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A couple of Julia Domna issues from Lydia


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These two coins come from an interesting German collection, showcasing the differences between collection lots and random pairings in dealers lots in the auctions today:

1. the material is closely related, showing a particular interest by the collector for certain criteria - emperor/empress, area

2. the coins have solid patinas, even at the expense of detail being hidden

3. no mass zapping of coins before offering them at auction

So these two small denominations come from two towns relatively close-by in Lydia - Saitta and Tabala:


(map by Caliniuc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58363917)


They both show the empress with the ca. early 200s obverse legend IOVΛIA CЄBACTH (inspired by the IVLIA AVGVSTA Imperial title) and religious reverses: Cybele and Artemis.


Saitta - AE19mm 3.35g copper unit
IOVΛIA CЄBACTH; draped bust r. with specific hair-dress
CA[IT]T - HN[Ω]N; Cybele seated left on backless throne, holding patera and resting elbow upon tympanum; lion's head at her feet to left.

This is a common iconography for Cybele, not only in Asia but also in Thracia and on the Western Black Sea shores. In fact when I first lay my sight on it I thought that it might be an issue from Moesia Inferior, as it came with no further id than Julia Domna. The lack of further id was likely due to the fact that this is apparently a rather rare coinage, unlisted in the main references like BMC and the respective SNGs. Also, being a Severan issue, it's not (yet) in RPC online. I have found 3 further specimens on acsearch, but there are likely more out there since it's a rather mundane iconography on a small denomination.



Tabala - AE17mm 3.20g copper unit
IOVΛIA CЄBACTH; draped bust r. with specific hair-dress
TABA - ΛЄΩN; cult statue of Artemis (Tabala?) veiled(?) wearing polos and kalathos, with arms extended supported by props and two stags, one to each of her sides.

This is a more interesting and specific representation, related to the more famous cult of Artemis Ephesia, but possibly depicting a local cult statue of Tabala, as I have found a very interesting comment by Patricia Lawrence in this thread. As with the other coin, this one is not in the regular references - not in BMC, not in any SNG nor in RPC. 7 other specimens I have tracked down on acsearch. These cults of Artemis that could have been also based locally in each of these towns (there are more towns in Lydia where coinage shows similar Artemis Ephesia-like cult statues) are very interesting and by the look of the statues archaic. The preservation of these local cults with their specifically Eastern-Levantine archaic looks up to the 3rd century (and likely beyond) is something that we get to glimpse today mainly through the coinage of these towns.

Edited by seth77
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Those are cool! I love provincials. I have coins of Faustina the Younger from these cities!

Faustina Jr Saitta Artemis.jpg

Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman provincial Æ 19.5 mm, 4.46 g, 7 h.
Lydia, Saïtta, under Fl. Herk(y)lanos, archon, c. AD 148-150.
Obv: ΦAVCTЄINA CЄBACTH, draped bust right, wearing a string of pearls around head.
Rev: ЄΠ Φ ΗΡΚΛΑΝΟV ϹΑΙΤΤΗΝΩΝ, Artemis advancing right, drawing arrow from quiver and holding bow; at feet to right, hound.
Refs: RPC IV.2 online 11561 (temporary); BMC --; SNG Copenhagen --; SNG von Aulock --.


Faustina II, AD 147-175.
Roman provincial Æ 19.1 mm, 5.23 g, 6 h.
Lydia, Tabala, 2nd emission, perhaps part of one of the two issues of Menophantos, hiereus, under Pius, AD 151-154.
Obv: ΦΑVϹΤЄΙΝΑ ϹЄΒΑϹ, bare-headed and draped bust right (Beckmann Type 3 hairstyle).
Rev: ΤΑΒΑΛЄΩΝ, cult statue of Artemis of Ephesus wearing kalathos, standing facing.
Refs: RPC IV.2, 3343 (temporary); GRPC 27; SNG Cop 565; Hochard 2308.

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Nice coins with a very similar obverse style. Travelling mint??

A pseudo-autonomous issue from Taballa:


Lydia, Tabala
Pseudo-autonomous issue, AD 200-300
AE 17
Obv.: Turreted bust of Tyche right.
Rev: TABAΛЄΩN, Nemesis standing left, holding cornucopia; wheel at feet.
AE, 3.59g, 16.7mm
Ref.: GRPC Lydia Vol.4 Tabala 14 (this coin)
Ex Pecunem Gitbud&Naumann auction 28, Lot 270


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On 10/20/2022 at 10:53 AM, shanxi said:

Nice coins with a very similar obverse style. Travelling mint??



This has to be one of the big questions regarding provincial coins, what was the process involved in making and introducing them into circulation. A traveling mint or perhaps free agent die cutters working on command for many local administrations or perhaps workshops taking orders from towns and cities in a specific area - and were those orders for just the dies or for the finished product of an agreed number of coins?

And thank you for adding your own Saitta and Tabala coins @Roman Collector and @shanxi. I am almost certain that once RPC adds the Severans we will see more specimens of the OP types than I have located on acsearch. In the 1970s when the collection was assembled the collector likely had no way to find any complete analogies and this is probably what prompted him to keep them as unlisted rarities, 50 years later they were offered as odds and ends.

Edited by seth77
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