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David Atherton's Runners-Up of 2022

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Here are five coins that for one reason or another didn't quite make the cut for the 2022 top ten list but were in the running. If they had been acquired during another year they probably would have made it.


5. Alexandrian Ibis



Æ Dichalkon, 2.00g
Alexandria mint, 91-92 AD
Obv: No legend; Head of Domitian, laureate, r.
Rev: LΙΑ; Ibis
RPC 2744. Emmett 338.11. Dattari-Savio 614.
Acquired from Praefectus Coins, February 2022. Ex Leu Numismatik Web Auction 18, 18 December 2021, lot 2204.

A series of small bronzes were struck at Alexandria without obverse inscriptions. Identifying which reign they belong to is down to identifying the obverse portrait and the regnal year date on the reverse. We are on firm ground regarding this dichalkon with a portrait of Domitian on the obverse and dated regnal year 11 on the reverse. This ethnic type features an ibis, sacred to the Egyptian god of wisdom and learning Thoth. The African sacred ibis went extinct in Egypt around 1850. There are current plans attempting to reintroduce the species to the region.

I love this little coin.



4. Titus as Caesar Roma


Titus as Caesar [Vespasian]

Æ Dupondius, 12.42g
Lyon mint, 77-78 AD
Obv: T CAES IMP AVG F TR P COS VI CENSOR; Head of Titus, laureate, bearded, r.; globe at point of bust
Rev: ROMA in exergue; S C in field; Roma std. l. on cuirass, with wreath and parazonium; behind, shields
RIC 1263 (R). BMC -. BNC 866.
Acquired from Civitas Galleries, August 2022.

Lugdunum (modern Lyon) after a brief hiatus struck a fairly large issue of aes coinage under Vespasian in 77 or 78, likely in response to a coin shortage in the Western provinces. Most of the reverse types copy those produced at Rome, such as this Roma. Mattingly in BMCRE II says this about the type - 'The wreath which Roma holds on the dupondius is the sign of Victory, or, perhaps rather the rejoicing for it.' The traditional Greek Amazon guise of Roma is copied from the coinage of Nero and likely is based on a familiar cult image of the goddess. Missing from the BM.

Rare, but the stylish portrait made this a strong contender.



3. Vespasian 'Judaean' Judaea Capta



Æ21, 6.94g
Caesarea Maritima mint, 71-73 AD
Obv: ΑΥΤΟΚΡ ΟΥΕΣΠ ΚΑΙΣ ΣΕΒ; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: ΙΟΥΔΑΙΑΣ ΕΑΛWΚΥΙΑΣ; Nike standing to r., foot on helmet, inscribing a shield set on a palm tree
RPC 2310 (3 spec.). Hendin 1445.
Ex CNG eAuction 523, 7 September 2022, lot 358. Formerly in NGC holder #6158320-003, grade ch VF, strike 4/5, surface 2/5, repatinated.

The Roman authorities in Judaea struck a localised 'Judaea Capta' issue at the Caeserea Maritima mint early in the reign of Vespasian. The series, featuring the reverse legend ΙΟΥΔΑΙΑΣ ΕΑΛWΚΥΙΑΣ ('Judaea Capta' in Greek), strongly echoes the imperial bronze types produced at Rome and Lugdunum. Coins were produced for both Vespasian and Titus Caesar with the same Victory reverse design. Oddly enough, Vespasian's coins from the issue are much rarer than those of Titus, perhaps owing to Titus's recent achievement successfully concluding the siege of Jerusalem. The Caesarean issue most likely dates contemporaneously with the imperial ones struck in the spring and summer of 71, perhaps not long after the celebratory joint Judaean War triumph of Vespasian and Titus Caesar. It is interesting to note these coins would have circulated in the very region where the Jewish Revolt took place.

A most elusive coin to acquire!



2. Alexandrian Hippo



Æ Obol, 4.49g
Alexandria mint, 90-91 AD
Obv: ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΔΟΜΙΤ ϹƐΒ ΓƐΡΜ; Head of Domitian, laureate, r.
Rev: LΙ; Hippopotamus, r.
RPC 2591 (0 spec.). Emmett 320.10. Dattari-Savio 615.
Acquired from London Ancient Coins, May 2022. Ex Naville Numismatics 72, 27 March 2022, lot 254.

The Alexandrian mint under Domitian around regnal year 10 experienced a 'dramatic improvement in style' and the 'adoption of a wide range of new types' (Milne). One of those new types was this ethnic hippopotamus reverse that had previously been struck under the Julio-Claudians. The hippo in local Egyptian mythology was a potent symbol of prosperity, rebirth, and regeneration. In the days of the pharaohs the killing of a hippo was symbolic of courage and strength. Hippo hunts were necessary due to the animal's habit of grazing and destroying precious crops. Today the Nile hippopotamus is extinct in Egypt. This Domitanic hippo obol is extremely rare, likely due to it being sparingly struck for just a couple of issues.

This coin prompted a lovely trip to the local zoo to look at the hippos. I called it 'field research'.



1. Judaea Capta Sestertius



Æ Sestertius, 25.45g
Lyon mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.; globe at point of bust
Rev: IVDAEA CAPTA; S C in exergue; Palm tree; to l., Vespasian stg. r. with spear and parazonium, foot on helmet; to r., Judaea std. r. on cuirass
RIC 1134 (R). BMC 800. BNC -. Hendin 1543.
Acquired from Praefectus Coins, March 2022. Ex Roma 83, 6 May 2021, lot 622.

In 70 AD Jerusalem was besieged and sacked and the Temple razed by the Roman forces commanded by Titus Caesar. The following year a massive joint Triumph was held in Rome for Vespasian and Titus to celebrate their successful conclusion of the Jewish Rebellion. Coins were also issued to commemorate their victory. These so called 'Judaea Capta' coins first appeared in late 70 just after the fall of Jerusalem in August, both in the precious metals and at first sparingly in bronze. The overwhelming majority of these coins were produced in Rome, but many provincial imperial mints also contributed to the mass media onslaught of 'Judaea Capta'. This rare sestertius from 71 struck in Lugdunum (modern Lyon) copies the iconic Rome mint proto-type of Vespasian proudly standing holding a spear and parazonium (a ceremonial triangular sword) with his foot on an enemy helmet, while Judaea is sitting on a captured cuirass in abject despair - take note of their size discrepancy. Modern viewers see this as a forlorn scene of defeat, however, to the Roman coin designers the images are meant to convey victory over a worthy foe. The Jewish War was an important event for the fledgling Flavian dynasty - in essence it gave them the legitimacy to rule. The ensuing avalanche of propaganda after the 'Gotterdammerung' fall of Jerusalem is awe inspiring. The slight of hand the Flavian regime pulled off which transformed defeated rebel provincials into a foreign menace is truly amazing. The coins were a major part of the regime's propaganda commemorating Vespasian's defeat of the Jews and saving the empire. Their efforts paid off, for even today this 'Judaea Capta' type is one of the most iconic and recognised reverses in the whole of Roman coinage.

The Lugdunese variant of this iconic type is much rarer than the contemporaneous Rome mint equivalent. Lugdunum faithfully copied both the Rome mint legend and reverse design. They can be identified by the unique portrait style (squarish heads, prominent shoulders) and blocky, heavily serifed legends. In trade they are often confused with the much more common Rome variant. Missing from the Paris collection.

This probably should have made the main list.


Again, thank you for looking!






Edited by David Atherton
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Another batch of stellar coins! Thanks for sharing these. I really like the rendering of the ibis, on the reverse of your Dichalkon. Also, the dupondius has great eye appeal. And of course the IVDAEA CAPTA is something else! 

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