Sorry, RPC, but I don't think it's "head surmounted by crescent"

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Jul 31, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I love Antonine coins. I love provincials. I love coins that depict the iconography of paganism. I had to get this one! It appears to be quite scarce, too.

    Antoninus Pius Nicaea Apis bull MB.jpg
    Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161.
    Roman provincial Æ 18.5 mm, 4.59 g, 12 h.
    Bithynia, Nicaea, AD 138-161.
    Obv: ΑVΤ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΑΝΤΩΝ[EΙΝΟϹ?], bare-head, right.
    Rev: ΝΕΙΚΑΙΕΩΝ, Apis-bull standing, right, head surmounted by solar disk and wearing uraeus crown.
    Refs: RPC IV.1, 10001 (temporary); Mionnet 5.89,455; RG I(3).413,118(2) pl. LXIX, 19.

    The authors of RPC, in my opinion, err when they describe the bull on the reverse with "head surmounted by crescent," even on the better preserved variety struck with the same reverse die, RPC IV.1, 5901.

    It seems clear to me that it's a solar disk and Apis is wearing the uraeus crown, as depicted in numerous ancient works of art.

    Capture 3.JPG
    Egyptian bronze figure of an Apis bull, Dynasty XXVI (665-525 BC), probably Memphis. Christie's Auction, 26 October 2004.

    Capture 6.JPG
    Life-size basalt statue of the Apis Bull dedicated by Hadrian to Serapis in Alexandria (Egypt), Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt exhibition, Paris (2015). Photo by Carole Raddato.

    Capture 4.JPG
    Bronze figure of Apis, Lower Egypt, Late Period, about 600 BC. British Museum, EA 37448.

    In contrast, Mionnet (no. 455) got it right, but didn't mention the uraeus crown worn in conjunction with the solar disk.

    Capture 2.JPG

    Let's see your bull coins, especially the Apis bull! Or how about any coins with a uraeus?!
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
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  3. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker Supporter

    Good observation!

    The fact that the snake is there and with the same shape as in the statues really confirms your conjecture for me.

    dougsmit and Roman Collector like this.
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A wonderful coin, @Roman Collector, and I'm sure you're right. I don't know that I've ever even seen a Roman Alexandrian coin with an Apis bull. I have no such coins myself, but here's an ancient Egyptian bronze Apis bull, purchased from Hixenbaugh Ancient Art in March 2021.




  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wow, @DonnaML, that's really cool! And it features the standard sun-disk-and-uraeus iconography, too!

    What I think is interesting is that a Roman coin from northern Turkey depicts such Egyptian imagery. Why? And why Nicaea in particular? So many unanswered questions to investigate with this one.
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  6. Alegandron

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

    Great question ans a super coin, @Roman Collector .

    Carthage Zeugitania
    AR ½ Shekel
    17mm 3.8g
    2nd Punic War 218-202 BCE
    Sicily mint 216-211 BCE
    Tanit l
    Horse r sun as double uraeus
    SNG COP 359

    Seller write-up:
    Circa 201-175 BC.
    Æ 15 Shekels
    45 mm. dia. 7.5 mm. thick. 102.6 g
    Obv: Wreathed head of Tanit left
    Rev: Horse standing right; uraeus above.
    Ref: MAA 104 ; SNG Copenhagen 400.
    Comment: Original green patina.
    Note: The largest Carthaginian coin and likely one of the largest coins struck in antiquity.
    rareorse r sun as double uraeus
    SNG COP 359
  7. Alegandron

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

    Further to my Series of Great Peoples Vanquished by the Roman Republic


    Marsic Confederation
    AR Denarius
    Bovianum(?) mint, 89 BCE.
    3.93g, 20mm, 3h
    Obv: Laureate head of Italia left, VITELIA = ITALIA in Oscan script
    Rev: Soldier standing facing, head right, foot on uncertain object, holding inverted spear and sword, recumbent bull to right facing; retrograde B in exergue.
    Ref: Campana 122 (same dies); HN Italy 407
    Ex: Eucharius Collection.
    Ex: Roma Auction 11, Lot 607

    216-215 BCE
    Sardinia mint
    AE 3.3g
    Tanit L -
    BULL stndg R
    CNP 377a
  8. Alegandron

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


    Julian II
    CE 360-363
    AE1 maiorina
    Diademed R -
    SECVRITAS REIPVB 2 stars Apis Bull stg R ANT-Gamma 2 palms ANTIOCH
    RIC 217 LRBC 2641
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Nice example! There's no consensus, though, on whether Julian's bull was intended to be the Apis bull, given the absence of a sun disk and uraeus.
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  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    A few more interesting tidbits. There were a lot of coins featuring this reverse type issued in Bithynia (and a few in Lydia) during the Antonine period but which continued into the Severan period (not yet available at RPC online).

    See this interesting article: David Magie. "Egyptian Deities in Asia Minor in Inscriptions and on Coins." American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Jul., 1953), pp. 163-187.
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  11. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    A Flavian Apis bull clearly wearing a solar disk.

    RPC2511.jpg Domitian
    Æ Diobol, 9.78g
    Alexandria Mint, 85-86 AD
    Obv: AYT KAIΣAP ΔOMITIANOΣ ΣEB ΓΕΡM; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
    Rev: No legend: Apis-bull standing, r.; before altar; date LE above
    RPC 2511 (10 spec.). Emmett 279.5. Dattari-Savio 576 (this coin).
    Acquired from Praefectus Coins, April 2020. Ex Dattari Collection.

    I agree the OP coin depicts a solar disk as well.
  12. Alegandron

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

    Thank you. Agreed.
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  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Some close-ups of the sun disk and uraeus on my bronze Apis bull:

    Apis bull new 6 (495x800).jpg

    Detail hixenbaugh bronze apis bull photo 1 facing (2).jpg

    New Apis Bull 23.jpeg

    And here's another uraeus, without the sun disk or the bull:

    Hadrian, AE Nome Obol, Year 11 (136/137 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint (for Arsinoite Nome). Obv. Laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder, AΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹΕΒ / Rev. Head of Egyptian Pharaoh right, no beard [identified with Amenemhat III, under Greco-Roman name of Pramarres], wearing nemes [royal striped headdress] with uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] at forehead; APCI (= Arsi[noites]) to left, date L IA (Year 11) to right. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 6296 (2015); RPC III Online at ; Emmett 1211.11 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; BMC 16 Alexandria, Nomes 72-73 at p. 357 [Pool, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Sear RCV II 3831 (ill.); Köln 3381/82 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; K&G N6.6; Milne 1229 [Milne, J., A Catalogue of the Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay). 19.4 mm., 5.32 g. (Purchased from Zuzim Inc., Brooklyn, NY Jan 2021; ex. Fontanille Coins, Auction 96, July 2017, Lot 7.) [Footnote omitted.]

  14. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My Domitian diobol of Alexandria shows the disk. Your coin has a clear snake which explains why it was cut hollow rather than a disk. I agree that the intent was as you describe.
  15. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    That is a great coin @Roman Collector and I think you are 100% right about the sun disk and uraeus.

    As discussed above my “Apis bull” type is disputed.
    Roman Empire
    Julian II (AD 360-363)
    AE1, Antioch mint, struck ca. AD 361-363
    Dia.: 28 mm
    Wt.: 8.7 g
    Obv.: D N FL CL IVLI-ANVS P F AVG: Diademed, cuirassed bust right.
    Rev.: SECVRITAS REI PVB; Bull, head facing, standing right. Two starts above
    Ref.: RIC VIII 216, pg 532
    Ex Frank S. Robinson Collection, Purchased from David Micheals (Palladium) in the 1990s, ex FSR Auction 107 lot 389 (Jan. 2019), ex FSR Jan. 2010 sale.

    I posted a thread about the possible interpretations of this type here. The lack of the sun disk and uraeus, such as shown on RC’s example, is one of the main points against this type showing the Apis.
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