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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ AstronomyView Options:  |  |  |   

Astronomy on Ancient Coins

Antiocheia, Pisidia, c. 50 - 20 B.C.

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During Roman Republic expansion, Anatolia was dominated by the Roman Empire, Pisidia was given to the Kingdom of Cappadocia, which was an ally of Rome. During the following years, the authority gap which could not be filled by these kingdoms remote from central government, led to the rise of powerful pirate kingdoms, especially in Cilicia and Pisidia. The Romans fought against them. Cilicia, Pamphylia, Phrygia and Pisida were freed from pirates and Roman rule was restored in 102 BC. The geographical and strategical position of the region made it difficult to control the area and maintain constant peace. Then Rome started to colonize the area using military legions as a solution to the failure of the locally appointed governors. During the reign of Augustus, eight colonies were established in Pisidia, but only Antioch was honored with the title of Caesarea and given the right of the Ius Italicum, maybe because of its strategic position. The city became an important Roman colony which rose to the position of a capital city with the name of "Colonia Caesarea".
GB88941. Bronze AE 16, SNGvA 4915 (same reverse die), SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, BMC Lycia -, Mnsterberg -, aEF, attractive near black patina, tight flan cutting off part of reverse legend, weight 2.939 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, die axis 90o, Antioch in Pisidia (Yalvac, Turkey) mint, magistrate Nikoboulos, c. 50 - 20 B.C.; obverse eagle standing right on thunderbolt, with wings spread, Γ in right field; reverse ANTIOXEΩN clockwise above, NIKOBOVΛOV counterclockwise below, eight-pointed star; extremely rare; $250.00 (212.50)


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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Invincible Sol charging in a facing quadriga and raising his hand commanding the sun to rise, is one of our favorite reverses of the Roman Imperial series and Forum's recommended coin type for Probus. If you only plan to buy one Probus coin, it should be this type!
RA87626. Billon antoninianus, Hunter IV 315 (also 2nd officina); Pink VI-1, p. 44, em. 3; RIC V-2 911; Cohen VI 682; SRCV III 12041, Choice EF, full circle centering, most silvering remains, uneven strike with part of legends a littl weak, weight 4.298 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, emission 3, 280 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR PROBVS P F AVG, radiate bust left in consular robe, eagle-tipped scepter in right; reverse SOLI INVICTO (to the invincible sun god), Sol in a spread quadriga facing, radiate, cloak billowing out behind, raising right hand commanding sunrise, whip in left hand, CM below center, XXIS in exergue; $150.00 (127.50)


Tiberius, 19 August 14 - 16 March 37 A.D., Tripolis ad Maeandrum, Lydia

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Tripolis on the Meander (Tripolis ad Maeandrum, also Neapolis, Apollonia, and Antoninopolis) was on the borders of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia, on the northern bank of the upper course of the Maeander, and on the road leading from Sardes by Philadelphia to Laodicea ad Lycum. It was 20 km to the northwest of Hierapolis. The earliest mention of Tripolis is by Pliny (v. 30), who treats it as Lydian. Ptolemy (v. 2. 18) and Stephanus of Byzantium describe it as Carian. Hierocles (p. 669) likewise calls it Lydian. Some modern academics have placed it in Phrygia. The ruins of Tripolis ad Maeandrum mostly date from the Roman and Byzantine periods and include a theater, baths, city walls, and a necropolis. An ancient church, dating back 1,500 years, was unearthed in 2013.
RP87200. Bronze AE 19, RPC I 3056, SNG Cop 743, SNGvA 3317, SNG Mnchen 809, Waddington 2681, Weber 3407, gF, green patina with red earthen highlighting, flatly struck, minor edge chipping, pits on reverse, weight 3.711 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 0o, Tripolis ad Maeandrum (near Yenicekent, Turkey) mint, magistrate Menandrou Metrodoros Philokaisar; obverse TIBEPION KAICAPA TPI/ΠOΛEITAI, laureate head right; reverse MENAN∆POC ΦIΛOKAICAP, radiate head of Helios right, O/T/∆ in right field; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 47 (9 Oct 2016), lot 327; scarce; $120.00 (102.00)


Uranopolis, Macedonia, c. 300 B.C.

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The globe on this coin type of Uranoplis is the earliest known depiction of the earth in its actual shape. The exact location of Uranopolis is unknown, though perhaps the city was located on the peninsula of Athos. -- Wikipedia
GB88226. Bronze AE 16, SNG Cop 455; SNG ANS 914; SNG Evelpidis 1363; BMC Macedonia p. 134, 2; AMNG III 3, aVF, green patina, porous, weight 3.456 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 0o, Macedonia, Uranopolis mint, c. 300 B.C.; obverse star of eight rays representing the sun; reverse Aphrodite Urania seated facing on globe, wearing chiton and peplos, star on head, long scepter vertical in right hand, OYPANI∆ΩN downward on right, ΠOΛEΩΣ downward on left; $110.00 (93.50)


Pontos (Uncertain City), c. 119 - 100 B.C.

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This is apparently a recently discovered new type. All the known examples might be from a single find. The stars depicted are almost certainly the comets described in Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
SH90651. Bronze AE 13, Unpublished in standard references, six examples known to Forum, VF, green patina, earthen encrustation, light scratches, reverse off-center, weight 2.431 g, maximum diameter 12.9 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Pontic mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse comet star of six rays and center pellet superimposed on pileus; reverse comet star of eight rays and central pellet; extremely rare; $100.00 (85.00)


Kingdom of Commagene, Epiphanes and Callinicus, 72 A.D.

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In 72 A.D., only two years after Antiochus IV, King of Commagene, sent troops, commanded by his son Epiphanes, to aid Titus in the siege of Jerusalem, he was accused by the governor of Syria of conspiring with Parthia against Rome. After a reign of thirty-four years from his first appointment by Caligula, Antiochus was deprived of his kingdom. He retired first to Sparta, and then to Rome, where he passed the remainder of his life and was treated with great respect. Antiochus' sons, Epiphanes and Callinicus briefly ruled the kingdom but after an encounter with Roman troops, fled to Parthia. They later joined their father in Rome.
SH90336. Bronze AE 21, RPC I 3861; BMC Galatia p. 110, 1 ff.; De Luynes 3440; SGICV 5515, F, dark patina, red earthen deposits, weight 7.954 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 45o, Samosata (Samsat, Turkey) mint, 72 A.D.; obverse Epiphanes and Callinicus riding left on horseback, each wearing chlamys, BACIΛEΩC / YIOI in exergue; reverse KOMMAΓHNΩN, Capricorn right, star above, anchor flukes left below, all within laurel wreath, border of dots; ex John Jencek; $100.00 (85.00)


Pontos (Uncertain City), c. 119 - 100 B.C.

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The comets depicted are almost certainly the comets described in Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB84563. Bronze AE 12, SNG BM 984; SNG Stancomb 653; Lindgren III 154; HGC 7 317, VF, small flan, slightly off center, green patina with buff earthen highlighting, weight 1.623 g, maximum diameter 12.2 mm, Pontos, uncertain mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse horse-head right, with comet star of eight points and central pellet on neck; reverse comet star of seven points, central pellet, and tail to right; ex Agora Auctions sale, lot 25; very rare; $95.00 (80.75)


Lokri Opuntii, Lokris, Greece, c. 340 - 330 B.C.

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Locrians are mentioned by Homer, who describes them as following Ajax, the son of Oleus, to the Trojan War in forty ships. In the Persian War the Opuntian Locrians fought with Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae, and also sent seven ships to the Greek fleet. The Locrians fought on the side of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War.

The star on the reverse may represent the Halley's Comet visible in 373 - 372 B.C.
GS88326. Silver obol, BCD Lokris 91; SNG Cop 63; BMC Central p. 6, 45; Weber 3149; HGC 4 976 (S), VF, etched porous surfaces, weight 0.688 g, maximum diameter 11.2 mm, Locri Opuntii mint, c. 340 - 330 B.C.; obverse ΛO-KP (counterclockwise) from left, amphora, small bunch of grapes on left and ivy leaf on right each hanging on vines from the mouth of the vase; reverse stylized star of 16 rays, 8 of the rays slightly smaller and between the other 8, pellet in linear circle in center; ex Forum (2010); scarce; $90.00 (76.50)


Cales, Campania, Italy, c. 265 - 240 B.C.

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The Romans captured Cales in 335 B.C. and established a colony in 334 with Latin rights of 2,500 citizens. It was an important base in the war against Hannibal. Before 184 B.C. more settlers were sent there. After the Social War it became a municipium. Its fertile territory and manufacture of black glazed pottery, which was even exported to Etruria, made it prosperous. Inscriptions name six gates of the town: and there are considerable remains of antiquity, especially of an amphitheater and theater, of a supposed temple, a Roman necropolis, and other edifices.
GB73620. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 309; HN Italy 436, SNG ANS 183, cf. BMC Italy p. 79, 23 (star of eight rays vice O below), F, green patina, tight flan, weight 6.161 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 225o, Cales (Calvi Risorta, Italy) mint, c. 265 - 240 B.C.; obverse CALENO, laureate head of Apollo left, star behind; reverse man-faced bull right, star of sixteen rays above, Θ (or O?) below, CALENO in exergue; $85.00 (72.25)


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior

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There are peculiarities about these Roman crescent and star reverse types that are difficult to understand. First, the crescents are almost always depicted with the horns up. The moon is never seen this way in the sky. Also, in the sky stars are never visible within the horns of the crescent moon because there they would be behind the shadowed yet solid and opaque orb. The crescent with horns up may represent a solar eclipse.
RP88295. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.48.27 (this coin, R2) corr. (says AV K Λ...), Varbanov I 2554 var. (obv. legend), VF, a few scratches, porous, flan edge a bit ragged, weight 2.435 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 180o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, c. 193 - 211 A.D.; obverse AV K CEVHPOC, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC ICTP, three stars within crescent with horns up; ex Forum (2008), this is the H-H-J Nikopolis plate coin!; $80.00 (68.00)




  



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Astronomy