Jump to content

A Controversial Tetradrachm of Titus


Al Kowsky
 Share

Recommended Posts

For the longest time I thought the tetradrachms of Caracalla were the first issue from the Caesarea Maritima Mint, that changed after getting a copy of Richard McAlee's book The Coinage of Roman Antioch, 2007. McAlee points out that the early issues of Vespasian and Titus have been reattributed to "Judaea Capta (presumably Caesarea). The authors of Roman Provincial Coinage and Kevin Butcher agree with this attribution. Titus's role as military commander in the Jewish War explains why he appears on the obverse of these tetradrachms, and not those of any other mint. Some of the tetradrachms bear a portrait of Titus which is stylistically similar to that seen on Judaea Capta aes coins," and he pictures a Judaea Capta bronze aes, Fig. 19, next to a tetradrachm of Titus for comparison. He continues, "On most of the tetradrachms the eagle stands on a branch, but there is a rare variety (no. 381) with the eagle standing on a caduceus. This variety also has a bow and quiver in the upper right field (behind the eagle's head). The variety with eagle on a caduceus is die-linked to the eagle on a branch, so both varieties must come from the same mint." Prior to the RPC revelation, numismatists and auction houses would attribute these coins to Antioch, Syria. Today many dealers and auction houses are listing these coins as Caesarea Maritima with a question mark. Our knowledge of Roman provincial coinage is still in the growing stage with much more to learn. 

For nearly a decade I had been searching for an example of this elusive coin and earlier this year I got lucky. All the known examples are poorly struck on small, thick flans, and show serious circulation wear, so there wasn't much to choose from.

                          1191081495_RPCII1969McAlee381Prieur142.CNGElectronicAuction510lot585.AWKCollection.thumb.jpg.f486df6faf5f045b52c7c31b51af8fe1.jpg

ROMAN JUDAEA, Samaria Province, City of Caesarea Maritima. Titus as Caesar, Dated Year 3 of Vespasian (AD 70/1). AR Tetradrachm: 14.65 gm, 23.5 mm, 12 h. Obverse: Bust of Titus, laureate and wearing aegis. Reverse: Eagle standing on caduceus, wings spread, holding wreath in beak, bow and quiver to right of head; club of Hercules in left field. RPC II 1969; McAlee 381; Prieur 142, Very rare. Four examples cited by Prieur, five examples listed in RPC II. Ex Jay M. Galst Collection.

Pictured below are three examples illustrated in RPC II.

                         1038589483_RPCII19691.thumb.jpg.9b35ed1a00f5bc88574e0940dff8d245.jpg

RPC II 1969, #1, 14.00 gm, 23 mm.

                                                                                       194314728_RPCII19694.jpg.e48f347a6be5b71e2fc0ecc266c0e7a7.jpg

RPC II 1969, #4, 12.30 gm. Nazareth area hoard, 1995.

                                                                                      2069587305_RPCII19695.jpg.3036e4e9603598beecb52e3d609215ee.jpg

RPC II 1969, #5, 14.71 gm, 23 mm, 12 h. American Numismatic Society Collection, NYC.

References: Roman Provincial Coins, Volume II.

The Coins of Roman Antioch, Richard McAlee, 2007

The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms And Their Fractions, from 57 BC to AD 253, Kevin & Karin Prieur, 2000.

 

 

  • Like 12
  • Clap 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you acquired this one in an auction, how fast was your heart racing prior to the hammer being struck?! 😅

What a fantastic piece and congrats on having a decade-long hunt come to such a successful conclusion. I would say yours is the best compared with the examples you listed. That iconic Flavian facial structure is so clear and defined despite the wear, you still feel like you're really looking at the man. And the added bonus of a well-circulated coin really brings alive that connection to the ancients!

On a somewhat tangential point... Titus has always been such a fascinating emperor; reminds me of Frederick III of Germany, cut down in his prime. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/31/2022 at 6:44 PM, Al Kowsky said:

For the longest time I thought the tetradrachms of Caracalla were the first issue from the Caesarea Maritima Mint, that changed after getting a copy of Richard McAlee's book The Coinage of Roman Antioch, 2007. McAlee points out that the early issues of Vespasian and Titus have been reattributed to "Judaea Capta (presumably Caesarea). The authors of Roman Provincial Coinage and Kevin Butcher agree with this attribution. Titus's role as military commander in the Jewish War explains why he appears on the obverse of these tetradrachms, and not those of any other mint. Some of the tetradrachms bear a portrait of Titus which is stylistically similar to that seen on Judaea Capta aes coins," and he pictures a Judaea Capta bronze aes, Fig. 19, next to a tetradrachm of Titus for comparison. He continues, "On most of the tetradrachms the eagle stands on a branch, but there is a rare variety (no. 381) with the eagle standing on a caduceus. This variety also has a bow and quiver in the upper right field (behind the eagle's head). The variety with eagle on a caduceus is die-linked to the eagle on a branch, so both varieties must come from the same mint." Prior to the RPC revelation, numismatists and auction houses would attribute these coins to Antioch, Syria. Today many dealers and auction houses are listing these coins as Caesarea Maritima with a question mark. Our knowledge of Roman provincial coinage is still in the growing stage with much more to learn. 

For nearly a decade I had been searching for an example of this elusive coin and earlier this year I got lucky. All the known examples are poorly struck on small, thick flans, and show serious circulation wear, so there wasn't much to choose from.

                          1191081495_RPCII1969McAlee381Prieur142.CNGElectronicAuction510lot585.AWKCollection.thumb.jpg.f486df6faf5f045b52c7c31b51af8fe1.jpg

ROMAN JUDAEA, Samaria Province, City of Caesarea Maritima. Titus as Caesar, Dated Year 3 of Vespasian (AD 70/1). AR Tetradrachm: 14.65 gm, 23.5 mm, 12 h. Obverse: Bust of Titus, laureate and wearing aegis. Reverse: Eagle standing on caduceus, wings spread, holding wreath in beak, bow and quiver to right of head; club of Hercules in left field. RPC II 1969; McAlee 381; Prieur 142, Very rare. Four examples cited by Prieur, five examples listed in RPC II. Ex Jay M. Galst Collection.

Pictured below are three examples illustrated in RPC II.

                         1038589483_RPCII19691.thumb.jpg.9b35ed1a00f5bc88574e0940dff8d245.jpg

RPC II 1969, #1, 14.00 gm, 23 mm.

                                                                                       194314728_RPCII19694.jpg.e48f347a6be5b71e2fc0ecc266c0e7a7.jpg

RPC II 1969, #4, 12.30 gm. Nazareth area hoard, 1995.

                                                                                      2069587305_RPCII19695.jpg.3036e4e9603598beecb52e3d609215ee.jpg

RPC II 1969, #5, 14.71 gm, 23 mm, 12 h. American Numismatic Society Collection, NYC.

References: Roman Provincial Coins, Volume II.

The Coins of Roman Antioch, Richard McAlee, 2007

The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms And Their Fractions, from 57 BC to AD 253, Kevin & Karin Prieur, 2000.

 

 

Many congrats @Al Kowsky!  What a great feeling...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...