Sometimes the coin speaks for itself

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Supporter! Supporter

    Gallienus Dattari 5273.jpg
    Egypt, Alexandria, Gallienus, 253-268 Tetradrachm circa 262-263 (year 10)
    Size: 23mm, 10.63g
    Obv: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: ΔЄKA/ЄTHPI/CKV/PIOV in four lines within laurel wreath; below, L I
    Ref: Geissen 2915 (this coin cited) Dattari-Savio Pl. 272, 5273 (this coin)

    Post your coins that speak for themselves or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Mum's the word...
  4. Gary R. Wilson


    A coin with "DAMNATIO MEMORIAE" definitely speaks of the popularity of the emperor on his coinage-at least to one person. Caligula's coinage is infamous for this. Here is an example. Notice at the beginning of the inscription, the two "C"s are filed away.

    DAMNATIO MEMORIAE: This coin seems to have suffered a 'Damnatio Memoriae'. It looks as if the portrait has been gouged on the jaw and a cut applied from Caligula's left cheek and across his lips. In addition, the two "C"s in the obverse legend have been erased. The first stood for Caligula's name, Gaius and the second for Caesar. Interestingly, the ancient writers said that on his assassination, the first strike to Caligula was to his jaw or neck/shoulder areas. Damnatio memoriae is a modern Latin phrase meaning "condemnation of memory", i.e., that a person is to be excluded from official accounts.


    Caligula (Augustus)
    Coin: Brass Sestertius
    C•CAESAR•AVG•GERMANICVS•PON•M•TR•POT - Laureate head left
    S•P•Q•R / P•P / OB•CIVES / SERVATOS - Legend within wreath
    Mint: Rome (37-38 AD)
    Wt./Size/Axis: 29.13g / 35mm / 6h
    Rarity: Rare
    RIC I 37
    BMCRE 38
    Cohen 24
    BN 50
    Roma Numismatics
    Ex L. Rose Collection.
    Acquisition/Sale: Roma Numismatics Internet E-Sale 61 #631 $0.00 08/19
    Notes: Aug 22, 19 - The Gary R. Wilson Collection
  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    In high school art history, the most popular example to illustrate Damnatio Memoriae is the famous Severan Tondo featuring Julia Domna, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and Geta.

    Geta's face has been completely erased, while the rest of the family looks just as happy as ever. That the rest of the tondo was left in perfect shape really speaks to the power of the DM. Anybody seeing a pristine and beautiful tondo with a horrendous smudge over one's face would have had an immediate reaction.


    This is also a very rare and exquisite example of non-wall, non-funerary Roman painting, which is something that is extraordinarily rare in any context.

    Curiously, 7Severus is shown with dark skin, while the kids and wife are light-skinned.
    In many ancient cultures, such as Egypt and Minoan, women were, as a rule painted with light or white skin and men were always painted with brown or dark skin.

    By Roman times this practice had vanished, so this shows that 7Severus was, in fact, darker skinned than his wife or progeny.

    Some so-called scholars have taken this, along with 7Severus's Libyan birthplace as "evidence" that he was a Black African. However, this is more of a fringe theory with most historians figuring that 7Sev was just a darker-skinned dude. Besides, 2000 years ago there really wasn't the same racial focus as there is today. Even if he was Black, that wouldn't have affected anything at all.

    (Just a fun fact)

    Since this is a coin forum, I'll round out this discussion with an exquisite denarius of Caracalla.

    Caracalla AR Denarius. AD 216.
    Obv: Laureate head right. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM
    Rev: Venus standing left holding Victory and sceptre, captives on ground. VENVS VICTRIX
    Ref: RIC 312d
    Cost: $0.00 - Secret Saturnalia gift!
  6. Alegandron

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


    Or, really alludes to it!

    RI Fausta 325-326 CE AE3 Spes stdg 2 infants SMHA 20mm 3.48g scratch over eye damnatio memoriae by Constantine

    RI Aemilianus 253 CE AE24 Viminacium mint Moesia Bull-Lion - Damnatio Memoriae eye and neck slash
  7. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    While Septimius was born in Africa, his parents were Roman. Let's not forget that he was a field commander of legions and spent a lot of time outdoors while the family members were pampered rich kids. I would not discount the possibility that this was a throwback to the old style depicting beauty as light and manliness as dark. We will never know.

    I do wonder if such items were really rare or just rarely survived. This is, after all, wood. Some believe that the erased face is Caracalla since that boy appears larger. Since the item was Egyptian and Caracalla was hated there after his massacre of many in Alexandria, it seems possible that this was a damnatio, probably following his death. Proving that beyond doubt is not likely either.
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    The coin pictured below is one of my favorites :D. I bought it from a Harlan Berk bid or buy sale many years ago. It is a common gold coin but displays unusually fine engraving for a late Roman issue, especially on the reverse. Constantinopolis is depicted wearing a helmet, seated with her foot on the prow of a ship, & holding a scepter & Victory on a globe. Theodosius is depicted battle-ready with spear & shield despite never seeing any combat. He preferred to buy-off his enemies with vast sums of gold :smuggrin:.

    Theodosius II, AV solidus.jpg
    Theodosius II, AD 402-450 (struck 408-420) Constantinople Mint, Officina 10, AV Solidus: 4.48 gm, 21 mm, 12 h.
  10. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Getting back to the OP. Perhaps the coin does speak for itself, but not in a language that I understand. What does ΔЄKA/ЄTHPI/CKV/PIOV stand for?
    Deca eteri sku riou?
    Sulla80 and Alegandron like this.
  11. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, probably doesn't fully "speak for itself". I like this coin for its looks, and the appealing provenance (Dattari), however there is much more historical context for Gallienus and the coin that includes barbarian invasion and concubines (Pipa), bubonic plague/pandemic, the humiliation of Valerian, defeated usurpers, equestrian v senatorial class, shifting policy toward Christianity, and more. The Alexandria mint issued these coins in the name of Gallienus with legend: ΔЄKAЄTHPIC KVPIOV - "decennalia of the lord", celebrating Gallienus' tenth jubilee.

    Edit - a more modern reading Google translate:
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
  12. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    I agree with you that race was not as much of an issue in ancient times, but citizenship was. The Egyptian paintings from the Fayyum region depicting the face of the departed that was attached to Roman-era mummies reflect this, and in many cases are fantastic works of art




    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
  13. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Added a bunch more of the mummy portraits...above.
  14. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Haha... Mr. Decade.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  15. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Mr Worldwide
    Sulla80 likes this.
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