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Gordian III Tarsos Elpis holding flower 238-244 AD


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Gordian III Tarsos Elpis holding flower 238-244 AD
Cilicia. Tarsos. Bronze Æ.

Medallic type about 36 mm, 22.5 gr

Obverse: ΑΥΤ Κ Μ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΟϹ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ, Π Π, radiate, cuirassed and draped bust right

Reverse: ΤΑΡϹΟΥ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛƐΩϹ Α Μ Κ Γ Β, Elpis advancing left, holding flower and raising skirt.


This is my largest ancient coin of which I know little more about. I think it was struck in Tarsos.



Tarsus (Tarsos) is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 12 miles from the Mediterranian Sea. 
With a history going back over 6,000 years. Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders and a focal point of many civilizations. During the Roman Empire, Tarsus was the capital of the province of Cilicia. 
It was the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the birthplace of Paul the Apostle.

I don't know what the denomination is. It is kind of porous but the pictures sort of show every nook and cranny and it looks better in hand. I would appreciate comments about my big honkin' coin.

Roman Emperor Gordian III was the Roman commander during The Battle of Misiche in Mesopotamia between the Sasanians and the Romans in 244 AD. He lived to the ripe old age of 19.

The Romans were badly defeated in this battle and it is unclear if Gordian III was assassinated by his disgusted officers, whether he died from injuries, or was killed in battle.



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Congratulations for this new beautiful acquisition! Elpis/Spes is not often found in my collection (I only have 2 imperial coins from Carus and Saloninus)

As for Tarsos, I like that this mint always produced LARGE coins.

My first one, from my first auctions, was this Otacilia Severa


Large (30 mm) but underweight (12.2 g) as some Tarsos coins have a very thin flan.


My 2nd is one of my favorite 2022 acquisitions, a Maximinus Thrax with the Three Graces



37 mm in diameter and the auction house, for some reason, described it as 14 g in weight. This would have also indicated a thin flan, but actually the coin has 26 grams so a big chunky piece of ancient bronze.

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Here's an Elpis....

Marcus as Caesar from Alexandria:

Type: AE Drachm, 33mm, 22.95 grams of Alexandria

Obverse: Bare headed and draped bust of Aurelius right

Reverse: Elpis Standing left holding flower and hitching skirt

Reference: BMC 1238 listed as "rare" by R.A. Numismatics




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Fun coin, @thenickelguy! Here's a post I wrote elsewhere that will help you understand the meaning of the abbreviations on your coin. And here's a big ol' bronze from Tarsus!

Trajan Decius. AD 249-251.
Roman provincial Æ 33 mm, 18.78 g.
Cilicia, Tarsus, AD 249-251.
Obv: ΑV ΚΑΙ Γ ΜЄϹ ΚVΙΝ ΔЄΚΙΟϹ ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟϹ, Π Π, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: ΤΑΡϹΟV ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛЄΩϹ Γ Β, Α Μ Κ. Artemis standing right, drawing arrow from quiver and holding bow and arrow; at feet on either side, deer standing left and dog running right with raised paws, head left.
Refs: RPC 1346; SNG Levante 1156 ; SNG France 1754; SNG von Aulock 6065; SNG Cop 33; Ziegler 808.16.33; Lindgren III, 926.

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Please allow for a correction of the meaning of "Γ Β"

It is just the abbreviation of city titles. "Gamma" and "beta" are numerals, so "three" and "two". They mean that Tarsos was the head of the three eparchies (provinces) of Cilicia, Isauria and Lycaonia and had two Neocorian temples, i.e. temples of the provincial imperial cult. This letter combination appears for the first time on coins of Septimius Severus. A third Neocoria was added under Valerian and Gallienus, which is reflected on the coins by a double "gamma". For more information see P. Weiß, Chiron 9, 1979, 545-552; R. Ziegler, Studies on Ancient Asia Minor IV, Asia Minor Studies Vol. 34, Bonn 1999, 137-153.

By the way: written in an Austrian coinforum by Ziegler himself 😀





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3 hours ago, GordianAppreciator101 said:

That's a great coin. A spoiler of the long necks that were to come in the future. Also really nice quadriga. 

You make a good point, the "long neck" portrait seemed to flourish with Probus radiates & Diocletian era nummi 😉. I found the portrait of Gordian amusing on this bronze, he seems to have a rather impish smile ☺️.

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