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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Judean & Biblical Coins ▸ Biblical Coins ▸ Cities in the BibleView Options:  |  |  |   

Cities in the Bible

The coins below were minted by cities that are mentioned in the bible. Click here to read about the travels of Paul.


Vespasian the Younger, Caesar, 94 - 95 A.D., Smyrna, Ionia

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In 94 A.D., because he had no heir, Domitian adopted his two young great-nephews. He renamed them Vespasian and Domitian. The next year he executed the boys' father, his cousin, Titus Flavius Clemens, and exiled the boys' mother, his niece, Flavia Domitilla. They were charged with Atheism, a charge sometimes applied to condemn converts to Judaism or Christianity. The boys then disappeared from history and their fate is unknown.

Smyrna was the only city to strike coins in the name of Vespasian the Younger. No coins were struck for his brother.

Some scholars connect Domitilla with a Roman Matron in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10b) and the Deuteronomy Rabbah 2.25. When the emperor had decreed that in 30 days, the Senate would confirm an edict to kill all Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, the Roman matron convinced her husband to stand up for the Jews. If that identification is correct, her husband Flavius Clemens converted to Judaism, after having contact with the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Flavia Domitilla is a saint in both the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.
SH83453. Bronze AE 16, Klose p. 244, 3, pl. 31 (V1/R1); RPC II 1028; SNG Cop 1360; SNGvA 2208; BMC Ionia p. 276, 320, gF/F, weight 2.790 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) mint, as caesar, 94 - 95 A.D.; obverse OYOCΠACIANOC NEΩTEPOC, bare head right; reverse ZMYPNAIΩN, Nike standing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand; ex Solidus Numismatik, auction 7, lot 200; rare; $1170.00 SALE PRICE $1053.00


Tiberius Gemellus, Caesar, 35 - 37 A.D., Philadelphia (Neocaesarea), Lydia

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RPC notes all examples of this type were struck with a single obverse die. The obverse right side legend is illegible on all known examples. RPC attributes this type as uncertain but likely Gemellus' uncle the emperor Tiberius. Vagi attributes it as certainly Tiberius Gemmellus. Forum sees a very strong resemblance between the portrait on this coin and busts of Gemellus and agrees with Vagi.

Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero, known as Tiberius Gemellus, born 19 A.D., died 37 or 38 A.D., was the son of Drusus and Livilla, Tiberius' grandson, and Caligula's cousin. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin". His twin, Tiberius Germanicus Caesar, died in infancy. Tiberius made Caligula and Gemellus joint-heirs but favored Caligula because Livilla had been Sejanus' lover and he believed Gemellus was really Sejanus' son. Caligula adopted Gemellus as heir after becoming emperor, but soon ordered him killed for an alleged plot.
RP79717. Bronze AE 14, RPC I 3017 (Tiberius); Vagi 480, SNG Cop 373, Winterthur 3855, F, green patina, bumps, encrustations, weight 4.609 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, die axis 0o, Philadelphia-Neocaesarea (Alasehir, Turkey) mint, 35 - 37 A.D.; obverse TIBEPION CEBACTON, bare head right; reverse NEOKEC-APEIC, winged fulmen (thunderbolt); very rare; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00


Julia Maesa, Augusta 8 June 218 - 224 or 225 A.D., Neapolis, Samaria

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Neapolis, Samaria, the biblical Shechemis, is now Nablus, Israel. It is the site of Joseph's Tomb and Jacob's well. Jesus spoke here to a Samaritan woman. The city was refounded as Flavia Neopolis after the suppression of the Jewish Revolt. Nablus is home to about half the remaining worldwide Samaritan population of 600.
JD72682. Bronze AE 20, Sofaer pl. 53,122; Rosenberger 59; BMC Samaria p. 62, 111; Lindgren III 1510, gVF, nice green patina with earthen highlighting, typical tight flan, weight 7.492 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis mint, obverse IOYΛIA MAICA CEB, draped bust right wearing stephane; reverse ΦΛ NEAC-ΠOΛE CVP, Tyche standing facing, head left, holding rudder by tiller in right, cornucopia in left; rare; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Canata, Decapolis

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Catana, Qanawat Syria today, is probably the city called Kenath in the Bible (Numbers 32:42, 1 Chronicles 2:23). The Hellenistic-Roman city of Kanatha, is mentioned for the first time in the reign of Herod the Great, when Nabataean forces defeated a Jewish army. It remained an issue of contention between the two powers. From Pompey's time until Trajan's, it was a city of the Decapolis, a loose federation of cities allowed by the Romans to enjoy a degree of autonomy. Under Trajan, it was annexed to the Roman province of Syria. Septimius Severus refounded it as the Roman colony Septimia Canatha and transferred it to the province of Arabia.
GB85805. Bronze AE 13, RPC II 2092; Spijkerman 4; Rosenberger 3; SNG ANS 1259; BMC Galatia p. 302, 2; SGICV 877, aVF, tight flan, earthen deposits, weight 2.162 g, maximum diameter 13.4 mm, die axis 0o, Canata (Qanawat, Syria) mint, 94 - 95 A.D.; obverse ∆OMITI KAIΣAP, laureate head left; reverse towered and draped bust of Tyche left, hair in chignon, KANATA downward behind, ZNP (year 157 of Pompeian era) upward on left; ex Tom Cederlind with his tag; rare; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Gaza, Philistia

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The great god of Gaza, Marnas (Aramaic Marna the "Lord"), was regarded as the god of rain, and grain, and invoked against famine. His temple, the Marneion, the last surviving great cult center of paganism, was burned by order of the Roman emperor Arcadius in 402. Treading upon the sanctuary's paving-stones had been forbidden. Christians later used these same stones to pave the public marketplace.
GB90137. Bronze AE 16, Sofaer 103 (same obv die, date-ethnic reversed)/104 (same rev die, diff obv leg); Rosenberger II 78/79 (same); RPC Online 4128 (BnF 172), VF, both sides sightly off-center, weight 4.174 g, maximum diameter 16.2 mm, die axis 0o, Gaza mint, Aug 141 - 7 Mar 142 A.D.; obverse CEBAC - ANTWNEI-NO-C, laureate head right; reverse ΓAZA - BC (year 202), Herakles standing facing, nude, club downward in right, Nemean lion skin in left, Phoenician letter mem (for Marnas) lower left; ex Coin Galleries mail bid sale 6 Nov 1996, lot 281; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Judaea, Pontius Pilate, Roman Prefect under Tiberius, 26 - 36 A.D.

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Pontius Pilate served under Emperor Tiberius and is best known from the biblical account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. He was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from 26 - 36 A.D. He is known from the New Testament, his coins, brief mention by Tacitus, Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Gospel of Marcion, other apocryphal works, and a stone in the Israel Museum inscribed with his name and "PRAEFECTUS IVDAEAE."
JD72796. Bronze prutah, Hendin 1341, Meshorer TJC 331, RPC I 4967, SGICV 5622, F, corrosion, weight 2.181 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 315o, Jerusalem mint, 29 A.D.; obverse IOYLIA KAICAPOC, three bound heads of barley, the outer two heads drooping; reverse TIBEPIOY KAICAPOC (of Tiberius Caesar) and date LIς (year 16) surrounding simpulum (libation ladle); $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Kanatha, Decapolis, Provincia Arabia

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Kanatha (or Canatha), 16 miles North of Bostra, is today Qanawat, Syria. It was the Biblical Kenath, which was captured by Nobah from the Amorites (Numbers 32:42 and Judges 8:11) and taken back by Geshur and Aram. The epithet Gabinia (ΓABI in the reverse legend) was probably derived from Gabinius the Proconsul of Syria.
RP83599. Bronze AE 17, SNG ANS 1268 (same dies); Sofaer p. 154 & pl. 132, 6 ff.; Spijkerman p. 92, 8; Rosenberger IV p. 18, 8, F, well centered on a tight flan, toned bronze surfaces, weight 2.54 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 0o, Kanatha (Qanawat, Syria) mint, obverse KOMO ANTONOC (A unbarred), laureate, draped, and cuirassed right, from behind; reverse ΓABI KANAΘ (A's unbarred, Θ appearing as O), bust of Athena right, draped, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; ex Alex G. Malloy; rare coin and city; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Smyrna, Ionia, c. 190 - 170 B.C.

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Apparently unpublished. The magistrate Pytheos is known at Smyrna but the type is not listed for Pytheos in the many references examined. We did find a couple of misdescribed examples online.

A cestus or caestus is an ancient battle glove, sometimes used in pankration. They were worn like today's boxing gloves but were made with leather strips and sometimes filled with iron plates or fitted with blades or spikes, and used as weapons.
GB84111. Bronze AE 13, cf. Milne Smyrna 1927, type L, 86; BMC Ionia p. 243, 61 ff.; SNG Cop 1166 f.; SNG Tub -; SNGvA -; Lindgren - (none by Pytheos), VF, attractive style, reverse off center, scratches, inscription weak, edge chip, weight 1.504 g, maximum diameter 13.2 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) mint, magistrate Pytheos, c. 190 - 170 B.C.; obverse classical style laureate head of Apollo right, hair bunched in the back, loosely waved locks falling down neck; reverse two hands in caestus (fighting gloves) downward, the right hand is nearer with back of hand visible, the left hand is farther and clenched with palm facing, two palm fronds flanking forming arch above, ΠYΘEOΣ (magistrate name) downward on left, ZMYPNAIΩN downward on right; very rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Year nine is spelled out (ENAT) instead of expression with the numeral theta (T). Theta was used as an abbreviation for Thanatos (death) and used as a warning symbol of death, in the same way that skull and crossbones are used in modern times. It survives on potsherds used by Athenians voting for the death penalty. Also, after a funeral "Nine Days of Sorrow" were solemnly observed by the Roman family. Romans avoided the use of theta, as we avoid the use of the number 13 today.
RX84806. Bronze diobol, RPC II 2459; Dattari 370; Geissen 309; BMC Alexandria p. 32, 272; Kampmann 20.68; Emmett 215 (R1), F, a little off center, porous, edge cracks, weight 6.484 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 76 - 28 Aug 77 A.D.; obverse AVTOKP KAIΣAPOC OVEΣPACI-ANOV, laureate head right; reverse ΣEBAΣTOV L ENAT (year 9), draped bust of Alexandria right, wearing elephant skin headdress; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Carrhae, Mesopotamia

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Caracalla was assassinated near Carrhae on 8 April 217, while urinating on a roadside. When his escort gave him privacy to relieve himself, Julius Martialis, an officer of his personal bodyguard, ran forward and killed Caracalla with a single sword stroke. Martialis fled on horseback, but was killed by a bodyguard archer. Herodian says Caracalla had executed Martialis' brother a few days earlier on an unproven charge. Cassius Dio says that Martialis was resentful at not being promoted to the rank of centurion. Macrinus, the Praetorian Guard Prefect, who succeeded him as emperor, may have arranged the assassination.
RP78055. Bronze AE 15, SNG Hunterian 2490 - 2491; BMC Arabia p. 86, 37; SNG Cop -, SNG Righetti -, VF, near black patina with red earthen highlighting, tight flan, light corrosion, weight 1.643 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 180o, Carrhae (Altinbasak, Turkey) mint, 28 Jan 198 - 8 Apr 217 A.D.; obverse M AVR ANTONINVS P F AVG, laureate head right; reverse COL AVR METROPOLI ANTONINIANA, veiled and turreted bust of Tyche right; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00




  



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Biblical City Coins