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Ruins of Nicopolis ad Istrum - public domain image via wikimedia commons.

Novius Rufus was a legate (hypateon) or praeses (hegemon) of Nicopolis ad Istrum during the reign of Elagabalus 218-222.  On this coin it is clear that the die maker struggled to squeeze the whole legend onto the coin.  You can imagine the mintmaster shrugging his shoulders and offering, "He (Nobius Rufus) wants his whole name on the coin, just make it fit!"  "VΠ NOBIOV POVΦOV NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠΡOC ICTPON", the die maker grumbles a bit and starts with the VΠ and working his way around the coin, and then runs out of space - so he uses the fields - dropping one letter P, "no one will really notice anyway" he grumbles. 



Nicopolis ad Istrum literally a "city of Victory on the Istrum (Danube) River".  For a town to be "ad Istrum" didn't require it to be literally on the river.  In this case it was about 50km from the Danube.  However, the territory controlled by Nicopolis probably did reach as far as the Danube.  Border stones from the time of Hadrian that reference the limits of Nicopolis have been found at Novae/Svistov, a Roman fortress along the Danube. The name also differentiated it from another Nicopolis further south, ad Nestum.  It was the portrait of Elagabalus that drew me to this coin as well as wandering legend.


Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Elagabalus, AD 218-222. Æ 25mm (9.60 g), Novius Rufus, consular legate

Obv: [AV K ]M AVP A[NTΩNEINOC], Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind

translation: AUT(okrator) K(aisar) M(arcos) AUR(elios) Antoneinos

Rev: VΠ NOBIOV POVΦOV NIKOΠOΛΙTΩN Π[P]OC ICTPON, Zeus standing left, holding patera and scepter

translation: Under Novius Rufus of (the people of) Nicopolis on the river Istrum (the Danube)

Ref: Varbanov 4098 (variant)

Nikopolis ad Istrum was established by Trajan after he conquered the Dacians and was settled by Thacians and migrants from Asia minor (today Nikyup in Bulgaria - see google maps linked below) .


Decabalus, the last Dacian king depicted on Trajan's column committing suicide to avoid Roman capture in 106 AD. (Image source: Harpeam, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


After defeating Decebalus, Trajan reorganized the provinces of the Lower Danube, creating the new province of Dacia, and adding a large area to Lower Moesia. In Thrace, he changed the system of government to self-administering communities.  As there were cities only on the Aegean and Black Sea shores, Trajan established ten new cities in Thrace between AD 106 and 114, organized as Greek poleis.  The Greek model was a pragmatic choice to leverage the existing traditions of the area and with a scarcity of Romans living in the region.


Post your coins with messy legends, coins of Elagabalus, Dacia & Moesia, or anything else that you find interesting or entertaining.



- Ruscu, Ligia Cristina. “On Nicopolis AD Istrum and Her Territory.” Historia: Zeitschrift Für Alte Geschichte 56, no. 2 (2007): 214–29.

- Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins, vol 1, Dacia, Moesia Inferior, Moesia Superior, Adicom, Bulgaria, 2005

- Panacomp Wonderland Travel https://www.panacomp.net/nicopolis-ad-istrum/



Edited by Sulla80
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What a fun "caveman" portrait of Elagabalus and a very fun reverse type! Informative write-up, too, @Sulla80!

Those coins of Nicopolis ad Istrum sure have some long legends, don't they? Here are some of mine.


Septimius Severus, AD 193-211.
Roman provincial Æ 25.0 mm, 11.27 g, 7 h.
Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Lucius Aurelius Gallus, legatus consularis, AD 201-204.
Obv: ΑVΤ CΕΠΤ• CΕVΗΡ ΠΕΡ, laureate head, right.
Rev: VΠ ΑVΡ ΓΑΛΛΟV ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ / ΠΡΟC ΙCΤΡ, AIMOC across left field, mountain-god Haemus reclining right on wooded rock outcropping, resting right arm above head and cradling scepter in left arm; below, bear right, chasing leaping stag.
Refs: AMNG I 1315; Varbanov (2nd ed.) 2721; HrHJ; Moushmov 1023.

Julia Domna, AD 193-217.
Roman provincial Æ tetrassarion, 13.76 g, 26 mm.
Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum; Legate Aurelius Gallus, AD 201-204.
Obv: ΙΟVΛΙΑ ΔΟ-ΜΝΑ CΕΒΑ, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: VΠ ΑVΡ ΓΑΛΛΟV-ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ | ΠΡΟC ΙCΤΡΟ, Dionysus standing left,
naked except for boots, holding bunch of grapes and thyrsus, panther at foot left.
Refs: AMNG I 1456; Varbanov 2897; H&J, Nikopolis corr. (rev. legend); Mionnet Sup. 2, p. 134, 457 and pl. III, no 6.

Gordian III, AD 238-244.
Roman provincial Æ 27.1 mm, 12.33 g, 9 h.
Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Sabinius Modestus, legatus consularis, AD 241-244.
Obv: ΑVΤ Κ Μ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟC ΑVΓ, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: ΥΠ CΑΒ ΜΟΔЄCΤΟV ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛЄΙΤ | ΩN ΠPOC ICTP, Nimbate figure of snake-god Glycon, coiled in two coils, rising up, head right.
Refs: RPC VII.2, 1307; Hristova/Hoeft/Jekov (2018) (same dies); Varbanov 4146; Moushmov 1488; Mionnet Suppl. 2, 708; AMNG 2104 var.; BMC --; Lindgren --; Sear --.


Gordian III, AD 238-244, and Tranquillina, AD 241-244.
Roman provincial Æ pentassarion, 12.34 g, 26.2 mm, 2 h.
Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis, legate Tertullius, AD 243-244.
Rev: VΠ ΤΕΡΤVΛΛΙΑΝΟV ΜΑΡΚΙΑΝΟΠΟΛI-ΤΩΝ, Nemesis-Dikaiosyne standing left, holding scales and cornucopiae; wheel at feet; E in field, left.
Refs: Varbanov 2052; Moushmov 834; AMNG (Pick) 1185; SNG Cop 260.
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Great coin and excellent write-up!  I love that reverse legend, impressed they managed to fit it all in there…I guess it makes sense that a city founded by Trajan would have coins with unnecessarily long legends.

I can share an Elagabalus and a Gordy III bronze from Nicopolis, which both have some seriously long reverse legends that barely fit.


Elagabalus, Moesia, Nicopolis, (AE 26.2mm., 10.76g.), Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r./ Rev. Tyche standing facing, looking l., wearing kalathos, holding rudder and cornucopia. RPC VI.1 789.

Gordian III, Moesia, Nicopolis ad Istrum,  circa 238-244, (AE 28.1 mm., 15.39 g.),
Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian III to right/Rev. Zeus seated left, holding patera over eagle and sceptre. RPC VII.2 1321.

Edited by Shea19
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