inverse proportion to silver in general. Beginning with Antoninus Pius and continuing through the Severan dynasty there is a marked increase in the issuance of bronze and a corresponding decrease in silver coinage. Sydenham theorizes that since the Caesarean drachm was equal in value to the denarius that the bronze minor coinage would bear relationships to the drachm similar to bronze coinage of the empire to the denarius. As a drachm consisted of 48 chalkoi and a denarius 16 asses, 1 as would be equal to 3 chalkoi. Caesarean 26mm coins would be the rough equivalent of an as in the imperial system.

    For silver issues, the dates are sporadic for Septimius Severus and Julia Domna.

    Septimius, AR:

    Septimius, AE:

    Julia Domna, AR:

    Julia Domna, AE:

    It’s possible the coins were struck on an as needed basis? Not sure.



    Provincial, Caesarea, Cappadocia, AE30, ΜΗΤΡΟΠ KAICAPC
    Roman Provincial: Caesarea, Cappadocia
    Julia Domna
    Born circa: 170AD - Died: 217AD
    Augusta: 193 - 217AD
    Issued: 205AD
    30.0mm 17.19gr 0h
    O: IOYΛΙΑ ΔΟΜΝΑ ΑΥ; Draped bust, right.
    R: ΜΗΤΡΟΠ KAICAPC; (MH ligate) Agama of Mt. Argaeus, surmounted by star, placed on altar.
    Exergue: εΤΙΓ (Regnal Year = 13; 205AD)
    Hunter 75; BMC Galatia 26 var. (legend and date); Huntarian 2259
    Featured on Wildwinds, April, 2019.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020 at 2:05 AM
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  15. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    That's an interesting Gordian drachm! The portrait on it is quite wonderful.

    Here is a Mount Argaeus struck under the last (nominally) autonomous Cappadocian king:

    Cappadocia – Ae, dionysos, mount argaios (neu).png
    Kingdom of Cappadocia, under Archelaus, Æ18, 24/23 BC (?), Eusebeia mint. Obv: Head Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath. Rev: EVΣΕ – ΒΕΙΑΣ, eagle over Mount Argaios; monogram below. 18mm, 5.02g. Ref: RPC I, 3610.
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  16. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    From what I can see on the internet, it’s a beautiful mountain:


    It also looks like a long, but technically easy hike/climb, with no actual climbing before the last 50-70 meters. I read a blog about the hike. The author turned around at about 3870m, probably a wise decision. Although not technically difficult, the slopes of this mountain has treacherous loose terrain.

    It seems the terrain is quite loose in summer. It’s probably a nicer winter climb, with a possible ski ascent and descent. Here are summer and winter routes:

    B1477781-FB31-4F0F-9366-C5E475AC92A2.jpeg 21697BC8-6A1F-4267-B3AB-8DFF655F98B8.png

    Mountains that are this accessible have usually had their first ascent way back in time, and have heroic and tragic histories attached to this. As for Mt. Erciyes, it is said that a young couple fell in love, and the young man asked her father for his daughters hand in marriage. The father, head of the local village, granted this, provided that the young man would kill the dragon residing in Mt. Erciyes (or perhaps Mt. Argaeus at that time). The young man set out to do this, of course (which young man wouldn’t slay a dragon for his beloved?), but Cis Hatun, the young woman, followed. She wore a white veil of marriage as a sign of her dedication for the young man.

    As they came near the summit, the dragon attacked them with fire. They tried to flee, but the young man fell and slid. Cis tried to catch him and stop his fall, but despite their desperate struggle, they both fell into the dragons fire that was running down the mountain. The white veil of Cis Hatun was all that was be left of them, and this veil would from that day cover the mountain top, creating a white snow cap that would be there all year around.

    Ancient historians like Strabo, and also later historians, have reported volcanic activity and eruptions from the mountain, but modern geologists consider that:

    «The occurrence of volcanic activity in historical times is not clear; Strabo (63 BC–21 AD) and Claudius Claudianus (370–410 AD) report volcanic activity,[77][13] and Roman coins found in Cappadocia show the mountain smoking,[111] but these reports may instead refer to swamp gas release in the Sultansazlığibasin[77][2] and Strabo's reports appear to refer to fires in swamps.[110] If volcanic activity occurred during historical times, it probably occurred on a parasitic vent, as the principal cone is heavily eroded.[112]» (Wikipedia)

    The legend of Cis Hatun and her lover may therefore be older than the Turkish name of the characters, it may even date back to the time that the mountain was named:

    «Erciyes was historically known as Argaeus[3] or Argaios,[4] a name either derived from the king of Macedon Argaeus I (678 – 640 BC)[3] or meaning "bright" or "white» (Wikipedia)

    Yes, and coins, coins, ummm... Great coins everybody!
    I have a couple too. Haven’t gotten around to photographing them yet, sorry. (I keep saying that )
    Thank you very much to @Sulla80 for yet another inspiring write-up!

    Gordian III and Shapur I.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020 at 4:24 AM
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  17. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Great post, and excellent coin! I'll add my Lucius Verus, which I'm fond of because of the decorative motifs on the rocks at the base of the mountain.

    Lucius Verus - Cappadocia Didrachm.jpg
    AR Didrachm. 6.64g, 21.4mm. CAPPADOCIA, Caesarea, AD 161-166 (Cos 2). Metcalf 131d; RPC Online Vol. 4, #7030. O: AYTOKP OYHPOC CEBACTOC, draped and cuirassed bust right. R: YΠATOC B, Mt. Argaeus with two large rocks at its base, left rock decorated with a deer leaping left, right rock with a tree; on summit, Helios standing left, holding globe and long sceptre.

    No Argaeus on the next one, but it's from Cappadocia, and I haven't posted it for sometime.

    Nerva - x6 Didrachm Cappadocia Club 2591.jpg NERVA
    AR Didrachm. 6.69g, 22.1mm. Metcalf 33; Sydenham 146. CAPPADOCIA, Caesaraea-Eusebia, AD 97 (3rd Consulship). O: AYTOKPAT NЄPOYAC KAICAP CЄBACTOC, laureate head right. R: YΠATOY TPITOY, Club placed vertically downwards.
    Ex stevex6 Collection
  18. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    My one and only mt. Argaeus:
    ROMAN PROVINCIAL, Hadrianus. Denomination: AR Didrachm, minted: Caesarea, Cappadocia; 128-138 AD
    Obv: ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟС СΕΒΑСΤΟС, laureate head of Hadrian to right
    Rev: ΥΠΑΤΟС Γ ΠΑΤΗΡ ΠΑΤ, Mount Argaeus surmounted by Helios standing left., holding globe in right., sceptre in left.
    Weight: 6.11g; Ø:2.1mm. Catalogue: RPC III, 3087; Metcalf 92a; Sydenham 263. Provenance: Ex private collection; acq.: 01-2019.

    It's a recent cleaning project; here is how it looked before.
  19. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Informative write-up, @Sulla80 , and worthy of being featured! Coin-gratulations!

    I have only one Mount Argaeus coin in my collection :(

    Severus Alexander Caesarea Mount Argaeus.jpg
    Severus Alexander, AD 222-235.
    Roman Provincial AE 25.0 mm, 10.37 g.
    Cappadocia, Caesarea, AD 222/3.
    Obv: ΑV Κ Μ ΑVΡ ϹЄΟΥ ΑΛЄΞΑΝΔΡ, laureate head, right; uncertain c/m behind.
    Rev: ΜΗΤΡΟΠ ΚΑΙϹΑΡΙ, agalma of Mount Argaeus surmounted by star, atop altar inscribed ЄTA (= year 1).
    Refs: RPC VI 6735; Sydenham 537-38; BMC 298; SNG von Aulock 6510.
  20. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    It is impressive how a CT crowd, no matter what the topic, can assemble in hours an interesting and beautiful collection of coins and information!

    Although I haven't done any technical climbing in many years, your posts do inspire at least a vigorous hike in the woods - no mountains anywhere near. Thanks for the additional information and the story of the ill-fated couple that gave the mountain its veil of snow.

    Strabo in general doesn't describe Caesarea as an appealing place: "the country is perilous for most people, and especially for cattle, since they fall into the hidden fire-pits." As he wrote in the late 1st century BC to early AD, Cappadocia was likely a less developed place than it was in the 3rd century - Roman roads, trade-routes, and urban development progressing for centuries.
    Last edited: May 24, 2020 at 8:04 AM
  21. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

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