Not bad at all, for under 20 bucks (Seleucis & Pieria tessera; Asclepius)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by lordmarcovan, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    This little piece cost me the grand sum of $17.85 after international shipping. It's fairly small at 15 mm, but the portrait of Asclepius is great and his staff on the other side has its snaky charms. The patina seems nice, too, if it's natural.

    I bought it for my giveaway goodies pick bin, but was almost tempted to keep it for myself.

    Syria (Seleucis & Pieria, Antioch): bronze tessera, pseudo-autonomous issue, ca. 2nd century AD
    Or... wait... IS it? Or was it misattributed?

    Ex-Biga Numismatiek, Netherlands (formerly Alibaba Coins). Their description follows:
    I know vaguely who Asclepius was in mythology, but that's about all. Share what you know about these pieces, or tesserae in general, since that's another term I only partially understand.

    I thought tesserae were mosaic tiles? I guess they were, but what was the purpose of round, coin-like metal tesserae such as this? Counters? Temple tokens? Did they serve any quasi-monetary role?

    Feel free to post your tesserae, or anything featuring Asclepius or health, or serpent-staff/caduceus motifs.
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    +VGO.DVCKS Active Member

    I never heard of bronze tesserae either, but the pairing of the motifs is Sweet. Like it.
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  4. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    That is a nice looking coin, but is it really from Antioch? As far as I know that type is attributed to Pergamon.

    The Antioch version is with the portrait to the left and the reverse is slightly different.

    Tessera is four in Greek (hence why these "cubic aka four cornered" mosaics are called like that), so perhaps it is another name for a tetrachalkon? No clue.

    A serpent/Asklepios coin from my collection:
    Mysia, Pergamon. Asklepios bronze coin. (Mid-late 2nd century B.C.)
    Laureate head of Asklepios right
    Reverse: Serpent entwined around staff of Asklepios. ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ.
    Reference: SNG von Aulock 1373, SNG Cop. 370-376.
    4.03g; 15mm
  5. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    Tessera does refer to a small piece of a hard material that was cut into a shape (often a cube) to be used to construct a mosaic.

    For commerce, the Romans used the word tessera to convey the Greek term σύμβολον (token). They were made out of several different materials - mostly lead, but also bronze, bone, ivory, clay, glass, and wood. They functioned as tickets (some were even marked with seat locations) and as vouchers for the poor that were distributed by the government to be exchanged for something of assistance such as grain (tesserae frumentariae) or money (tesserae nummariae).

    Here's my unusually-shaped example. I don't know for what it may have been exchanged. The thunderbolt was a symbol of Jupiter or Zeus. Perhaps it granted entrance to a religious festival, ceremony, or banquet?


    ASIA MINOR. Uncertain. Circa 2nd to 1st centuries BC. Tessera (Lead, 22x10 mm, 3.42 g). Thunderbolt between two stars. Rev. Blank.

    @Alegandron started a thread on Tessera in April 2020 that is located here:
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
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  6. Alegandron

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

    Lead Tessera

    c. 1st cent. AD
    Fortuna standing left, resting rudder on ground with right hand, holding cornucopia in left
    Large DP
    13mm, 1.39 g, 12h
    Rostovtsev 2307; Ruggerio 808-9
    Ex: Tom Vossen collection of Roman lead objects.
    Ex: Gert Boersema Ancient Coins
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  7. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    @Carl Wilmont- Thanks. That was the sort of information I was wondering about. (And had mostly heard before, but was just a bit vague on.)
    Carl Wilmont likes this.
  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    @Pavlos- thank you. Maybe it is a misattribution, then, and it's a coin after all? I do recall thinking it looked much more like 2nd century BC than AD! Yet that particular 400-year misunderstanding may have been mine rather than the dealer's. Their description merely said "2nd century", as I recall. The rest of the description was quoted directly from them.

    It sure does look like the Pergamon example you cited.
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's my Asklepios from Pergamon:

    Pergamon Asklepios and serpent staff.jpg
  10. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    Let's keep adding to the den!

    Pergamon Entwined Serpent.jpg
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  11. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Active Member

    Cool. You're looking at a real reptile here.
    Any chance of your helping out with the legends?
  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ, "Asklepios the savior."
  13. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Active Member

    Thanks for that! ...Just looked up the transliteration (sorry, not enough Coin Greek), and it's "Soter." Like the title of however many Ptolemies were involved. (Did some of the Seleucids use that, too? No worries; I can find that out.)
    Really, Thanks.
  14. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I see lettering on y'all's coins, while mine appears to be anepigraphic? I can't see any trace of lettering on it, at any rate.
  15. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Translation is correct but just something informative for most people here at the forum that does not know that. The "OY" instead of "OΣ" in the name of Asklepios means it is "Of", possessive. So the full translation is "Of Asklepios the Savior", the coin is basically of Asklepios.

    Soter aka Saviour is used for both kings and gods. The gods that are a saviour of a city often has a cult around it. For Thasos island it is "Herakles the Saviour", for Maroneia in Thrace it is "Dionysos the Saviour". For Pergamon it is "Askelpios the Saviour".
    It is also used for kings of the Ptolemaic Empire, Seleukid Empire and Bactrian Empire. For example Antiochos I Soter and Demetrios I Soter.

    Yours is a different type as all the coins above, indeed without any inscription.
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  16. Alegandron

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

    I only have one featuring Aesculapius:

    (However, NOT a Tessera)
    RR Rubrius AR Quinarius Donnsenus 87 BCE Neptune Victory alter snake Aesculapius Sear 261 Craw 348/4
  17. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I guess mine might not be a tessera either, or from Antioch, for that matter.
  18. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Some info about Aesculapius and 2 coins:

    Snake Asclepious Mysia Pergamon.jpg
    Snake Asclepious card pergamon tet.jpg
  19. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Active Member

    Many thanks! That's more stuff I never knew, in as little space as that, than I've seen in recent memory!
    ...And that was the background of the passage in the book of Acts, where a silversmith gets Paul run out of Ephesus, with half the town chanting, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" It was effectively an issue of competing saviors.
    Carl Wilmont likes this.
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