This is not a baby! A denarius of Julia Mamaea

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Jun 19, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's very thought-provoking.
    Aestimare likes this.
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  3. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    21mm, 2.72g
    Obverse : IVLIA MAMAEA AVG. Diademed bust right
    Reverse : VESTA. Vesta standing left, holding patera and transverse scepter
    RIC IV 362

  4. Aestimare

    Aestimare Active Member

    @Roman Collector , I really appreciate your work, and I’ve been very disappointed with your cold reaction, but I’m grateful too till I prefer a sentence rather indifference. I don’t want to offend anybody, but I agree that by clumsiness I can cause trouble. I apologize sincerely : my remarks were excessive.

    That’s a fact Juno doesn’t need a syncretism to hold a flower. Your interpretation is full of sens. Yes, Juno Lucina is protecting childbirth, and yes, the flower symbolizes fertility. The presence of children is emblematic of this characteristic under the Antonines, and the same representation for Mamaea lets no doubts about Juno’s function.

    The identity of an eventual Palladium is clear for me. Here are three sestertii which illustrate for a unique emission, the diversity of its representations, stating it can’t be reduced to a single one :
    British Museum R.13542
    British Museum R.13543
    British Museum R.13544
    I didn’t choose schematic pictures on these samples for Faustina, then the only coin which is comparable for Mamaea is the one of CNGea 412, Lot 634, but if I had considered denarii, I believe the proximity with the others Mamaea’s samples would have been more speaking :
    16.28g = Peus E-Auction 420 18.11.2017 Lot 5511
    17.22g = Nudelman Numismatica Auction 10 13.06.2011 Lot 238
    17.25g = CNGea 412, Lot 634. Closing Jan 17, 2018
    20.94g = Cayón Subastas Subasta extraordinaria 09.05.2013 Lot 148
    23.14g = CNGea 293, Lot 389. Closing Dec 19, 2012
    27.70g = eBay gadires 264064023159

    I let anyone interpreting the presence of the Palladium in Juno’s hands, and I would be happy to hear CT members’ ones.
  5. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Here is my recent Julia Mamaea Sestertius pickup.

    Julia Mamaea AE Sestertius,
    struck under Severus Alexander, Rome, AD 222-235
    Obv: IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA. Diademic and coated bust on the right.
    Rev: VENVS FELIX S.C. Venus, seated, left, carrying scepter and statuette.
    16.58g. 27 mm.
    RIC 701.
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Really? In all sincerity, I thought I was being complimentary. I had not considered we may have been witnessing the development of syncretism and I found your analysis to be thought-provoking.
    Spaniard likes this.
  7. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for bringing this up! As stated earlier, I, too, am puzzled by the fact that some of the Juno coins of Julia Mamaea show a palladium instead of an infant. The discussion in this thread has produced two possible interpretations of this reverse variety:

    1. "The change from infant to palladium was intentional and follows a meaningful iconographical program." This is the position proposed by Ryan's paper, my initial post as well as @Aestimare 's two replies. Since some of the coins clearly don't show a palladium, this view implies that the RIC numbers in question have to be split into different issues.

    2. "Julia Mamaea's coins were supposed to show Juno Lucina with flower and child, but some reverse dies were blundered by the engravers." That is what @Roman Collector suggested in his reply to my first post. From this perspective, the palladium is an engraving error.

    After reading through this very fruitful thread a couple of times, I have changed my mind and now find the second interpretation a little more convincing, although I still assume that we see a "meaningful error" on these coins. Let me explain:

    On the one hand, Julia Mamaea's coinage almost exclusively copies reverses from the Nerva-Antonine period and the reign of Julia Domna. This probably wasn't lack of fantasy but communicated continuity and stability to the Roman population. After the escapades of Elagabalus, that was an important political message. It seems reasonable to assume that Mamaea's coins showing Juno were part of this program of conservative iconography and we’re supposed to give a traditional depiction of Juno Lucina. (Explained above by @Roman Collector).

    On the other hand, the Rome mint at that point was staffed by a generation of engravers who over the course of Caracalla's and Elagabalus' reigns had gotten used to producing all sorts of deviations from traditional iconography, including Eastern deities, emperors in Syrian priestly garb, and other oddities. As the examples shown by @Aestimare illustrate, they must also have been familiar with depictions of Juno holding a palladium. Now these artists were tasked with copying a much earlier reverse type that may not have been immediately intelligible to them. We don't know what model they worked from, but even on the earliest depictions of Juno Lucina on coins of Lucilla, the infant tends to be less than clear. It therefore seems plausible that at least some engravers didn't recognize the object in Juno's hand as a baby and filled in the gap with a palladium, which they knew as an attribute of Juno from a recent issue of Julia Maesa.

    A die study, which so far none of us had the time or resources to conduct, could probably help to check the validity of this theory. If the reverses with the palladium and those without were regularly paired with the same obverse dies, it would imply that we are looking at a single issue. If not, two separate issues might be more likely.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2021
  8. Aestimare

    Aestimare Active Member

    I’ve asked for unsubscribing from CT, but till now I can still connect. So, I take time to answer, but I could be interrupted involuntarily.

    I’m grateful to you @Orielensis for your diplomatic intervention.
    I do agree with you that a die study will infirm or confirm our hypotheses, regrouping the “Palladium” types chronologically, or spreading them out over time.
    But I think in this case, it would be unnecessary, but complementary.

    I can distinguish 3 dies on the picture of what I suppose to be Palladium types. Those are just bronze sestertii. Some denarii exist with the same representation. Too many identical errors then : no doubt this is not a die-engraver error as you interpreted it, Roman Collector, nor a confusion, as you proposed, Orielensis. I’m convinced it is intentional.

    I leave you judge of the similarity of some Palladium types from Julia Mamaea denarii : not all the coins are of good style, many are schematized (the ones I have chosen). That’s why we don’t see splendid Palladiums on each coin. This is not specific to a reign, but a phenomenon that can be noticed on many Greek and Roman coins. Even someone is not familiar with these, just read on CT how many times, some collectors comment their sample with a satisfying : “good style”.

    RIC 360 2,68g = Savoca Numismatik 5th Blue Auction 24.02.2018 Lot 1252
    RIC 360 2,75g = Savoca Numismatik 41st Silver Auction 23.02.2020 Lot 344
    RIC 360 2,81g = A. Tkalec AG Auction May 2010 17.05.2010 Lot 352
    RIC 360 3,03g = Roma Numismatics Limited E-Sale 4 28.12.2013 Lot 758
    RIC 360 3,04g = Savoca Numismatik 42nd Silver Auction 29.03.2020 Lot 327
    RIC 360 3,16g = Rauch Summer Auction 2010 13.09.2010 Lot 1031
    RIC 360 3,52g = ibercoin Online Auction 28 05.06.2019 Lot 211
    ses RIC 708 01 = Stack's Coin Galleries September 2008 10.09.2008 Lot 429
    ses RIC 708 18,17g = Roma Numismatics Limited E-Sale 75 15.10.2020 Lot 694

    I had forgotten to mention about the Julia Soaemias' denarius on the previous page : RIC 237 3.37g 19.8mm 1h

    Thank you all for your welcome.

    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  9. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Julia Mamaea, mother of Severus Alexander. Augusta, 222-235 AD. Æ Sestertius. Obv: IVLIA MAMA-EA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right. Rev: FELICI-TAS PVBLICA, S-C across field, Felicitas standing left, legs crossed, leaning on column and holding caduceus. RIC IV 676 (Sev. Alexander); BMCRE 487 (Sev. Alexander); Cohen 21.
  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I think this is a really good hypothesis that well explains what we are witnessing on this issue.
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